We asked Ben Stainer to gather up some photos and anecdotes from the week-long Longboard camp KNK Bear's Guts Freeride (Slovenia). We wanted to give those who know nothing about it a little glimpse into what spending a whole week camping out in the wilderness and hitting 100+ hairpins each day is like. In all honesty we really think you should go to KNK to really figure out what it's all about because this article is going to leave you with more question then answers. Strap in.
KNK Longboard Camp Slovenia usually runs twice a year for 1 week by an amazing team. The venue allows you to camp or book a hotel room, there is music and hot food for sale all day and night. The local town is tiny and engulfed in trees and quite magical. If you would like to be kept up to date you can follow Longboard Magazin on facebook here. The Redbull No Paws Down Race is also held here, If you think of normal downhill racing as rugby then No Paws is like it's less agressive cousin football.
Ben Stainer writes up his first peice for Thrill Magazine about the 'Go Longboarding Day' event that he organised in London this year. We love Ben, he is the cheif engineer of the stoke machine in the UK. Photography by Kai Menneken and Shaun Walker.
Much is said of events seeming to flow through as effortlessly as a hot knife cuts through butter. A lot is said about some events requiring enough preparation to make war preparations seem like a piece of cake.
Go Longboard Day London has had its various venues and styles of racing and sliding. From push races from marble arch to Trafalgar square involving enough needlework to become a seamstress through traffic, to the various dance contests that made the Russian ballet school seem like a training act. Additionally, various slide jams happened at the fairly mellow ‘ninja hill’. If you were thinking it’s got that name because it’s quietly smooth, Oh hell no! Try to go down it and you make enough noise to wake up all the residents buried under St Paul’s cathedral.
Aiming for something different, it was Victoria Park for the push race and Dance contest and then a small little commute on the DLR to Greenwich, where soft wheel and hard wheel slide jams would happen. However, as with all skate events, even the best laid plans tend to have mishaps.
With all the prizes and stickers weighing me down on a bag big enough to smuggle in the statue of liberty, it was a 3 train transport leap to pick up prizes from Rupert, the guy from A Public Nuisance Clothing. Getting to Highbury and Islington around 9:15am with curious gazes all round, A sudden sea of salmon pink struck along the platform. The running equipment indicated something. Damn! They’re using Victoria Park! With this in mind, it was meeting up at a pub! The Adam and Eve was adorned with Rupert waiting on a bike that looked as if he had descended out of Paris. Handing over a box with all the awesome stuff for the push race, it was an awkward push to the rendezvous, looking around for any spare spots to use for the dance comp, all the while carrying a box that blinded you every time you pushed.
Hurrah! One spot had not been adorned with Stewarts! Just past the pavilion there was a spot far better than the place originally planned. Relieved that it wasn’t going to be sending everyone around, the waiting game began! The first brave souls came around just before 10:45, with various stories and some hilarious personalities coming out for the day. The hour before the dance comp of a flurry of chatting, skating and me running back and forth saying directions into my phone like an automatic messaging system. For some it was their first event and their first look at what the scene had to offer. Stickers dotted the floor like arms and legs during a game of twister, with a whole host of various companies being given mentions. Explaining what they did was awesome, just as much so as the designs on show.
At 13:15, the dance comp began. Some very unique and impressive styles and moves came out. One of the highlights was seeing Jim Jim sit on his deck and roll around the flow like an overly enthusiastic cat. Sergio smashing out some incredible stuff on the dancer was also a joy to watch. Various flips and 360 shoves came through, all having a blast of a time. Notably, some skaters had come all the way from Brighton to take part and they were smashing it, but everyone was having an awesome time. That was what was more important!
After the dancers had recovered half their energy it was onto the push race! The course was a simple loop, about a kilometre around. Starting off the race. It was a bedlam of people failing over each other and sunglasses going flying. One guy did it even after just having knee surgery. Coming back in a trickle, everyone collapsed in one giant heap, legs aching and sweating profusely. Prize giving then commenced, while being hoisted to the level of Ben Nevis by Alex and Stephen. The added height made it much easier, if not slightly more scary to be seen and reward riders. After my spate in the cloud and feeling slightly hypothermic and ill from altitude sickness, it was time to move on to Greenwich. Some opted to stay behind or call it a day, but many choose to follow.
Heading over to Bow Church was made a lot easier by the Durdle brothers and Frank offering bag space for the prizes. Thank goodness. We got to Bow church, spirits higher than the Shard and headed to Cutty Sark. We couldn’t smell ourselves, but those on the DLR must have thought that we’d been thrown through a rugby changing room. After smelling out the train, a group shot took place right outside the Cutty Sark, the hard-core survivors of a DLR trip!
Greenwich had just about totally dried when we arrived. Warm welcomes all around and stoked as hell with One Tree donating some amazing stuff for the slide jams that were about to ensue. The skills being shown were incredible. Seeing how much people improve between when you last saw them and their improvement now is awesome to watch.
The first slide jam was the soft wheel (Wheels under 90a). Judges in place, the 20 minute jam began. The number of varying styles made judging it incredibly difficult. From the fast and long slides to the slow but really technical, it was difficult to choose first second and third. Trying to decide the podium was like trying to sow a needle using boxing gloves. Towards the end, various mashups of fast and technical were being attempted, with hard bails all around, but with determination overcoming the pain. THIS IS LONGBOARDING!!!!
Onto the Hard Wheel Jam, and the level of riders seemed to fly off the counter. Smooth 360s, 720s, switch blunts, backsides, everyone was ripping! Jorge Higgins seemed to forget about going slower on harder wheels and sped down the hill like a cannonball on fire. The originality in the hard wheels was also an amazing thing to watch, seeing new stuff that hadn’t been seen in a hard wheel Jam. Choosing the podium was difficult. So many people deserved prizes, picking out three was never going to be easy. This however felt like trying to pull teeth from a tiger that hadn’t been sedated.
During the podium announcements, looking around placed a massive smile on my face. All who participated cheered those on the podium with a sportsmanship that was beautiful to behold. What wasn’t so well to behold was my complete lack of memory during announcing the soft wheel Jam winners, resulting in Jamie Tharp shouting out the winner of the Jam before I could forget the name again.
Joyful prize winners abounding, the throw-outs began. A lot of the joy being an event organizer comes from knowing the chaos about to ensue as you wait for the spare goodies to hit the wall of hands. But the throwing of spares showed the best in people. Ruben Loosemore, whose gloves looked as if they had been through a shredder, had a set of gloves given over by Alex Durdle, winning the battle of the hand grab for slide gloves. Awesome generosity that deserves a mention.
All in all, a great success. Everyone seemed stoked and the improvement throughout the comps was inspiring. Being the first event I’d ever organized, I couldn’t believe it panned out so well. Thanks an absolute ton to all the sponsors who helped to make it as awesome as it was. Well done to all the prize winners! To all the judges who helped, thanks an absolute ton! And to all those who came, THANK YOU FOR MAKING THIS EVENT POSSIBLE!!!!!!