Surrounded by a crowd that packed the Berrics’ floor from wall to wall and left a thin oval of clear floor to skate, Boston’s PJ Ladd beat Los Angeles' Mike Mo Capaldi in what some fans called an epic battle of East Coast vs. West Coast skateboarding.
Battle at the Berrics V took place at the famed Southern California warehouse skatepark owned by pros Steve Berra and Eric Koston, and was introduced by rapper The Game. Capaldi and Ladd were the last two skaters in a pool of 32 top pros that faced off in twos in a bracket-style tournament that spaned several months.
The most-watched event on the most-watched site in skateboarding, Battle at the Berrics is a tournament of S.K.A.T.E., a game that's equivalent to H.O.R.S.E. in basketball, whereby one skater attempts to match the other trick for trick.
The tournament premiered in 2009 and was won by Capaldi. Ladd was a finalist in the third Battle (refereed by Tony Hawk) but lost to Paul Rodriguez, who came from behind to win with a nollie front-kickflip. Ladd was a finalist again the next year but lost to Morgan Smith.
This time, Ladd won the roshambo (w/rock) to the vocal approval of the crowd, some of who wore green "GO PJ" T-shirts. He started off with a kickflip, followed by a nollie flip, switch kickflip, treflip, switch tre, and hardflip before bailing on a switch hardflip. He was down S-K to nothing after missing an impossible, then a 360 shove, but rallied and from there and would only lose one more letter.
He won with a fakie frontside caballerial heelflip. That is, he rolled backwards (fakie), then rotated his body counterclockwise (frontside) 360 degrees (caballerial) and lazerflipped the board (heelflip [a 360 flip, spun off the heel instead of the toe]).
Ladd seemed happy, but was his usual mild-mannered and unquotable self, posing for pictures and enduring a post-contest interview. “It was fun,” he said of his dynamic skating. “It was a good time.”
Cole Louison is the author of "The Impossible: Rodney Mullen, Ryan Sheckler, and the Fantastic History of Skateboarding."