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Silicon Alleys - Gary Singh

Silicon Alleys


By Gary Singh

APROPOS of this week's issue—Metro's annual Best Of installment—allow me to yak about a few events taking place this weekend honoring the legacy of world-renowned skateboarder and San Jose local Tim "Beans" Brauch, who departed this life 10 years ago. On May 9, 1999, at the young age of 25, Tim passed away of sudden cardiac arrest, but by that time, he had pretty much already conquered the skating universe.

Anyone who knew Tim Brauch will insist under oath that he absolutely belongs in any Best of San Jose compilation. Period. Those who made Tim's acquaintance say that his motivation and kindness were infectious, that he inspired many, and that he was a role model for countless kids interested in skating, not just in San Jose, but throughout the world.

This weekend, the 11th Annual Tim Brauch Memorial Skateboard Contest will take place over two days: Saturday in Scotts Valley at the skatepark named after him and Sunday at the Lake Cunningham Regional Skate Park in San Jose. Also, a new documentary, Supercharged: The Life and Times of Tim Brauch, will debut Saturday night at the Camera 12 Cinemas in downtown San Jose. The first showing is sold out, with the second one going fast.

Tim's accomplishments are far too expansive to list in this column, but without a doubt, he put San Jose on the map all over the world. Sessions Skateboard Shop began sponsoring him at age 15. In 1998, Tim won the heralded Vans Triple Crown Street Competition in Huntington Beach, taking home the $15,000 prize and cementing himself as one of the most dynamic and consistent characters in the sport.

He also designed his own boards, co-founded Este Clothing and was later immortalized in the traveling Smithsonian exhibit "Sports: Breaking Records, Breaking Barriers," where he shared the honor of "More Than Sports Champion" alongside figures like Billie Jean King, Jim Thorpe and Roberto Clemente. For that project, a Smithsonian curator actually flew to San Jose and selected Tim's skateboard, his trophies and other belongings to be included in the show, which toured 2004–2007 and now permanently rests in the Smithsonian Museum.

Soon after Tim passed away, Sessions established the Tim Brauch Memorial Fund, which donates 100 percent of its proceeds to skateboard park development and scholarships. Tim always believed in giving back to the kids, as he was a people's skateboarder. On the Scotts Valley Skatepark's website, Sessions officially had this to say: "There are easily dozens of pro skateboarders today who won't give a kid the time of day at a demo. Tim was different. He knew that he was at the demos for the kids. Limbs willing, he wouldn't leave a demo until every trick that wanted to be seen was seen and every kid who wanted a moment of this time was given that and more."

Local photographer Jai Tanju took action shots of Tim for years. "When Tim skated, great skateboarders stopped to watch him, he was so good. He had something inside of him that came out when he was on the board that I could only compare to someone like Jimi Hendrix. It was like watching someone paint a masterpiece at top speed, with the biggest smile, which made you smile just watching him go."

The San Jose Contest this Sunday is also the ninth stop of the World Cup Skateboarding Concrete Bowl Series. A $5,000 purse will be split between categories: Pros, Grandmasters and Girls. The whole shebang gets going around 8am and admission is free.

Supercharged features interviews with Tim's friends and family, unseen footage of Tim skateboarding, stories of world travel and an exploration of the legend he left behind. Filmmaker Pete Koff originally met Tim in Lake Tahoe at a Harvey's Casino skateboard demo in 1991 and since then has included footage of Tim in his past five films. Supercharged also hopes to raise awareness of Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome, the cause of Tim's unexpected cardiac arrest. All of the film's profits will go to the Tim Brauch Memorial Fund.

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