In a stunning reversal Wednesday that almost every surfer in Santa Cruz will be celebrating, the Volcom Stone clothing company awarded surfer Zoltan Torkos the $10,000 prize for completing the first successful kickflip on video.
The kickflip is a move that originated on land with skateboarders. They flip the board 360 degrees and land back on it. It is much more difficult on water because no two waves are the same, and surfboards aren't symmetrical or balanced like a skateboard. It almost defies the laws of nature to pull it off.
Zoltan is a 30-year-old Santa Cruzan who has been a quirky, offbeat pioneer in the surfing community.
Earlier in the day, the Costa Mesa company had denied the daring surfer the prize that surfers have struggled to win for four years. The company said he didn't clear the lip of the wave; however, from the angle of the video, it was impossible to tell, and he certainly came closer than anyone has to completing the seemingly impossible feat.
Other media reported the loss. But the win was big news on Santa Cruz's Westside, a place that has staked its claim as one of the world's best surfing spots.
I reached Zoltan at his house, and it sounds like a party is going on. “Hello,” I say, in a breathless, somewhat excited voice. My first question is, what’s going on? Zoltan proclaims,“Volcom paid up! I won the $10,000.”
My questions suddenly change, and now I am asking him how he feels and what’s next.
“I am tripping," he says. "I couldn’t believe when Volcom called me. They offered a $1,000 at first, and that was cool. Then something happened; the guys at Volcom felt everyone liked it, and I don’t even know what to say right now. I feel like I was abducted by aliens.”
Zolton is a bit out of his mind right now. I have to ask a few times to get the answer.
“Volcom called me and said I won the $10,000," he says. "I was, like, whoa, and couldn’t believe it. This must be what it feels like when you when the lottery.”
Are you celebrating?
“Yeah, my family is here, the in-laws, my wife, a couple of friends; we are just all super stoked,” he says.
Those who know Zoltan realize how big a heart he has. He's always looking out for others with a big smile on his face. And winning this $10,000 is nice, but it has a deeper meaning.
It’s about his friend, Carl Reimer, who was gunned down leaving a house on the Westside a year ago. Zoltan missed his friend so much that he dedicated himself to pulling a kickflip on a surfboard and naming it the Reimer Flip.
ESPN’s Sports Nation put up a poll Wednesday asking what is more amazing—the Zoltan Torkos Reimer Flip or the Los Angeles Lakers winning streak? Zoltan won on the national sports network with a 66 percent margin. That made him think that maybe he had a another chance at the $10,000.
I have an odd feeling that with almost 500,000 views on his YouTube page in five days and the amount of feedback Volcom was getting online, they buckled and gave Zoltan the $10,000 he deserved.
What’s next for Zoltan?
“To keep revolutionizing surfing, heel flip, hard flip," he says. "Why can’t surfing be doing 900s and make surfing a household name again?”
I ask Zoltan the million-dollar question. What are you going to do first?
“I am going to Disneyland!" he says with no hesitation. "In my mind, it’s like winning the Super Bowl, and we are going to Disneyland.”
Zoltan. You are the man. Congrats!
Read Volcom's admission here: Volcom awards Zoltan $10,000.
FROM VOLCOM'S WEBSITE: A video explaining the new $20,000 Kickflip-off competition with redefined rules will be released this week. Volcom is stoked that Zoltan's kickflip has been etched in the history books and are looking forward to seeing new attempts and rewarding $20,000 for the first surfer who nails it above and off the lip.