A Real Grassroots DIY Contest in the Heat of July: NYC Pool Series at Pier 62

NYC Pool Series Contest #1 at Hudson River Park Pier 62 Skatepark on July 13, 2019, story by Jon “Porkchop” Nicholson with photos by Glenn Joyce, Lori Weinstein, Nelson Christopher Ala and Marcelo Duarte, plus an event recap by Ian Clarke of NYC Skateboard Coalition.

A Real Grassroots DIY Contest In The Heat of July

Words by Jon “Porkchop” Nicholson

Jon “Porkchop” Nicholson with respect to NY O.G. Andy Kessler R.I.P. Photo by Lori Weinstein

These long days of summer are worth it. Everybody came together to pull off one hell of a shindig at Pier 62 in Manhattan on the 13th. It was a real grassroots DIY contest in the heat of July. Groundwork was walked, humility was abounding, prizes were donated from 25 gracious sponsors, and fun was had by all… 

Until I was an adult, and this NYC Pool Series started, I’d never witnessed a contest in a bowl in person. Growing up, we watched the NSA videos over and over. It was so exciting – the screams, the music and more than anything, the riding – watching everyone push through to the finals.

The contests that I read about in magazines, as a kid, seemed like they were on other planets, they were so far away. Everything is far away when you’re young, literally.

There used to be all sorts of regional and DIY contests like M.A.R.S. (Midwest Amateur Ramp Series), S.U.A.S. (Shut Up And Skate), G.R.A.S.S. (Georgia Ramp Amateur Skateboard Series), N.I.C.L.S. (New England International Contest League of Skateboarders), N.S.A. (National Skateboard Association), C.A.S.L. (California Amateur Skateboard League) & M.E.S.S. (Mid Eastern Skateboard Series)…

Every contest I saw in the magazines was like a world away, inside of an unattainable dream. Then that dream world became a reality when little Jesse Neuhaus appeared in the December 1986 issue of Thrasher for coming in first in the 16 & under division at a DIY street contest that had taken place three months earlier, thus becoming the first local who was our age to appear in a mag. It was such a big deal to see one of your friends in magazine when we were that young. It meant that maybe you could be next. It gave our scene legitimacy. 

Unfortunately, I missed that contest. I was at the Chicago Blowout watching Tony Hawk do 4X McTwists back to back – something that had never been done. We watched Ffej Hedges slay the Am Division and we were certain that he was bound to get his own model on Santa Cruz after his killer runs! 

Chicago Blowout. 1986 NSA Am Finals

As it turned out, I wouldn’t get into traveling around too much to find foreign terrain and attend skateboard events until the unsaid fearless leader, Jason, turned 16. As a diehard skater, having a driver’s license and owning your own car qualifies you as leader of the crew. I was only 14 then, but that’s another story… 

Now the internet is so efficient that we can watch a contest as it actually happens. As a skater, I could watch a live feed of the entire Vans Pool Party like I was sitting in the bleachers.

Seeing Hot Rod Mead go full Scotsman at Vert Attack is seared into my brain for worse or for better. These are the antics that you miss when you don’t go to the contest. All we really wanna do is have a day where we can listen to loud music, ride skateboards, cheer on our friends, and get as loose as we possibly can in the allotted time. 

NYC Pool Series 2019 edit by Nelson Christopher Ala

Now the old contest series models have given way to the NYC Pool Series, the Renegade Vert Series, Grind For Life, Old Man Jam, the Rumble in Ramona, Vert Attack, the Old Bro, the Old Cup, the O.G Jam Series, Shredfest, Bowlstock, and there’s probably a hundred other skateboard shindigs, annual jams and DIY contest series’ goin’. If there’s not one near you, inspire some people and make a scene.

Jaime “Puppethead” Affournado and Shark Dog and Ian Clarke. Photo by Lori Weinstein

The concept of the DIY contest and jam is back and the underground is on fire all over the planet. It’s wild how skateboarding manages to be over the top with commercialism and accessibility, while being completely underground and impenetrable. These universes run parallel. From our viewpoint, you can stare at that Bizzaro world, grab the elements that you need and disperse the booty amongst the community.

Kayo Martin and Ali Axelrod. Photo by Lori Weinstein

This is what went down on the thirteenth of July, 2019 at Chelsea’s Pier 62 Skatepark in Manhattan, NYC for our second annual NYC Pool Series. 

The 13 and under division was on fire! I think the average age was more like under 10. Being a dedicated local at any place, you have the privilege of taking part in the overall progression of the entire park, and these grommets are a dedicated bunch. 

Kayo Martin. Photo by Glenn Joyce

In the middle of the heaviest of all ages snake sessions, six and seven year olds are getting it in with the all of the big dogs. The big dogs of my youth could be quite scary, but the nature of the most feral dogs can and have changed, at least in the scene I participate in. 

Francesca. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

The courage of Francesca and little Riley to put their sticks over the lip of a bowl where the shallow end is well over head is as exciting as watching DP front rock the Combi, tip toe to tail!

Grom division drop in assistance from the ground crew. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

When you’ve been a long time rider, you can really appreciate the journey of just standing on a skateboard. Andrew Gelles, emcee for the groms and gals, gives these tykes (and grown folks alike) the confidence to step out of their shells and become the skaters they dream of becoming. 

Bombette Martin. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

Sometimes, I think that people look at “skateboard coaches” the wrong way. The slagging of supportive parents and skate mentors can get out of hand. Not every kid wants to be in the Olympics, and even if they did, who are you to dump on a kid’s dream? 

Bombette Martin. Photo by Lori Weinstein

I think that skateboarding has grown so much that there’s a whole couple of generations that have grown up riding, had kids – and then the kids pick it up – now everybody is riding.

Robert Serafin and Pink Helmet Posse. Photo by Lori Weinstein

I love watching skateboarding as a family activity. In a sense, skateboarding has always been a family activity with kids forming their own tribes.

Max Rabdau Photo by Lori Weinstein

In the grom division, Gabe Paskin (@gabriel_pas_), Max (@maximillion2007) and Kayo’s scores were so close in the countdown to 3,2,1 – watching them barge was a complete nail biter. 

Kayo Martin. Photo by Lori Weinstein

It was like the Masters Combi division from 2019 where everyone took turns sitting in first.

Kayo Martin. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

Kayo Martin (@kayo_martin) ended up edging out the competition to take first place.

Kayo Martin. Photo by Lori Weinstein

Kayo’s airs are getting higher and higher and he’s definitely riding more solid since he’s started riding boards with full tails. 

Mame Bonsu and Ali Axelrod. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

It’s gonna be so rad when the day comes that you’ll see girls and women skate in separate age divisions, in the NYC Pool Series.

Grom squad. Photo by Lori Weinstein

I think that there are enough girls and women that could fill the ranks but, on the hottest day of the summer in NYC to date, only those starved for personal greatness dare to ride in this shadeless inferno. 

Girls Contest Winners: Francesca (4), Sydney Tomer (3), Bombette Martin (1) & Mame Fremah Bonsu (2). Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

Sydney Tomer (@sydgnar) secured herself a podium spot in third with her never give up attitude and that super style frontside Bert slide in the pocket hip wall that had the crowd losing their minds for sure!

Mame Bonsu. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

Mame Fremah Bonsu ( sped her way into second place with fast lines and this vicious approach where her Ace trucks were definitely showing the coping that she is the boss with the killer slash attack and quick ollies! 

Bombette Martin. Photo by Glenn Joyce

Bombette Martin’s (@bombette_martin) bag of tricks keeps getting bigger and bigger…  alley-ooping the hip, rock and rolls and taller inverts in the deep end. I actually think there is a thing with alley-oops going on right now and I’m in full support. It is to skateboarding what Tango is to ballroom dancing. Fuhgeddaboutit! Somebody get this gal a lei and the first place trophy!!! 

Bombette Martin. Photo by Lori Weinstein

My division was next – the 35 and over division. When I arrived at the park, the first person I saw was Jami Godfrey hot off his victory in the masters division in the Renegade Vert Series. Just hand this guy the trophy because I know he’s gonna do a one-foot tail tap on the far hip. Luckily, for the rest of us, Jami had afternoon plans with the Jones Brigade, so he wouldn’t be competing. 

Bombette Martin, Jaime Affournado, Kayo Martin and Jami Godfrey. Photo by Lori Weinstein

It was veteran of the CASL Del Mar Skate Ranch Wars known as Shark Dog (@shark_dog) that would take first in the 35+ with his encyclopedic knowledge of Chelsea’s deep end.

Shark Dog. Photo by Lori Weinstein

Shark is always on the hunt to devour all curved terrain. He didn’t take first with out a fight though.

Ben Chalmers. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

Ben Chalmers wanted it bad enough for second, putting together quite the mini half routine in the shallow end. Our shallow end is roughly 6ft deep with pool coping. It’s nothing like a mini half, and it’s not often these days you see anybody do Chink Chinks, but when you do – and it’s on pool coping – you’ve seen the literal definition of a maniac… that KLACK KLACK sound! 

Jaime “Puppethead” Affournado. Photo by Glenn Joyce

In third, it was a three-way tie between your humble narrator, Jon “Porkchop” Nicholson (@the_ssps), Ian White, and NYC legend Jaime “Puppethead” Affournado (@jaimeaff). Puppethead, whose slide maneuvers can make me lose my voice, was riding hard during the warm ups and was almost out of gas by the time the round started. I was yelling so hard the entire contest that I was losing energy. Ian White was riding fast and loose with stand up grinds, back to back in the deep end. Middle aged. No pads. Rabid Dog Status. 

Jon “Porkchop” Nicholson Photo by Glenn Joyce

I can’t speak for the others (who absolutely kill), but I had a hard time putting it together. I beefed on my acid drop during my first run and had a pretty solid second line, but got the mortality shaken into me when Blake Sandberg (@severedlegproductions) was slashing his way to victory when he took one for the team with a super hard vertigo-inducing slam. 

It was one of those slams that cracks the cement and shakes your feet. It was a feat in itself that he pulled himself out of the bowl under his own power. It’s moments like this that make you wonder what you’re doing. Then you drop in and instantly you know why you’re here. We’re all here to push our limits and move the crowd. 

Jon “Porkchop” Nicholson Photo by Glenn Joyce

Why did I decide to ride 55mm wheels on this day? My third run was riddled with mistakes. I was the DJ, so I didn’t get to warm up or do any real skating for like two weeks because of my day job. I mentally prepared for the contest by fantasizing landing the tricks I wanted to attempt. 

Jon “Porkchop” Nicholson Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

I did make sure that we got to ride to my hottest, rarest, skate, punk & rock nuggets. There is nothing quite like riding to JFA, Beyond Possession, Faction, Die Kreuzen, Poison Center, Big Boys and the more recent hardcore stylings of the Fastplants, Street Trash and I Attack. 

Mikey Massagli. Photo by Glenn Joyce

For the Under 35’s, I kept the musical energy high with rock and hardcore hip hop. Even though it’s a 4,3,2,1, I bet the judges score were so tight that it was more like a four-way first place collision. 

Dean Justice Mendez Photo by Glenn Joyce

Dean Mendez (@stoned_gizzelle) proves why he worthy to carry the Weird Wood Flag with his in-your-face Shandong praying mantis style. He was most definitely a Kung Fu master in a former life! 

Mikey. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

You never catch Mike Massagli (@xmikey662x), hailing straight out of the Bronx, rolling any slower than light speed. He will one day hit Monty Grind around the entire 10ft section, but not before smacking down a Body Jar so hard that the pool coping pulverizes.

Jonny Gasparotto. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

South America is on fire with their love for shredding at the highest levels, and Jonny Gasparotto (@gasparjonny) is one of these skaters. He hits a lot of tricks in spots where the late Angus McGillivrey-Smith (RIP) used to champion. Nosegrinds on the big hips, fast and fluid. 100% uncompromising.

Juan Pinero Photo by Glenn Joyce

Juan Pinero (@skateinpeace) went home with the number one slot. Again, this class of riders must be so hard because they all have what it takes to be number one, and they are.  

Ali Axelrod. Photo by Lori Weinstein

The awards were followed by the customary product toss and a performance by New York City local Kai aka Mr. Water aka The Showstopper aka Mr. Dirtbike (@nycl_kai) who brought a show so banging. 

Kai. Photo by Lori Weinstein

Kai is part of this new generation of Yung Punks who are part of this thing that’s happening who are taking the spirit and urgency of Punk and breeding it with Trap styled hip hop, Wu-Tang’s attitude, and hyper-emo sensibilities that make one hell of a great style of music to get rowdy too ala “Licensed to Ill” era Beastie Boys meet the Screamers meets Punk Bunny. 

Dimitri Stanford. Photo by Glenn Joyce

The beats are bumping, all of the kids are slamming in the deep end. It’s a new flavor of punk. These kids are rescuing slamming from the meat heads with unisex moshing and this sense that the girls in today’s scene are just as rowdy and welcome to be part of the insanity that Kai’s performances bring. A good pit will always make this old man smile. What a great way to round out the day. It went off with out a hitch!!! (Slide through the post below to catch a few clips from the show.)

I can’t wait for the 12th of October when the NYC Pool Series wraps up with the Owls Head Classic. A special thanks to Ian and Ali for all of your hard work with our sponsors! 

Shark Dog. Photo by Lori Weinstein

NYC Pool Series 2019 Pier 62 Contest Results

Juan Pinero. Photo by Lori Weinstein

Under 35

1 Juan Pinero @skateinpeace 

2 Jonny Gasparotto (Brazil) @gasparjonny 

3 Michael Massagli @xmikey662x 

4 Dean Mendez @stoned_gizzelle 

Shark Dog. Photo by Glenn Joyce

35 and Over

1 Shark Dog @shark_dog 

2 Ben Chalmers 

3 Jon Nicholson aka Pork Chop @the_ssps 

3 Ian White 

3 Jaime “Puppethead” Affoumado @jaimeaff 

Girls Division Contest Winners 1 Bombette Martin, 2 Mame Fremah Bonsu, 3 Sydney Tomer, 4 Francesca. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala


1 Bombette Martin @bombette_martin 

2 Mame Fremah Bonsu 

3 Sydney Tomer @sydgnar 

4 Francesca 

Groms Division Contest Winners 1 Kayo Martin, 2 Max, 3 Gabriel Paskin, Riley. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

Groms (13 and under)

1 Kayo Martin @kayo_martin 

2 Max @maximillion2007 

3 Gabriel Paskin @gabriel_pas_ 

4 Riley 

Ian Clarke and Glenn Joyce. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

NYC Pool Series 2019 at Pier 62 Recap…

Words by Ian Clarke

NYC transition skaters wrapped up their first summer contest on Saturday July 13. The “NYC Pool Series 2019”, took place at the Hudson River Park Pier 62 Skatepark, and was jointly organized by NYC Skateboard Coalition (@nyc_skate_coalition) and the Hudson River Park. Much thanks to the ground crew: Ian Clarke (@iansk8nyc), Ali Axelrod (@ali_axelrod), Schuyler Sattin, DJ Pork Chop and Emcees Andrew Gelles and Brian Koskuc.

The competition attracted skate talent from both NYC and special visitors out of town. Skaters competed under four categories: Groms 13 and under, Girls, Under 35s, and 35 and over. All heats were held in the Hudson River Park Pier 62 Skatepark’s pool, and it was a day filled with amazing skating.

Kayo Martin. Photo by Lori Weinstein

For the Groms, those under 13, all eyes were on the 9-year-old Kayo Martin. Martin is a fast rising star and took first place. Max Rabdau ripped his way into second place.

Bombette Martin. Photo by Lori Weinstein

Kayo is the younger brother of Bombette Martin, the winner from the girl’s category. The brother and sister pair are a fixture at Pier 62, thanks to their supportive parents, Bomber and Mary, and are both progressing rapidly and developing their style. Look out for the Martins.

Bombette Martin. Photo by Glenn Joyce

The girl transition skaters are coming on strong with Bombette Martin and Mame Fremah Bonsu hitting all parts of the pool with full speed and power. 

Dean Justice Mendez. Photo by Glenn Joyce

The under 35s heat was total gnar and mayhem. Local NYC rippers, Mikey Massagli, Michael Dworak, Dean Mendez, Dimitri Sanford, Jabari Watkins, Yotam, Charlie and other locals skated hard with classic, full power pool skating. Mikey Massagli’s full commitment lip tricks traversed multiple coping blocks.

Juan Pinero. Photo by Glenn Joyce

Juan Pinero and Jonny Gasparotto turned up the volume, taking first and second place respectively. Local heroes Mikey Massagli, came in third, and Dean Mendez took fourth.

Jonny Gasparotto. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

Jonny Gasparotto, from the skateboarding powerhouse nation of Brazil, who skates for Creature, took second place in the under 35s and tore up the P62 pool Brazilian style.

Shark Dog. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

In the 35 and over division, Shark Dog was hitting his huge bag of tricks with authority and precision, full power boneless, lien to tail, airs and rock and rolls and more.

Jaime “Puppethead” Affournado Photo by Glenn Joyce

Original Zoo York skater, Jaime “PuppetHead” Affoumado threw down some old school style with deep end laybacks and many other gnarly tricks and great lines.

Ali Axelrod, Ian Clarke, Jon “Porkchop” Nicholson Photo by Marcelo Duarte

Resident ripper, DJ Jon aka Pork Chop @the_ssps, was spinning vinyl and taking amazing runs in the over 35s division with his gnarly fun style, always keeping it positive. 

Jon “Porkchop” Nicholson Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala

DJ Jon aka Pork Chop has held down the music end of our transition events for a number of years with the incredible range of genres in his collection. In Pork Chop’s words, he played “NYC block party style un-classic hip hop and funk classics, with punk and rock sprinkled in to break up the vibe while keeping it righteous and fun for all.”

Photo by Lori Weinstein

The NYC transition skating scene is a tight-knit community that we call the “62 crew”. It’s like a family, with long term bonds and friendships, made from an amazingly diverse group of all ages and genders.

Dimitri Stanford. Photo by Glenn Joyce

Thanks to the Hudson River Park Pier 62 Skatepark, with its 10-foot pool, we have a serious crew of transition skaters that grows bigger every day. With the new 11-foot pool under construction at Riverside Skatepark, we can expect even more pool skaters coming out of New York in the future. 

Michael Dworak. Photo by Lori Weinstein

Thanks to the Hudson River Park and to all of the contest prize donors and sponsors: @acesand8sdecks, @nimbus845, @acetrucks, @autonomyskateboards, @triple8nyc, @187killerpads, @rockstarbearings, @shutnyc, @lipstickskateboards, @bodegaskateboards, @nyskateboarding, @all_one_universe, @all_one_japan, @diamondsupplyco, @blades, @juicemagazine, @severedlegproductions, @nysmclothing, @ggi.skates, @unclefunkysboards, @sillygirlskateboards, @gritandgraceskate, @apositiveseed, @newyorkskateboardco, @littlepawnyc with special thanks to @nysmclothing who made a custom “62 crew” hat for the event. Thank you to all that made this event a reality.

Ian Clarke, Jon “Porkchop” Nicholson, Jaime “Puppethead” Affournado, Yotam Manuel Rodriguez and Jami Godrey Photo by Lori Weinstein

The NYC Skateboard Coalition would like to thank everyone for supporting the #nycpoolseries 2019 and #nyskateboarding. The next contest in the NYC Pool Series 2019 will be held at the Owls Head Skatepark, Brooklyn this fall.

The Martins. Photo by Lori Weinstein
Michael Dworak. Photo by Glenn Joyce
Photo by Lori Weinstein
Kayo Martin. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala
Bombette Martin. Photo by Lori Weinstein
Charlie. Photo by Glenn Joyce
Robert Serafin. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala
Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala
Michael Dworak. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala
Shark Dog. Photo by Nelson Christopher Ala
Dean Justice Mendez Photo by Lori Weinstein
Dimitri Stanford. Photo by Lori Weinstein
Dimitri Stanford. Photo by Lori Weinstein
Dean Justice Mendez Photo by Lori Weinstein
Dean Justice Mendez Photo by Lori Weinstein
Charlie. Photo by Lori Weinstein
Dean Justice Mendez. Photo by Lori Weinstein
Photo by Lori Weinstein
Charlie. Photo by Lori Weinstein
Michael Dworak. Photo by Lori Weinstein
Mikey. Photo by Lori Weinstein
Shark Dog and Mikey. Photo by Lori Weinstein
Jon “Porkchop” Nicholson Photo by Glenn Joyce

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