Want gnarly? Street League Skateboarding opens 6th season
By BERNIE WILSON=
AP Sports Writer=
Chris Cole and his fellow competitors will have plenty of it when the sixth season of Street League Skateboarding begins Saturday at USC's Galen Center in Los Angeles.
''The competition is heavier than ever, which is really great for the whole of skateboarding as well as the contest,'' said Cole, who claimed the $200,000, winner-take-all final in 2013 before tumbling to ninth place overall last season. ''Each year I say I can't imagine these guys being any gnarlier, any better, and each year they come out crazier and heavier. This is intense.''
It's also highly profitable to the winner, who will pocket $100,000 and earn a golden ticket into the SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship in Chicago on Oct. 4.
The 33-year-old Cole will be in the field of 25, as will the seemingly unbeatable Nyjah Huston. Huston, 20, swept the tour last year, including winning his third Super Crown since skater and MTV star Rob Dyrdek founded Street League in 2010.
Huston is among the younger skaters who continually make the tour more challenging.
''Some of the competitors are pretty young and are growing into their manly side of skateboarding,'' said Cole, a transplant from Philadelphia who lives in northern San Diego County, with a skate park on his property. ''They were good and ripping, but now they have power and have the mind for it. It is a mental game and physical game.
''They have to be on that sort of mental A game even when they're not in the arena. If you haven't practiced any nine-point tricks, you can land all you want but if other guys are landing psychotic nine-point tricks, you're not winning the contest.''
Cole and Sean Malto are the only skaters other than Huston to have won a Street League final.
''There's a lot to it,'' Cole said of Huston's domination. ''It's not just one thing. One is his upbringing. He was bred as a skater. He grew up skating his entire life. He works at it very hard all the time. He seems to have very little fear to try these psychotic moves. He sees in slow motion. His brain processes in slow motion If you see the way his feet move, if his board is anywhere close to his feet, he'll land it.''
Cole said he ''got kind of wrapped up in my own brain'' in finishing ninth overall last year. He said he's done well in two Street League-sanctioned events earlier this year.
He at least knows what it takes to win in SLS.
''You can skate like an absolute animal and land yourself in second place. You can land everything you wanted to land, insane tricks, and you get second. The difference between second and first is, for the first-place dude, everything worked out and he risked getting eighth. Second place, you're consistently ripping on your skateboard. First, you're an animal and a gambler. I like both those things.''
The course for Saturday's contest was inspired by Luan Oliveira, who won last year's People's Champ award. It will have the usual obstacles while providing the opportunity for skaters to get massive air.
''It looks really fun,'' Cole said. ''Even if it didn't look really fun, I want to believe it looks really fun. I want to have a fun time. It looks very different, which is what we've come to expect from Street League. People get a different type of contest considering the obstacles out there.''
Also in the field will be Paul Rodriguez, Ryan Sheckler, Shane O'Neill and Chaz Ortiz.
The second tour stop will be Aug. 23 in Newark, New Jersey.
Cole recently released his sequel documentary, ''Motivation 2: The Chris Cole Story.''
Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson