The 2013 Catalina Island Classic[wptouch target=”mobile”]
To be completely honest, I didn’t really know how to begin this article when I first sat down to write it. I mean, how do I go about explaining the take over of an island by an international swathe of rowdy adrenaline fueled skaters without it sounding like some kind of elaborate terrorist plot? It’s a tough line to walk, but in so many words this is basically what transpired; minus the guns, bad vibes, and odious intentions. However, this isn’t the first time Catalina Island has seen such a take-over. In fact, Catalina Island has felt the burn of urethane wheels a few times before. The original event, taking place way back in 1977, has served to act as the foundation for what has become an annual event of epic proportions. This year’s Catalina Classic was no exception, with the largest rider / spectator attendance recorded to date, the Catalina Island Classic has without a doubt been fully resuscitated by the good folks at Riviera Skateboards. Once a distant memory, revived by the nu-skool, and rockin’ a little bit harder now.
Pulling up to the ferry landing made it plain to predict the outcome of the weekend. Like a roll call for all of your good friends and colleagues, you didn’t need a crystal ball to tell you that things were going to get wild. A cast of international riders from all over the globe, all gathering curbside to board the same boat, bound for the same weekend party, on the same island. Like some kind of proverbial skate inspired perfect storm, the stage had been set, the Second Annual Catalina Island Classic was rapidly shaping up to be one hell of a humdinger.
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Our Friday afternoon arrival on Catalina very quickly became an island-wide party. With practice runs scheduled for tomorrow’s AM, skaters culminated then dispersed to their various lodgings about the Pacifically situated archipelago, soaking away the remainder of the afternoon with healthy helpings of spirits, stoke, and smiles. Everyone you encountered on a skateboard was a comrade, an agent of good vibes. Each individual ensuring that everyone else had a good time. An island-wide insurance policy that made certain that you were gonna be hyped to be there, skateboarder or not.
After a thoroughly raucous evening of decadence and debauchery, Saturday’s vibe quickly became one of seriousness. Riders relinquished their steins for skateboards and leathered suits, transforming the day from one of soggy over-saturation, to incline oriented seriousness. With shuttles transporting competitors to and from the top of the hill, a good solid afternoon of practice was to be had. Multiple runs lent to the repetitious learning of the Catalina track’s technical curves and bends. A slithering snake of hairpin lefts and rights tracing a line along the southern most ridge of the city of Avalon, the course’s technical layout lent itself to countless crashes and washouts. Just being fast was not enough, this course demanded technical prowess as well. As the afternoon of thrills, chills, and spills speedily melted away, the party promptly picked up where it had left off, and yet another night of whole-hearted indulgence began anew.
Sunday morning, race day. An evening of blurry memories quickly dissipated into total focus. Once again, riders relinquished their brews and climbed back into their sponsor laden skins. An air of anxiousness permeated the island, it had all come down to this. The jest and cheer on the faces of riders had been replaced by a demeanor of determination and true grit. Full face visors down, fresh wheels after every run, the race was on. Over the course of the afternoon I frantically sprinted up and down the track, capturing as much of the shoulder to shoulder action as I could. The racers battling tooth and nail to hit that inside line, stick the inside corner on the edge of grip without washing out. It was like watching some kind of ferocious organized ballet with the penalty for error being a straight line into the blocks. Despite all the viciousness however, despite the side by side, wheel to wheel combat, the thrill became the ultimate reward. Sure, some will object, claiming the time honored phrase “winning is everything”, but at the end of the day there was something else to encapsulate the occasion. Something much greater then a spot on the podium, or a big foam board check. In the end, there was thrill and there was camaraderie. Sure, winning may mean something, but the experience meant everything.
The Final Standings
1st. Elena Corrigall
2nd. Tamara Prader
3rd. Anna O’Neill
1st. Patrick Switzer
2nd. Byron Essert
3rd. Jomar Guzman
The Catalina Island Classic is something of a rarity within our sport. An event that is based upon a race, but at its core is all about an experience. It’s not about just venturing to another odd little corner of the earth to compete in a competition, it’s about celebrating what we have grown up on this little spec of mud in a sea of darkness to do: live. The Catalina Island Classic experience is therefore something beyond skateboarding, as skateboarding-centric as it may be. It is a moment of reprieve from the push and pull of our daily existence to remind ourselves and everyone else why we do what it is that we do. That at the core of all our competitive lives, lies one very simple often overlooked thought. That thought ultimately being, to live, and to live boldly, vivaciously, and to the fullest of our own potential. To exist genuinely and purely for the experience that is life itself. This, as a whole, is skateboarding, this is downhill.
A very, very, very sincere thank you to Resource Distribution and Riviera Skateboards for getting me there, housing me, and for throwing such an epically fantastic event. Additionally, a huge thanks to all of the sponsors of the event, Loaded, Otang, Abec 11, Resource Distribution, Paris, Divine, Riviera Skateboards, and anyone else I missed. Also a proper nod to Brent “Dubes” for all of the organization before, during, and after the race. We owe you a lot for making the scene a better place. An additional thanks to all of the course workers, the people of Catalina for putting up with our raucous behavior over the weekend, and to everyone who skated, partied, or otherwise had a hand in making this weekend simply incredible. Thank you.
Stay tuned for another article to go live on Loaded Boards Ambassador Blog featuring more all original photography as well as additional words regarding the event from yours truly. Furthermore, additional photos from the weekend will be posted on The Gel Lab Facebook page soon, so peep dat.
Thanks for reading, now go skate.
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