Oi Vert Jam
January 20-21, 2007
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
by Matt Milligan
Rio is often referred to as "cidade maravilhosa" which means marvelous city, And this definition is nothing short of the truth. From my first moments of driving through the city I was amazed of how spectacular it was, from the white sand beaches to the sprawling urban skyline of hotels and businesses. Rio has a population of more than 6 million people, making it the second largest city in Brazil. "Cariocas" is the name used to describe the local inhabitants, and they are very unique from both fashion and cultural aspects, most of them thrive on the tourism in one way or another, either by working for various businesses such as hotels and restaurants around the city, or by working on there own by providing various goods to the tourists around the beaches and surrounding areas. Just like any big city Rio has it's fair share of problems, It can be disturbing to see such poverty nestled in between million dollar homes. Most of the hillsides are scattered with ghettos that are referred to as the "Favela". Favelas are a common site in Rio and they have been troubled by drug related crime and gang warfare. They are plagued with very violent and well armed street gangs. It is not recommended to venture into these areas without someone that has permission to be there. But you take the bad with the good I guess, and Rio has a lot of good. The scenery from just about any where in the city is second to none, Corcovado Mountain can be seen from everywhere, where the statue of Christ the Redeemer sits atop the mountain and blesses the city of Rio. Breathtaking views of the city and beaches below can be seen from atop the mountain. I almost forgot that I was writing about a skateboard contest. If you've never been to Rio I suggest you go, and find out for yourself. Oi a telephone provider in Brazil sponsored this year's vert event.The contest went off, I never realized how much of an impact skateboarding had on the general population here. It was like a Brazilian super-bowl. Fans as far as the eyes could see crowded along the ramp, cheering and chanting for a glimpse of some of there favorite skaters.
It was also showcased live on national T.V. to a audience of 50 million viewers. The locals were the crowd favorites, with Vitor Simao, Edgar "Vovo" Pereira, and Marcelo Kosake all putting together top notch runs and landing into the top ten. Lincoln Ueda wins the highest flyer award by breaching the atmosphere with his huge airs and casual style. Anthony Furlong collided with Marcelo Kosake on Friday afternoon sending him straight to the hospital with a concussion, he still managed to come back from this and qualify in first place, but a few falls in the finals left Anthony with a well deserved fifth. I have known Neal Hendrix for about 14 years and I've always enjoyed watching him skate, he showed me why this weekend, with cab heelflips over the channel and nollie heel fakies he landed into forth place. Straight from Finland came Jusso Korhonen with his viking like skating style he snatched up third place. It came down to Bob Burnquist and Sandro Dias battling it out for the top spot. Bob came out swinging with a variety of flip tricks and 540's backside and frontside as well as numerous switch tricks to end up with a second place finish. But Sandro Dias had what it takes to come up with the victory. He put together a flawless run that included massive 540's , smooth and speedy lip tricks, and his patented Gnar Jar.
A big thank you goes out to the skaters , organizers , and fans that made this an explosive event. The city of Rio has a lot to offer without a top notch skate event going on, but I guess it was just the icing on the cake. I can't wait till next year, hopefully by then my sun burnt skin will have it's normal pigment back.
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