VIA – SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL
SANTA CRUZ — Santa Cruz surfer Zoltan Torkos’ quest to land the first official kickflip in surfing continued this week with another online video submission and another denial from the surf-wear company running the contest, Volcom.
Torkos, 31, is one of a handful of surfers in the world attempting kickflips — originally a skateboarding maneuver where the rider catches air and flips the board underfoot.
Volcom awarded him $10,000 in the original Kickflip-off in 2011, which offered the prize for a video of the first surfing kickflip. The same day, the Costa Mesa-based company amended the rules and upped the ante to $20,000.
Since then, Torkos has submitted 35 more videos — including his latest clip from Steamer Lane that was shot in May and posted online that day. Volcom made its decision last week.
“It’s too ridiculous to me this time,” said Torkos, a sponsored surfer who has two daughters. “I really want this one to happen. I feel like I fit all the criteria.”
Volcom team manager Jack Morrissey sent Torkos a private Facebook message that explained why it didn’t win.
“This is definitely your best kickflip yet,” Morrissey wrote. “Unfortunately, this one is still not launched off the lip of the wave. The pitching lip of the wave is still well behind you.”
Attempts to reach Morrissey on Friday were not successful.
Volcom’s 2011 rules state that the kickflip must begin with a bottom turn and “launched above and off the lip and travels above the wave.” It continues, “No backwash, No chop hops, or anything in the flats, from the wave face, or below the lip of the wave.”
Since Volcom originally started the contest with a magazine advertisement in 2007, Torkos has submitted dozens of entries.
“I think it’s super against me. They’re never going to give it to me. Yesterday, I pulled three and today I pulled two on one wave — another first,” Torkos said.
Torkos, who is usually bubbling with enthusiasm, said the trick has consumed him.
“I don’t sleep. I space out and people get mad at me because that’s all I’m thinking,” he said.
He calls his kickflip the Reimer Flip for his slain friend Carl Reimer, who died in a shooting in Santa Cruz in 2010. He was just 19.
Besides the $20,000 bounty, Torkos said he wants to win the prize to be done with it. He wants to work on landing other skate-inspired tricks like varial flips, heel flips and dark slides — where the rider launches an aerial and lands with the board fins up.
Already his body and surfboards have paid the price with injuries and dings. He is sponsored by Wave Tools Surfboards, SRH Clothing, Black Flys Sunglasses and Santa Monica Airlines Skateboards.
In April, Torkos was featured in an article in Surfer Magazine that said that he was “not a world class surfer” and that he would be “put to shame” by talented younger surfers from many places.
Yet Torkos — a former butcher who is a magician and plays in a band — said he understands that pioneers often aren’t popular in their time.
Torkos met the inventor of the skateboarding kickflip, Rodney Mullen, at a skateboarding event last year. Mullen told him that he too was shunned by skaters at first. Now, the trick is a staple.
“He was laughing at every story I had because he’s been through all of it,” Torkos said of Mullen, his hero.
Torkos said he will continue to surf and be filmed by Elijah Crowell, who captured the latest video.
“I’m trying to pull them as much as possible to end this,” Torkos said.
Local surfer Zoltan Torkos sits on the edge of West Cliff with his board, Thursday. (James Clark/Sentinel) ( SCS )
Follow Sentinel reporter Stephen Baxter at Twitter.com/sbaxter_sc
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