Ozzie Ausband

Eric Nash - Protec

Eric Nash - OG Combi - circa 1988

Eric Nash. The dark horse. He ruled the Combi last year with an iron fist. To my thinking… I don’t think the judges were watching. What do I know? I know that Eric put together three complete, powerful runs full of difficulty, speed and style.  Eric Nash has been an awesome skater since the OG Pipeline. He still rules. - Ozzie

Eric Nash

BTO-  How does this Combi contest feel & compare with the OG Pipeline contests?

The Pro-Tec Combi events are so much fun since they are more like a skate party and you get to see a lot of old friends.  With the exception of the Upland Gold Cup in 1980 which had bleachers, most of the old Upland Combi contests happened when skating had slowed down in the early 80s.  So the crowds were not as big as they get today at the Pro-Tec.  But the energy and intensity were certainly the same in the old days as the Pro-Tec contests.  A couple of Upland Combi contests that stand out in my mind are:

  • ·         1980 Gold Cup:  This was my first skate contest I ever attended and it was probably the best.  It had the whole Santa Cruz vs. Variflex rivalry at its peak.  Caballero was doing Caballerials which seemed like an impossible trick to make at the time.  Neil Blender was doing huge Andrechts on the round facewall that would stall out for 3-5 seconds.  Seeing all the skaters in person that you had seen in magazines for years was just so cool!  The skating was epic too as everyone ripped.  You got to see the younger skaters do lots of tricks and the older skaters bring in so much style, and everyone skated the entire pool.
  • ·         1982 Turkey Shoot:  This contest was in November and it was freezing and rainy with everyone bundled up in blankets or whatever you could find (Micke Alba was using plastic).  It was a head-to-head event and Malba was up against Lester. Malba had the pool wired with so many lines and tricks on every inch of the pool.  I don’t even think Lester was pro yet, but he was pumping from way back by the Pipe Bowl, going down the channel into the round and launching this massive six foot plus high frontside air.  To go that high in this beast of a pool was just crazy!  Since it was head-to-head, they had to go against each other quite a few times – a true classic.

Eric Nash - 1982

  • ·         1983 CASL Contest:  While most people remember Chris Miller’s infamous backside corner air to lock in the 1985 NSA contest, I remember a totally different run from Chris.  He hadn’t practiced much for a spring CASL event (amateur contest series around So Cal parks) and he basically showed up about 60 minutes before the contest.  It was the first time I had ever seen him do the backside corner air line and he did it flawlessly with airs at the 5 and 6 feet level, traveling 5 to 6 feet. He won the contest and then just bailed out.   After Upland amateur contests, there was always a big session at the park with everyone skating and hanging out.  Chris had just introduced a new method to skate the pool with speed, high airs and doing insane tricks over the hips/corners.  We all looked around in awe and just said “What the hell did we just witness? Chris must be going pro!” If you were to take that same run he did in the 1983 CASL and place it in 2012 Pro-Tec, there is no doubt he would win….and that would be with a run that is twenty nine years old!
BTO- Do you ever get any old rivalry type of vibes going on in the Pro-Tecs?

I certainly do not feel any bad vibes or rivalries with anyone.  I’m just stoked to see everyone skate the Combi.  Every single person brings a new perspective, whether it be their style, tricks or lines.  The pool is just so much fun to ride, I don’t think it is possible to have bad vibes when you are riding the best pool in the world.

Eric- Eggplant- Protec practice 2011

BTO- Are your lines different in the new Combi compared to the OG Pipeline Combi?

Definitely different.  While there are some lines that you can use from the Upland Combi days, the Van’s Combi really is a different beast.  Every wall in the Van’s Combi is skateable and the vert and coping are so much more consistent.

The Upland Combi was much bigger and wider.  The pool had a huge amount of vert (3 feet) and some walls were kinked so it was really hard to do tricks on them.  Adding to the three feet of vert was this huge coping that was made of cement.  Occasionally, the coping would break in places that were heavily skated.  We all rode copers back then, so you would break your coper if you grinded over the broken parts of coping.

Eric- tail grab

BTO- Do you feel yourself having to re-learn tricks and lines?

Yes.  For me, the rust grows quickly and so if I haven’t done a trick or skated the Combi for awhile, it will take me a few attempts to nail the line again. Plus, since the Combi offers so many hips and corners, there are very specific spots you need to hit in order to make it to the next wall.  That’s probably why Salba has tape markers all over the pool since his lines are so complex.  But since the Combi is such a great pool, the lines and tricks come back fast.

BTO-  Are you ready & what are you hoping to do in this year’s Pro-Tec?

I’m definitely ready!  I always try to add a new line and a few new tricks each year, so I’ll be stoked if I can pull those off.

Thank you to Eric Nash for taking the time with us and for the images from his archive. Thank you to MRZ for the images. Skate- Ozzie