Okay, folks. Here goes. We’re in May. This is where things really kick up a gear and the professional freestyle community en masse has to shake off the cobwebs and collectively get their tired butts in gear for a summer of non-stop events.
As such, It’s normally about this point that I start looking on the summer with a mixture of excitement and dread, knowing full well that I’ll be exhausted by the time October comes around. But hey, at least it gives me a lot of content for this here report, so let’s get cracking.
I have no idea what sort of release schedule Witter is working to over at Decomposed, but he’s just churned out yet another deck. His latest offering is a double kick version of the Ray Meyer model he released last year, with more “modern” dimensions (by which I mean it’s not got a super-short nose). Coming in at 7.5″ by 29.25″, with 5.75″ nose and tail, this should hopefully incentivise Ray to crawl out of the woodwork and get his crazy toeside rail to no-handed 50-50 spins back.
Of course, if you want one yourself, you can check it out and buy one at Decomposed’s website. Keep an eye on that page for a few more decks over the coming weeks, including a new Tim Morris deck and a new and improved reissue of the Lindgren; anyone who knows me even slightly should know that I’m very excited to see that last one.
Meanwhile, over in Europe, Romania’s Marius Constantin has a special guest model out with Germany’s Never Enough. Coming in both double kick and single kick flavours, it measures up at 7.3″ by 28.9″, making it slightly longer than his standard Cirus model. I know Marius has been wanting to get a single kick board for a while, so I’m glad that Cirus gave him permission to do this with Never Enough. Check it out at Never Enough’s website; they also have one ready to go straight out of the box in their range of freestyle completes, so if you’ve been reading these reports for a while and want to get involved, this’d be a perfect way to get started.
Elsewhere in Europe, Titus has decided to do a super-limited reissue of Christian Seewaldt’s Silver Surfer deck. There’s only 100 of these beauties available, and according to Christian Heise, they weren’t available to him at wholesale prices, so this might be an internet-only deal. Coming in at 29” x 7” with a very mellow concave, this would probably be a great deck to skate, but at a painful €79 ticket price, I suspect these will be destined to be wall hangers to everyone who picks one up. It’s a shame, really; Seewaldt never really seemed to get as much attention as he probably deserved, and it’d be great to have these readily available as a general-use freestyle board.
Who is Stephen Alksne? And who the hell are KABOD Skate Co? It’s a mystery to me, but apparently KABOD are making and selling freestyle boards to Alksne’s specification somewhere in Canada. I couldn’t find a website or any way of buying a board for yourself, but they’re out there and they exist.
It’s always refreshing and interesting to see new faces (and boards) appear. Will Stephen make it out to the World Round Up this month and go through that trial of fire as his induction to the global freestyle scene? We’ll have to wait and see.
On a slightly less exciting/pleasing note, there are rumours afoot that Kryptonics might be winding down production on the white 91a, 94a and 97a wheels. Anyone who listens to the Freestyle Podcast (blatant plug is blatant) will probably know I’m not a big fan of their urethane, but they make great entry-level freestyle wheels- particularly in regions and markets where it’s tough to get some of the “standard” freestyle wheels from Seismic, Mode and Decomposed. Currently they’re still shown on their website, but if you’re a fan, it might be worth grabbing some now- and possibly sending a note to the folks over at Dwindle telling them to keep them going.
Time for another frankly depressing “product availability” rumour: it would appear that Tracker are winding down production of the Racetracks. Witter reports that he’s having problems getting hold of them and they seem to be sparse over here in the UK. As a long-time Racetrack user (and advocate), this worries me slightly; it leaves us with nothing American-made but the Fultrack in the 10Xmm sizes on this side of the pond, and I’ve always found those a little too low. I guess I’ll have to give Orion a shout and see if we can get those over here instead…
I’m going to finish up the product section with Mike Osterman and Daniel Trujillo’s big product launch. The inevitable has happened and Waltz has put out two boards; both boards are cut from the same mould and have 13.5” wheelbases, but are considerably larger than the freestyle average, at 7.75” and 7.5” wide. Looks like neither is perfectly bidirectional, with the 7.5” having 6” nose and tails of slightly different shapes, and the 7.5” having a 6.25” tail and a 6” nose. They look surprisingly conventional considering Osterman had his hand in it; I guess Trujillo IS keeping him in check.
So what comes next for Waltz? Will they pull a Moonshine and start adding new board shapes and designs to their line every six months? Or will they go Mode’s route and stick with two solid board shapes? I suspect I may know the answer to that, but we’ll wait and see.
Have you bought issue ten of Broken Fingers yet? I got my copy this week and, as ever, it’s a fantastic little mag. Great photography, interesting articles, and an interview/bio of Darryl Grogan, all for the low, low price of $5. Support the only print magazine in the world dedicated to freestyle skateboarding and buy a copy or five today.
Here’s an interesting development: Isamu Yamamoto is now riding for Bustin longboards. The post announcing it on his Facebook page said he’s sponsored by them for “freestyle longboarding”, and I assume he’ll still be getting his freestyle boards from Powell– but considering Powell have been trying to break into the longboard market for a while, I wonder how well this will go down with George?
Either way, the custom boards Bustin made for him featuring Isamu’s art are pretty damn cool. They don’t actually look very long to me – but then Isamu is still only about 4ft tall. Even a street board is close to longboard proportions on the lad!
The World Round Up is just round the corner, and at the time of writing, it looks like the registration has closed at 51 skaters (although there are some names listed on the website who I know aren’t going, so that could be an overly optimistic count on Monty’s part). Some notable folks on the list include Gresch Bandicoot (known to governments worldwide as Daniel Greschner, if you’re looking for him in the competitor list), Alex Rademaker and Turi Zoltan, who are all crossing the pond to go to the Round Up for the first time. My prediction is that Rademaker will adapt to the slip-and-slide of the curling rink with his characteristic ease and an ever-present cheeky grin, Gresch will spend a whole weekend swearing at people in German and engaging in sarcasm and absurdity, and Turi will spear himself in the chest with a pogo transfer at least once. I wish them all the best of luck.
Another guest in Vancouver who I’m excited to watch is Jesse Whalen. He’s not been out to a competition for a couple of years, but he never lets me down. Will he place top ten? Top three? Take the gold? I can only hope. That top prize of $3,000 CAD would go a long way in Thailand – which, according to the competitor list is his new nationality. Obviously not a Trump fan then, Jesse?
Anyway, no matter who you’re rooting for (Go Moonshiners!), there should be a live feed covering the Semis, Finals and the Awards ceremony on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th of May. You can watch it from the comfort of your own home via the World Round Up website; the time difference makes it pretty hellish to watch from this side of the globe, so you might want to take Monday morning off work if you’re planning on staying up until 2 or 3am in Europe to see all the action.
In SUPERIOR ROUND UP NEWS, the prestigious UK Round Up is rearing its ugly SUPERBLY MAGNIFICENT head again. The date has finally been announced as the 14th of July, with the location being the fittingly unsuitable Redbridge Cycle Centre as part of the UKSSA and London Longboards’ Hog Hill event. This is now the fourth year freestylers have been gathering on a private road on an exposed hillside in East London for a shambolic FANTASTIC event, and while it’s as suitably silly as LateTricks’ page for the event may suggest, everyone who’s ever made the journey (which includes such prestigious international guests as Lillis Åkesson and Alex Rademaker, surprisingly enough) has had a good time. Check out LateTricks’ video of the 2016 event below to see what to expect, but I do recommend you read through the official contest rules so you don’t get caught out.
If you’re on Facebook, you can join the private British Freestyle Skateboarding group to keep up with the developments on the freestyle side of things or sign up to the general event page to add it to your calendar.
If you want to come along just to hang out, there’s also slalom, downhill racing and longboard freeride happening on the site all weekend, so it’s worth making the journey to east London. If you’re coming via public transport, Redbridge Cycle Centre is between Fairlop and Hainault on the Central Line, making it pretty easy to get to from any London train station (providing you understand how the Underground works, anyway). I highly recommend you go further down the line to Hainault, though – it’s far easier to skate from Hainault to the site and you can pick up snacks and drinks from the newsagents and convenience stores on the way. There is food and drink available on site, but going this way means you get to buy Turkish delight and cheap Bombay mix, so it’s worth the slight detour.
Before the UK Round Up ruins your life appreciation for lesser events, get yourself over to Germany for the Paderborn BBQ event. I have no new news related to it, but it’s important you remember it’s happening. Saturday 30th of June. Don’t miss it.
Something else new that readers might be interested in is that post-Cambridge Analytica and Zuckerberg-at-Congress, there’s been a bunch of folks who’ve been questioning whether we had it better in the “good ol’ days”, before Social Media behemoths took over all our online time. Well, a small group of skaters decided that maybe it’s time to move away from the Facebooks, Twitters and Instagrams of the world, and own our own online spheres.
As such, I bring to you Always Will, a new webforum for skaters who don’t want the cliquey street-only nonsense of places like the SLAP forums, but would still prefer a place away from Facebook. It’s only been up a month and membership is low, but it feels exactly like the early 2000s – only with the benefits of fast internet speeds, easy embedding of video and images, and people can actually type competently. Sign up and give it a go.
I’m going to end this report with a video from Japan. I love the Japanese scene – always have since the early 2000s, when I first saw the Marvelous videos. They roll faster and do bigger tricks than anyone else, but more importantly, they’ve kept freestyle going for decades. I think this is probably down to the tireless work of the Fujii brothers, both of whom deserve the adoration and thanks of freestylers worldwide – and the net result of this is that Japan now has some of the best freestyle skateboarders the world has ever seen. The video below is a great example of why this is the case – their sessions are inclusive, with people of all ages and genders just having a great time.
It also helps that there’s no nonsense – just bloody good freestyle. Take note, people. This is how scenes should aspire to be.
Tony Gale is a British professional freestyle skateboarder and rides for Moonshine Skateboards, Jimmy’z, Seismic and Synopsis Bearings. This month he managed to ruin his back hip through over-exuberant 540 shuvits, and as a result is glad he hasn’t already spent money on flights to Vancouver.