Skateboarding has a long tradition of community and competition, and because of that, there are scores of contests held across the country and the globe. Keep reading to learn about the differences between amateur and professional competitions and check out some of the top contests in the States.
Amateur vs. Professional Competitions
When it comes to competitions, there are different rules and qualifications put in place for a skater to be able to participate. But generally speaking, an amateur competition is held for skaters who are not being paid to compete, while a professional competition is reserved to sponsored or endorsed skaters who are paid to skate.
Regardless of the level you skate at, competitions usually consist of jams and runs. In a jam, a group skates on the same course for a set amount of time. This format is often used as a qualifier, while runs allow skaters to have the course to themselves for a certain amount of time.
Top 14 U.S. Skateboarding Competitions
There are loads of great competitions held internationally, but you can find some really prestigious events right here at home, too. Some of the top amateur and professional skateboarding competitions in the United States include:
1. The Boardr Am Series
Boardr Am is an amateur skateboarding tour that makes stops all across the country. The winner at each stop gets sent to the Empire Open Series Finals with lodging completely covered and $500 to put toward other travel expenses. Aside from winning a spot at the Empire Open, participants also have a chance to win the Zumiez Destroyer Award for killing it on the course.
2: Red Bull Solus
Red Bull Solus is a professional skateboarding competition hosted by pro skateboarder Ryan Sheckler at his very own skate park, the SC Sandlot. There are 13 competitors in all, and they are given an hour to show off their skills to three judges. The winner receives $2,500 to donate to a local skate shop of their choosing.
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3: Battle at the Berrics
The Berrics is a Los Angeles indoor skatepark founded by Eric Koston and Steve Berra, and it's the venue for the annual flatground comp, Battle at the Berrics. In this competition, skaters play a game of S.K.A.T.E., a format that closely resembles the game of H.O.R.S.E. in basketball. Professional competitors go trick-for-trick for a chance to win the grand prize. Though the prize purse changes each year, it has equaled around $10,000 in the past.
4. Tampa Am
Tampa, Florida, is home to some of the most renowned competitions in skateboarding, including Tampa Am. Hosted by the local skate shop and skate park, Skatepark of Tampa (or SPoT for short), this weekend-long competition has an incredible history of showcasing the world's best in amateur skateboarding. Since so many winners of Am have turned pro, it is accepted as the Amateur National Championship, and winning this competition almost guarantees a career in skateboarding.
The panel of five judges, many of whom are former pros, assigns scores based on the difficulty of tricks, technique, trick variety, style, use of the course, consistency, flow, and originality. Aside from bragging rights and plenty of recognition, there aren't any prizes associated with the competition.
5. Damn Am
SPoT established Damn Am in 2001 as a way to take Tampa Am on the road. You can find this competition in major cities all over the country and even the world. The top 12 skaters of this competition are automatically up for the Tampa Am qualifier, and the winners at each stop get sent straight to the semifinals with $500 to put toward travel to get to Tampa.
Aside from a chance at the Tampa Am title, the skater with the best two finishes throughout the year gets crowned as Damn Am of the Year and walks away with a $1,000 cash prize.
6. Grind for Life
This series of bowl and street skateboarding contests for all ages travels across the country, with the annual awards being held in Tampa, Florida. A percentage of the proceeds from this competition go to the Grind for Life Organization, a non-profit that helps cancer patients with their travel expenses for treatments. The Grind for Life Series uses jams and three judges to assess the trick selection, style, and difficulty of each run.
7. X Games
Skateboarding is an integral part of the annual X Games events, and the sport's best riders are invited to compete each year. In past years, the prize purse has come out to $100,000 for each discipline, which is then split into a gold, silver, and bronze ranking. Before the SLS World Tour was established, the X Games were the big money competition you wanted to win.
Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, Skate4Life is a multi-faceted skateboarding event, featuring an open skate jam, music, street contests, food, and raffle prizes. The event is meant to raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of suicide and mental illness. The competition is divided into beginner, intermediate, advanced, and sponsored divisions, with over $2,500 of skate gear and cash prizes awarded to top contenders in each division (the beginner division gets exclusively skate gear prizes).
9. Zumiez Best Foot Forward
Originally started in 2007, Zumiez Best Foot Forward travels across the country to give amateur skateboarders international exposure through their skating events. The judges travel with the contest and change out each year. At each stop, the winner gets a ton of swag, including new boards, shoes, and gear. On top of that, Best Foot Forward often serves as a qualifier for other national competitions.
10. Exposure Skate
Exposure is a females-only amateur and professional skate competition based in Encinitas, California. This awesome annual event welcomes over 170 female skaters from across the globe in an effort to give visibility to their talent, empower other girls to get involved with skating, and raise money for survivors of domestic violence. Exposure offers over $60,000 in cash prizes across the amateur and professional divisions.
Within the amateur and professional competitions, there are also smaller contests, such as a bowl, street, and vert. Their amateur contest counterparts are divided by age, starting with an open, moving to a qualifier, and then ending with the finals.
11. Tampa Pro
Tampa Pro has been running as long as its amateur-level counterpart, Tampa Am, making it skateboarding's longest-standing skating event tradition. The Skatepark of Tampa's Pro competition is so well known that almost every professional in the industry has skated it. In order to show off your skills in this competition, you have to be a professional skateboarder who either has or had a pro model signature board with a globally recognized skate brand. Just like with Am, Tampa Pro uses a panel of five judges who use a 100-point scale to assign scores.
Though there are many similarities between Am and Pro, there is one major distinction: the prize. Winners of Pro get to enjoy a hefty payday. The amount changes each year depending on the sponsors, but it usually ranges between $10,000 and $20,000. On top of that, Pro serves as the North American Qualifier, meaning the winner gets the opportunity to join the Street League Skateboarding, or SLS, roster and skate in the World Tour.
12. Vans Park Series Pro Tour
Though it isn't confined to the U.S., the Vans Park Series Pro Tour deserves a spot on our list because it is one of the biggest competitions out there. This series travels around the world looking for the best skaters for the world championship. The Vans Park Series boasts both men's and women's pro tours using an organized jam format. The prize purse for the championships varies from year to year, but most recently it totaled a whopping $800,000.
13. Dew Tour
Dew Tour is a skateboard contest series and content platform that brings together more than 80 of the world’s best skaters who compete in individual pro competitions in Street and Park, along with Dew Tour's unique Team Challenge. There is also an amateur Shop Challenge competition. The 2019 event was the first ever official global Olympic qualifying event in the U.S. The event is always free and open to the public and includes a full festival for all ages including public skate parks, learn to skate areas, giveaways, live music and more.
14. Street League Skateboarding (SLS) World Tour
SLS is a multi-faceted platform that was originally founded by industry pro Rob Dyrdek in 2010. In 2015, SLS established a partnership with Skatepark of Tampa to develop a global qualification system, which transitioned Tampa Pro into becoming the SLS World Tour qualifier for North America. The SLS World Tour is a comp that features pro skaters from virtually every corner of the world. There are typically around four events throughout the year, and the combined prize purse has exceeded $1 million in recent years, along with a chance at the SLS Nike SB Super Crown World Championship.
If you're looking for a skateboarding competition to watch — aside from the Red Bull Cornerstone, obvi — you can't go wrong with one of these options. Of course, there are lots of smaller comps held every day, so hit up your local skate shop for more info about the next jam.
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