It's do-or-die time for Seth Riveras, as the 14-year-old plummets down one of Phoenix Skate Park's six-foot bankramps on his skateboard, blasting blindly toward a thigh-high obstacle known as a pyramid. Seconds before colliding with the trapezoid, Riveras pops his ride skyward, flying over any danger while the board spins 180 degrees under his feet. He reconnects with his deck on the flip side, soaking up cheers from other ollie all-stars in attendance.
The sick stunt, known as a "varial flip," is one of the exploits Riveras will pull out of his tricktionary when competing in this weekend's Lords of Dogtown Skatepark Jam, despite needing more than 20 attempts to pull off the midair maneuver. "It takes a while for me to get warmed up," Riveras says, after asking friends, "Dude, did you see me pull that sweet varial?"
Riveras' board buddies aren't the only ones who'll critique his technique, as amateur participants aged 13 and older will be rated by judges on their execution, creativity and consistency while navigating the skate park's advanced course. The no-cost competition is part of a nationwide promotion hyping the new skater flick Lords of Dogtown. Sponsors, pro skaters, and Dogtown's filmmaker and cast members will pick three overall finalists to be flown to Las Vegas later this month to compete on MTV's TRL for a 50-inch Sony Wega plasma high-definition television.
But Phoenix Skate Park general manager Justin Fronda also promises plenty of swag, such as stickers and tee shirts.
"That's why the kids come half the time," Fronda says. "They get a free sticker and it's like you made their day. Skateboarding's pretty dope like that."
After all, you can't spell competition without "comp."