Skatepark and Competition Locale
Constructed right on the beautiful beach in Marina Reserve St. Kilda, St. Kilda Skatepark is a contemporary, next-generation skatepark that is perfect for showcasing the remarkable talent of the men’s competitors in the 2016 Vans Pro Skate Park Series. This is a park that is full of extremely useful transition implements of a small to moderate size range. This type of platform allows competitors to truly expand their horizons and try envelope-pushing tricks in their routines, without an excessively high risk of injury as is more probable with larger scale skatepark design. Utilizing a series of hips and banks in the park design, with plenty of flat-bottom space for riders to transition and flow through, the designers have truly created a skating environment that is very practical and creative at the same time.
In Melbourne, Australia the St. Kilda Skatepark offers some more intense and larger scale ramps and trannys, with the big bowl varying from five feet, to a fairly deep eight feet at the deepest point. What has made this particular skatepark so perfect for the Vans Pro Skate Park Series competitors, among other things, is the fact that the builders used almost exclusively stone coping on the ramps in the park. This variety of granite stone coping is fantastic for extended grinds and slides when sufficiently waxed and broken in, and skateboarders at the Melbourne Official Qualifier were certainly flying across the coping in the St. Kilda Skatepark. The addition of a curved ledge connected with two strategically placed hips is a sort of cherry on top to a serious impressive park for the first Vans Pro Skate Park Series Official Qualifier event in the competition line-up.
Competitor Performances and Scoring
In the Melbourne, Australia Official Qualifier Event, it is definitely clear that the Americans have dominated the competition out of the gate. While one Brazilian competitor, Pedro Barros did manage to show up and represent strongly for his country as well since he came in 2nd place overall in this qualifier. Winning this initial event in the Vans Pro Stake Park series was U.S. skateboarder Chris Russell with a seriously amazing run that had everyone at the event extremely stoked. Russell used his meteoric performance at the Melbourne qualifier to rocket him into first place by a very generous margin.
1st Place – Chris Russell, United States:
Chris Russell’s Melbourne Official Qualifier performance blew many spectator’s minds at the event, as Chris demonstrated next-level control and feel over his board. Exhibiting nearly all high-tier, difficult tricks in his Top Run heat performance, Chris Russell was quite aggressive right out of the gate. It is obvious that Russell has the potential and the drive to win it all here at the 2016 Vans Pro Skate Park Series, but it is definitely still early in the course of the event so it is wise to reserve judgment too early. Coming in with a Top Run score of 89.67, Chris Russell essentially hedged his win over the 2nd place competitor by a whopping five points! This is put into perspective more effectively when it is understood that the margins between the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th finalists in the Melbourne Qualifier were only one point or significantly less than that.
2nd Place – Pedro Barros, Brazil:
Coming in at an admirable 2nd place in the Melbourne Official Qualifying event, Pedro Barros certainly put up an impressive performance. Earning an 84.67 in his Top Run score, Pedro proved to any doubters in the competition or merely spectating that he is here to win, and give it 100%. While sometimes we find that there are competitors on the periphery that are trying to “not take the competition too seriously” in order to help their nerves or overcome competition anxiety, Pedro is not one of these skateboarders as he clearly is totally focused. Nailing virtually all of his main tricks in his Top Run performance, it was easy to understand why the second place title went to Barros in the Melbourne Official Qualifier.
3rd Place – Kevin Kowalski, United States
An innovative skateboarder from the United States, Kevin Kowalski gave a high level effort at the Melbourne Qualifying event and this was reflected in his 3rd place 83.03 scoring. The judging at the Melbourne event was fairly stringent, and therefore at 83.03 was actually an extremely impressive score to have received in this leg of the overall Vans Pro Skate Park Series. Kevin really managed to utilize the gentle yet effectively placed and positioned hips and transfers at the St. Kilda Skatepark in Melbourne, popping high over the coping at certain moments and sliding cleanly across the granite stone coping in expert form. While his trick repertoire may appear to be a bit more towards the tame end at times, Kevin is a conservative rider with a flair for the occasional intensely difficult tricks and maneuvers. Sometimes it is hard what to predict from a Kevin Kowalski run, but it is almost always interesting to observe and his Melbourne, Australia Round One Official Qualifier performance was a perfect example of that.
4th Place – Cory Juneau, United States:
At 4th place in the Melbourne Qualifying Event, Cory Juneau was able to demonstrate some exceptional flip trick precision and skill within his Top Run. Coming in with a Top Run score of 82.67 at the final appraisal, Cory was clearly quite happy with his scoring at the time of the declaration. And who wouldn’t be happy and excited after putting up an 82.67 to start out such a massive competition as the 2016 Vans Pro Park Series? It was a well-deserved scoring decision for Juneau; given that his clean execution of coping tricks and several big flip tricks definitely earned him a high spot on the Melbourne leader board. As a younger competitor out among the bunch, Cory is clearly on his way to earning some serious respect from opponents and spectators alike.
5th Place – Ben Hatchell, United States:
Ben Hatchell of the United States was the Vans Pro Park Series competitor to come in fifth at the Melbourne qualifying event, and he did so despite some slight shakiness during his Top Run. Earning an 81.67 in his Top Run scoring, Ben Hatchell was surely very relieved to be so well positioned despite a near miss in his run. Almost everything else in his run was spot on, and Ben is clearly able to effectively intertwine both vert and street styling in his performances, which is going to be a very strong point to have as we move into the next qualifying events in the 2016 Vans Pro Skate Park Series.