Clouds boiled on the horizon. It was almost as if the sky knew something. The death of the old ways or the death of the new. The barbarian riders hunched over their horses and watched their leader. He sat and chewed on his moustache. His brain was a cauldron. They were gathered in the woods facing a long clearing. On the other side was a Roman army. Thousands of horses pawed at the brown and green earth. Men sat and watched each other. Old feuds. Swords glittered and all were thirsty. The barbarian leader hated the Romans, as had his fathers before him. Pillaging and plunder ran in his bloodline. He thought the Romans weak and soft with their cities, science, art and progressive thinking. The wise men in his tribe said that the Romans had turned their backs on the old Gods and original ways. He spat on the ground beside his horse. He knew –as well as his men– that the Romans outnumbered them. He waited. Indecision. Across the field, the Roman general called for his archers. He told a nearby Centurion, “If the barbarians don’t want to move forward… then we’ll make them come to us.” He ordered fire arrows to the forest behind them and their flanks. He built a fire and made them come… Come they did. Many died. The ones that didn’t were taken back to Rome and assimilated into the population. These learned. Over time. Progress can be good. Sometimes, the old ways of thinking must be swept away…
Now you ask yourself, “What does any of this have to do with Skatercross Skateboard Racing or the Clash at Clairemont?” Well, I’m going to tell you. First of all, if you suffer from ‘Contempt Prior To Investigation’, I’ll have you stop right here. There are plenty of websites and forums designed to perpetuate the darkness and trickle the Cool Guy Kool Aid for all comers. Help yourself… just know one thing: I’ll leave the light on for you. I’m fairly certain that Andy Macdonald had none of the above inside his head when he came up with the Skatercross Skateboard Racing concept over fifteen years ago. He told me that, “I was watching BMX bicycle racing on a dirt track and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had something like this built out of cement or wood to race on?!” The BMX race ended, but the idea remained. Over the next decade or so, Andy formulated a plan to put it into motion. Would it work? Could it be built? Where? How would the races be organized? All of these details percolated in his mind. The next indicated step. He put them to paper. He sought out help. Meeting followed meeting. At last, a practical plan and financial resources were established.
Skatercross Skateboard Racing course
Andy and the San Diego crew decided that in order to get interest and progress made for Skatercross Skateboard Racing, they’d have to build a fire. They’d have to make people interested. Be an example. Build it and they will come. Rather than sit back, Andy and his like-minded friends believed in what they could see in their dreams. They knew that they’d have to take radical action. The Clairemont YMCA, Geico Insurance and MovieTickets.com agreed to fund the build and it began in earnest. Skatercross Skateboard Racing was born in San Diego.
I asked Andy the particulars about how the design developed and the building. It struck me as a particular problem as nothing like this had been built before. How tall do you make the drop in? How far are the gaps to be? How big should the transitions be to send someone up and not out? How high should the corners be? All of these issues seemed difficult to solve in my mind. Andy answered, “We built the entire thing in segments. We had to. We had a general idea of how we wanted it to be, but we needed to build a section first, ride it and then build the second section accordingly. When we built the first roll in and jump gap with the landing ramp, it abruptly ended in an open parking lot. On my first run, I dropped in, completely cleared the gap and the landing ramp and basically tried to knee slide onto the asphalt parking lot. I just tumbled all over the place. We grabbed a forklift and dragged the landing ramp and everything out further. We overshot the mark.”
Andy explained that they built the entire course in sections, making adjustments here and there in order to keep it flowing and fast. The jump gaps varied from eighteen feet to twenty five feet. The rhythm sections could be used for speed as well. The entire structure ended in the two-hundred thousand dollar range. Photographs cannot translate its magnitude. Its an awesome thing to see. Once people started riding it, I felt the vibe and excitement build. Racing is exciting. It is probably the oldest form of human entertainment. Everyone generally loves racing. Especially men. It seems to be hard-wired into our biology. I’ve heard rumbles and subtle innuendo regarding the Skatercross Skateboard Racing course. Does racing skateboards on a specially built skateboard course, make the participants any less of a skateboarder? Less hardcore? Personally, I think not.
Cory Juneau, Willis Kimbel and Matt Boyster cutting it close
People that skate the Mega ramp, Skatercross, vert ramps, bowls at skateparks, pools or streets are all skateboarders. It doesn’t change the lifestyle that is skateboarding … it only changes it for that particular person. If Andy Macdonald and the other riders of Skatercross Skateboard Racing wish to do the event, why should anyone care? After all, I studied the course all day and watched every run. It takes a great deal of courage and skill in my opinion. With anything progressive, there are going to be people that won’t try and understand. If you do nothing new, you get nothing new.
Andy Macdonald and Mike Rogers of Grind For Life
They decided to unveil the Skatercross Skateboard Racing event at the ten year anniversary of the Clash at Clairemont which was originally started as a way to raise funds for Grind For Life. GFL is an organization that is headed by two-time cancer survivor Mike Rogers. GFL helps cancer patients get treatments and directs funds to families as well. Mike and GFL have been instrumental in helping human beings that suffer from various forms of cancer throughout the last ten years. Over the last decade, the Clash at Clairemont has helped raise thousands of dollars and everyone came together yesterday for the ten year anniversary of the event. There would be a vert ramp demonstration with Tony Hawk, Bob Burnquist, Mimi Knoop and others. There would be a bowl demonstration sponsored by Independent Trucks and Agent Orange would play music by the ramp and bowl with Buck O’ Nine and Cubic III supporting them.
The greatly anticipated Skatercross Skateboard Racing event followed the vert ramp demo. There were people everywhere as skateboarders seemingly fell out of the sky and raced around the course. The drop in ramp was a must-see. There was no roll-in or tail drop at the top. A rider had to ollie off a horizontal deck and basically fall into a huge transitioned launch ramp. No room for error. All in. Period. It started and it was quite exciting. Unique. I enjoyed the racing and momentarily was caught up in the thrill of it. Greyson Fletcher, Trey Wood, Willis Kimbel, Cory Juneau, Mike Owen, Beaver Fleming, Josh Stafford, Andy Macdonald and the others went as far, as fast and as high as they could. Trey Wood took top honors in the competition with speed and style. They ended the entire event with a high jump contest as well. Tom Schaar took the High Jump event above all others… Intense.
Josh Stafford looking into the fire
Tom Schaar and Mike Owen
Tom Schaar High Jump winner at 11.5 ft
The Skatercross Skateboard Racing event. It was unique, exciting and explosive. I’m a skateboarder through and through. I understand skateboarding and although I’m fairly certain that I’ll never make the Skatercross plunge, I understand the geometry of it. It is carving, ollies, air, speed and style. It is individual guts and determination. It is all the reasons that I ride pools with my friends… It is all of the reasons why people ride bowls at skateparks, drop into the Mega ramp or skateboard down sidewalks all over the planet. It is skateboarding.
The Clash at Clairemont did what it set out to do. Excitement. Nothing is exciting, when you know the outcome. Like I stated in the beginning, sometimes progress is a good thing. This event brought progression and it collected greatly needed donations to help people with cancer. It collected together the rough-edged and often disagreeable family of skateboarding to one place where we all pitched in to help others. A new discipline was unveiled and was shown to be an exciting and original event for the skaters and the audience. It was a perfect day of skateboarding. Thank you to the sponsors, Grind For Life, Chris Conway, Andy Macdonald and MRZ for the images. Skate- Ozzie