Red Bull crowns new “King of Campus”

Spinnaker

The sun was shining, the tunes were jamming, the hot dogs were sizzling, the Red Bull was flowing and the skateboards were popping, sliding, grinding, rolling and flying through the air. This painted the scene at the Red Bull King of the Campus Challenge that went down at the UNF Skate Park Feb. 12. People came in droves for the second annual event that showcased the best the UNF skate scene has to offer.

In a hotly contested six-man final, Brooks Jones, a UNF public relations junior, won it all, landing the sickest tricks with regularity. His blunt double flip in the final jam may have been what put him over the top.

Jones said he’d been working on that trick and really wanted to get it.

“Fortunately, I was able to stick it today,” he said.

Jones performed his victory on a sprained ankle. Both his doctor and his mother urged him not to skate, but he ignored them and went on to claim the first prize.

“I’ll probably have to stay off this ankle for a month now,” Jones said.

The crowd slowly began to assemble outside UNF Skate Park at high noon, setting up chairs and tents, assembling around Red Bull tables or relaxing on one of two massive bean bag chairs set up just outside the fenced-in park.

Skaters of all ages warmed up their trucks on the concrete park’s ramps, rails and benches as the always-ready Red Bull girls roamed among the crowd offering free cans of Red Bull out of their cooler backpacks.

Spy Optic set up a tent and a grill to give out free hot dogs and hamburgers to hungry attendees, and The Inform Collective clothing company was there giving out shirts, burgers and dogs, as well. DJ Art Benson was also there, blaring and blending all kinds of jams from Snoop Dogg to Sublime from the Red Bull truck in the back of the park. A guy known as “Wildman” hosted the event, keeping everyone abreast of the tricks being pulled off and where skaters were “comin’ in hot!”

The event was judged on a scale of one to 100 in five categories to determine the winner: number of tricks accomplished, flow around the course, style, creativity and difficulty. The 23 skaters, all from UNF by rule, were separated into five groups for the competition. Each rider of the group got two 45-second runs to show their stuff all over the course before the whole group got a five-minute jam session where they shared the park. After each group, the judges determined a group winner, who sat on the Red Bull throne until another skater beat his overall score. Each group winner was also guaranteed a spot in the final.

Local professional skateboarder Mike Peterson helped decide the winner as the head judge of the contest, along with last year’s winner and Phil Hallomon, a UNF alumnus, Cullen Traverso and Joey Corey. Peterson, who is a former Tampa Am champion and placed ninth overall in the 2007 Tampa Pro, was impressed with the increased level of talent at this year’s competition.

“It’s cool to see the level of skating improve, how much kids know now compared to when I was their age.”

While Jones was happy to be taking home the grand prize, two VIP tickets to the Daytona 500, he was quick to complement his competitors.

“Everyone was just killin’ it out there today,” he said. “Especially Scott Brightman. He can do stuff I’ll probably never be able to do on ledges and rails.”

Brightman indeed did impress, so much so that even though he did not win his group outright, the judges decided to throw him in as a wild card sixth qualifier for the final. He ended up finishing fifth overall. Meanwhile, Steven Nasso finished in second, Timothy Thompson took third and Jon Weiss was fourth. Nicolas Barrio also qualified for the final.

This was Jones’ second year at the competition after he was disqualified last year for not being a UNF student. This year he’s enrolled, and he loves coming to UNF Skate Park.

“This is the local spot,” the Clearwater native said. “It’s a great time. Local skaters come out; it just makes for a good competition.”

Peterson agreed that the park fosters a great environment for Jacksonville skaters.

“It’s rad they built this park at a college,” he said. “It shows UNF backs the skateboarding community.”

As far as competitions go, Jones hasn’t done much since he was younger, he mainly just sticks to the streets of Jacksonville Beach, where he lives.

“When I’m not at school, I’m pretty much skating streets and filming,” Jones said.

The most important decision Jones has ahead of him now is who to take with him to Daytona.

“We’ll see,” he said with a smile.

The competition grew in both skaters and spectators this year.

“It shows that skating has a following at UNF and can be something that’s huge,” Peterson said.