Makaha 50th Anniversary Snake Run Mini-Bowl Contest

Sean Johnson

   In 1963, Venice Beach lifeguard Larry Stevenson found Makaha Skateboards. The name came from a beach in Hawaii that Stevenson had the chance to visit during his Navy days in the Korean war.  Makaha was known for making the first high quality skateboards,  and for later inteventing the kicktail. 

Pauline Branom

   During the same year it opened, Makaha had sponsored a team of skateboarders, which included top surfers such as Mike Doyle, and held the first skate contest.  A half century later, Makaha is celebrating it's 50th Anniversary and the 50th Anniversary of the first skateboard contest by holding a  Snake Run Mini-Bowl  Contest & Food Drive at the Venice Beach Skatepark.   Taking place on Saturday December 14, 2013, the contest was open to all with a $10 entry fee and 2 cans of food to donate. 100% of the profits from the event went to the Westside Food Bank which is helping to feed people in need this holiday season.  

   Food trucks, vendor booths, and music from DJ Bennett Harrada filled the outside of the skatepark as legendary skater contest announcer Dave Duncan called the contest.  In the kids divisions, Kiko Fransisco and Asher Bradshaw blast those huge airs they are well known for.  Pauline Branom lead the girls division, showing that girls can skate the park just as good as the guys, and in lots of cases, even better.  Jesus Estaban had the trick of the day with his ollie from the snake run onto the guardrail where the DJ booth was set up and back into the snake run.  Sean Johnson 50-50 grinding nearly the entire snake run bowl then reverting  on the drop back in.  Dogtown boys Leandre Sanders and Haden McKenna had the most consistent lines, with one-foot airs and a handplant transfers by McKenna and 180- nose grinds out of the bowls channel by Sanders, given them 2nd and 3rd place finishes.  Powell's Charlie Blair  was crowned the winner for his big airs and tech tricks.

Charlie Blair

Division 1
1st: Charlie Blair
2nd: Haden McKenna
3rd: Leandre Sanders
Division 2
1st: Julian Torres
2nd: David Brannon
3rd: Kiko Fransico
Division 3
1st: Asher Bradshaw
2nd: Cooper Burrows
3rd: Myles Strample               

Haden McKenna
Pauline Branom
Jesus Estaban
Sean Johnson

Over 50 more photos:


Venice Surf-A-Thon

    The 20th Annual Venice Surf-A-Thon was held on December 14. At 20 years old, it is the longest running annual surf contest in the Santa Monica Bay area.


It's been a labor of love for contest's founder Ger-I Lewis, who also helped make the famous Venice Beach Skatepark a reality. "I Founded the Venice Surf-A-Thon in 1993 after returning home from military service. I wished to do something for the children, young adults and the community in general that is fun and has a positive influence on everyone" says Ger-I. "For sure back in the day the contest was edgy, as so was I! Instead of handing out trophies at the beach like most contests, I incorporated the awards party to give everyone a chance to shine. Inviting local talent as well." In addition to the awards after party held at a venue off the beach, the early years of the Surf-A-Thon also hosted a bikini contest. "The bikini contest was also a strategy to enhance and create a Venice culture showcase. Well times have changed and folks have mellowed, the bikini contest is no longer a part of the event as many of the original contestants are grandparents now!"

   As in previous years, proceeds from  the contest went to the MLD Elementary School in the Philippines. Unfortunately this year, waves were few and small, but  just enough for everyone to get  a chance to shine.

1st:  Bennet Kelly
2nd: Wes Adler
3rd:  "Wild Bill"
Jr. Mens
1st: Cameron Packem
2nd: Cole Sweeney
3rd: Sal T. Nuts
1st:  Jack
2nd: Jesse
3rd: Bill
1st: Jimmy Valentine
2nd: Jack Jack
3rd: Ronstination
1st: Brock
2nd: Norm Antonio
3rd: Jack Santa Cruz
1st: Tammy Mowery
2nd: Shawana

For the complete gallery of 161 photos: 
Venice Surf-A-Thon 2013 Photo Gallery

For the photo gallery of last year's Surf-A-Thon:   
Venice Surf-A-Thon 2012 Photo Gallery


Ski Dazzle Report

Story: Steve Rodriguez    Photos: Danika Prochazka & Steve Rodriguez
    Ski Dazzle, the big Los Angeles ski and snowboard show now in its 50th year,  is here again. Every year, the show just seems to get worse and worse. We went on Thursday, the opening day to see if the trend is continuing.
    There's two options to buy tickets to the show, which cost $20 per adult, either in person when you get there, or online via the Ski Dazzle site. Buying online would seem the more convenient route, till you  see that they charge an additional $1.75 per ticket, so buying tickets at the show was not only cheaper, but  once we arrived at the convention center, it was clear that there was absolutely no advantage to buying online at. The box office had no lines, we walked right up and bought tickets. There was a line to enter the show, which was split in two, one for online tickets and one for regular tickets, and the regular ticket line moved faster.
   The "Free Lift Ticket" is the huge draw for many attending the show, yet there are always so many restrictions on this "free" lift ticket. In the past years, it been a Snow Summit/Bear offer, where depending on the date, you can get a restricted free lift ticket (valid only early season or late slush and dirt season), a 2-1 offer, or a free lesson deal.  This year Mt Baldy, Snow Valley, Mt High, and Brian Head are added to the offer.

   So not a bad deal this year, because you get a variety of options. One thing that Ski Dazzle has got wise to is the reselling and sharing of their "Free Lift Ticket" offers.   Usually throughout the season, you can find the Ski Dazzle "Free Lift Tickets" being sold on Craigslist, especially near the end of the season when all those who never got a chance to use them are trying to unload them.  Then there's some people like us, who have passes already and usually flow the "Free Lift Ticket" to a buddy who doesn't.  Well, Ski Dazzle has made it difficult to do any  of that this year, you need to show your ID when you get your "Free Lift Ticket" voucher at the booth and again when you go to the resort to redeem it.

   All the usual resorts have booths set up, where you can grab their brochures, trail maps, posters, and stickers. A couple like Bear Mtn and Snow Summit have some cool swag items. Most are offing some type of lift ticket or season pass deal, and of course the "Enter to win_____" drawings.

   Mt High charges $2 to spin their prize wheel, so not many were giving it a go.  It was free to spin the Snow Valley prize wheel, in which one of the prizes was a free lift ticket.

     I gave it a spin and won a free lift ticket. The Snow Valley rep handed me a voucher for a free Mon-Fri non-holiday lift ticket, good till the end of the season.

   Then the two guys in line behind me each hit the same mark on their spins and won lift tickets as well. Pretty cool to see two buddies each win a prize like that one after the other.

   After the resorts, the ski and board shops took up a huge portion of the show floor, offering deals on everything from boards and skis to socks and gloves. Some deals were good, some were not so great. 

 Jack's, Val-Surf, Value Sports, all the regular shops have booths. Val-Surf was constantly one of  the busiest, they always had a line to get in. For the most part, they were all staffed with knowledgeable and helpful employees.

     And then there is  Zumiez

   Zumiez, the mall chain store that lots of true snowboarders and skaters just hate.  Walking into the Zumiez area is like walking into a pit of ultra hipster pushy used car salesmen that had a just finished the MTV/ESPN snowboard lingo home course.   "Awesome hat, alright man!" one yells over to me as another ask me what I need.  "I have this board, it has great flex" another tells us when we touch a board on their rack.  All those web complaints about how Zumiez stores have non-snowboarding employees who know nothing about the gear trying way too hard make you buy things also holds true for the ones at the shows. It's cool when store employees offer to help you, but these Zumiez employees like to get into your face and practically demand you buy something. Another Zumiez guy tells us,  "You're not going to buy anything?! You're just taking pictures? I guess that's cool. We got some great...."  as we walk away from him.

  One minute this guy is browsing the the snowboards:

The next minute, two Zumies employees tag team him and tell him what he needs to buy:

The Bear Mtn Vert Ramp is unfortunately placed next to Zumiez, so I can just see the Zumiez sales gang go after people that just want to watch the skate and BMX demos.  "Hey dude! Wow, wasn't that a totally awesome aerial helicopter one foot air that guy just did?! His ampitude is gnar! Come check out this snowboard that will go killer with the dope belt you are wearing. You gotta buy this board, dude!"

         The other big thing at the show is the Ski & Snowboard swap sale section. according to their website: " Sale Area is a $6 Million Dollar Sale where you and your entire family can save hundreds of dollars on current and past season gear provided by your local retailers and other industry vendors."

   So they say you will save hundreds of dollars, but on a handful of random items we looked at, they actually cost more. 

   This DC jacket for example. It's a DC Spectrum jacket, the original DC price tag of $170 is on it, the special Ski Dazzle sale tag says $127.99.  It sells for $110 on Amazon.  Here's the link: DC Men's Spectrum Snowboard Jacket

    And these brightly colored DC pants? Gotta figure a pair of pants this colorful  in the "Clearance" section of the sale would be discounted pretty heavily, right?

The Ski Dazzle clearance sale tag says $169.99.  They sell for  just $112.95 on Amazon and other snowboard sites.

    While some items may have been good deals, there were a lot that were not.  You can end up overpaying for a lot of stuff at Ski Dazzle, use your phone and do a quick Google search on the items you're looking at, it will save you a good amount of cash. And remember, when you buy at the Ski Dazzle Sale, all sales are final.

   Other things going on at the show were free ski lessons by Snow summit on their carpet slope, a free rock climbing wall, an artificial ice rink,  a cool little kids area set up by Burton, and some industry people giving lectures over in the Mammoth area.

   Ski Dazzle is worth checking out, if you know you are able to use the "Free Lift Ticket" offers. If you're going looking for a great deal on gear, it's not really worth it, especially after you figure in gas and parking ($10-$25 depending where you park). Do some online shopping, hit up the sales at local shops, you find about the same pricing, and even much better deals in some cases. Yeah, there's some cool swag being giving away at the show, but nothing that great.  

There wasn't any huge crowds on Thursday, the show entrance was basically empty the whole night.