This was my third ‘Eurotour’. Good friend and Videographer Henry Hayhurst joined me for the whole trip. We began the month-long skate pilgrimage in the UK. Then made our way into Germany to pick up Deen Mondt. Our car crew complete for the entirety of the trip.
Our first real stop was in the Czech Republic, at the infamous Kozakov Challenge, then we travelled deeper south to Slovenia for the week long KNK freeride. The last scheduled stop on the list was the Italian race Verdicchio. Apart from these three events we had no plans, only to go with the flow and see what happened. This was the best decision we made. In past years I’ve found that over-planning makes a structured and difficult trip. The best things to happen on the road are often the unexpected.
Once we stepped foot back in the motherland we had 20 hours of footage to trawl through and edit. Two solids day and shabam, here she is: Europa. Watch in 1080p for maximum enjoyment levels.
I got a message from Cam Deegan asking if I wanted to film him in Europe . With no hesitation I bought a drone and booked a month of work. A week later I found my self driving to Frankfurt. It was a real eye opener, it was my first time in Europe and seeing downhill long-boarding racing.
It was the first time for many things and flying the drone was one, making my 15 second edits (which you can find on my Instagram) to the eight minute feature below. I could see my progression in the editing and the smoothness of the drone operation. It was also my first time making a skate edit. For me “Europa" is the beginning of my film career.
Kozakov Challenge IDF World Cup July 2015 – The UKDH Takeover in the Czech Republic
This year saw the highest number of UK riders and media crew ever to attend the Kozakov Challenge. 13 riders and a couple of media guys arrived by plane, car, hitchhike and any other means necessary to hit the gnarliest race and wildest party in Europe. This year there was an extra day of freeride at the start of the event which was an optional paid extra for a limited number of riders. Some cheeky banditos who arrived early and took a couple of stealth runs on this freeride day despite their lack of bonus freeride wristbands.
Practice day 2 commenced for the rest of the UK crew after only a couple of hours sleep from travelling or partying the day before. Gnar was served for breakfast as the 13 stoke tourists stared down the track which has a reputation for being super fast, super technical and outright intimidating. When you kick off, you hit 50mph pretty quickly and have to choose a method of slowing down for the deceptive first right hander that spits you into a sharp, banked lefty. If you survive the first test you get to tuck into the forest and tackle a left kink into a tricky right hairpin. The track slows down a lot at this point and you get to enjoy the woodland spookiness before you accelerate into a corner sequence that pretty much mirrors the previous bends. You really need your pre-drifts dialled for this part. Once you survive the forest you pray for good exit speed and seem to accelerate forever down the straightaway to the finish line, before you get there though, you have to tackle a rapid right hand sweeper half way down. Pack runs dominated the practice day and the non-stop skating and frequent uplift busses meant that you could skate until your legs ceased up.
(UKDH slumber party tent)
Qualifications were timed using the IDF transponder system, recording riders’ times accurate to one-thousandth of a second, it sounds excessive but it really isn’t, even when you are sending over 200 riders from all over the world down the most difficult tracks on the IDF circuit. The UK crew had qualified representatives in the luge category, juniors, womens and A, B and C bracket for the open class, which makes at least one UK rider in every single category! We had a hell of a turn out for our relatively small downhill skateboarding and luge community here in the UK.
B and C bracket raced on the Friday, there were lots of UK riders battling it out, some got lucky and others crashed out, James Woodford was the only person to sustain an injury as his skateboard turned evil and smashed nose-first into his groin. An injury so nasty I won’t expand on… At least he didn’t need stitches like a guy from Sweden who had a fight with his trouser zipper at the party that night!
Saturday was the Luge, Juniors, Womens and Open heats, sadly we had no UK riders on the podiums but everybody learned a lot about racing and everyone was desperate to come back for another year of partying and downhill action at Kozakov 2016!
(Joe Baldwin, Connor Finch and Rachel Bagels working it pre-party)
Riding Kozakov is one thing, but hitting fast qualification times and racing it is a whole different ballgame. The track has so much reputation that it is a mental battle just to convince yourself that you can do it. Here are a few quotes from some of the UK riders at this year’s Kozakov Challenge to give you an insight in what it is actually like to ride this famous race track.
”Kozakov gets bigger and better every year. Crazy parties and crazy riders. The skill level for me was one of the toughest I have seen. Just shows how well others are progressing and how it’s never going to be an easy fight if you want to do well and win. It’s a proper gnarly road which really pushes you as a rider. It certainly earns its right to be called Kozakov ‘challenge”’
”Kozakov challenge was a total dream! it is one of those tracks you see when you first start out in the downhill world. This is what made it so amazing to actually be flying down the track! For me it was easily the best event I have ever been to in terms of the track and the organisation, The track was super technical which is definitely my kind of style with lots of fast drifts. The organisation was amazing, especially with around 15 runs on the first day! oh and you cant forget the party every night!”
“Kozakov Challenge for me was an absolute life changer. Since I started skating I have always watched videos of Kozakov and been given goosebumps by them. So this year when I got the opportunity to go, you can imagine I was ecstatic. Having skated there I honestly cannot fault anything about the event in any way. The best track I have ever skated, good weather, cheap beer, delicious food. Now I am back at home I can think of nothing but either skating there again or moving abroad to somewhere with hills of similar magnitude.”
‘’After joining downhill skateboarding army couple years obviously I came across videos from Kozakov. In those videos all top dogs were talking how difficult, challenging, technical the track is and that to ride it you have to have balls, skills and much more since then it was my aim to attend Kozakov race, at that time I couldn’t even imagine doing the track but you have to have a dream to be able to grow as a rider. Recent couple of years I thought I am not ready for it that’s why I never been there before, I thought I will train more, so I did. I stood on my board a lot, been to quite a few events recent 2 years and thought now I can ride Kozakov! Hooooow wrong I was haha! Now I know that I need to learn how to ride again Most amazing thing about Kozakov is that it exposes every weak spot of yours and I loved it !!! It a real challenge and I like to be challenged that’s how you grow! Looking forward to my come back, stronger, better, faster! See you next year!”
“Little over a year ago I had just learnt how to heelside pendy. I went to a couple of European freerides summer of 2014 and, damn – those girls were rippin! And I wanted to rip with them! So September last year I set myself a very simple goal: be able to shred some sick hills with some of these amazing shredders. Ras took me under his wings and showed me what was possible. The BTR crew and extended shred family went on many a skate trips. We skated a lot, practised a lot, crashed a lot, laughed, cried and ate a lot – and by the end of it, we became like a little skate family. And the standard across the team upped! with improvements in mind, by late spring I still wasn’t sure my level would be good enough for Kozakov, but I decided I would give it a go anyway and Lillehammer proved to be a really good warm-up! When we got to Kozakov and I walked down to the first and second corner – I genuinely thought I was going to be sick. It looked so fast and incredibly technical. And indeed it was. I crashed a lot..pretty much every run. This track exposes all your weaknesses and insecurities, there is nowhere to hide! But you know what – I got to skate with amazing people and some of the top female shredders in the world. The experience was invaluable. I couldn’t ask for more. I can’t wait to race Kozakov next year!”
(Tough time walking up and down the track with strict spectator rules and even stricter marshals!)
(Cam Deegan after he slammed his ankle on forest right )
(Evening slide jam session with Bodhi, James, Oscar, Eddie and Joe’s nipples)
Event coverage from the 2014 Sector 9 Almabtrieb IDF World Cup race in Germany. Photos will be going live on the Thrill Magazine Facebook page soon. Read the full, printed article in Issue 8 of Thrill Magazine, OUT NOW!
The ever big push to do something different, challenging, and more importantly, fun. Pushing the boundaries of our sport is always on our minds.
The power of social media played a big part in making this session happen. It all started a few weeks ago when a friend tweeted a picture of me skitching on the back of a Volkswagon Passat. The local VW garage did there marketing thing of retweeting and clicking favourite on Twitter, with this lead I jumped straight on it and simply tweeted Breeze Volkswagon.
They simply replied… “@scho3y @The_Game_Mag Only if you invite me along too! Give me a phone number and I'll call you.”
Thats all it took, with this, I built on the conversation with the marketing team at Breeze on what we could do.
Over a couple of weeks of organising dates, vehicles etc we were finally given a brand new Transporter 2.0TDI Sportline Kombi, with so many extras. It was a dream vehicle to drive around in and to use for the shoot. I wanted to try and capture images of the van in both action and parked up showing people that it is the “The van of every occassion”.
After speaking to Pete, Louis, Eddie and Hamish we decided that we would take the van to a few different hills locally that we knew all had relatively stunning views that we could capture the van in all its glory.The weather forecast was looking to be awesome as it has been over the last few weeks here in Dorset. High 20’s, light winds, perfection.
The first hill we took the van and the guys to was Cocknowle, Its a local hill that has held many SFOL events there and as the location has an awesome section of road and a sweet hairpin. It’s nestled in and around a steep valley that gave Eddie and Hamish an amazing perspective of the hill and the van in motion. I wanted to capture the van both following Pete and Louis down the hill and also parked up on the side of the hair pin with us skating past it and chilling out. The sun beat down hard on us down in the valley with no wind managing to reach us, We quickly managed to collect enough photos and some clips of what we were after.
With what we needed to collect from here we quickly shot off to Weymouth and Portland to do some follow raw runs. We parked up in a layby just outside of Weymouth. The road was a long flowing country road dropping down towards Weymouth. Then Pete and Louis quickly got kitted up and went for a quick bomb down the hill to test it out as Pete had never skated it before Whereas Louis lived not that far away and had skated many times.
With the vans double electric sliding doors it was easy to drive down and collect them from the bottom and shuttle them back to the top. We set up the van with the SLR on a suction mount on the windscreen to capture some raw runs. Following on from this we attached the camera to the back of Eddies car, he drove down in front while Hamish was in the back capturing photos and Video of Myself driving the van down behind the guys, inching closer and closer to the back of them, as soon as i saw them air break i dropped back to give them space. It was the first time I have ever done anything like this But we had walkie talkies and made sure everyone knew what signals we were using to allow everyone to be the safest possible.
All the runs were super smooth and fast for our County. Pete and Louis hitting over 40 mph on the GPS. Louis was loving wearing his new TSG pass helmet that he recently purchased.
The final place we went and skated was Portland. If you haven’t heard of Portland then its bit of an odd place with a variety of people. It could be snowing, raining, hail on the mainland then could be like paradise on Portland. Odd!
When looking on Google maps theres a prison right on top with a road leading up to it with about 8 hair pins. From speaking to people in past they’ve all said it wasn’t skateable, to rough, thrown off by the prison guards. We decided to head to the top anyway to check it out and we were greeted by the most amazing view of Portland, Weymouth, and Chesil beach. You could easily see the stretch of beach that goes on for 18 miles into the distant.
We had lunch then skated down the 1st hair pin which then lead down to a smooth road leading to the next hairpin which was also skateable. We then found a path that was the most perfect laid, Smooth path the flowed down the side of the hair pins. It was wide enough to freeride down as well as bombing it straight to the bottom with a great shut down area. We decided to go back to the top and session the hair pin capturing the van parked up with the insane view behind it then driving the van down the path to session the path we found.
Overall the day was a huge stoke! we were in a rush from the start to get stuff done as People had to work, I had to get the van back by half 5. But I feel massively happy that we did what we set out do.
I would like to say a huge thank you to Breeze Volkswagen for lending me the van to make the day a massive buzz for everyone, everyone skated hard and pushed themselves throughout the day, my driving was pretty epic to say the least… hahaha Thanks Jimmy’s Iced Coffee for keeping us refreshed with some crates of his finest Iced Coffee, and Woolsey Clothing who chucked us some fresh T shirts to wear for the day also cheers Eddie and Hamish for capturing the day.
You can see all the photos on any of our Facebook profiles. Go have a look right now… Like seriously, Right now! why are you still reading this, and not looking at the photos.
Last weekend was the second Hog Hill event of the year, The Summer Swine Stomp. It looked like an awesome weekend featuring the 'Mini Moto Downhill Slalom' and the slide hill and it's resident kicker ramp. Check the event video from SkateLongboardsUK. (Harry Wilson)