By Max Miller – Staff Writer – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Orange Peel strictly forbids moshing or crowd-surfing at any shows, but for one evening, a select few hit the floor on their skateboards.
These skilled shredders participated in the first ever event in the B3 Series, a string of ongoing charitable skateboarding competitions showcasing boards, bands and beers.
Doug Stevens, founder of the Ashevillain skate company, created the series as a way to highlight the diverse aspects of the skateboarding community, as well as the surfing and snowboarding communities.
“There’s a lot of times with skating where it can be so centralized or focused on one thing that it kind of leaves other areas out,” Stevens said. “So with skating there’s always kind of a negative stigma, especially locally in Asheville, community-wise, where it’s illegal to skateboard.”
The B3 Rail Jam, hosted jointly by The Orange Peel and Wicked Weed Brewery, allowed local skaters to exercise their passions unhindered before an enthusiastic audience. The event also featured a raffle for prizes, the proceeds from which went to the A.skate Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides autistic children with skateboarding lessons. Two dollars were also donated from each ticket sold.
“We’re going to host multiple events and not limit it to just skateboarding, but snowboarding and ultimately surfing at some point as well,” Stevens said. “Each event is going to be a fundraiser for one type of organization.”
According to Stevens, an A.skate clinic at The Orange Peel is also in the works for the spring, bringing the charitable bent of the B3 Series full circle.
Skaters of many ages signed up to compete in the qualifying round held on the back patio of Wicked Weed, where they were given the chance to attempt tricks on a small funbox in the hopes of impressing the judges. The judges would then choose 12 skaters to compete in the main event for a chance to win a cash prize and some enticing skate swag.
This portion of the event leaned heavily on the boards and beers aspects, but less on the bands. In fact, ABBA was played over the stereo. Nevertheless, it was the perfect moment to knock back a few drinks and watch the aspiring competitors test their mettle.
While most of the participants fit the stereotypical 20-something skater-dude image – longish hair, lanky build – a surprising amount of skaters looked to be somewhere between the ages of 13 and 17.
These young kids showed a great deal of discipline, and were often able to hold their own alongside the older skaters. Two of them even made it into the main event.
The setup for the main event was constructed on the floor of The Orange Peel’s main room, just in front of the stage, and featured a large funbox and a quarter-pipe. The 12 competitors all took to the floor at once in a free-for-all that was surprisingly more graceful than chaotic. And while knees were scraped and palms were skinned, most skaters pulled off some impressive tricks, much to the delight of the mildly-inebriated crowd.
Local pop-punk miscreants Ivan the Terribles served as the backing band for the competition, and their Vans-Warped-Tour-circa-1997 sounds complemented the skaters’ airborne antics perfectly.
As the band finished up, the skaters desperately squeezed in their last few attempts at tricks before judges sequestered themselves to decide on the winners. As the crowd and competitors waited in rapt anticipation, they were treated to a performance by Deoro, the touring project of esteemed cellist Dave Eggar. It proved a contrast to the stripped-down punk rock of Ivan the Terribles and, in a way, reflected the B3 Series’ mission to celebrate diversity, not just in board sports, but in music as well.
In the end, prizes were awarded to three honorable mentions, who won smaller trinkets like skate wax, and three finalists who won cash prizes and boards. The biggest surprise of the evening came with the announcement that first place winner Kevin Cordell and second place winner Kerry Webb had been invited to join the Push Skateshop team, Asheville’s most prestigious skateboarding collective.
Cordell, a 21-year-old Waynesville native who said he has skateboarded since he was just 8 or 9 years old, expressed with an admirable degree of aloofness his enthusiasm for winning the event.
“I probably didn’t really deserve to win, but they gave it to me, which is awesome. And, honestly, the win doesn’t mean anything compared to being put on the Push Skateshop team. Those dudes are f*cking rad,” Cordell said. “Me and my buddy Kerry Webb are both from Waynesville and we both got put on, which is a huge honor for us considering we’re from such a small town, and to be put on such a big skate team is awesome.”
Webb showed an even more remarkable degree of reservation.
“It was great. I’m not really big on it. I don’t really care. I just skate to skate,” Webb said.