It’s taken us to 4 Continents. It’s been a worldwide adventure through the highways and by-ways of Australia, Brazil, United States, and finally Europe. The journey on this inaugural Van’s park series started in Melbourne, Australia, 4 months ago. Embassy’s “Beast from the East” Collin Graham visited Oz for the 2nd time in less than a month, to compete in the 1st round of the Van’s Qualifier. Five challengers made the cut to earn a chance to skate in the Semi-finals alongside the 15 Van’s selected Pro’s. Only 20 skaters would be in the semi’s at each stop. Judging was based on “overall impression” which meant MAKE IT LOOK GOOD! Mix up your runs. Don’t start from the same place every time, don’t keep trying the same ole’ run every time, get creative. That’s exactly what Collin did at every stop, he made it look good; tweaking his airs higher than most, using every inch of the park and obstacles, skating fast, putting an exclamation mark on a speed thrills attitude. He skated with total style that captivated the crowd everywhere he went. He made it to the semi’s at every stop, (Except Hasting, Canada, which he had to cancel last minute). Melbourne was the testing ground for the first qualifier held at St Kilda Skatepark. The park was designed by Ozzie legend Renton Miller. It had the Dragon extension that would serve it’s purpose.
Collin, Boneless one of the Dragon Extension
The qualifier was intense, filled with “Thrills & Spills’. Alex Sorgente cracked his coconut and had to get some staples but joined the contest on Saturday. The Finals were a battle between Pedro Barros & Chris Russell. Chris won the Finals on his 3rd run. The format there was best run counts. You could blow your wad in the 1st 3 runs and bring it home on the 4th. Melbourne was a great time!
Pedro Barros is in No Holds Barred, Full Throttle, 100 miles an hour, in your face AGGRO ZONE!
Next stop was Florianopolis, Brazil, home of the infamous “RTMF” crew. This place is always Paradise Wonderland for the skate culture. We didn’t waste anytime and headed to the park straight from the plane. Todd Prince signed up to be part of the posse, so we were in for some good fun.
This part of the tour would be the Pedro Barros show! No Shit, I’m not just saying that because some gnarly hood rat Brazilian behind an ally told me to. PEDRO killed it. The home crowd was louder than any contest I’d been to since the early days of S.U.A.S (Shut up and Skate) during the ’80’s. Pedro claimed the home honors on this leg of the tour.
The Barros clan rules these lands. You can’t go 2 blocks without seeing a Layback Beer ad, or poster, or a picture of Pedro, Felipe, Vi or Murilo repping the brand. The RTMF vibe was the sickest and most positive vibe towards the brotherhood, but take note the Brazilian’s don’t fuck around. You come here you better respect the land, the culture, the people, or you might end up like… well, that’s another story!! After it was all said and done – Italian, Ivan Federico, and American, Kevin Kowalski, joined Pedro on the podium.
The 3rd stop of the tour was a scratch for us, due to unfriendly Canadian rules. Having missed the Hasting’s contest, we were almost sure that the World Championships in Sweden would be impossible to reach. However, onward through the fog to the annual Van’s US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California we went. This place was a zoo. 104 selected skaters from all over the world competed to qualify for 8 spots in the semi’s. Embassy had a posse from Texas on hand for this gathering. Ben Johnson, Zach Castillo & Jake Kirby, joined Collin on this one. We also had Embassy Artist Shane Munce on hand to enjoy in the fun!
Zach Castillo turned out to be a crowd favorite. Zach killed it with his array of lip tricks taking them to revert and his smooth, buttery Madonna’s. His custom grip tape was classic! He impressed all at hand, and kept the Texas Renegade spirit alive and to true form.
Collin qualified 5th. In the Semi’s, he missed the cut by one, finishing 9th for the 2nd contest in a row.
Collin was truly a crowd favorite, he went higher, and tweaked his arsenal with an urban assault!
After all was said and done – after 8 hours of world class skateboarding, Chris Russell stood on top of the podium to claim his 2nd win of the tour!
ON TO MALMO SWEDEN FOR THE VAN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!
Collin never made it to the finals, but earned enough points for a trip to Malmo Sweden for the first ever Van’s Park Series World Championships. Sweden was sure to be a trip for the ages, billed as the Park World Championships. The top 20 bowl riders, on the raddest park terrain in the world – Grant Taylor, Ronnie Sandavol, Pedro Barros, Alex Sorgente, Chris Muscle, Kevin Kowalski, Ben Hatchell, Greyson Fletcher, all of them. After all was said and done, a .032 separated Collin and Ivan Federico, 8th & 9th place. Ivan went on to kill it in the finals, earning a spot on the podium behind Brazilian charger, and favorite Pedro Barros. The World Champion was none other than our good friend from Florida via Italy, Alex Sorgente. The skating he displayed during his 45 second run was one for the ages. 20 years from now, they’ll still be talking about it. Congrats to EVERYBODY that contributed. Big Texas shout out to Van’s for doing such an amazing job and The Boardr for keeping it all in check, and KEEPING IT FUN.
The first ever Van’s Park Series World Champion is Alex Sorgente. He killed all day, Qualifying 1st, and keeping that momentum into the finals to slay the rest of the field. Couldn’t happen to a better, cooler guy. He’s been skating since he could walk. CONGRATS ALEX!!
SIDE BAR NOTE: Contest scoring is subjective to what the judges are looking for on that day. We here at Embassy Skateboards are very proud of Collin Graham and all the effort he put forward to show the world he belongs on one of its biggest stages. Missing the cut by ONE (9th place), at 3 contest this year only gives him more motivation. And we’re not all about contest either. WE’RE ABOUT HAVING FUN. Whether it’s a backyard pool session with 4-5 friends, having a speed line down a rad 14 story parking garage, or finding and sweeping out a fun skate-able ditch, it’s all about the stoke. The Coastal Edge / Van’s East coast Surfing Championships in Virginia Beach this week will feature a vert demo on the beach. Embassy fork crew shredders will be entertaining the crowd. Henry Gutierrez, Collin, Nathan Midgette, and Ronan Livingston will be on hand along with the Van’s Vert Nobles. After VB, it’s on to San Jose, California for the annual World Cup Skateboarding Tim Brauch Memorial, where “Double D” Dave Duncan will be calling the Thrills & Spills. A slew of the Texas Posse will be making the trip as well. Expect Ben Johnson, Zach Castillo and Gary Morris to join the Nor Cal chapter with the Folsom’s and Pat Black. Fun stuff on the radar keeps the PMA switch activated. Embassy Proud