Vans Pool Party 2019 Photos

This was the 15th and final year of the Vans Pool Party at the Combi Bowl in Orange, CA. The event has had a few different names over the years, but it’s always been the same deep, gnarly pit of ‘crete. The Legends—many of whom skated the OG Combi at Pipeline in the ‘80s—are always a crowd favorite. The Masters (over 40) had a few entrants that skated the first Pool Party back in ’04. But after 15 years, the Pro Division has seen a major change of guard. Except for 46-year-old Bucky Lasek, most of the competing skaters hadn’t even picked up a board when this contest series began—and a few weren’t even born! —Joe Hammeke

01 750pxDarren Navarette has been to every single Pool Party—usually in the bowl but this time he was sidelined with a hyperextended knee. Heal up, Vertical Vampire!

02 750pxNavs is never too hurt to sign a board, though. That’s Lonny Hiramoto—a competitor in the Legends Division. Lonnie had the first footplant photo in a skate mag, back in ’77

03 750pxInside, practice before the battle. Rune Glifberg has got one of the best tailgrabs in the biz. He finished 2nd in the Masters Division

04 750pxReigning champ Tom Schaar, switch flip during practice. Rune would neither confirm nor deny that he was the first to do one on vert

05 750pxSalba’s sneakers

06 750pxCorey Juneau, huge ollie followed by a barrage of high-speed maneuvers in the round

07 750pxNovember ’92 cover boy Alphonzo Rawls was one of the judges. Alf can skate it all and was one of the pioneers of technical vert skating. Proof!

08 750pxAs the stands filled to the limits set forth by the fire marshal, the Masters event was underway and Andy Macdonald took the top honors. Cab tailgrab in the round? What? Andy Mac on the Thrasher site?! Well, just ask yourself: What would the Big Dog do?

09 750pxThe crowd was at capacity and the fire marshal was counting every single person through the doors

10 750pxHere’s your behind-the-scenes commentators: Greyson Fletcher and Omar Hassan. You ready to do this?

11 750pxLegends are underway and Steve Alba, the winner of the first pool contest ever back in ’78, is in the bowl!

12 750pxInventor of the frontside rock ’n’ roll, Eddie Elguera decked out on the hip. Bet your ass he’s still got ‘em!

13 750pxLester Kasai went higher than anyone in the original Combi Bowl. Thirty-one years later he’s still charging, just a little closer to the coping

14 750pxStill stoked off that Navarette signature, Lonnie Hiramoto—tuck knee

15 750pxAll the way from Copenhagen, Denmark, Nicky Guerrero, high-speed lipslide in the round in to 2nd place. You know you’ll be seeing him again at the CPH Open

16 750pxPat Ngoho, huge Indy air in the square

17 750pxIn case you didn’t know, Ngoho was the first to roll out on transition, do a manual and roll back in. No matter how deep the bowl, he’s still down to dive in

18 750pxAlways a force to be reckoned with, Steve Caballero has one of the best frontside inverts and took home 3rd in the Legends Division. Cab has been on the cover of the mag nine times, including this frontside invert in a pool back in June of ’85

19 750pxThis year it was Lance Mountain taking top honors for the Legends. Skateboarding loves you, Lance! 

20 750pxChrist Strople had the first skate photo on the cover of Thrasher in February ’81. How’s that for bragging rights?

21 750pxTaking a little break from flippin’ burgers, Steve Van Doren gets a flick with the Star Wars crew. May the 4th be with you

22 750pxBack inside, Eric Dressen says time for the Pro Division. Eric’s had three Thrasher covers, including January of ’88

23 750pxClay Kreiner knows the power line through the pool to get the crowd on their feet and the cameras in the air

24 750pxJosh Rodriguez, high-speed frontside bluntslide in the round

25 750pxThe Star Wars crew heard that Bam Margera was in the building so they planned an Imperial attack

26 SeqLuigi Cini was only a year old and living in Brazil when the first Pool Party took place—kickflip McTwist body varial. Time flies. So does Luigi!

27 750pxYou know Hosoi’s got the live feed going

28 750pxMoto Shibata with a beautiful lien fastplant, landing him in 3rd place overall. Congrats on that pro board, Moto! Good looks, Hosoi

29 750pxCory Juneau killed it in the semifinals, including sticking this massive frontside flip in the round, but struggled when it came to the finals

30 750pxThe kids (and everybody else) were blown away

31 750pxTristan Rennie, the 2014 Pool Party champion, is always a top contender in the finals—nosegrind over the hip into the square

32 750pxLifeblood’s Wally Inouye and Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament got love for the Wizard of Blood

33 750pxTristan, huge BSO in the round

34 750pxAlley-oop frontside 5-0 in the square to a 2nd place finish in the finals. Hell yeah, Rennie!

35 750pxOmar Hassan, fired up and on the mic

36 750pxFourteen-year-old Tate Carew wasn’t even born when the Pool Party saga began. He held onto some solid technical runs that stoked out the fans and judges and brought him to the finals

37 750pxAt 46 years old, Bucky Lasek could have competed with the Masters. Instead, he chose to duke it out with the kids and was a heavy threat all the way up ’til his final run—air to fakie through the corner followed up with a frontside stale twist…

38 750px…then this stale boneless landing him in 4th place in the Pro Division. Thanks for giving all us old guys some hope, Bucky

39 750pxAnother veteran skater who can still hang with the younger generation on the streets, Geoff Rowley’s always on deck at the Pool Party. Dude’s had six covers!

40 750pxBut it was reigning champion Tom Schaar who had the power and trick selection to stay in the 1st-place spot as the finals were closing in—huge kickflip Indy in the round

41 750pxFront blunt on the hip

42 750pxKickflip backlip in the square to retain the title and take home the trophy for the third year in a row

43 750pxStoked is an understatement

44 750pxIt was May the 4th so of course Vans had special Star Wars-themed trophies made

46 750pxSandro Diaz (3rd), Andy Macdonald (1st) and Rune Glifberg (2nd)—the Masters top 3. Andy got to take home the Darth Vader trophy

47 750pxCab (3rd), Nicky Guerrero (2nd) and Lance Mountain (1st)—the Legends top 3. Lance scored the Yoda trophy

48 750pxMoto Shibata (3rd), Tom Schaar (1st) and Tristan Rennie (2nd)—the Pros top 3. Tom was graced with the Luke Skywalker trophy. And you better believe the Stormtroooper helmets will fit your head. Thanks, Vans, for building and maintaining the Combi Bowl for the past 20 years along with hosting and supporting the biggest contests in bowl riding for the past 15 years! 


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