By Crystal Harrell
On November 11 and 12, the El Gato Classic Legends Weekend returns to the Coachella Valley in the city of La Quinta. This wildly popular event brings together art, music, and skateboarding as a complete weekend experience that will be enjoyed by fans, industry professionals and skateboarding’s top pros, olympians, and legends. Since its premiere event in 2015, the “El Gato Classic” Legends Weekend has brought together the largest gathering of Legends from the Golden Age of skateboarding. Those early pioneers of the sport can now witness how far skateboarding has come—even being featured in the 2020 olympics. The Legends Weekend has drawn fans from around the world. La Quinta welcomes the return of the fifth El Gato Classic Legends Weekend at the New La Quinta XPark, home of the new Combi Bowl designed by Eddie Elguera and Lance Mountain.
In January 2015, the “El Gato Classic” event in Palm Springs brought together, in the largest gathering in the history of skateboarding, legends from the Golden Age of skateboarding in what was the first competition bowl skaters from the Hester Series through to the Gold Cup Series.
As news of Elguera’s vision for the event got out, excitement spread with fans and industry professionals. Tony Hawk, clearly the largest name in skateboarding today, immediately signed on and was featured with other top skaters in a demo.
Eddie started skateboarding in 1970, at eight years old. That was his first experience with the sport, back when skateboards were smaller and had clay wheels.
“Around 1975, I saw this guy skateboarding in an empty swimming pool in a skateboarding magazine. Since that day, I was hooked. My love for skateboarding has increased since then and I knew that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to someday maybe skate in an empty swimming pool or be in one of those skateboarding magazines. It eventually came to pass,” shared Elguera.
Elguera became a two-time world champion skateboarder, got on the cover of the same skateboarding magazine he sought after, and invented many maneuvers that are standard in skateboarding today. In 1980, he also became the overall winner of the Gold Cup Series of Skateboarding and was inducted into the Skateboard Hall of Fame in 2016.
“Back when I was skateboarding in the 70s and 80s, it really was a time of pioneering and that’s what the El Gato Classic is all about. I had an opportunity to be a part of an era that pioneered pool skating and vertical skating into what it is today. The El Gato Classic is about honoring those from that era, and that is the reason I’m doing the event,” said Elguera.
Elguera wanted to host the El Gato Classic in the Coachella Valley, as he is a resident of the desert. The plan was to also host it at Palm Springs Skate Park as that was the most prominent skateboarding location at the time in 2015.
He hosted the El Gato Classic on a yearly basis from 2015 to 2018, as they took an extended break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the event is back in full swing and is anticipated to return to its status as a yearly event.
“Our mantra at the El Gato Classic is ‘honor the past, champion the future.’ Nowadays, there’s social media and videos online where people can see moves that are being invented right away, but back then, there was so much that was happening and it wasn’t being documented that well, and if it was in a skateboarding magazine, it would take two months for anybody to see. I want these pioneers to know that because of their contributions in the past, these kids today can go to the olympics,” said stated Elguera.
The El Gato Classic hosts different competitions in various group categories—ranging from the generations contest to masters, pros, girls, and amateurs. Some olympic skateboarders will also be in attendance.
“It’s so cool to see the different eras of skateboarders come together. One of the things to remember is to have fun. If you skateboard purely because you want to be recognized or go to the olympics, I think people really miss out on what skateboarding is all about,” said Elguera.
For more information and to purchase tickets to the El Gato Classic, visit www.elgatoclassic.com/tickets.