Chances are, you haven’t made it to the Tampa Pro –which happens to be arguably the top independent skate contest on the pro map.
In fact, not many do. I was fortunate to run Gatorade’s event presence at the event in 2009, the brand’s first foray into action sports and skateboarding, and then I attended the Pro again in 2010 as a member of the media for BNQT.com.
The following is an excerpt from a blog posted in March, 2010. More photos at JAG::PHOTO.
There are only a few thousand tickets allocated to the public each year, and it sells-out year after year. With prize winnings totaling over $75,000 and sponsors handing out contracts on the spot, SPoT provides a safe haven for street skating’s elite and industry heads alike.
Dwarfed in comparison to the scale and bravado of X Games and Dew Tour, Skatepark of Tampa (SPoT) recently celebrated their sweet-16th anniversary of the infamous Tampa Pro. This event, which was created with the ‘by skaters, for skaters’ mentality, stands strong as a must-skate comp for any pro out there. It’s not about gold medals.
Just ask 2010 winner, P-Rod, who is on record repeatedly stating a Pro win is not just a regular win – it’s a career win. Well, Paul, go ahead and put a big effin’ check mark on that column. With a perfect run, he amped the crowd who was salivating for the elusive flawless set. Lutzka got close. Chaz got close. Nyjah got close. Sheckler got close. P-Rod got it.
The Pro isn’t exactly intended to be a spectator event. Crammed along the street course there are a few rows of bleachers and vantage points where braces-picking groms and industry peeps are stacked shoulder-to-shoulder. Get there early, especially for the finals, and post up your spot.
If you’re ambitious enough to bookmark ‘Tampa in March’ for your 2011 travel itinerary, you’ll witness some of the best skating you’ll ever see in a contest environment. It’s a skater’s event, and the level of skating is naturally elevated.
Confirmed by Lutzka during the awards ceremony, and again minutes later reiterated by Sheckler, this very well could be the best street contest. Period.
And let’s not forget about the less-famous –but equally-entertaining– Moat Race. A Tampa Pro crowd favorite, where a handful of prize-seeking spectators sprint, wrestle and claw through a 75-yard gauntlet of stinky drainage-ditch-run-off schmeg.
Insiders tip: the bridge is a great spot to watch the entire race, but if you want to get more intimate and huck unnamed items at the racers (rotten eggs, spent beer cans, vomit), I’d recommend finding a spot along the moat. Beware of downwind breezes and overthrown chachky’s.