Thrill Magazine was granted a media pass and photographer Kev Hurdle got up close & personal when this most prestigious skateboarding competition made its London debut; a major coup for London, as SLS and World Skate prepare street skateboarding for its inaugural appearance in the Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020.
The demographics of the riders were probably not very unexpected, full of 20-somethings, the occasional ‘oldie’ at 30 or the noobie at 19. The crowd was certainly more diverse, from the under 10s to the over 50s, but all had a keen grasp on what was a good trick – a very knowledgeable bunch. The more difficult tricks such as 270 spins onto rail tailslide and 270 off drew large cheers.
It was surprising and somewhat refreshing to see ‘health and safety’ take a back seat, there were no helmets nor pads worn by anyone. The ambulance was in attendance but I didn’t see them called into action at all….maybe that’s what pro riders excel at…. falling? Nah, look hard enough and there was the odd crutch here and there, wrist bandages, evidence that there is always pain on the trail to excellence.
And that I think is probably how a pro rider does differ from your casual excellent street skater, the pro can do their tricks bigger, more consistently, with style and with thousands of fans watching them. It is impressive to watch, hard to work out what they did with their feet and the instant TV replays and ongoing commentary provides the necessary background information, with razz and noise like a big baseball game. Keep in mind all the skateboards are very similar, there is no technology gain to be made, no-one has more horsepower advantage. Win or lose it’s about skill and effort.
The whole riding area had been cleverly designed and built with large steps, 6ft ledges, rails, boxes but arranged symmetrically so that goofy and regular riders can hit the same trick either forward or switch. The competition was very efficiently run, to tight timescales as it was being broadcast globally, to countries that have those annoying adverts smack bang in the middle of the action…..but it allows the crowd to catch their breath and grab a beer.
London has a very lively skateboard and longboard scene, reflected by the fact that SLS chose to bring this event to the Copper Box and a very large crowd turned up too. Eager to see a few Brit skaters do their thing, they were not disappointed, but equally the crowd appreciated a good run from any rider. It showed that skating is multi-cultural, multi-national and some of these jumps multi-storey!
If it comes back to the UK – I would thoroughly recommend going.
|Women’s results||Men’s results|
|Jen Soto 25.6|
Lacey Baker 25.2
Mariah Duran 25.0
|Yuto Horigome 35.1|
Vincent Milou 34.1
Kevin Hefler 33.5
Words and Images by Kev Hurdle