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article by Chris Solomon(aka. AMOR-one)   photos by Chris Solomon unless where noted
Intro    Saturday 1  2  3 )   Contest Results   AOSSR and After-Party   Sponsors   Who is Pat Wachter?

Introduction


Official Flyer
   Last yearís first Pat Wachter bowl event was a huge success. Brian Kelly, Pat Wachter and the other organizers pulled off what many did not believe possible. There had not been a pro contest in Alabama since the early 1980's contest in Mobile. The contest got national coverage (Fuel TV, Juice magazine, Transworld Skateboarding, Concrete Wave magazine, etc.) and drew some of the top pros in skateboarding. Even during Talladega Nascar race weekend, the contest got front page coverage in the Birmingham News! Things looked bright for the event to grow even larger in 2008.

   A series of bad luck and timing threatened not only to throw the Pat Wachter contest off the rails but to possibly sink it all together. First, due to disagreements with the city over their involvement in the skate park (*read as "money for insurance and park employees"), Brian Kelly, owner of Ride skate shop and acting manager of Alabasterís Veterans skate park, closed his on-site skate shop, resigned as skate park manager and moved his family back to Phoenix, Arizona. Although Brian was a part of the team that helped organize last year's event, he was by no means the only key player. However, with Brian gone, there was a big hole there to fill.

   From the perspective of the Alabaster locals, the skaters loved having the event in their town, and all eagerly looked forward to it this year no matter who was at the helm. This was the second monkey wrench thrown into the gears. With Brian gone and some bad blood there due to the manner of his departure, the city of Alabaster was not being very cooperative. Even in an April 23rd article in the Birmingham News (*read it here), the director of Parks and Recreation for Alabaster attempted to place the blame on Kelly for the event not coming back. The truth of the matter is that the group who helped put it on (Pat Wachter himself and other skaters) did approach the city about it this year, but were told the city had absolutely no interest in it at all and would not allow it at the park even without the city's direct help. I suspect part of the real truth is that the mayor of Alabaster promised over a loudspeaker in front of the entire crowd at last year's event that the city would be putting in $10,000 for the prize money for this year. That must have been a tough promise for him to keep.

   When Alabaster denied the event this year, Pat Wachter and team had to scramble to find a new venue. Luckily, a privately owned skate park, Insanity Skate in Madison, AL offered to help out in any way they could. With Alabaster "dropping the ball" on playing host to the contest, the city of Florence, Alabama quickly contacted Pat Wachter who was a "local boy" that grew up in that area. The news Pat got from the city was shocking. They offered to build a new skate park (now under construction) if and only if they were guaranteed to be the host of the Pat Wachter Pro Bowl from then out. Of course, Pat spent a lot of time pondering that tough decision. Pat gratefully agreed, and the park is set to host the next contest.

   Thanks to Insanity skate park and the city of Florence, everything worked out in the end. Due to the last minute changes and planning, the event was slightly scaled down. Last yearís event was a full weekend with one open, amateur division and several pro divisions (mens, womens and masters) which brought in skaters from all over the country. This yearís event was planned to be a single day of amateur contests with a more regional feel to be judged by guest pro, Steven Reeves of Creature skateboards, and some of his fellow skaters touring with him at the time (16 year old Kevin Kowalski and Frank Faria both from Bacon skateboards). The date was picked for Saturday May 3rd, and the sponsors started lining up. Most surprising as well as fortunate for the contest, Crunk Energy Drink approached the organizers and asked to be the premiere event sponsor. From their perspective, this contest could take off in the coming years, they could beat their competition like Red Bull who are known for sponsoring these type of events to the punch and they wanted in now as the main sponsor. To top it off, what better time to test their strategy than at this yearís smaller contest. With the venue set, the date selected, and sponsors lined up, all that was left now was for that day to come. The second Pat Wachter Bowl was ready to go!
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