Here is list of just some of the amazing things that I experienced at the ISPO Trade Show in Munich.
This fourth time attending the show was truly extraordinary. This is just a partial list to keep things manageable. (Believe me, I could have written a freakin’ book!)
First, a huge thanks to the crew at 40-inch Longboard magazine, based in northern Germany. Alex Lenz, his wife Natasha and their entire staff pulled off an incredible feat each year. The Longboard Embassy features dozens of companies. There is a huge amount of planning at this absolutely monumental exhibit. Without their support, there’s no way the experience at ISPO would be what it is. A sincere thanks to them for their hard work.
I had an opportunity to chat with Richard Auden of Lush Longboards. Richard is based in Bristol, England and thinks deeply about the future of longboarding. I particularly enjoyed our conversation on the last day of the event.
I want to give a special shout out to Jeremy Sochin of Number One Skateshop in Lucerne, Switzerland. Jeremy is someone who I think a lot of retailers could learn from. He also has some very cool friends from Rocket Boards, who are also based in Switzerland. We look forward to seeing them soon.
There were several key distributors at the show. Heiko from Season Distribution and Concrete Wave skateshop in Cologne always has a busy booth.
The good people from MDCN Distribution from Hamburg always seem to be in great spirits. A very big shout out to Richie and Philippe. I spent a great deal of time with Lisa and Martijn of Steez Distribution. They are extraordinarily generous when it comes to showering me with Dutch licorice. I have no doubt my dentist will thank them!
ISPO draws a number of US and Canadian manufacturers. It was nice to see Restless, Moonshine, Omen, Riptide and Seismic. A big thank you to Loaded for their hospitality.
I had a wonderful conversation with Jerry Madrid at his booth on his 40 years in business. It was also great chatting with Angela and Shane too.
While the show officially closes down at six, most people from the action sports area spend an additional three hours in the hall partying and enjoying each other’s company.
Kebbek Skateboards really stepped things up this year and took out several booths to display their new product.
Martin of Blackriver Ramps provided me with some amazing insight when it comes to fingerboarding.
The folks at Root Longboards always come up with some unique images. This year was no exception.
The folks at DB Longboards came up with a remarkable skate tool. Sadly, I’ve given all mine away but once you set your sights on this skate key, you’ll want one.
The one thing about the show is the amount of garbage that collects during the course of a 12 hour day. I’m not sure how they’re able to clean it up for the opening each day up at 9am but they do. A huge thanks to the cleaners!
One of the most interesting things I attended was the Woman in Boardsports lunch. The energy in the room was amazing and I was delighted to meet up with Emma Shoesmith once again. Her new documentary about women in action sports is going to really get people talking.
At ISPO, the beer does indeed flow. A special thanks to Sector 9, who kept everyone sufficiently lubricated. Landyachtz’s Czech distributor even managed to ensure that people had a good sampling of that country’s excellent brew. On another note, it is amazing to see what kind of beer labels you find in Europe.
One of the nicest things about ISPO is that you have an opportunity to see some very different things outside of skateboarding. Next to the longboard embassy was something Icaros, a 3-D virtual reality system that makes you feel like you’re flying. It is incredible but I think I might just stick to skateboarding – it’s easier on the stomach!
The camaraderie at ISPO is exceptional. The friendships that are formed will last a lifetime. ISPO gives me the energy to really start the year off right.
I met Zak Furey at the 2016 King of Kona Contest. I was impressed by his artwork and decided at that moment we wanted to profile him at our website.
Who are you and what is background?
I am 30 years old and was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. I grew up skating at Kona and all the other skate parks that have come and gone in the past twenty years, but mostly in backyards and driveways. I played other sports growing up but, organized sports were never as appealing or convenient.
Since the first time I successfully dropped in on a quarter pipe at my neighbor’s house when I was ten, I knew that skateboarding would always stay with me. As I’m sure is the case for most skaters. You see it at parks and competitions. Everybody cheering everyone else on. It’s a sport where you only get out what you put into it. I also run a container garden company called Garden of Eating which I started in 2013. I build, deliver and plant edible container garden beds.
Where is your company located?
Vain boards is located in St. John’s Florida, on Lake Beluthahatchee, just outside Jackson
How did you get into this ?
It’s something that I had always dreamt of since I started skating. I was always decent at skating but definitely not sponsored material, so began thinking about starting my own company. The time just felt right my gardening co was doing well and I really wanted to turn something that I love into more of a job rather than hobby.
I’m not really sure how the name came to me but I guess I just liked the way it sounded and the more I thought about it the more fitting I found it for a skate brand. Once I decided on a name, I had to find someway to set Vain apart from other companies. So I decided that each board be unique and one of one directed toward the skater getting it.
What are some more of unusual request you had for art?
I’ve got some requests for some unusual looking video game characters, but I can understand someone wanting stuff like that. I’m just not a big gamer anymore; I’ll get down on some Skate or Mario kart every once in a while but that’s about it.
Why do you think art is important ?
I think art is a huge part of skateboarding! I consider it a performance art as well as a competitive sport. Skateboarding is also an outlet like other mediums of art to express yourself and create.
So what happens when you put art on the bottom of skateboards?
It makes it personal. You know, you pick the board you like just cause you like it or are a fan of a certain skater or team’s deck. What VAIN is trying to do is make it even more personal in having the skater say what they want their deck to look like.
What are some of your plans for 2016?
Growing! There’s a lot of plans locally here at the shop, like building more ramps here and setting up events. I’m really excited about expanding my company and getting t-shirts, hats, hoodies, and other stuff available. This is Vainboard’s first year still and I’m loving every minute of it! Follow me @vainboards on Instagram and watch it progress. One thing I’ve learned from skating is its all about progressing.
Today is my last day on the tour here in Israel. I am wrapped up my final workshop in a school located in Jerusalem called Hand in Hand.
As you can see from these photos, the kids were beyond stoked. The school has a vision of Arabs and Israelis living together harmoniously and that’s what I saw today.
Unfortunately, the school was firebombed in November 2014. I am pleased to report however that this has not diminished the spirits of the students and staff.
It is indeed an honor and a privilege to be able to teach skateboarding to children in a school like this. We reached almost 200 kids today and it was phenomenal.
I’m thoroughly exhausted. I just finished a falafel and I’m about to relax as I leave tomorrow.
I hope these photos give you a sense of what an experience today was like. Skateboarding has the power to change people’s minds and the smiles on their faces really give me hope for the future.
Our next vision is to ensure that the five schools in Israel get pump tracks. I just need one millionaire to write a check.
Hello everybody. I’m still doing workshops here in the Middle East. Today we are at a school with over 180 students. Arabs and Israeli’s learning to skate in peace.
It has come to my attention that there were some factual errors with an opinion piece that was written about the Maryhill She Ride. We sincerely regret these errors.
Dean Ozuna, Maryhill Ratz, and countless others have done and continue to do amazing things for downhill skateboarding. This piece was in no way a reflection of their contributions. Our sincere apologies to anyone who was upset by this editorial.
We are taking steps to ensure our work matches our motto. The ride is indeed the reward and we look forward to reporting on Maryhill for many years to come.