Right now, skateboarding is going through a number of changes.
The fact that it embraces a wide range of skaters and skate styles is something that bodes well for the future.
The Cloverdale freestyle event has become an annual affair and this 5th edition was filled with a huge amount of stoke.
It took place over the May 20th weekend and over 50 competitors from fourteen countries got together to take things up a notch.
I was at the event a few years ago and I can attest to the fact that the level of skating has improved greatly.
What inspired me more, however, was the camaraderie displayed in Cloverdale. Freestylers may be small in number, but their passion is mighty.
As I was arriving, the thirteen year-old phenom Isamu Yamamoto was being filmed for an upcoming potential segment on a major TV show.
Although there is a temptation to tell you which show, I think the surprise is worth keeping. So, yes, there was local media coverage, but something bigger is afoot.
What was almost equally intriguing was to watch 24 year-old self-proclaimed “language nerd” Ryan Brynelson translate the entire interview in Japanese.
That’s the great thing about freestylers. They have a remarkable ability to engage in both sides of their brain!
The show is produced by Monty Little and Kevin Harris. Monty has over four decades of experience in putting on skate events and his ability to juggle several dozen things at once is quite mesmerizing. Kevin is a legendary freestyler and member of the Bones Brigade.
Their commitment to spreading the word of freestyle is unrivalled. Thanks to their incredibly hard work, the event comes together beautifully. AJ Kohn is one of the hardest working MC’s and competitors you’ll ever encounter.
The Cloverdale Fair is a huge supporter of the event and entire pavilion is set aside to run the contest. It would be great to have it outdoors, but with the fickle weather, it’s probably a good idea that there is a roof. Unfortunately, the surface is quite slippery, making many tricks even more of a challenge.
Along with a huge number of talented pros and ams, there are some exceptionally interesting people who come out for the event. Veteran photographer Jim Goodrich has been taking photos of the event since it started five years ago.
Russ Howell, who at age 26 got a ‘Who’s Hot’ in SkateBoarder Magazine in 1975 is one of the key supporters of the event. He paved the way for many in the skate world. He was one of the first pros and travelled the world sharing the stoke. He’s also a heck of an amazing skater at age sixty something….
Speaking of age, the most unusual thing about the contest is that it ranges from 13 to 56. Judging by the crowd’s reaction, they enjoyed watching it all, no matter how complex it looked.
The Brazilians were out in full-force this year and made quite a splash.
All freestylers were delighted by the appearance of Per Welinder. Back in the mid-eighties, Per bridged the gap between freestyle and street. He also was Michael J. Fox’s stunt double in “Back to the Future.”
For many, it might seem inconceivable to realize that freestylers are a huge part of the foundation of skateboarding. Just take a peek at this list: Steve Rocco (World Industries), Pierre Andre (Etnies), Don Brown (Etnies), Rodney Mullen (no intro needed) and Reggie Barnes (the biggest skateboard distributor in the world). I could go on and on, but freestylers have made and continue to make an impact on skateboarding.
Thirty years ago, the skate world had a number of freestyle contests (that took place during street and even vert contests!) What was crucial is that skaters saw a variety of skateboarding, just like they had in the 1970s.
Now, most events are in silos. Wouldn’t it be great to have a major street contest at a downhill event? Or even a slalom event at street contest? Certainly, bringing a freestyler to the Berrics game of skate would be an eye-opener for many!
As I kept watching the riders, one thing kept running through my mind: “these guys don’t stop.” Practice sessions? Of course. Lunch time? Yes. While the contest is going? Indeed. In fact, there wasn’t really a moment where the Freestylers stopped skating. Well, maybe to eat.
It all added up to a truly wonderful weekend of skateboarding. You just never know what the next spark will launch the next generation of skaters. My sense it just might come from the world of freestyle.
For all the results and videos, visit www.theworldroundup.com.
Dan Bourqui (our photographer for the latest issue) just shot a new video from the Vans Pool Party
By Fergus Odonnell
Having had a 35 year love affair with all things skateboarding, I was stoked beyond belief to recently have the opportunity to leave the U.K shores to go on a tour of the American northwest with a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night . The production was to tour for 9 weeks and included the cities of Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.
Although I am passionate about my work as an actor and can’t deny I was excited at the prospect of playing Shakespeare in such great theatres, I couldn’t help but immediately think “I’m taking my skateboard!”
I was soon Googling skateparks in the cities I would be visiting and was very excited by what I saw. We have some great skateparks here in the U.K and I’m lucky enough to live a stone’s throw from some of the best. But to go stateside and witness firsthand what the home of skateboarding had to offer was quiet frankly a dream come true. The parks didn’t disappoint either!
From Boston’s Lynch Family Project with a bowl the scale of which I had never before witnessed to the final days of Love Park in Philadelphia and it’s new Paine’s Plaza skatepark with views of the Schuykill river and plug sockets for phones and speakers (a luxury we have yet to acquire in the U.K!)
Other parks included the Durham skate plaza in Durham, N.C, the Chelsea pier skatepark in NYC!(a personal favorite), and last but not least the Grant park skate plaza in Chicago! I did what I set out to do and got my fill of U.S concrete.
What I was struck by most on all my visits to these parks was how friendly and welcoming everyone was. It’s like that here in the U.K (on the whole) and was very pleased to find it the same across the pond. The international skateboarding community is full of peace and love! Skaters are friendly and supportive; once again it was confirmed to me that I am doing the right thing by continuing my love affair with this coolest of sports
We’ve got something new brewing.
As many of you know, Concrete Wave aims to promote all types of terrain and all kinds of riders.
Four years ago, we launched Longboarding for Peace. I am proud to say that the program has flourished. Building on this, we have created a new initiative called The Magic of Balance.
It’s an interactive workshop that combines the joy of skateboarding with the magic of balance.
We’re starting up in Toronto and NYC. Next up will be Denver and Southern California.
If you want to get involved in the program, let me know by emailing me at email@example.com.
More surprises to come; don’t forget to join us on July 25 – the International Magic of Balance Day,
Take 15 minutes to teach, learn and/or collaborate. Learn a new trick…Teach someone to stand on a board…Work together to spread stoke. If you go less than 15 minutes, no worries. If you go more than 15, no worries.