Written by Ruslan Hsia
That distinctive sound of urethane rolling through water. The splashing droplets against your board. Bracing yourself for any slip-ups, you carefully bring your arms out, slightly breaking your tuck. At approximately 10:30am on June 2nd, these were the practice runs of Major Stok'em 4.
The weather report for the last few days prior to the event predicted a 70% chance of rain. When our carpool got there, the rain had stopped, but the course was wet. By the time the practice runs started, the pavement was drying up, but was still soaked in certain areas. Fortunately, when it came down to race time, the pavement was pretty much dry. We all lucked out on such great weather, except for the guy who made a trip to the hospital before anything even started. I believe he slipped and his chest went into one of the many boulders on the side of the course. [Article Continues]
The scene at the top: a large number of skaters, a closed off gate with red and yellow tape, local road bikers each sporting spandex trying to go down the beloved hill, and of course, the orange and white colors of a U-Haul truck. Even though this course wasn’t incredibly fast or turn-heavy, some racers came prepared with leathers and full faces.
At the bottom: a beautiful recreation area with picnic tables galore, grillers selling shish-kebabs, banners of various different sponsors, boxes of prizes, and a table laid out with beautiful boards and shirts for those lucky ‘Stoked’ raffle winners.
For those who don’t know, ‘Stoked’ is a non-profit which mentors youths in LA and NYC. The program partners with public high schools to develop academic achievement and healthy living to under-served youths – through skating and action sports culture. The program has so much integrity, I made sure to support them with three ticket purchases. Check out www.stoked.org and help support their cause!
The Race: The roster had 84 contestants, each heat consisting of 4 racers with a double elimination. I overheard that the recorded top speed was around 40 mph – a good speed for anyone to have fun with. It would have been a bit faster, but for some reason, the event creators had to cut the beginning of the course a bit short. With approximately 20 feet of restricted pushing, the mouth of the racecourse narrowed slightly, pushing contestants more towards the left center. The pavement was a bit sketchy at first, but once you got towards the end of the course and stayed to the left, your only thoughts were how to win, and how exhilarating everything was! During the race, there were a handful of falls, and a large number of very close wins where riders were shoulder to shoulder at the finish line.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to finish up the whole race, and we were forced to cut it short without a podium. Adam Dabonka, the event creator, decided to pick the top handful of racers to choose from boxes of prizes. I was surprised to see that I placed well enough where I was chosen among others to get a choice of wheels from a diverse selection. I ended up grabbing some Never Summer Hustle wheels. 78a at 75mm, neon yellow, FTW! I was also lucky enough to snatch a board that Scott Imbrie, co-founder of Original, humbly tossed into the air. He was one of the top racers to receive a prize and decided to share instead of taking it for himself.
All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better day. I was able to meet and get to know a great group of people, catch up with an old college friend, and win some sweet prizes. The day ended with seven of us around a table at Five Guys, indulging in fatty food, laughs, and good company.