As our pretty much non-existent summer comes to an end, we saw it out in style with our first proper plaza comp since 2019
Things were already getting fired up when we arrived as plenty of eager beavers got their practice runs in before the comp started. While the weather was looking bleak at first, with a sea mist thicker than the smog from one of Dylan's wizard sticks, things soon started to clear up as the skating got under way. The sun shines on the righteous, right? The party started as soon as Al Power arrived with his Enthusiasm Events wagon bringing good tunes and even better vibes, alongside our good friends at Cardiff Youth Services who brought their own party bus complete with TVs, games consoles, and of course, biscuits.
We kicked things off with the highly anticipated under-16's category, and lemme-tell-ew the competition was tough this year. The plaza's home to countless young rippers and even more came down to throw their hats in the ring for a chance to win eternal glory and a pair of Independent sunglasses. Plenty of hammers were dropped with a strong showing from everyone who came down, but the local boys held it down in the finals with plaza locals Jacob Price, and Ru and Jo Richards taking all the podium spots. All three were throwing down some seriously man-sized tricks and making use of the whole park with Jacob handling the down rail and Ru and Jo giving the hip a thorough seeing-to. Can't wait to see what these mini-legends will be doing when they're fully grown.
Next up we had a strong showing for the Ladies' jam. Instead of the standard 2 minute heat format we normally use, we went for a more relaxed 10-minute jam so that everyone had plenty of time to get their tricks. Fair play to all the ladies who held it down and skated for the whole ten minutes, I think it's safe to say most of us would've been sweating and wheezing after the first few minutes. The skating was super consistent with some creative uses of the park, especially young Izzy Thomas who found loads of interesting new lines. The fight for the top spot was extremely tough as Gabby Oates and Sophie Wooding battled it out. Gabby was inches away from landing a heelflip on the bank which would've secured the win, but Sophie clinched it with a rad ride on 50-50 on the stairs. Honourable mention has to go to Lona Gordon who got the crowd pumping with her attempts to wallride over the ledge on the brick bank. She was absolutely charging but couldn't quite get there in the end, hopefully she'll be back next year to claim it.
Jacob tre's the China gap for Ash Wilson's lens
Things really started getting heated up as we got into the Over-16's category. The first heat set the tone for the competition with some bangin' skating going down including an all-terrain assault from Angus Sutton and some big tech bangers from Kieran Drake, seeing both of them into the final. The next heat was equally as tight with another two finalists coming from this heat: Morgan 'Pez' went big with a hectic blunt pullout on the bank-to-wall, and Jack Dunn impressed us with his unique trick selection and diverse use of the park. With Hass and Alexander Donlon also making it into the finals, the battle was officially on. The level of skating was all top-notch and deciding the top three was absolutely solid, with Jim-O calling for a second round of deliberation after he didn't agree with the results. In the end, Hass came home with the win for his diverse bag of tricks and bangin' manual flip out round the dragon ledge. Honourable mention this time goes to Rhys Withers for his first-T nose manny nollie flip, and for going straight to the boozer before he could accept his prize. What a hero.
The sponsored section obv's went absolutely off. Our ultra special guest judges of Sam Pulley, Mark Baines & Dave Mackey had their work cut out of them - was not envious of their task that's for sure. Special bar's were blinking high for Pembrokeshire's answer to Shane O'Neill Jack Steele, coming through with more tech than Tesla. Huge shout out to Josh Cox who pulled the massive flex of filming his run on Insta Live. Hammer after hammer from Gut Soldier Jake Collins. Gabe Gorman who seemingly was immune to falling off. Tom Bailey coming through with the lip tech on the brick quarter and Alex Hurst asserting the calling card of Mr Smooth.
With a hundred quid up for grabs for the best trick, everyone started putting NBD's on the line. Rob Herrington coming though with a fakie nosemanny fakie flip on the curved ledge, Sean Barnes laying down a halfcab nose wheelie body varial and Jack Branches bringing the ruckus with a nosegrind nollie back heel. All incrediblely gangsta tricks that sadly we didn't manage to capture on film. Sorry guys, our collective bads!
The China Gap got a good seeing too, probably for the first time since 2019. With people flinging themselves over it for glory of being crowned king of the plaza. Highlights included Conor Ratcliff sending a huge back 180 to the flat, young guns Jacob Price and Gabe Gorman tag teaming tre's, Angus Pattison taking the BA route with a gap to backlip and gap to noseslide, Alex Hurst with the most buttery v heel. But of course there could only ever be one winner, the one and only Don of the plaza, Don Irfan with the insane switch FS flip.