© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

A new king crowned in Cathedral Square

Brad Christensen
Yorlin bs nb
Yorlin Phillips sent the crowd into hysteria with a clutch Backside Nosebluntslide in the finals.  Tomoki Peters

How do you attract New Zealand’s best skateboarders to a disaster-prone city of ruins?

One way would be putting up a $2000 cash prize for a carcass-throwing contest down one of the city’s most renowned skate-spots.

That's exactly what Billy McLachlan and his team of volunteers managed to organise, for the second year running.

Some big names in the skateboarding realm made their way to Christchurch for the event called ‘King of the Square’.

McLachlan, a local skater himself, managed to get construction giants ‘Hunter Civil’ on board as a major sponsor for the event, both this year and last.

For a 12-hour window on November 4, one corner of Cathedral Square received a radical transformation.

A large roll-in ramp dubbed ‘Black Betty’ was installed for skaters to gain the speed necessary to throw themselves down the 8-stairs.

However, the options that really got skaters stoked were a handrail and two ledges [known as Hubbas] constructed by Hunter Civil, giving them three obstacles to choose from.

Three main prizes were up for grabs: King of the Rail, King of the Hubba and an overall King of the Square.

There was also a long list of tribute tricks and 'NBD's', for skaters able to perform a trick that had never before been done down the Cathedral stairs. 

After a day of hucking, broken boards and electrifying excitement from the crowd, it was clear; there was a new king in town.

Little known 19-year-old Yorlin Phillips from the Waikato was crowned King of the Square and left $2000 richer.

Catching up with him after the event, he said he couldn’t believe what had just unfolded.

"Watching everyone landing their tricks, there was so much hype and just made me wanna go harder, I ended up landing tricks I never thought I’d be able to do," said Phillips.

King of the Hubba went to young Auckland based skater, Lenard Tejada, who claimed the prize with a face-melting hardflip backside tailslide down the Hunter Civil Hubba.

King of the Rail was cleaned up by last year’s overall King of the Square, Australian based Max Couling who unfortunately picked up an ankle injury during the event.  


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Tribute tricks and NBD's (tricks that have never been done down the Cathedral stairs. Brad Christensen

Mclachlan said there was mutual excitement between himself and the City Council about his idea "to activate this area of Central Christchurch".

Speaking with spectators as the crowd dispersed, it was clear McLachlan had been successful in that goal.

Nathan Youngman told me his mates twisted his arm into going down and checking out the event.

"They just told me, come down and have a watch, doesn’t matter if you don’t skate, just come down and you’ll have a good time. I have to give it to them, they weren’t wrong," said Youngman.

Another onlooker, Morgan McKenzie-Moore, was delighted to see her young cousin skating in the finals.

"He ended up winning the award for the best bail," she laughed.

After the competition McLachlan told me that seeing someone like Yorlin come through and steal the top spot was exactly what King of the Square is about.

"No one’s heard of that guy, who knows what this win could do for him," he said.

With a revamp of the Cathedral on the cards, McLachlan said the location of next year's competition is uncertain. 

"There's only so much we can do with 8 stairs, if we can't have the comp here we'll look at expanding it out to cities across the country," said McLachlan.