Utah flatland contest organizer, Mike Gardner, recently petitioned to have the St. George skim competition to be part of the SKIM USA Tour. We had the opportunity to ask Mike some questions about the concept.
Question: How long has the Utah contest been running for?
Answer: I’m not sure the exact year, but I think it was 1995 when the City of St. George approached me to help organize the first annual Virgin River Classic. The Parks and Rec Director was from Hawaii and familiar with surf competitions and thought it would be cool to hold something similar with skimboarding here in St. George.
Q. How has the turnout been for the past Utah competitions?
A. I think the most competitors we have ever had was around 75. The past couple years we have only had around 40. Every year there are a few hundred spectators that come out to the event.
Q. Do you think the world is ready for a flatland tour?
A. Sacramento, BC and St. George already have great contests established. I think that is a great base for putting together a tour, we just need to get everyone on the same page as far a judging is concerned. Judging has been the biggest pain for the contests here in St. George.
Q. Have you contacted SkimUSA yet?
A. I have spoken with Harry Wilson who started SkimUSA and also Greg at SkimCity who is one of the directors. They are both very positive about a flatland division of SkimUSA.
Q. If so, have you gotten a response from SkimUSA yet?
A. I just submitted our petition and goals to SkimUSA this week. I have not had a response yet.
I don’t expect things to happen all at once. My brothers and I started the skim scene in St. George in 1988 when we moved here from Sacramento. That’s 22 years. And finally it is starting to hold its own in this little corner of Utah. Flatland skimboarding doesn’t have the sex appeal of other board sports like surfing, skating, wakeboarding, snowboarding or even ocean skimming because flatlanders are only propelled by their own energy and creativity. We don’t have gravity, waves, wheels or an outboard motor to get us from here to there, but something’s cool about it. I’m impressed with where the kids are taking it these days with all the ramps and rails and I think it will only continue to progress.
I talked to a skimkid out in Oklahoma a couple weeks ago about what is happening out there and it’s like St. George was 20 years ago. I’m sure there are other infant flatland spots around that could use some help getting the sport off the ground. And like they say, a rising tide lifts all boats. More skimboards and skim stuff will be sold, more kids will enter the contests and more opportunities will be given to those who ride flatland. As the sport becomes more legitimate and more continuity is brought to the contests, the sport will grow and everyone will profit.
Q. Since Skim USA is mainly East Coast Based and a majority of the Flatland contests are based on the West Coast (BC, Washington state, Sacramento and Utah kinda) why did you choose to Skim USA instead of the United Skim Tour?
A. Basically I called Greg at SkimCity first. Chan Nay, Kevin Watt and I were
going to try and create our own flatland association and so I called Greg to get his advice. I have dealt with Greg in the past and like his “no bull” attitude. He spent about an hour with me on the phone which was way cool. Toward the end of our conversation he suggested that we think about the possibility of becoming a flatland division of Skim USA.
Why re-invent the wheel? So we decided to move forward and see if we can make the union work.
SkimUSA, the United Skim Tour and us flatlanders have the same goals: uniformity in judging, increased exposure and awareness for the sport, unity between contest organizers, corporate sponsorships, incentive for the riders in cash prizes, etc. One thing that is attractive to me about SkimUSA is that they are a non-profit with an emphasis on providing a positive and empowering environment for the youth.
If Skim USA does take on flatland contests what do you think this will do for the flatland skim industry and scene?
My hope is that it will add a little fuel to the fire. I interviewed Tex from Victoria a few years back for the skim video *Drip* and he was “stoked that there was skimboarding in Utah”.
Why wouldn’t he be? It’s a brand new market. Anyone involved in skimboarding should be all for opening up this untapped flatland territory.
Updates on this story will be posted at: twitter.com/flatlandskim