Rolling up to that thing… Wow. We’re talking about the double set. Approaching the four-flat-four is intimidating. But the triple set usually draws an immediate reaction of “No, Hell No.” Jeremy Wray set a precedent in skateboarding history in the 1990s by ollying the triple set (four-flat-four-flat-four) outside at the San Diego Sports Arena. The footage is timeless and, at the time, was incredible for many. Jeremy did something that almost everyone considered impossible. Even he has admitted in interviews that he didn’t think it was possible for a long, long time.
Let’s skip ahead a couple of decades to Cinco de Mayo, 2016. Thrasher and the boys made the trek south to SD, CA and set up a permit to own the San Diego Sports Arena triple set for one day. It would be a free for all. It would be gnarly. It would be Thrasher’s. It would be “Cinco de Slammo.”
When we arrived, the crowd was already thick and the energy already rowdy. We were minutes late, but the skaters had already started hucking themselves down the double set. Cyril Jackson, Ryan Decenzo, Billy Marks… It seemed like every type of skater that would hit a big set was there to hit this one. Skating the double set, all sorts of tricks were going down. Switch tre, double flip, nollie tre, fake heel, the list goes on and on… And the slams were definitely present. No big gap session goes without some falling. Skaters young and old, short and tall, were eating shit for the viewing pleasure of the greater San Diego skate community. And, dare we say, it was LIT.
After a while , we were all reminded that the session happening was only a preview and a warm-up for the monster gap of the triple set. The behemoth is intimidating at first sight. There’s no doubt of that to anyone. But the fear that it brings to each skater is backed up by the simple fact that no one had done anything other than an ollie over it. That day – May 5th, 2016 – there was a roll-in ramp, a camera crew, and crowd full of fans, so you know it was on and our favorites were gonna go big.
The anticipation built more and more until finally, Phelps sent it off. With several words, many profane and a few indecipherable, the event crew removed the barrier from the bottom of the triple set, and It was off to the races for all the homies. It took a good amount of time for the first person to roll away from an ollie. Daniel Cutcliffe pulled the first ollie, and the floodgates opened with that. Backside 180 (CJ), frontside 180 (Sandoval), tre flip (Joslin), and so many more… Ryan Decenzo nailed the first kickflip down that thing. They kept coming, and it was hard to believe that people were one-upping each other over and over on this thing.
In true Thrasher form, the local news guy (Fox 5) who tried to barge the event for his own coverage was kicked out. Verbally harassed, he began to walk away slowly, but that wasn’t enough for Phelper, Nasty Neckface, and all the others. Tony Vitello had the camera guy against the wall, really getting him out and away from the event when Chris Joslin blasted (and landed) a backside bigspin down the triple set. The roaring support of kicking out the unwelcome news man doubled up with the raw yells of stoke for the trick, and the whole place was going off! the excitement grew as people continued to land tricks down the triple. New blood, Enzo Cautela, launched a successful hardlfip. But the ultimate trick: although it wasn’t the last one of the day, Tommy Sandoval, local to SD, lifer, tried & true skateboarder, landed a perfect frontside flip down the stair set. I would say it was a fairy tale moment, but that wouldn’t be very “Skate & Destroy” of me. Rather, it was a core skater lifetime achievement. That heavy space in time when Tommy got emotional was significant to skateboarding in San Diego as a whole. He’s worked hard for the duration of his career, not always getting the clean breaks he needs. But he showed us on Cinco de Slammo that he’s still got the heart, still got the balls, still got the skills, to show up and buck up for all of skateboarding.
Cheers, skateboarding. Cheers to you Tommy Gunz. And cheers to you Thrasher for putting on an unforgettable event.