Just last week I flew down to the Agenda Trade show. Lots of your favorite companies were down there and we had a great turn out to the annual lunch. A special thanks to Abec 11 and Gorilla Palms for their support.
This week it’s Surf Expo and then onto the King of Kona at Jacksonville. At the end of the month, we’ll be hitting ISPO. ISPO isn’t just big, it’s 14 Agendas! January is one of those month’s where I really wish I had a clone. This year marks my fourth year of attending ISPO. It truly is monumental. Munich is an unreal city with a great vibe.
Besides the amazing number of exhibitors at the Longboard Embassy, it’s the parties and gatherings that are absolutely incredible. Sadly, a publication ban means I can’t really discuss what happens. Actually, that last sentence is not true. But the truth is that it’s the people that make ISPO amazing. We’ll be doing a few features as we lead up to the big event. The fun starts on January 25th. Unfortunately, jet lag is going to be in full effect that day!
We’ll be sending up reports and giving you some unique insights. So keep coming back to the site!
Our January issue is coming off press and ships Friday, January 15th.
The Bayou Battle went down this past weekend, stoking out 17 competing women between the long-distance push race and a full-contact garage race. Kacey Moon impressed the spectators when she swept the podiums with first places in both the LDP and garage race winning $1,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean!
1. Kacey Moon
2. Amber Burgermeister
1. Kacey Moona
2. Anna O’Neill
3. Candy Dungan
The Bayou Battle female competitors stayed at BOARDLoft, a modern loft sponsored by BOARDLife to help women feel comfortable during the Battle! View 20 second MOV file of the competitors.
The majority of the women racers also competed in Open Qualifiers. Andrea Scheck, Candy Dungan, and Hannah Matetzschk qualified to race open, giving the boys a run for their money. Kacey Moon raced open too, thanks to her qualification from the LDP race.
What about artist collaborations?
Many readers of Concrete Wave are familiar with the Velosolutions pump track in Brooklyn. It’s featured on the cover of our 2016 calendar. The response to these factories of flow has been incredibly positive. I was in Brooklyn back in early December and spent several hours enjoying the track with members from the Shralper’s Union. Thankfully, I won’t have to travel to so far to get my pump track fix. Apparently, Toronto is about to get a pump track in 2016.
Originally hailing from Switzerland, Velosolutions has now set up a U.S. division. In late December, we met up with Jonathan Strauss and Alon Karpman who head up Velosolutions USA. They’ve set up two pump tracks down in Miami at a local community center. Installed this past year, the tracks have met with a huge amount of success. “The kids are loving the tracks” explains Jonathan. “We start them out and they can barely push. By a few sessions, they are going around the pump track with great confidence.”
I had a chance to chat with a few of the kids and they were absolutely thrilled to be a part of the first program in the USA. There is an entire curriculum built around the pump track. Although the focus has been on children, there are a number of adults who are enjoying the pump track. “We are expanding and we have reached out to a number of community centers” says Jonathan. “We will be expanding things for 2016.”
Besides a curriculum, the tracks will also be the scene for some intense racing via the Skateboard Supercross (Sbsx). The idea is very innovative. Using the pump tracks, skaters will compete against each other in time trials and special events.
Martin Ramos is the owner of Kona Skatepark and host of the 2016 King of Kona Contest.
Martin: The King of Kona morphed from the original National Longboard Skateboard Championships that were held at Kona starting in 1999. By 2002 competitors started using that phrase due to the format of the event. It required skaters to be skilled in both racing and transition skating. It included Street, Pool, banked slalom and a park race. I saw some of the best skateboarding in my life during those events.
By 2005, the event had run its course and as long boarding grew there was more of an emphasis on racing that park riding. Fast forward to 2012 and the event was revived by Cameron Frazier as an alternative to the King of Claremont when the Florida hill became unavailable for a scheduled event.
There was a little skepticism at first with the notion of bringing a bunch of professional racers into the skatepark environment. Many had never been in a skatepark before, but the camaraderie and uniqueness of Kona combined to make it more memorable than ever.
For those who’ve never visited Kona – what are some of the unique things about the park?
Kona was constructed at the end of the 70’s skateboarding boom. It’s built on a hill and makes unique use of the change in elevation in a manner that has yet to be duplicated anywhere.
The Snake Run is infamous for being the most fun and accessible downhill run in skateboarding. It wraps around the deepest bowl in any skatepark and is crowned with a six foot vertical tombstone. If you haven’t gotten the impression yet of how big everything at Kona is . . . then let it be known . . . Konia’s big, it’s gnarly, and encompasses most every aspect of skateboarding.
As skateboarding has grown and changed so has Kona. It is listed in Guinness World Book of Records as the Worlds Oldest Skatepark and is easily one of the largest too. Here is a list of features: Pro Bowl, Freestyle Area, Snake Run, J-Run, Kidney Pool, 11’ Concrete Vert Ramp, 13’ tall / 80’ wide skatelite vert ramp, 17,000 square foot street course, mini-spine ramp, beginners mini-ramp, Pro-Shop, Observation decks and two story lookout over the park. We plan on adding more areas in 2016.
What is the contest atmosphere like?
Looooose!!!! This is easily one of the most laid back contests in skateboarding. One of the cool features of the event is the camping and the camaraderie that comes from that. Skaters travel into Florida from around the world and never have to leave the skatepark.
With so much to skate there is plenty to do in between events and your contest runs. That’s what makes it so unique. Not only is there the contest area, but much, much more. It takes linking up with your friends at a skate event to a whole new level. You can get an entire years worth of riding over one weekend at Kona.
I know the contest draws people from California, but are there folks coming from further afield?
Kona events freak me out by how many people show up from outside of the USA. It’s like Kona is way more famous abroad than it is own hometown. The Canadians seem to rule the foreigner card at KOK. But crews from Texas, California, Virginia and of course from across Florida come together each year for good times and great skateboarding.
How many people are you expecting to be competing this year? Who do you think might win? What is the last day to register?
Typically there is anywhere from 70-100 competitors. But what makes it even more interesting is all of the non-competing skaters that come for the weekend as well. Not only are your fellow competitors cheering you on, but a few hundred rabid skateboarding enthusiasts are there keeping the stoke factor very high.
The event is growing in popularity so we had to cap it at 100 competitors in order to guarantee we can get the events done in a reasonable amount of time. As long as there is space you can register up to the last minute. Check the official KOK website for details and registration info.
Who are some of the key sponsors of this year’s event? Any special shout outs?
Without sponsors, skateboarding events are pretty tough to put together. This year we have some returning support and some new faces as well. Omen Longboards stepped up to handle title sponsorship duties and a couple new faces like Gravity and Pro-Tec have jumped on board.
This biggest addition is the media exposure. With both Skate Slate and Concrete Wave covering the event, competitors have a great opportunity to get some heavily valued coverage, and bgp’s for the spectators too!
I am looking forward to seeing you in Jacksonville Martin! I assume it’s going to be HOT!
North Florida manages to get a small amount of winter weather so be sure to pack a hoodie along with those baggies. The ocean is only about fifteen minutes away and surf temperature rarely goes below 70 degrees. Hopefully you can fit in a beach adventure somewhere along the way! Remember . . . it was surfing before skateboarding. Ha ha, let the good times roll and see ya in a couple weeks.