For the second consecutive summer, people filled the streets and cheered as Manny Mania gripped New York City. The Red Bull-sponsored event, held at Coleman Park, crowned the skater with the best manual street tricks in a day of skateboarding mayhem.
To get the lowdown on his skating experience [six years as a pro] and what he looks for when judging, we chatted up veteran skateboarder and competition judge Rodney Torres.
STACK: How long have you been skateboarding?
Rodney Torres: I’ve been skateboarding since I was 11 years old. I’m 29 now, so I’ve been skating for a while—professionally since I was 23.
STACK: Did you always think you’d be able to do this professionally?
RT: No, actually I never did. I just started skating because I always seemed to have a skateboard around. Just skating in my neighborhood. I saw a kid Ollie up a curb, and I was blown away. I was 11 years old—and I haven’t put [a skateboard] down since.
STACK: How did you become a pro skater?
RT: It just kind of happened…you skate, you meet enough people, and you kind of make yourself valuable enough to certain people to the point where you can actually be fortunate enough to get that title [of professional skateboarder].
STACK: How has skateboarding affected your life?
RT: Through skateboarding, I’ve met the majority of my friends. I’ve met people all over the world skateboarding, and that’s one of the things I can definitely appreciate. It doesn’t matter if you’re sponsored or not; we’re all just one big family. If you see a skateboarder skate in a spot that you have never been to, and you don’t know the kid from a hole in the wall, you’re instant friends, just because you have that in common. It is just a worldwide bond that we all have.
STACK: How should you train for an event like Manny Mania?
RT: No one is really training. Everyone is just out having fun, but that’s how you progress. You go out, you skate, you have fun and eventually you start figuring out how to do certain [tricks]—and some are harder then others. It’s all about just going out and having fun.
STACK: As a judge, what are you focusing on when scoring skaters?
RT: We look for consistency and hard tricks, and there’s a lot out there. There’s a lot of really amazing skateboarders here today from all parts of the world. The best of the best are here, as far as manual tricks are concerned. It’s going to be a good event.
STACK: What type of scoring format is used for events like this?
RT: Everyone gets a certain amount of time and a certain [number] of tricks per heat. That’s how we keep track of individual [competitors], through heats and through tricks.
STACK: What advice would you give a young skater preparing for Manny Mania?
RT: Just have fun. Skate for fun and don’t worry about sponsors. Don’t worry about any of that stuff, because it really doesn’t matter. What matters is going out and skating. As long as you can do that and have fun doing it, you’re all set.