Winterclash 2010 - Overview

As it often happens, previously prepared plans tend to change unexpectedly. Originally, together with Basza and Kuba Urbańczyk, we wanted to release the Winterclash 2010 story as soon as possible, yet whole coverage, edits, comments and discussions around the biggest rollerblading event of the year, made us re-think some factors and led to conclusions which we want to share.

Common event-story usually includes subjective opinions of the author, which more or less become the picture of the event especially in the mind of people who didn't have a chance to experience it by themselves. Frequently the opinion is based on author's personal feelings – bad ones as well as the good ones. 

Despite anything which can be told about 2010 edition of the Winterclash, one thing is clear – it will be part of rollerblading history. Everyone who attended WC 2010 personally, could see how many issues were taken into consideration by the organizers, and can evaluate the effort of Jojo and WC crew by himself.

The text below will not be a stereotype event-story. It will be a set of questions, which force those who will read it to very end to re-think own opinions about the most important European rollerblading contest.

To the point. The whole new idea about WC2010 was to make it more open for non-rollerblading audience and bring as much people as possible to see and get familiar with rollerblading culture – the factor which is often skipped by event organizers. Jojo Jacobi did his best to advertise WC2010 through various easy-accessible media. That's how the average German family could get informed about the WC2010 during the subway ride. Let's say that they didn't have anything better to do and they decided to check it out the Saturday contest. Unfortunately the tickets were not cheap – 4 x 15 EU for a chance to see not understood yet spectacular sport from the grandstands. I think not many people were willing to give it a shot. On the other hand, most of the skateboarding or bmx events of this kind also charge entrance fees and random people love it and participate. WC 2010 was the first rollerblading-only event since a long time with specially prepared and rented skatepark, rented hall with the Tradeshow and Afterparty – all of it must have cost quite a lot, and as we all know our industry is not the richest one out there. Therefore the 15 Eu entrance fee wasn't so much for an average citizen of Berlin.

Another thing worth mentioning is a Pro/Am division. Last year introduced WRS ranking and WRS rules, according to which a rider is a considering a Pro only if he/she is a Pro for any skate-boot company. A question arises - why Stephane Alfano and Romain Godenaire who are Flow for Rollerblade competed in Pro division? If you think it again, imagine how it will look like when they will be included in AM contest – Pro-level rider starts in AM contest where his skills are no match for any AM rider – lack of golden merit? Maybe, yet rules are rules and they well set for some reason.

The form of the contest itself is something to think about alone. I have judged many comps in Jam format. Usually there are 2 more judges, even though I know how hard is to evaluate 5 riders simultaneously. I wonder how the WC judge crew managed to follow group of 12 people at once, where I as a spectator missed almost half of the tricks that were thrown. Not to mention the safety factors – I know that some bladers just passed their runs – it was way to dangerous to perform tricks on some obstacles with at least three other people at the same time. But as I mentioned before, the whole park and space were rented just for the WC, try to imagine how expensive it was – dividing people into smaller groups or single runs would greatly prolong the event, and drastically rise the cost of whole venture, Weekend Passes and so on.

Infamous „Spin to Win” took over the lines, and flow skating. With 10+ people in the group, lacing a solid and clean line was impossible. Many front-runners known for flawless park skating had to cave in. What counted was 450 or 540 tricks thrown on the wall extensions. And again was it a bad thing? Successful sport event is a one with active audience with cheering and encouragement, random people will not recognize difficult technical line, they need big hammer tricks to get loud and galvanize – no one can deny that WC 2010 didn't have it. Ten rollerbladers throwing trick after trick, flying above the obstacles, screaming announcers and knock-down applaud. The whole thing was so intense. During the runs I rewarded riders with shouts and loud claps, simply I had a really good time. It was after the finals runs when I sat and calmly recalled what went down...

„Vip Zone” as I called it, was another new feature of WC2010. It allowed the Pro riders, media staff, tradeshow staff, organizers and sponsors to rest at chill room, eat a solid meal in a catering area or simply to talk and get new contacts . Of course everything was for free. As a one of the exhibitor I could chill in a quiet place, drink a hot tea and get relaxed in the over-smoked chill room. Besides happy lucky men with the Vip passes, there were many outraged people who weren't satisfied that they could not enter the VIP zone. Of course it would be the best if such place was available for everybody but think about how many people took part in. Making a meal for 2000 visitors would be waaaay to much. The main aim of the restricted area was to separate Pro riders from the fans as it can be really tiring to deal with autographs, taking photos all the time. Some need a rest after flight etc and believe me, catching a breath in the main hall was really hard.

Afterclash. Friday and Saturday night was scheduled for Afterclash party. Personally I wasn't a fan of their proceedings, yet it is conditioned by my own music preference and a selected location. For the WC2010 organizers prepared a space for the loud after party. Cloak room, bar, very good sound system, live DJ, lighting, polite security guards and the best thing – you just need to take few steps from the trade show or a park to get into party area. No buses, trains etc. Yet was it worth it to spend all the money for the stage, lighting, preparing the space for the party from the scratch? Wouldn't be better to connect the Afterclash with some another open party in Berlin, which would be another factor appealing to non-rollerblading audience? I think it is hard to say, for sure it would be good to think about more sits and more diverse music choices – two night in a row with electronic music was let's say...tiring. Music is a one thing, but why the hell the huge screen only displayed like 4 shorts edits (Winterclash 2008 trailer and three Razors/Jug adds) all the time instead of some cool visualizations etc. I don't know how about you but after the Wc2010 I would never buy Razors GT`s or Goldberries from JUG....

The last thing which comes to my mind is a TradeShow and the amount of attending Pros. Let's go on with the TradeShow. When watching coverage from such events like Bitter Cold Showdown you can see plenty of booths of different companies. At WC2010 there was about 10 booths, where three of them were skateshops. Taking European location into the consideration and the fact that most companies resides in USA makes the obvious answer. But still WC is the only European event with a something like trade show and those who attended for sure found great deals and had a chance to see upcoming stuff. However not the Tradeshow was I worried about the most. It was a number of Pros visiting. During WC 2007 you could meet so much people form the industry - Nick Wood, Chris Farmer, Jon Jon Bolino, Conor O'Brain, Victor Arias, Brain Shima, Jon Elliot, Billy O'Neil, Carlos Pianowski just to name a few. In 2008 the number was reduced a little bit, while in 2010 the names of the Pros simply get lost among all other participants. There can be lots of reasons for such situation like for example growing number of different contests worldwide.
Nevertheless those who came for the WC for the first time, didn't have a reason for complaining: Alex Broscow, Rachard Johnson, Eric Bailey, Jon Julio, Chris Haffey, Kato, Don Bambrick, Dre Powell – such big names at one time in one place, definitely enough reason to be in Berlin during that weekend.

Nowadays, the „hating” or „i-hate” is common thing in our industry. Inane, negative opinions about gear, edits, people, events and so on. Most of the time „cultivated” by the people who don't represent anything – skating wise as well as taking any industry actions. The rollerblading community, when observed from the side is a rather narrow - it's easy to make mistakes. People who push the rolleblading forward, do their best to make it better. Of course such actions requires a plan – for some it would be proper, for others not. The crucial thing is to give feedback to such people, so in future they can avoid the mistakes, slips and prepare better events, produce better skates or film better edits. I hope that this article will make some people think again about Winterclash 2010 and voice another opinion about this craziest weekend of the year!