Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Brazilian skateboarder hits the heights


Dias has foes puzzled over his success

By Shannon Russell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Pro skateboarder Sandro Dias didn't even have time to catch his breath. Five minutes after skating the 60-foot wide half pipe in a Mobile Skatepark Series vert demo Monday afternoon, fans barraged the 28-year-old Brazilian with programs, boards and T-shirts.

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Pro skateboarder Sandro Dias of Brazil flies high off a vertical ramp Monday during a demonstration at Sawyer Point.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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"Sign this! Will you sign this, Sandro? How 'bout autographing this?"

Dias smiled and obliged, just the way you'd hope the world's top-ranked vert skateboarder would.

"It's crazy," said Dias, who speaks Portuguese and some English. "I don't even feel like I'm the best skater."

Dias was dubbed World Cup Skateboarding's best vert skater after winning contests in Australia, Brazil and Canada.

At Sawyer Point he was the crowd favorite, soaring to altitudes 12 feet higher than the 13-foot tall half pipe. He was third in Monday's Skateboarding Vert Best Trick Contest.

The 5-foot-5 skateboarder, who placed second in last year's X Games for Best Trick (a Backside 540 Christ Air to Body Jar), has been a top 10 finisher in competitions for the past five years.

"I don't know how to explain it," Sandro said. "Everyone has a different style. For me, it's just easy to go higher."

TODAY'S SCHEDULE
At Sawyer Point Open Skatepark
• 12 p.m. - 2 p.m. - Session I (Freestyle BMX)
• 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. - Session 2 (Skateboard and Inline)
• 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. - Session 3 (Skateboard and Inline)
• 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. - Session 4 (Skateboard and Inline)
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Pro skater Anthony Furlong joined Dias in "doubles" on the vert ramp, or skating the same moves next to each other at the same time. Furlong tangled with his board and slid knee-first down the ramp's arc, as Dias thrilled the crowd solo with daredevil moves.

Furlong, the world's seventh-ranked vert skateboarder, competes against Dias 15 times a year. He still can't figure out Dias' secrets.

"He has a good pump and good speed. Sometimes the shorter you are, the higher you can get," Furlong said. "But we all try to answer that: What kind of advantage does he have that we don't?"

Furlong said Dias' athletic feats, friendly demeanor and constant smile have won the hearts of fans. Yet he's still overshadowed by some of vert skateboarding's biggest names, like Bucky Lasek, Bob Burnquist and Andy Macdonald.

"He goes higher than anyone right now," said Jason Rothmayer, World Cup judge and Mobile Skatepark Series head skateboarding judge.

Dias has a skateboarding sponsor - Shiva Tech Skateboards - which is a pro's most crucial financial and marketing security. He's also sponsored by Reef, Red Bull, Split Clothing, Oakley, Tent Beach and Connexion Wheels.

Not that Dias is fretting about keeping up with his competition. He's more concerned with the bone spur in his right knee and the scrapes on his elbows.

"I just try to keep skating positive. I try not to worry," Dias said.

Growing up in Sao Paulo, Dias said there wasn't much support for skating. In fact his family always said " 'Are you crazy or what?' " he said, laughing.

Dias and his best Brazilian friends - Burnquist, vert skater Lincoln Ueda and female inline skater Fabiola da Silva - traveled far from home to pursue their dreams. Skateboarding has grown in Brazil since Dias was a teenager, and he frequently returns home to visit and compete.

Australian skater Renton Millar said Dias ups the ante for other skaters and is more of a pal than an intimidator.

"It's cool for me (to skate with Dias)," Millar said. "Because he's good, he's really good. He's like the best."

E-mail srussell@enquirer.com




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