The Berrics

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The Berrics
Founded Los Angeles (December 7, 2007 (2007-12-07))
Founders Steve Berra, Eric Koston
Website theberrics.com

The Berrics is a privately owned, indoor skatepark owned by professional skateboarders Steve Berra and Eric Koston. It is also a website providing content filmed in the skatepark, as well other skateboard-related media. The facility's name is a portmanteau of the owners' names (the "Ber" of Berra's surname and the "ric" of Koston's first name).[1]

History[edit]

Establishment: 2007 - 2011[edit]

In an interview with Pop magazine, Berra revealed that prior to the launch of The Berrics, he had been offered a million-dollar deal to direct a film based on a screenplay that he had written. Due to filming commitments for his skateboard deck sponsor, Alien Workshop, Berra declined the offer and later commenced work on The Berrics concept following a period of reflection:

All I wanted to do is I knew we have this hook because there were a lot of kids that always would ask Eric and I about our building. “Someday I’ll come to your skate park,” everywhere, all over the world.

That was minimal exposure of it. I realized we were on to something, like a Studio 54, and I was sitting there one day as I was skating and I think it was Andrew Reynolds that I’d seen do a heel flip backside tailslide on the ledge. It was so perfect and awesome. I never left Nebraska mentally to a degree, like I’m still a fan of anyone who skates incredible, ends up just skating.

So if a kid from Nebraska could see how being on this side of the baker’s window, if he could see what goes on here and how we make the bread, and what temperature we cook the bread at, they would be psyched. I just started coming up with ideas of what we could do.[2]

Berra and Koston both purchased a building for the skateboarding facility with their own funds; one of the key initial goals for the Berrics facility was to provide a setting where skateboarders could practice their tricks to avoid spending that time in street-based environments in California, where skateboarding is illegal in most spaces.[3]

Following the website's inception in late 2007, it quickly grew and, according to The Wall Street Journal, in January 2009, the Berrics attracted more unique visitors than the websites of every major skateboard magazine, as well as ESPN.com's action sports section.[4]

Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory was inspired by the Berrics[5] and, in 2012, Dyrdek challenged the Berrics crew and lost, thus having to erect a statue that portrayed the inspiration that he had derived from the Berrics facility.[6]

La Jolla Group partnership: 2011 - 2012[edit]

On February 11, 2011, a press release announced a partnership between the La Jolla Group (LJG) and The Berrics. The Berrics was the first skate category for the LJG, as the company had previously only worked with surf and moto brands. Berra stated in the press release:

With the resources that have been available to us so far, our own pocketbooks, I think we’ve done a fantastic job. When given the opportunity to partner with someone like La Jolla Group, take advantage of their infrastructure, still retain full control and ownership of our company, not have to worry about them having skate brands that compete with our advertisers AND get the job done was something we couldn’t pass on. We want to see skateboarding and the people who make it happen, from top to bottom, do better, especially in these tumultuous times.[7]

However, as of November 2013, the Berrics is no longer featured on the LJG website as a licensed brand.[8]

New premises: 2012 onward[edit]

On December 7, 2012, the website was closed and a temporary page was displayed to visitors—the headline was "RIP The Berrics (12/7/07–12/7/12)" and instead of the standard "Enter The Berrics" option, visitors could instead click on a button that read "Exit the Berrics". The page also featured a short video segment of several skateboarders, including Billy Marks, performing tricks in the facility, followed by a firecracker explosion at the base of one of the stair sets. When the "Exit the Berrics" button was clicked on, a second video appeared, featuring professional skateboarder, Felipe Gustavo, performing a series of tricks on one of the ledges in the park.

Prior to December 7, 2012, a series of brief video segments, entitled "Disclosure", were presented on the website over a period of approximately two months. All of the videos were deliberately blurry and, while the name of the skateboarder in the video was revealed, it was difficult for the viewer to properly see where the skateboarder was performing the one or two tricks that would appear. Featured skateboarders included Daewon Song, Nyjah Huston, Kenny Hoyle, Ishod Wair, Matt Miller, and Kelly Hart.[9][10]

On December 8, 2012, The Berrics was relaunched and the "RIP" page was replaced by a page featuring helmet camera footage from professional skateboarder, Chad Muska, who reveals that he is inside a new Berrics facility—beneath the video frame was a button that read "Enter The New Berrics". Upon entering the new website, the producers of The Berrics revealed that a new facility had been built and a video segment was featured, in which Koston introduces the new Berrics with the assistance of other skateboarders, such as Shane O'Neill, Ronnie Creager, Derrick Wilson, Danny Montoya, Josh Murphy, Marquise Henry, and Clint Peterson. In the days following, another video segment was uploaded to the website, revealing that the new facility had been built by the California Skateparks company and that Berra had taken photos of actual street/city-based locations that he would like to replicate inside the new facility during the design stage.[11][12][13][14] A video entitled "Full Disclosure" was also released around the same time and featured a compilation of the previous "Disclosure" clips, but without the blurred effect, and with the inclusion of additional footage.[15]

Veteran skateboard photographer Grant J. Brittain confirmed on October 7, 2014, that the Skateboard Mag publication, of which he is a photo editor for, has reached an collaborative agreement with the Berrics. Brittain published the announcement on his Instagram account: "We started a new endeavor, the Skateboard Mag is under The Berrics skateboarding umbrella."[16]

Segments[edit]

Since inception, the website has developed a range of features consisting of regularly uploaded episodes that are featured in a section entitled "Daily Ops" (the equivalent of a "News" section for most websites). New episodes of some features are uploaded weekly, while others are uploaded as they are completed.[17]

Weekly[edit]

A segment entitled "VHS (Visual History Selection)" was launched on November 18, 2012 and featured Koston's video part in the Chocolate video, The Chocolate Tour, from 1999. Since inception, the segment has featured video parts from skateboarding history that the website considers significant.[32]

On January 22, 2013, a new segment, "Instagrams of the Week (IOTW)", was launched by Berra as a replacement for an earlier segment; Berra wrote in his introduction:

This is the new version of EOTW [Emails of the Week], only better. Every week we are going to pick our favorite Instagram photos with #berrics and feature them on the site. So, ask questions, make statements, show us a skate spot or a trick we've never seen. Is there a sunset that's just so beautiful you can't possibly imagine the Berrics and everyone that goes on it not seeing it? Then show us.[30]

Regular[edit]

Special[edit]

In the lead-up to the official publication of a Battle Commander by Jamie Thomas, the website launched a new type of special segment, entitled "Interrogation". On January 29, 2013, visitors of the website were asked to "send him any questions and/or comments you want".[51] Paul Rodriguez was the second interview subject for the segment.[52]

Maintenance[edit]

The skatepark has undergone a significant level of maintenance and rejuvenation during the life of its existence.[53] Berra provided an explanation of a renovation plan as part of a series of short video segments, filmed for the DVS Shoe company four years after the launch of the website:

The park has taken a beating over the last four years, with the amount of people that have skated here ... So, we are getting ready to tear out all the concrete, to the dirt, and redo it so that there's no more cracks. When we originally bought the building, it had a real rough surface; so, when I talked to a bunch of concrete guys, you know, they suggested tearing it out and another guy suggested, "Why don't we pour a slab right on top?" So Eric [Koston] and I paid a whole lot of money to pour this slab on top, 'cause we thought it'd be the easiest and we thought it would be durable. We were wrong.[3]

Contests[edit]

Battle at the Berrics[edit]

Battle at the Berrics[edit]

In 2008, skateboard brand, DVS Shoe Company (now DVS Shoes), sponsored the inaugural Battle at the Berrics contest. Consisting of a professional game of S.K.A.T.E., the competition involved thirty-two skaters competing in a bracket-style tournament. The competitors included Steve Berra, Eric Koston, Rob Dyrdek, Andrew Reynolds, Mike Carroll, Marc Johnson, Erik Ellington, PJ Ladd, Danny Montoya, Chris Roberts, Donovan Strain, and Sean Malto.[54][55][56][57][58]

First place was attained by Mike Mo Capaldi, with second and third place given to Benny Fairfax and Billy Marks, respectively.[59]

Battle at the Berrics 2[edit]

Battle at the Berrics 2, the second installment of Battle at the Berrics, allowed the Berrics' viewership to vote for thirty-two of more than 150 skateboarders, with the most popular invited to fill the tournament's 32 competitor slots;[60] the two most popular selections were Chris Cole and Daewon Song.[61] Competitors included Kelly Hart, Chris Haslam, Torey Pudwill, Jimmy Carlin, Greg Lutzka, Stefan Janoski, David Gonzalez, Kenny Anderson, Lucas Puig, Heath Kirchart, Jerry Hsu, Dennis Busenitz, Peter Ramondetta, and Mike Vallely, among others.[62][63][64][65][66][67][68]

Battle at the Berrics 2 was won by Chris Cole, who defeated Paul Rodriguez, with Cory Kennedy achieving third place.[69]

Battle at the Berrics 3[edit]

Battle at the Berrics 3 commenced in 2010 and was sponsored by the DC Shoes company. The competition followed the same format as the previous versions and opened with a match between Cole and Joey Brezinski.[70] The list of competitors included Danny Garcia, Johnny Layton, Gilbert Crockett, Caesar Fernandez, Benny Fairfax, Josiah Gatlyn, Brandon Biebel, Mark Appleyard, Shane O'Neill, and Marty Murawski.[71][72]

Battle at the Berrics 3 was won by Rodriguez, after defeating Ladd, and O'Neill finished in third place. In a match that lasted nearly seven minutes, Rodriguez managed to win the series after making a considerable comeback effort; the final match was judged by Tony Hawk.[73][74]

Battle at the Berrics IV[edit]

Battle at the Berrics IV, the fourth installment in the series, was launched in 2011 and was subtitled "U.S. vs. THEM,"—the theme of the competition stipulated that American skateboarders would compete against riders from the rest of the world. The first round of the competition involved sixteen skateboarders from the United States (US) competing against sixteen skateboarders from foreign countries, such as Brazil (Rodrigo Tx, Luan Oliveira, Danillo Cerezini, Felipe Gustavo),[75][76][77][78] the United Kingdom (Fairfax),[79] Canada (Morgan Smith, Wade Desarmo, Mark Appleyard),[80][81][82] Colombia (David Gonzalez), Germany (Willow, Alex Mizurov, Lem Villemin),[83][84][85] Sweden (Albert Nyberg), Australia (Shane O'Neill),[86] Spain (Enrique Lorenzo),[87] and the Netherlands (Sewa Kroetkov).[88][89]

Battle at the Berrics IV was won by Smith (Canada), after he defeated Ladd (U.S.), with Davis Torgerson (U.S.) in third place.[90][91]

Battle at the Berrics V[edit]

Battle at the Berrics V, the fifth installment in the series, was subtitled "Team Berra vs Team Koston" and was launched in February 2012—sixteen skateboarders were selected to compete as part of Berra and Koston's respective teams. The selection of the teams was released in a video segment published on the Berrics website that featured Berrics host, Steezus Christ, overseeing Berra and Koston as they selected names according to turn.[92][93][94] The teams for Battle at the Berrics V are as follows:

Team Koston: Paul Rodriguez, Davis Torgeson, Tom Asta, Marquise Henry, PJ Ladd, Manny Santiago, Sean Malto, Trent McClung, Ishod Wair, Felipe Gustavo, Keelan Dadd, Tommy Fynn, Torey Pudwill, Evan Smith, Morgan Smtih, and Moose.[95][96]

Team Berra: Chris Cole, Shane O'Neill, Billy Marks, Ryan Decenzo, Jimmy Carlin, Sebo Walker, Ryan Pearce, Boo Johnson, Corey Kennedy, Matt Miller, Nyjah Huston, Ronnie Creager, Kevin Romar, Nick Tucker, Mikemo Capaldi, and Theotis Beasley.[95][96]

Battle at The Berrics 5 was won by Ladd, after he defeated Capaldi, with O'Neill placing third.[97][98]

Battle at the Berrics 6[edit]

Battle at the Berrics 6, the sixth installment in the series, will be played according to the theme of "goofy versus regular", a reference to the stance of a skateboarder—that is, "goofy" is the name given to riders who place their right foot at the front of the board while skateboarding, and "regular" is the opposite stance. A promotional video was published on the Berrics website on January 9, 2013, featuring Koston, Johan Stuckey, and Jamie Thomas—the video commences with a spoof skit, in which Koston and Stuckey compete is a joke version of the sixth Battle, and then ends with the official announcement, whereby Thomas and Koston are seemingly the contestants in the first round.[99]

On January 12, 2013, a video entitled, "Battle at the Berrics 6: Regular vs Goofy", was uploaded to the Berrics website—the question, "Who do you want to see at the Battle of the Berrics 6?", featured at the beginning of the segment and skateboarders, both sponsored and unsponsored, provided their responses to the question. The video concluded with the statement: "Check back on Monday to see who made it in".[100]

On January 14, 2013, a video was published on the Berrics, revealing the contestants in the sixth installment of Battle at the Berrics. Presented by Berra, the video revealed that "thousands" of people across Southern California, US had been asked about who they would like to see in the competition during the two weeks prior to the announcement. The final selection of skateboarders was then shown, with corresponding footage for each individual—the skateboarder's board sponsor appears in parentheses:

  • Team Regular: Chaz Ortiz (Zoo York), Brad Cromer (Krooked), Moose (Deathwish), Bastien Salabanzi (Drool),[101] Keelan Dadd (DGK), Billy Marks (Toy Machine), Tom Asta (Mystery), Johnny Layton (Toy Machine), Carlos Ribeiro (Chocolate), PJ Ladd (Plan B), Nick Tucker (Expedition), Torey Pudwill (Plan B), Chris Cole (Zero), Keels (Toy Machine), Cory Kennedy (Girl), Mike Mo Capaldi (Girl), and Austyn Gillette (Habitat)
  • Team Goofy: Shane O'neill (Skate Mental), Jereme Rogers (Selfish), Nyjah Huston (Element), Trent McClung (Element), Davis Torgerson (Real), Morgan Smith (Blind), Eric Koston (Girl), Dennis Busenitz (Real), Ishod Wair (Real), Wes Kremer (Sk8 Mafia), Manny Santiago (AMMO), Sewa Kroetkov (Blind), Felipe Gustavo (Plan B), David Gonzalez (Flip), Matt Miller (Expedition), and Paul Rodriguez (Plan B)[102]

The final four competitors were O'neill, Capaldi, Rodriguez, and Ladd, with the latter two qualifying for the grand final.[103][104] Ladd defeated Rodriguez in the championship battle and won the competition for a second successive year.[105] As of June 1, 2013, the Wall Street Journal was the only mainstream media outlet to cover the finals event.[106]

Battle At The Berrics 7[edit]

'Pros VS Joes' was the name of the 7th installment of BATB. 16 amateur skateboarders were chosen and on March 15th, 2014, the first battle of Round 1 had begun. Fox Weekly has released its predictions for BATB7 stating that the final Joe 'will be between Cody Cepeda, Nick Holt or Will Fyock'.[107][108]

The Grand Final, between Luan Oliveira (Pro) and Cody Cepeda (Joe), was won by Cepeda, who did not acquire a single letter in the Championship Battle. Eric Koston defeated Sewa Kroetkov in the battle for third place. [109]

Year-by-year results

2008: Capaldi def. Fairfax

2009: Cole def. Rodriguez

2010: Rodriguez def. Ladd

2011: Smith def. Ladd

2012: Ladd def. Capaldi

2013: Ladd def. Rodriguez

2014: Cepeda def. Oliveira

Bang Yo' Self[edit]

YOUnited Nations[edit]

Run & Gun[edit]

A new contest entitled "Run & Gun" was launched in July 2013, and involves invited competitors conceiving of and filming a 60-second sequence of tricks within a 24-hour period inside the Berrics facility. Each competitor's time inside the Berrics is exclusive and is not shared with any of the other competitors. As of August 11, 2013, the competitors are Shane O'neill, Curren Caples, David Gonzalez, Billy Marks, Manny Santiago, Madars Apse, Felipe Gustavo, Evan Smith, Ishod Wair, Andrew Reynolds, Wes Kremer, Dennis Busenitz, and Torey Pudwill.[110]

Viewers are responsible for voting for each of the 60-second runs and the winner received US$25,000. A Berrics panel of judges will also award US$1,000 to the competitor who performs the best trick during their run.[110]

On October 21, 2013, Felipe Gustavo was revealed as the winner of the Run & Gun contest and Madars Apse won the best trick award for a "wallie jam 50-50 on the handrail".[111][112]

2Up[edit]

The Berrics commissioned the CA Ramp Works company to construct five modular blocks[113] and 10 skateboarders were invited to film a segment, using the blocks and incorporating the manual trick (skateboarding only on two wheels). Skateboarders included Joey Brezinski, Koston, Cole, Song, and Youness Amrani, and the winner was voted by the fans of the website. Song was declared the winner on March 4, 2014 and received a trophy in addition to US$10,000 cash.[114][115][116]

In Transition[edit]

The "In Transition" contest ran during October 2014. The Berrics "picked 10 of the most progressive skaters on the planet to choose one location each—any location in the world—and film a full part," and viewers will vote for the winner.[117]

Death of Lewis Marnell[edit]

An official announcement on January 20, 2013 revealed that professional skateboarder, Lewis Marnell, had died in the 48 hours prior to the announcement—details of the passing were not provided.[118] An email from the Marnell family later revealed that a "massive hypoglycemic reaction" was the cause of early passing for the skateboarder, aged 30.[119] The tribute from the Berrics profile on Facebook, published on January 19, 2013, stated:

Sorry to switch gears so abruptly, but we wanted to send our condolences to the friends and family of the late Lewis Marnell. Such an amazing individual, that spread so much positivity. The skateboard community has lost someone special, but the heavens have gained an amazing angel. Ride in Peace Lewis....[120]

The Berrics then dedicated its website to Marnell on January 21, 2013, publishing the following words on its cover page: "We will see you in another life and it will be much more grand than this one. Until then, you will be missed our brother." Berra then introduced the day of dedication by writing, underneath a black-and-white silhouette photograph of Marnell:

He didn't come very often, but when he did, we were always in such awe how a guy so nice and so good skated to the beat of his own drum without feeling the pressure of having to skate to everyone else's. Usually, a guy with the kind of talent Lewis had would have a style and look that you've all seen before, the fact that he didn't is what made him even more special. In honor of him, we're taking today to post those times where he blessed the Berrics with his original style and one of a kind presence. He will be missed dearly by his friends, his family, and the entire world of skateboarding. -- sb[121]

Marnell had filmed a "Trickipedia Tuesdays" segment for the Berrics, in which he performs a "nollie bigspin heelflip",[122] a "Mini Bangin!",[123] and a "Text Yoself Beefo Yo Wreck Yoself" (with professional skateboarder, Darrell Stanton).[124]

Perspectives[edit]

A multitude of opinions and perspectives have emerged since the success of the Berrics. In February 2013, US east coast skateboard photographer Ryan Gee explained his view:

I do think what the Berrics is doing is great. I know some may disagree, but it's 2013. Gotta supply the kids with some great content from the Pro's and that site really keeps you up to date with cool video segments. One problem that may already be happening is that kids will grow up with only that and not expand their skating to the streets. Some may think putting out a video part at a park will get them sponsored.[125]

Also in February 2013, Berra himself provided a perspective of the Berrics in relation to the other web-based skateboarding film media channels—Tony Hawk's RIDEChannel on YouTube, Red Bull, Network A (responsible for Rodriguez's Berra-directed LIFE series), and Allisports—that have been established in the US for a worldwide audience: "All making, in my opinion, subpar content that I don’t think helps the “industry” more than it’s helping YouTube sell commercials for cars and insurance companies."[126]

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External links[edit]