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Video: Santa Cruz surfer nails first-ever kickflip, but is denied $10,000 prize on technicality

Mar 9, 2011, 1:34 PM EDT


Notify Chief Brody. Close the beaches. Something stinks in Santa Cruz. Surfing legend Zoltan Torkos on Friday accomplished what no other surfer has ever done — on video anyway — nailing a kickflip (video below). The feat should have won him a $10,000 prize offered by a sponsor for the first successful kickflip on film. But the company, clothing manufacturer Volcom Stone, is saying that Torkos’ move doesn’t technically meet its requirements. So, no money (update below).

To paraphrase Duval in Apocalypse Now, “That move smells like victory.” But according to Volcom, the kickflip in question was not “above the lip.” Hopefully a surfing expert can check in down in the comments and explain exactly what that means, but it appears that Torkos didn’t get his board above the wave, which is one of the stipulations of the contest rules.

KRAMER: “That sounds capricious and arbitrary.” And I agree. But then, due to pleas from beachgoers and marine wildlife advocates, I have never been a surfer. From the Volcom site:

Last Friday, March 4th, 2011, Zoltan Torkos from Santa Cruz, CA technically pulled the first documented kickflip on a surfboard. Everyone at Volcom is thrilled to see Zoltan’s efforts and consider him to be leading the pack in the race for the $10,000 prize.

Rule #3 of the Kickflipoff contest states: “The kickflip must be a real air ‘above the lip’ – No backwash, No chop hops, or anything in the flats or below the lip of the wave.”

With that said, Zoltan’s kickflip is clearly below the lip and not a real air. Zoltan has pulled the first kickflip on a surfboard, but the $10,000 still remains up for grabs.

UPDATE: Perhaps realizing that their draconian rules are generating negative publicity, Volcom has decided to give Zoltan $1,000. He revealed this in an interview with Transworld Surfing:

“They decided to give me a $1,000 because it’s sick and the first successful one ever, but it’s not off the lip. I sent the video out as the canary in the coalmine to see if it would die. It got major responses. Tons of people were saying I deserved the money. It really blew my mind that they weren’t going to give me the $10-grand. I guess if you film from a 100-foot cliff, 300-feet away it’s going to look like a chop hop. The angle just didn’t do it justice, but it was still done.”

So surfing’s great white whale remains at large — from hell’s heart I stab at thee … or, you know, from In-‘N-Out Burger — as it has been since 2007, when the contest started. Skateboarders are doing kickflips all the time, but on a surfboard that’s a whole different proposition. Churning waves, giant board, sharks … it’s all working against you.

This female newscaster is completely baffled by the move … but then, she sounds like she’d also be confused about a lot of things.

What Zoltan did is pretty freaking remarkable, and as we all know (all together now), you don’t mess with …

Santa Cruz surfer pulls off kickflip [NBC Bay Area]

  1. atepper001 - Mar 9, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    good guess. the lip is the top part of the wave where the water starts to break and curl back down toward the ocean. i think this contest started 15 or so years ago to show progressive ariels (flying above the lip and landing back on the moving wave) when ariels were just becoming possible. ariels are pretty standard now so you can expect the next wave of progressive moves to be ariel kickflips and such.

  2. Rick Chandler - Mar 9, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    Thanks! Your waterproof +1 is on the way.