The PHXAM skate competition was larger than you'd imagine. The Phoenix skateboarding showcase took over Desert West Skateboard Plaza on April 5 and 6, giving skateboarders from all over the world an opportunity to test their mettle in the desert heat.
We were impressed by the caliber of skaters at the PHXAM competition. This wasn't just a handful of local skateboarders competing for a title. Sponsored skateboarders from around the world competed, and some of skateboarding's largest media outlets including Thrasher and Skateboarder Magazine were on hand to capture the action.
All of the competitors were young men. The youngest rider that we saw was Jagger Eaton, of Mesa. This 13-year-old already has a variety of sponsors and took fifth place in the competition.
Matt Berger of Kamloops, Canada, was the big winner of the event, walking away with $3,000.
Skateboarding is not easy. Anyone who pursues the sport has the scars and broken bones to prove it. We were amazed to see that none of the competitors wore protective gear. Falls happened a lot more frequently than expected, and breaking a board was a regular occurrence. Fortunately, Cowtown had plenty of extra boards on hand, and spectators and competitors alike had no qualms about sharing gear.
What impressed us the most was seeing so many professional skateboarders work in unison in the skate park. Riders appeared to come dangerously close to each other, but impacts were minimal, and no hit looked too painful.
The competition wrapped up with a 30-minute best trick segment over a Red Bull feature. Unlike the general heats, which took place in waves, all competing skateboarders took to the blocked off course at the same time and were instructed that only west-facing tricks would count.
This was really fascinating to watch in a competition setting. Sometimes, as many as four skateboarders used a feature at one time, launching over the ramp to try and land their best tricks. Most attempts were not completed, but this resulted in the skaters landing in a run and chasing after their boards, which usually tapped a fan or two in the foot.
If you missed the action over the weekend, take a look at our PHXAM 2014 slideshow.