The professional contest at this year’s Round Up was one of the most intense I have seen, with riders jumping up and down the leaderboard, putting together new runs and combos especially for this contest. The one minute run formula is a key element in making this contest so unique, with the riders having had to adapt their runs accordingly.
The first heat of the Pro contest was one of the most interesting to watch, as these were the guys who were really looking to climb up the ranks. Takashi Suzuki pulled out one of the top runs in this division, flowing effortlessly around the contest area in one fluent motion. If it weren’t for a few slip ups within his run, Takashi could have been a real contender for the title.
Another top rider from this division was Christian Heise, putting together a flawless run and finishing off his run by taking a selfie with the Henri Candioti Skate 4 Fun banner in tribute to its late name sake. Ultimately, Takashi and Christian were the two biggest climbers from the semi-finals, rising from 12th and 11th to 9th and 7th respectively.
Going into the second division, the most interesting riders to watch, in terms of unpredictability, were the newcomers to the Pro contest. Whilst the incredible Stefan “Lillis” Akesson, Lucio Flavio Simas de Lima and Rogerio Antigo were all also competing in this category, they are all renowned for putting together solid contest performances. With Shen “Dominick” Meng and Ryan Brynelson both having put down impressive semi-final runs in their first international pro contests, no-one could really predict what they were going to produce.
It has to be said that Ryan Brynelson has some of the most stylish spins in freestyle right now, with his two board nose spin to one board nose spins being absolutely flawless. Similarly, Shen Meng has a great style too with a very clear influence from more modern Rodney Mullen sections. Whilst they were both exciting to watch, they both dropped a few points in consistency and fell down the leaderboard, with the top scorer of the bracket being 2011 World Champion Stefan “Lillis” Akesson.
In the final heat, Per Cangeru and Rene Shigueto both put together solid runs with a well selected mix of heavy and stylish tricks. For me, the real surprise of the contest was Jesse Whalen. Jesse has been an incredibly underrated freestyler for years and has always had the potential to excel in contests, but I have never seen him put together such a perfect run when it really mattered. If he had landed his ideal run, hints of which we saw during the semi-finals, such as the nollie 540 shove to manual and gazelle from railstand, he could very well have been this year’s champion.
The most exciting showdown of the day was between last year’s 1st and 3rd place riders, Gunter Mokulys and Mike Osterman. Gunter nailed his first run, with an excellent balance of technical stationary and rolling tricks, including the lesser-spotted “old school” 360 kickflip. The top qualifier from the semi-finals, Mike Osterman already knew what he had to do to take the win and just had to put it together. However, after stepping off a few times in his first run, it looked as though it might not be his day.
For Mike, it would come down to the final run of the day if he was to win the contest. Switching up a little from his previous run, Mike put together a flawless run, making full use of the contest area with a varied bag of stylishly executed technical tricks. With just one point separating the two top runs, Mike Osterman walked away with the 2014 Pro World Round Up title, with Gunter Mokulys in second and Jesse Whalen in third.
Overall, this year’s Round Up was a wonderful spectacle to behold. With new tricks, newly crafted routines and new riders, this event has set the standard for the 2014 contest season very high.
With the World Round Up now an annual staple of the freestyle skateboarding contest calendar, it will be interesting to see how the 2015 event will differ from this year’s. Hopefully, the event will see the return of top Japanese riders such as Seya Nakano, Masahiro and Toshiaki Fujii, who could be in contention for the top spots. It would also be great to see what impact 2011 Champions Darryl Grogan and Shaun Gladwell could have on the results were they to return.
Did you enjoy this year’s event? Were there any tricks or runs you particularly enjoyed? What are you looking for from next year’s event? Let us know on the LateTricks facebook page, or tweet us @fslatetricks.