Money Cup heads to South Africa

Day 1: Vert/Mini-Mega
Day 2: Street

This weekend, the third Maloof Money Cup event of 2011 will go down in Kimberley, South Africa. Though professional skateboard teams have traveled through and demoed in South Africa before, this is sure to be the biggest skateboard contest the country has ever played host to. With the event in such a far off and exotic locale, it could have been hard to deliver the caliber of pro talent that have competed in past domestic Maloof events. To that end the Maloofs planned ahead, creating the Maloof All Pros. So what are the Maloof All Pros? The top 16 pros, based on their performances at the previous Money Cup events of 2011, are being offered free air fair and hotel accommodation, paid for by the Maloofs to come and compete in Kimberley. Those pros include Money Cup winners Andrew Reynolds and Greg Lutzka as well as notables including Collin Provost, Dennis Busenitz, Ronnie Creager, Jack Curtin, Ryan Decenzo and more.

This Maloof All Pro "team" or elite group within the pro group seems to be the Maloof Money Cup's answer to the allure and hype built around the exclusivity of Street League's chosen few.

"By creating a Maloof All Pro team we wanted to recognize the best skateboarders in the world and promote them in every country that hosts a Maloof Money Cup," said Maloof Skateboarding general manager Tim McFerren.

Still, the All Pros aren't really a cohesive group as they've been assembled after the fact, based on scores and the Maloof events don't currently culminate in any one event larger than the rest [Street League held their first championship event in August as their season capstone with its biggest prize purse and a 2011 overall champion].

The pro street event, which boasts $160,00 in first place dollars for the winner, is being dubbed the "Maloof Money Cup World Skateboarding Championships." While the title sounds impressive, skateboarding has had "world championship" events before to middling reception. Since skateboarding doesn't yet have a singular unifying body for competition, a world title doesn't mean all that much. Similar to the disparate governing bodies of professional boxing, skateing presently has several competing franchises [Street League, Maloof, Dew Tour, X Games, to name a few], all vying for the spotlight and staking their claims as the be-all end all. Without a professional skateboarder's union or any one unifying competitive body, it's really up to the public to decide which events reign supreme through their support via ticket purchase, attendance, viewership and webpage views. We're also in the midst of a waiting game to find out which of these competitive franchises sticks it out for the long haul, earning our allegiance and respect along the way, and which fall by the wayside.

Back in Africa, Reynolds, Decenzo, Busenitz and Lutzka will be battling it out in Kimberley this weekend on a brand-new, concrete, street course [built as a permanent skatepark to be left for the community after the event]. Whether you're backing another horse in the competition realm or not, the aforementioned are incredibly talented skateboarders and are worth watching in nearly any format and any arena.

Off the street course in Kimberley, there will also be a pro vert and mini MegaRamp event. Bob Burnquist, Alex Perelson, Pierre Luc Gagnon and more are expected to compete for a top vert prize of $75,000. Should be interesting.

Building hype for an international event going down in a place where skateboarding hasn't yet fully taken hold among the youth culture at large, can be a challenge. But I'm guessing a world-class skate park built by the California Skateparks crew and an event open to the public with some of the best pros in the world, aught to get things moving in the right direction.

ESPN Skateboarding's own Andrew Cannon is on the ground in South Africa and will be bringing us a quality account of the action throughout the weekend. Cannon will also be competing in the street contest, so wish him luck out there.