Van Doren Invitational skateboarding competition returns the spirit of Slam City Jam

If you grew up in Vancouver and were even remotely interested in skateboarding around the turn of the millennium, there’s a pretty good chance you hold fond memories of Slam City Jam.

The vert and street competition at the Pacific Coliseum became the longest-running skateboarding event in North America before it left the city in 2006.

Since then, there hasn’t been a skate contest in Vancouver anywhere near as big.

Vans Pro Skate is hoping to change that beginning tomorrow (July 11) with the Van Doren Invitational at Hastings Park.

On the phone from the Vans head office in Cypress, California, Bobby Gascon told the Straight that he’s been trying to bring an event back to Vancouver and specifically Hastings for some time.

“It’s the most iconic bowl in Canada, so I thought it had a good feel and fit with Vans to bring some authenticity to the city,” said the director of action sports marketing. “Like Slam was in the past, I want this to be good for everyone.”

Gascon noted it’s been a team effort.

“Steve Van Doren, the VP of events, he was a really huge supporter of Slam City Jam, and he really helped me put the pieces together to get this going for Canada,” he said. “I sat down with Kevin Harris and Kevin Kelly, who runs Boulevard Skate shop and who has also been doing the Battle at Hastings…so it was collaborative.”

There’s $75,000 up for grabs this weekend. The top prize is $15,000, second place will take home $12,500, and $10,000 goes to third. What's left of that purse will trickle down among skaters that rank in the top 20 spots.

Confirmed to compete is reigning Van Doren Invitational champion Ben Hatchell, Brazil’s  Pedro Barros, and X-Games gold medalist Curren Caples.

Grant Taylor and Ben Raybourn will also be at Hastings, plus Keegan Sauder, Zach Miller, Colin Provost, Tom Remillard, Chad Bartie, Ben Raybour, Taylor Bingman, and a whole lot of others.

The 19-and-over crowd will likely be able to catch a few of those guys Friday night at a party at Fortune Sound Club, where Vans and Antihero Skateboards' John Cardiel will be doing a bit of deejaying.

The Van Doren Invitational begins at Hastings Park Friday (July 11) at 10 a.m.

The semi-finals and finals will be streamed live at ThrasherMagazine.com beginning Saturday (July 12) at 2 p.m.

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