Skateboarding competitions have lost their way. There was once a time when contests felt more like family reunions than tournaments. It was just a bunch of old friends coming together over a shared love of skating, and the prize money was so small no one gave a shit who won. That's all changed over the past two decades due to an influx of outsiders offering six-figure prize purses. Today, skate competitions are like, well, competitions. Hell, skaters even have coaches who help them stretch their glutes and strategize safe runs in hopes of taking home the big bucks.
L. Ron Hubbard once said, "When a culture has fallen totally away from spiritual pursuits into materialism, one must begin by demonstrating they are each a soul, not a material animal." Thankfully the skateboarding world has the Dime Glory Challenge to save our souls. The DGC, for the uninitiated, is the greatest competition mankind has yet created. The most accurate way to describe it would be as a less boring Olympics crossed with American Ninja Warrior, Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, Forged in Fire, and Top Gun.
If that sounds confusing, just watch the below video:
"The Glory Challenge," according to Phil Lavoie, co-owner of DIME MTL, the skate crew turned fashion icons behind the contest, "is like the NBA or NHL All-Star weekend. The results don't matter whatsoever. It's just a big skateboard party."
What that means, in practice, is a series of nonsensical challenges designed more to make skateboarders laugh and have a good time than showcase actual talent.
Dime's premiere anti-skateboard contest has steadily grown in size, scale, and comedic execution since its inception in a small, private warehouse in 2015. And thanks to this year's title sponsor DC Shoes, which infused the event with an undisclosed but surely exorbitant amount of money, production values at last weekend's challenge hit new heights with the inclusion of pyrotechnics and helicopters.
Danny Way, a man who literally jumps out of helicopters and into vert ramps on skateboards, called the Dime Glory Challenge "by far one of the gnarliest events I've ever been to in my life. Humor and crazy ass skateboarding is a pretty fun combination."
"We don't even look at this like a contest," DC's global skate team manger, Jimmy Astelford, said. "You show up to the Glory Challenge to win fun. Not for fame or to win a big ass check."
For this year's installment, Dime and DC flew 50 of the most beloved skaters to Montreal to compete in seven challenges (and 28 notable, choreographed moments according to Dime's Phil Lavoie) ranging from theatrical to silly to damn near deadly. Here's a breakdown of each challenge.
The Speed Challenge
A classic and one of the most beloved challenges, the Speed Challenge involves trying to do a trick while simultaneously breaking the land speed record on a skateboard. As in previous years, skaters came flying down the mini-mega ramp wearing their mandatory speed shades, flicking their best kickflip or bigspin or whatever their chosen trick while hurtling through time and space. Alltimer's pro Zered Bassett blew minds with his Mach 10 switch flip, but the real highlight was the intensity and absurdity in which announcer and FAZE frontman Conor Neeson delivered the play-by-play. Most sporting events require a modicum of composure and professionalism from their announcers, but Neeson's commentary was all "HOLY FUCKING SHIT! DID YOU FUCKING SEE THAT?" and "WHAT THE FUCK? JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!" Thankfully, Dime recognizes Neeson's brand of comedy and crowd motivation is as much a part of the success of the DGC as the challenges, and he was encouraged to curse and scream to his heart's content.
They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and for the third year running this challenge asks contestants to land their tricks in the very heinous and very forced gangster style that was somewhat fashionable in skateboarding for a few years at the turn of the century. To add to the gangster punchline, this year Dime flew in the yellow couch Wade DesArmo switch pop shoved in his That's Official video part. Sadly, new Baker Skateboards pro Tristan "TFunk" Funkhouser took Jake Johnson's board to his head while sitting on the couch and was sent to the hospital. But the band played on.
The challenge is simple: eight skaters in a circle trying to knock each other off their boards. The execution, on the other hand, is not so easy. The skater must tic-tac rather than push around (a foot on the ground is instant disqualification). Last year, gladiators battled it out on a circle painted on the floor. This year, thanks to the massive budget increase, Dime was able to create a battle platform raised high above the crowd and a massive foam pit. Seeing actual gladiator Danny Way enjoying himself in the fray was one of the highlights of the entire afternoon.
World Championship Game of S.K.A.T.E.
I have always likened the styles and personalities of Canadian skaters to that of their Brazilian counterparts, so I found it hilarious that Dime would pit two-time champion Wade DesArmo against Brazil's latest superhuman, Tiago Lemos, in skateboarding's equavilant of H.O.R.S.E. In true wrestling fashion, the native son and crowd favorite DesArmo never took a letter and made easy work of the Brazilian everyone around the globe had put their money on.
In his brief but timeless moment in the spotlight Joe Valdez became known for skating skinny ass ledges. Over the past three years Dime has elevated Valdez from cult-hero to God status. This year skaters gapped off a double set of stairs to a narrow ledge before Valdez announced the challenge wasn't Valdez enough. The man-bun magician conjured up a flat bar out of the ledge for Quasi Skateboards' Josh Wilson to have his way with.
Triple Flip Mystery Challenge
One of the three new challenges for 2017 earned Zero Skateboards' JS Lapierre 50,000 space bucks for landing the elusive triple flip down the double set from the Valdez challenge. Dime probably spent nearly as much money on the 20-minute confetti shower (main image) that rained down after JS landed it.
My second favorite challenge for the simple reason that it could have sent spectators to the hospital. The race consisted of skaters coming down the roll in, ollieing over three consecutive hurdles, and then either breaking their board or throwing them into the crowd blindly and racing back to the roll in. I watched at least a dozen flying skateboards nearly hit kids in the head; it's the closet I've ever seen to a Nascar wreck first-hand.
The greatest skateboarding challenge ever concocted is a direct dig at Scientology, as this firey kickflip challenge was inspired by the Dianetics book cover. As the pyrotechnics team shot 15-foot flames into the air announcer Conor Neeson told the crowd, "75 million years ago, billions of people were murdered via volcanic cremation. Thetans were unwillingly released into suppressive engrams. This is our chance to get revenge on Xenu." The footage of Brazil's Yuri Facchini's 21-foot kickflip shifty across the gap is absolutely mind-melting.
But where does the DGC go from here? It depends on who you ask.
Danny Way, the most daring and death defying skateboarder of all time, who fell in love with the DGC, is already plotting 2018. "I was just brainstorming some ideas for next year." Way said, "I was thinking you could take a huge air bag and people grab their board, drop from the sky and get bounced off the bag into a big bank."
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