X- Games in Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach --

Note: For several years the X-Games team format surfing competition was held in Huntington Beach, Calif.  Other portions of the X-Games included skateboard competitions at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and a variety of sports competitions throughout West Coast.

Gwen Mickelson: ‘Ratboy’ can’t help West win X-Games title
Santa Cruz was represented in last weekend’s X Games surf event, with local aerial specialist Jason "Ratboy" Collins heading down to Huntington Beach to join the West Coast team.
West wound up losing to East for the second year in a row, even though West had been favored. The final score in the "Game" format event was 97-90.

"We only needed seven points in the last quarter, and couple guys fell," said Collins. "I think Andy (Irons) fell on a wave, which is totally out of character for him. It was really close."

Collins noted that the West had won a scrimmage against East the day before, by six points.

"Both teams were pretty even, I’d say," he said. "It just didn’t go our way."

The West Coast team was made up of heavy-hitters including Rob Machado, Taylor Knox, Dane Reynolds and Tim Curran. The East Coast team counted surf luminaries like Kelly Slater, Taj Burrow, CJ Hobgood and Dean Randazzo.

With such star power packing the rosters, Collins says he never got put into the game.

"I’m not sure why," he said, "but there’s pretty much 11 of the best surfers in the world on the team."

About 30,000 people packed the beach for the event, according to ESPN affiliate EXPN. It was also broadcast live on television.

Too bad the waves didn’t cooperate.

"It was pretty small," said Collins. "The day before it was good. That’s so typical for a contest, especially this time of year."

Collins says he only occasionally competes in Association of Surfing Professionals events, not because of ideological differences, but because they can get tedious.

"It’s just most of them are in bad waves," he said. "It’s not really too fun. I did it a lot when I was younger. It gets boring. You gotta be into it."

He said he was flattered to have been picked for the X Games team, and was interested in participating because he likes the relatively new team-style Game format, invented by Southern California surf pro Brad Gerlach.

"That whole format is cool, being part of a team," he said. "That kind of drive is fun, competing and having teammates, cheering for someone. Contest surfing is pretty selfish, you’re just out there for yourself, fighting waves and fighting people."

Collins said he thinks the exposure of the X Games will give the Game format more momentum. He participated with Team Santa Cruz in a National Surf League series that used the Game format for the first time this year. After going 1-4, he said the team has spent some time analyzing its weaknesses.

"I think we need some tuning up," said Collins. "But most of the waves that we had at the different venues were really bad. We don’t have much experience in bad beach breaks. I think that’s why we all live here, because it’s so good. We started practicing in bad beach breaks."

The third annual GromSurfest is set to go off from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hook. The event is free and open to kids 17 and under, according to organizer Joe Clarke, a deputy for the Sheriff’s Office and the Soquel High surf team coach.
Clarke said one of the big attractions of the event is the 10-under "push in" division.

"Parents and older siblings can go in the water and push the kids into waves," said Clarke.

Clarke said about 100 groms are expected for the event this year and that almost all spots are already filled, with just a few slots still open in the girls division.

Entry forms are available at www.gromworld.com, and at Paradise, Freeline and Schroedel surf shops.

With a barbecue lunch provided by the Pleasure Point Night Fighters, funding contributed by the Sheriff’s Activity League, T-shirts donated by NHS and lots of volunteer support, Clarke said the event is a true community effort.

Plus, there should be some good, contest-savvy surfing.

"These kids have been surfing the last few years in the school surf league," said Clarke.

Source: www.santacruzsentinel.com