In 2020, the 26th edition of Tampa Pro was contested right before the global coronavirus pandemic sent public events into lockdown. This year, the event missed its usual early March timeslot, but thanks to the commitment of Brian Schaefer and the SPoT team, Tampa Pro returned in October with all elements firmly in place for 2021.
The elements that make Tampa Pro such a treasured tradition in skateboarding include world-class skateboarding, culturally relevant art displays and music, as well as a dose of unpredictable action only to be found at SPoT. This weekend, Tampa Pro showcased art by pro skateboarder Kris Markovich across the street course and in a gallery show. For an unforgettable live concert experience, pro skateboarder Mike Vallely, winner of the inaugural Tampa Pro contest in 1995, played the music of punk rock icons Black Flag with his new band, Complete Disaster.
True to Tampa Pro tradition, the skateboarding was in a league of its own all weekend. The grueling qualifiers session saw skateboarders from across the world – including riders from Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Japan, and the United States – battle for limited spots in the Semi-Final. Fresh off winning a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Monster Energy’s Hoefler emerged from the pressure cooker qualifier session in first place with 82.50 points, earning a Golden Ticket directly into Sunday’s finals on the strength of a flawless run.
On Saturday, the Best Trick competition lit up the SPoT street course with never-been-done tricks and massive transfers. When all was said and done, Florida native Jamie Foy took the crown for finessing a frontside bluntslide across the tall flat rail, popped 270 into a backside noseblunt slide down the kink rail below.
On Saturday night, the legendary concrete bowl at Skatepark of Tampa (SPoT) provided the backdrop for the Madness Concrete Jam contest. Under the floodlights, the crowd was treated to next-level bowl skating by some of the best riders on the circuit. This list includes Monster Army rider and recent X Games gold medalist Liam Pace. As the session heated up, the 20-year-old from Tucson, Arizona, covered every angle of the park with liptricks, transfers, and huge airs. Highlights such as 540 Indy air over the channel, long crooked grind to fakie in the deep end, huge lien crossbone airs, Cab backside disaster, frontside Smith on the wall box, and a tall 50-50 pull-in on the roof earned Pace the ‘You Killed It’ Award for his overall performance.
On Sunday, the Semi-Final cut down the field of street skaters to a final ten riders. Making a strong showing, Monster Energy rider and newly minted pro Gabriel Fortunato from Suzano, Brazil, put his repertoire of technical street tricks on full display. But despite landing tricks like crooked grind up the hubba, fakie crooked the ledge, and 360 kickflip noseslide down the hubba Fortunato missed the cut into the finals.
Once the street final got rolling, the pressure inside Skatepark of Tampa intensified. New competitors such as Brazil’s Lucas Rabelo, Minnesota’s Jack Olson, and Japan’s Kairi Netsuke went head-to-head with seasoned pros and previous Tampa Pro winners in an epic showdown. As several competitors put down near flawless routines packed with heavy tricks, the formula for winning became: Land a perfect run stacked with difficulty – and end it all on a banger!
That’s exactly what Hoefler delivered on his second of three final runs. Starting out with a huge gap out kickflip backside lipslide on the centerpiece rail, the Brazilian put together a flawless run: nollie frontside nosegrind the box rail, switch frontside bluntslide and kickflip frontside blunt fakie down the rail, fakie backside lipslide the flat rail into a fast-footed Half Cab 270 out the hubba, a perfect kickflip backside nosegrind the tall box rail, frontside kickflip the quarter pipe, and frontside noseslide the entire flat ledge. On his third and final run, Hoefler upped the difficulty with a gap-out sugarcane grind down the rail.
As a novelty introduced for Tampa Pro 2021, the judges’ scores were kept hidden during the contest until the final results were announced in the awards ceremony. Cheered on by the crowd and his peers, Hoefler received $5,000 in prize money and the trophy for second place, his second podium finish at Tampa Pro.
Hoefler is a two-time X Games gold medalist and took home the silver medal in Men’s Skateboard Street at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. He has taken first place in high-profile competitions such as Dew Tour, Street League Skateboarding, and in 2017 was included in the Guinness Book of World Records for “most wins of the World Cup Skateboarding men’s street world rankings."