Maloof Money Cup NYC finals
Chris Cole repeats as Maloof champ after edging out Paul Rodriguez in a heated final
2010 Maloof Money Cup NYC
King Cole repeats as Maloof champ. Gallery »
The 2010 Maloof Money Cup NYC is a wrap and man, Sunday's finals could not have been more dramatic if they were scripted. With a tornado watch issued for the borough of Queens for the entire day, ominous clouds and high winds threatened to spoil the fun all afternoon. Save for a few droplets that slicked up the 9-stair rail during the last heat on the last obstacle of the day, it actually didn't start to rain until seconds after the final ended. It was as though the gods were waiting for Chris Cole, Bastien Salabanzi, Torey Pudwill and Paul Rodriguez to finish their epic last-heat battle for the Cup and the $100,000 first prize before they unleashed their wrath.
As everyone ran for shelter, the finalists were left to wonder who had won what. Luckily, the rain was powerful but brief and we all soon reconvened on the street course to hear Brian Schaeffer and Ryan Clements of SPoTlight Productions tell everyone that Chris Cole had emerged victorious.
Before the finals and the rain, the day got rolling with the world's most talented ams battling it out. It was cool to see the way some ams attacked the course differently than their pro counterparts. Birdhouse's Clint Walker gapped off the deck atop the 9-stair to front board the adjacent 6-stair rail, clearing a distance of close to six feet. Fiveboro's Willy Akers ollied down the course's 6-stair to land in a 50-50 on the curb along its base.
Felipe Gustavo, this year's am champ, looked like a smaller version of his Plan B teammate Paul Rodriguez and approached the course in a similarly meticulous manner. Gustavo made a point to hit every obstacle in every section and it paid off.
After the am contest wrapped, but before the pro finals got under way, the crowd was treated to the Luis Tolentino show. The Shut skateboards rider is a high ollie champion and native of Queens, and he grabbed $1,400 from the Maloofs, the SPoT staff and Famous Stars and Straps team captain Felix Arguelles for a massive frontside 180 off the 9-stair stage over the adjacent 6-stair rail. To have the hometown crowd chanting for Tolentino to pull it was heartwarming, to say the least.
Everyone in the finals skated at such a high level it was hard to blink, as you'd inevitably miss some impressive trick. Peter Ramondetta charged a kickflip backside lipslide across the Union Square replica rail. Sierra Fellers turned up the heat, tossing a perfect nollie flip and perfect switch flip down the 9-stair. Ryan Decenzo kickflip noseblunt slid the 6-stair rail while his new Darkstar teammate, Greg Lutzka, unleashed his usual blizzard of tech moves including frontside 180 flip nosegrinds down the hubba ledge and frontside 270 lipslides down the 9-stair rail.
The top four from Saturday's prelims remained the top four competitors through the finals, though their positions switched a bit. The level of talent and consistency among the group that includes Bastien Salabanzi, Chris Cole, Paul Rodriguez and Torey Pudwill is otherworldly. Trying to keep up with all the tricks they were pulling at once was a serious task and it was anyone's guess who'd take top honors until the announcement was made.
Salabanzi, who's seeing a renaissance in his career after removing himself from the spotlight years back, showed the crowd in Flushing that he's still got the talent that made him a teen phenom. Salabanzi's cab double flips and nollie heel frontside boardslide down the 6-stair rail won him new fans in New York. He had the packed crowd screaming his name at the end of the final.
Torey Pudwill switch flipped over the hubba ledge, laser flipped the Unisphere replica grate and dropped tricks until the last second on the clock.
The story of the friendly rivalry between Rodriguez and Cole got another chapter in today's finals. Rodriguez rattled off tricks and meticulously hit every obstacle while Cole seemed a little faster and looser until the final obstacle of the day, the 9-stair rail. With the rain about to dump on the skaters and the crowd, Cole and Rodriguez landed enough amazing tricks to fill a video part. Rodriguez's switchstance onslaught on the rail included a switch lipslide, switch backside lipslide, switch crooked grind and switch Smith grind. Cole pulled a backside 270 lipslide, a switch frontside flip and 360 flip. These guys had only six minutes on each obstacle area; their trick-to-time ratio was ludicrous.
In the end it was Chris Cole's day, Chris Cole's cup and Chris Cole's $100,000. Cole won the cup in Costa Mesa last summer but fell short in '08, getting second to Rodriguez in the contest's inaugural year. Barring contract or rule changes in the upcoming Street League contest series, Cole and Rodriguez won't compete against each other in X Games 16 or the next Maloof Money Cup in Costa Mesa, Calif., but will meet again at the first Street League event in Ontario, Calif. on Aug. 28.