B$Z: Street League Skateboarding Kicked off the 2015 Season with the World-Renowned Tampa Pro
Another season of the Street League Skateboarding (SLS) premiere elite competition series kicked off this weekend with the 21st annual Tampa Pro, a newly integrated partner event for the SLS Nike SB World Tour that installed it as the North American Qualifier preceding the official Tour. With the most impressive standard of skateboarding in the history of the event, Nike SB Pro and fan favorite Luan Oliveira shone through to take a well-deserved first place, winning him $20,000 and the Monster Energy Golden Ticket. Close on his heels were last year’s winner and Monster Energy Pro Nyjah Huston and goofy-footed Brazilian Kelvin Hoefler, who together with Felipe Gustavo earned their place in this years Tour.
The Tampa Pro has been a fixed date in skateboarding’s calendar since it’s inception in 1995, and continues today as one of the most respected pro-level events in core skateboarding. However, the stakes have never been higher, with the top two non-SLS Pros being granted entrance into the elite SLS Nike SB World Tour athlete lineup and the overall first place winner of Tampa Pro claiming the highly coveted Monster Energy Golden Ticket – an express pass straight to the 2015 SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship. In keeping with the elevated stakes for this year’s event, the recently rebuilt Skatepark of Tampa presented a faster and more flowing course that allowed the more tech skaters to step it up for high-scoring tricks, keeping both the crowd and the skaters themselves on their toes.
The 2015 Tampa Pro kicked off Saturday with the Qualifiers to determine those competing in the SemiFinals on Sunday, in which 32 Pros battled it out for the 10 exclusive spots in the afternoon’s Finals. For his first Finals run, winner Luan Oliveira put an amazing 91 on the scoreboard, Frontside Flipping the pyramid rail to open, then followed with a solid run that included 270 Lipslide up onto the kinked rail, a Switch Frontside 360 on the hip and a textbook Switch Frontside Kickflip down the stairs. In response, Nyjah Huston earned an impressive score of 90 coming in strong with a perfect Kickflip over the pyramid to Frontside Boardslide and into a lofty Caballerial Flip on the hip. The contention between these two remained throughout, until for his final run Oliveira produced another flawless performance that earned him the day’s top score of 94.67. Known for his ability to pull out the winning wildcard under the most severe pressure, Huston couldn’t quite bump his fellow SLS Pro out of top place; a solid run ending with a locked-in Nollie Nosegrind through the pyramid rail saw him come up slightly short with the day’s second-highest score of 93.33.
As the top two Qualifiers on Saturday that shot them straight through to Sunday’s Finals, SLS Pros Shane O’Neill and Ishod Wair also put on a quality show for the fans and judges alike. Although back from an injury, Wair made strong moves to amp the crowd with a Frontside Boardslide up the handrail, a Nollieflip Boardslide straight back down it and into a Blunt Kickflip to Fakie on the big quarterpipe. In his typical tech fashion, Monster Energy Pro Shane O’Neill casually Krooked Grinded up the big hubba, Switch 360 Flipped the stairs and got the fans on their feet with a perfect Bigspin Backside Tailslide to Fakie down the handrail. While not making it to the podium for the 2015 Tampa Pro, both gained points towards the 2015 SLS Nike SB World Tour.
Also earning his place on the Tour this year is third-place winner and SLS newcomer Kelvin Hoefler, clearly demonstrating his pro-level status with high-speed Frontside Bluntslides through the rainbow box, effortless Frontside Blunts on the big quarterpipe and perfectly executed Kickflip Lipslides over the pyramid. Joining him as a new SLS Pro for 2015 is fourth-place winner and Nike SB Pro Trevor Colden, nailing his speedy Frontside Noseblunt Slides across the rainbow box every time.
Other highlights of the 2015 Tampa Pro Finals included: 2013 SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Champ Chris Cole’s airy Japan Grabs over the pyramid; SLS Pro Chaz Ortiz’s perfect run that ended with a Kickflip Frontside Noseslide down the handrail; Nike SB Pro Youness Amrani’s Switch Lipslide to fakie through the pyramid rail; and the mid-blowing Kickflip late Shuvit right over the pyramid to the flat, winning Ryan Decenzo the best trick of the day.
As the first Tampa Pro to be incorporated as the North American Qualifier for SLS, this year’s event most definitely lived up to its reputation and fan’s expectation. The official SLS Nike SB World Tour kicks off this May with the SLS Nike SB Pro Open, debuting a new global program as the first-ever independent international event on the SLS calendar. This contest establishes a forum for the world’s best to shine alongside the elite of SLS to qualify directly into the 2015 SLS Nike SB World Tour. For date and location details for the coming SLS Nike SB World Tour, go to StreetLeague.com.
For full highlights and re-airs of the exclusive webcast visit StreetLeague.com and SkateparkofTampa.com. Fans across the country can watch the 2015 SLS Nike SB World Tour, skateboarding’s most prestigious competition series, on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports GO, while fans around the world can catch the official Street League live webcasts on StreetLeague.com.
For more visit information visit StreetLeague.com. For all media inquiries contact Sarah Bronilla at VOCAL: sarah@VOCALnyc.com or John Stouffer at FOX Sports: john.stouffer@FOX.com.