By Kevin Colindres
Different languages could be heard within a short walk from Shoreline Village to the empty lot by the Long Beach Convention Center that would be host to the 2019 Dew Tour as fans begin to pile in. In the final day of the event, eleven countries were represented in the final rounds of the men’s and women’s street and park competition.
“Skateboarding is growing every single day everywhere I go” Pedro Barros said. “One day I can see it being one of the biggest sports in the world.”
While there was a large global presence at the Dew Tour, Long Beach made itself known throughout the venue.
Long Beach Skate Co held a pop-up shop at the venue selling merchandise and skateboard equipment that showcased the city.
“It’s a really big deal for us to be doing this,” owner Tim Scanlan said. “We’re representing the neighborhood, the culture of Long Beach. Our store is the melting pot of everybody in town and we know that Long Beach is an international city.”
Kids and adults from all around the world could be seen wearing Long Beach Skate Co attire while walking around the venue.
“Long Beach has become a household name and it’s because of events like these,” Scanlan said. “It’s important for us to let the world know who we are.”
The stakes were higher than they ever have been in the 2019 Dew Tour, as it was the first ever global Olympic qualifying event in the United States. This is the fourth time that Long Beach has hosted the event, but this year had major implications for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“The competitions are a lot more strict now, we got coaches now so this weekend was very serious,” Juneau said. “It’s a different experience from the last two years that I’ve been here.”
The men’s park final drew the biggest crowd of the day with back-to-back champion Cory Juneau looking for his third first place finish in a row. Juneau took a dominant 81.00 lead in his first run, but would quickly be challenged by Barros and Keegan Palmer. Palmer solidified a third place finish with a score of 75.00, but Barros had one more chance to overtake Juneau. In Barros’ first two tries, he fell with less than three seconds left but was able to finish with a 79.00. On his third try he completed his run and would be bombarded by friends, coaches and teammates to celebrate. The crowd grew silent as the score was ready to be announced, but quickly went into a frenzy when 84.00 appeared on the board.
“Last year I couldn’t get it going, but this year I was a lot more focused,” Barros said. “I got my body ready and it worked out.”
Barros had dethroned Juneau to take first place.
“I had fun out there and it was a good run the last few years,” Juneau said.
The event was filled with notable performances leading up to the final event.
Sunday began with Pamela Rosa repeating as the winner of the women’s street final with a score of 21.40. Representing Brazil, the 19-year-old qualified for seventh place in the semi final round Saturday, but dominated when it mattered.
“I’m so happy to be here again, it feels good to win two years in a row,” Rosa said. “It sucked to see my competiton get injured, I felt bad.”
Leticia Bufoni placed in second with an injured ankle, while Candy Jacobs came in third for the first podium finish of her career.
“Even in the semi final round we had to skate like it was the finals, because the competition is just getting so much better,” Bufoni said. “Seeing how young a lot of these athletes are is a good sign.”
Lacey Baker and Mariah Duran struggled for the United States taking the last two spots of competition.
The youth took over the women’s park final, with 12-year-old Misugu Okamoto earning top honors with a 63.16 and 10-year-old Kokona Hiraki finishing third with a score of 53.06. Both represented Japan in the final round.
After Okamoto won, she immediately began to sign fan’s boards, t-shirts and posters. The crowd cheered as she walked to the podium. The highlight of her performance came when she landed a 540, something she had been practicing for two years.
“I want to continue to keep working on my speed and getting better,” Okamoto said. “I’m very happy to be up on stage.”
Lizzie Armanto, a 26-year-old veteran, finished second with a 55.00.
“It’s so cool to see younger girls picking up skating at such a younger age, Armanto said. “The gap between younger and older skater is getting smaller, there’s a lot more pressure.”
The men’s street final featured USA’s Nyjah Huston who feel short, placing sixth to end the tournament after taking first in the semi final round Saturday. Taking first was Aurelien Giraud of France with a score of 35.43, followed by Sora Shirai of Japan with a 35.06.
“It feels good to here representing my country in a sport that is growing,” Shirai said.
Felipe Gustavo earned third with a score of 33.94 overtaking Matt Berger on the final trick run by 0.01 to get on the podium.
“I just kept pushing myself to get what I wanted, and it came through in the end,” Gustavo said. “It’s not the exact result I wanted, but I know I have to do better and I’ll take it.”
As the day ended and the tents began to be taken down, Scanlan began to reflect on the weekend.
“It’s great that Long Beach gets to experience every year for the last four years,” Scanlan said. It brings in a lot of fans and it’s good to see this community come together.”