Did $10,000 Cheapen the Battle at the Berrics?


Rolex watches and colorful swatches

So first off, let us one and all congratulate Mitchell Maurice Capaldi on a tough-earned but convincing win last Monday (?) in the Battle at the Berrics, and also for fulfilling the hopes and dreams of myself and no doubt thousands of others who chose him as the ultimate flatground power what seems like years ago. Alas, it’s over now, the absence of those three-minute slices of nail-bitin’ board-flippin’ thrillage making our hangovers that much bittersweeter, our Sunday mornings that much foggier. Life goes on, even as some of us wonder why, and to what end. BATB round two? Hopefully they wait at least six months and don’t let the thing get played out before throwing in some bizarro twists: ’80s board round, manual round, blindfold round, mega-ramp round, blindfold megaramp round, etc.

Whether you were feverishly pressing the refresh button at the stroke of 12:00 a.m. PST, tsk-tsking the jockification inherent in filling out a winner’s bracket or rolling your eyes at the entire spectacle, it probably is safe to say that the Berrics Battle currently is for sure the biggest and most important contest in skateboarding. I mean, Jake Brown had to fall off a fucking skyscraper for the X-Games to draw any attention from the non-Fuel TV-watching population recently; I’m assuming either Ryan Sheckler or Greg Lutzka won the Dew Tour last year, and probably nobody cares either way. The Maloof thing was notable for its course, Leo’s trick and, in retrospect, the namesake bros’ Scrooge McDuck-type frivolity and general money-throwin’, but that’s about it.

On the other hand, roughly the entire skateboarding planet now knows who Benny Fairfax is, and he didn’t even win the thing. While I understand his board was in the works at Stereo before his unlikely rise to flip-trick hierarchy and amazing comeback against the fearsome PJ Ladd, I could imagine the British buckaroo joining the professional ranks off his showing in the BATB alone. Kind of like what Tampa Am used to do for a kid, before all those Brazilian tweens took over.

Which is partly why, along with the general minimalism of the whole affair (bare bones tricks, warehouse floor, no announcer, handful of randoms as spectators) I sort of agreed when a buddy of mine expressed mild distaste for the last-minute addition of the $10,000 purse. While I don’t know that it would have had any affect on who participated, how hard they tried, etc. it sort of threw something off – sort of the opposite effect prize money has with regard to an X-Game, where at least dudes are getting paid big bucks for wading through the pool of energy drink banners and slang-slinging Fraggle Rock announcers.*

No doubt Mitchell Maurice deserved more than fleeting internet fame for winning the battle, and lord knows we could all use ten thousand dollars right now. Perhaps he is upside down on his mortgage, which I understand to mean that fluctuating financial markets have flipped his house upon its roof and he needs expensive contractors to put it right side up again. Yet Tupac teaches us that money is the root of all evil, and for a contest that defied so many of the usual constructs that make most skateboard competitions boring, lame and irrelevant, it would have been cool if the end result could’ve been refreshing in the same way.

*Berra’s dig at EXPN et al was appreciated, though

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