Skaters are known to look at everyday objects through the lens of what could be done on a board. The ordinary traveler sees a dull baggage claim, where a skateboarder sees a prime ledge. On May 1-2, five crews each comprised of four to five skaters and one filmer representing TN, AL, FL and LA met up at the old MSY Terminal for the ultimate skate jam and content capture sessions.
Red Bull Terminal Takeover transformed the former New Orleans airport into three custom-built parks, creating a dream destination for skateboarding. The abandoned terminal took on new life as skaters slid, grabbed and grinded iconic airport features, giving the aged facility an edgy upgrade.
“We spend so much of our lives in airports as pro skaters,” said Red Bull athlete Jake Wooten. “We take four-hour layovers and daydream about what could be done on our boards. I look at stairs and rails. They’re the smallest architectural features but a skate spot is all I see,” he said. “The fact that Red Bull was able to make it happen and turn an old airport into a park is like something out of a video game.”
The active runway overlooking the new world-class terminal at MSY served as the panoramic backdrop for takeoffs, landings and maneuvers of a different kind. Over the course of two days, New York Design and Construction (NYDAC) converted the once abandoned airport into a lively park, featuring three unique course designs and features conducive to different styles of riding.
The parabola was the hero location with its stunning pre-existing architecture. The NYDAC build team modified the escalators for skaters to roll down, added a simple but technical A-frame with a rail, custom-built a 6ft quarter pipe channel gap and designed a vertical wall set against the iconic mid-century glass arch.
The baggage claim section brought every skater’s video game fantasy to life, as the carousel covered in plywood created a space for the sport to go where hasn’t gone before. Carpet and rubber were no match for the build team, who added rails, ledges and ramps – transforming the monotonous belt system into a playground for imagination, complete with rideable kiosks and countertops.
Concourse D mimicked a runway built for speed, offering skaters a long hallway and a smooth surface for pushing. The five skate crews each made creative use of the edge ramps, island piece and any nearby objects worth riding – including print newspaper boxes, trash cans and luggage props.
“I was really excited for the opportunity to have people from New Orleans experience something like this because it doesn’t happen often here,” said Phil Santosusso, owner of Humidity Skate Shop in the French Quarter. “New Orleans typically gets skipped because our city is small compared to New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. To be able to give that opportunity to the crews here was amazing.”
Each of the five participating teams will submit a two-minute video compilation for a fan-sourced vote on redbull.com later this month. The winning crew will receive a $5000 prize toward their local skate scene.
Here at 360 Magazine, we spoke with Jake Wooten about his involvement with Red Bull’s Terminal Takeover, advise for young skaters, and what skate culture means to him.
What was your original envisioning for transforming the MSY airport terminal space into a skate park?
The whole concept was kind of to create the Tony Hawk level. Have awesome quarter pipes & ledges on top of all the amenities the airport already offers that are skate-able. Just congregate it all together.
How was it decided what skate shops to feature in the competition?
We tried to keep it true to the south. We picked a lot of the bigger skate shops from the area that we live in.
Can you talk a bit about how the winning team be voted on by the fans, instead of relying on a panel of judges?
That’s the coolest part, it’s not just three people judging us on all these team’s hard work. Now it’ll be thousands of people able to access the footage and watch it and decide who they enjoy the most to watch.
When and how can people vote?
On Red Bull’s website later this month!
What does skate culture mean to you?
Everything. Skate culture is what saved my life. It gives me validation to go do things I need to go do. Gives me energy, gives me hope. Gives me everything honestly.
What tips do you have for young skaters who look up to you as a pro, and want to achieve the same status?
Honestly, don’t give up and be as passionate and consistent as you can. If you love it, then go for it! There’s gotta be a way you can make it happen. It may not be exactly the way you planned it, but there’s a way you can make it happen one way or another, you know?
*Photo Credit: Jonathan Mehring/Red Bull Content Pool.