A couple of months ago, the Brazilian skateboarding scene was rocked by the election of Bob Burnquist as the new president of the CBSk (Confederação Brasileira de Skate, the Brazilian skateboarding confederation). Along with him in the new board are names like the 6X-World Champion Sandro Dias and Jorge Kuge – a local entrepreneur whose Urgh brand supports the scenario since 1982. These guys brought a whole new level of visibility to the entity in the big media and seem to be quite prepared to face the challenges ahead of them, the biggest one of them being the selection of an Olympic skateboarding team.
(One thing you must know beforehand: our scene is mostly based on competitions, so it’s more than logic to have the guys who have been top competitors to be the leaders of this new pack).
A few doubts arose ever since this movement took place. First, are these guys really prepared to face the huge challenge ahead of them? Well, Bob is the person who has won the most golden X medals in the XGames ever, Sandro has won the WCS vertical world circuit for 6 times, and Kuge owns the oldest skate brand in the country. This means: Yes, they’re used to winning their challenges. Besides that, there are other members in the entity who have been working for the scene for some years now. Bottom line is, I don’t think they’d risk their reputations if they weren’t capable of performing accordingly to their specific tasks.
Photos, left to right: Rodrigo Belli, Bruno Splenger, Murilo Cesino, and Rodrigo Schutt, Piracaia 2017; João Pessoa, Curve 2, 7CRVS.
The next doubt came when it was revealed that some of the names in the board aren’t skaters. Oh man, really?! Simply being a skateboarder doesn’t make that person an expert on everything that’s related to the scene. Just look at the ISF and the man behind it, Gary Ream, whose roots are in gymnastics. He became noticed when he introduced skateboarding and BMX to his Camp Woodward, much before it was a trendy thing to be done. This shows that the required qualities have to do more with having a different view of the sport and being a good administrator than with being a skater. There are competent people everywhere out there, skaters or not, so adding them to a working crew has a good chance to end up well as far as the results are concerned.
Another big doubt: how can this help the scene as a whole in the long run? This one is still to be seen. We all know that their main concern is to organize competitions to prepare local skater to compete in the Olympics, a goal that will remain a priority until 2020. There are some powerful partners in this effort, such as the largest media group in the country: their open TV channel has already showed two live skate competitions in two different Sunday mornings (No good fellows here, they own the transmission rights and need to promote their product). These actions can and will reflect positively on the general public’s perception of skateboarding, which is already being regarded as one of the most popular urban sports in the country.
You may think, “everything looks fine to me, so what seems to be the problem?”
As a veteran who has already skated everything (except for longboard freestyle, aka “dancing”), I have a good transit among skaters of all ages who ride all the different disciplines out there. The general impression is that the scene as a whole already has two different sides, just like the old vinyl records. The A-side would be consisted of street and vert skating (the brand new Olympic disciplines) and their big events, plus the major interest of big media, plus the addition of major sports corporations to the scene. All this adds up much more visibility – and bigger marketing budgets as well.
Photos, left and right: Victor Ikeda, Por Allison De Carvalho
The B-side would be consisted of all other disciplines out there. “Hey, this is pretty much what happens all over the world, no news here”, you may say. OK, that much is true. The difference is that the Brazilian scene is focused on contests (you already know that) and national skaters have already become world champions in all types of skating. Moreover, downhill sliding has such a high level of performance down here that it’s reached a true state of the art and became a whole new discipline on its own; just check any video by the Yuppie family (Sergio, Fernando or Junior) and you’ll see what I’m talking about here.
CBSk’s hardest job nowadays should be to prevent this gap between the two different sides from growing. That’s not easy now and it won’t be easy in a few months, when one can be able to analyse the work of this new crew in the entity in a fair manner. A local downhill speed professional skater has made a very good point in his social media profile: “No discipline demands as much investment from the skater as downhill speed, just check the values for a good competition setup + a certified race helmet + leather suit + gloves + countless wheels etc. We’ve had only one single race valid for the national circuit last year. There were a couple of state circuits but nobody from the CBSk had the Idea of picking up one of these contests to be valid for the national rankings. How can you convince a talented skater’s family that it’ll be worthy for them to invest in equipment, travels, registration fees etc when there’s no acknowledgment from the scene itself?” Such question is also valid for all disciplines besides street and vert. Slalom, freestyle, push racing, downhill slide: you name it, they’re all in the same basket.
Notice the paradox here. Our scene is based on competitions; skaters in general like to enter them, and the general public loves to see them in open TV during Sunday mornings. At the same time, the entity does little for the disciplines below the water line. The million dollar question is: how to change that situation?
Only time will tell the answer. I have a personal mantra: “it’s all skateboarding and we’re all skaters”. I hope the guys behind the CBSk manage to understand the dimension of this simple phrase and work according the expectations of all skaters from the scene. Talk to the skaters out there, from the top pros to the beginners, see what their favorite disciplines need and do their best to improve the different scenes. After all, we’re the world’s second scenario in the skateboarding planet. It’s time to work accordingly to the status.