Around The Horn — Riedl, Jamal, Tiago & Busenitz Weigh In On 2018’s World Championship Game of S.K.A.T.E.

Throughout most of our lifetimes, the four-peat has been elusive in professional sports. (The last one was the New York Islanders’ dynastic run of Stanley Cup wins from 1980 until 1983.) This weekend, however, we approach the real possibility of the first four-peat of the new millennium: Wade Desarmo could become the World Champion of Skateboarding for the fourth time in a row.

Only one obstacle stands in his way: winner of Thrasher’s 2013 “Skater of the Year” Award and recurring recipient of Quartersnacks’ more encompassing “Best Skater” award, Ishod Wair.

Your local shop, bar, and T.F. bench has no doubt been abuzz with predictions about this weekend’s game, but predictions seem split down the middle. Sure, Ishod is the Best Skater™ — except who wants to be the contrarian in the room doubting a three-time repeating champion? Since none of us have ever played a World Champion in S.K.A.T.E. before, our opinions are reduced to amateur guesswork. To get some real insight, we contacted Wade’s past three Glory Challenge opponents and Dennis Busenitz, who once famously swept him in an obscure exhibition series called “Battle at the Berrics,” for their predictions.

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An Interview With Jamal Smith

WorldChampion_Jamal

Photo by Nathan Éthier-Myette

Words by Zach Baker

Becoming a professional skateboarder seems pretty tough. You have to get really good at it, but it’s not about who’s the best. Everyone is too good for us to tell the difference at this point. The people who sustain themselves in skateboarding the longest are those with charisma and moxie — “something else.”

Jamal Smith has been exemplary in this regard, pretty much since the invention of YouTube. He finessed himself into the public eye with the Tornado Spin trick tip ten years ago. But, as evidenced by his Sabotage 4 opener, the new Palace clip, his pre-Glory Challenge pseudo-prize fighter Instagram campaign, and most importantly, getting on Stingwater, the dude has been especially feeling it as of the past year or so. I checked in with him outside of the Glory Challenge trying to roll a joint in the wind. He had just suffered a heart-wrenching loss to Wade Desarmo — but he was fine with it. His phone was blowing the fuck up. They both won.

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You just skated against defending titleholder Wade Desarmo in the the Dime World Championship Game of S.K.A.T.E. What was it like going into that for you?

It’s all about theatrics. At the end of the day, if you can put on a good show, it doesn’t matter who comes in first or last. But I mean, of course I wanted that $150,000 or whatever the fuck these Dime niggas are joking about. I was nervous as fuck though. I know I can’t kickflip and this nigga has all the kickflips.

When you saw the kickflip, what was going through your mind?

It was like everything went in slow motion. I felt every drop of sweat running down my face, I saw all the reactions, all the eyes on me. I had to turn inward, and I knew I was fucked.

You rattled off a couple tricks, right?

Yeah, because I’m that nigga. You spin to win. Unfortunately, I didn’t win.

Do you hope to battle him again next year?

Hell no. I’m just trying to smoke everybody else’s weed and watch motherfuckers huck their bodies down the biggest gaps onto swords and numchucks.

You live in Philadelphia?

Yeah, I’m originally from Ohio. I lived there until I was like 11. Then I lived in Massachusetts, and I lived in Ithaca [New York] after that.

Why’d you move around?

My mom passed when I was 11. I was a ward of the state, which meant I had no legal guardian and I had to stay in Ohio until I found someone who would take care of me. At the time, my sister was living in Massachusetts and took me in. I lived in Northampton, some weird little area in Western Massachusetts.

Did you start skating there?

Yeah, I want to say that I was maybe 14 when I started to really get into it. 11 to 13, I was on my Rocket Power shit, riding rollerblades, bikes, whatever the fuck, I didn’t care.

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