Another Winter, another few months without real skating – just like every year the dull December-Feb-Jan period left me with nothing less than an incredible urge to attend this one special event which boosts me again up for the whole year – the annual meeting of rollerbladers called a Clash... or better known as WINTERCLASH!
That’s right – for me and a bunch of my friends taking a Winterclash trip is the best way to start a season. There is no other chance to experience rollerblading culture in such extent as during these two, super hectic days in Holland. Winterclash had it’s ups (2007) and downs (2010) yet I’m more than happy that the event is still continued and we all can be a part of it.
It’s almost a week after the event, media coverage is popping out everywhere so those of you who didn’t have luck to take part personally can easily check what went down – yet those edits, pics won’t bring you the atmosphere of that crazy weekend. Inmag.info crew will try to go more deep into the whole event and share their view on something which is considered as the most important European blade event of the year.
Holland, Eindhoven`s Area 51 park hosted the event for the third time already. What’s struck me immediately after walking to the park for the first time was the fact that the course was redesigned completely compared to 2011 – and I’m not talking about the new obstacles built especially for this occasion. It looked like some of the park levels were raised or lowered (like the whole floor!)making it even more line-friendly. Also the new elements funded by Grindhouse and Loco was a perfect match for the course – in my opinion it was the best Winterclash park setup so far. The obstacles were demanding yet approachable and what’s more they were really cool to skate. People were juiced to use them and it could be noticed straight away, huge props for this for the organizers! However, the well prepared street course wasn’t used as it should be (at least not for the whole time) due to the two factors:
Crowd & Contest Form
At the beginning it was clearly said that the WC 2012 will be line-based event, where creativity and fluency are judged over one-spot spin battle etc. People were moved to the sides and the balcony, and at first it looked like it worked. Few starting AM heats went really well – the course was clear, riders took their turns and everything was under control. Than after some time, riders suddenly were given more and more “last try” chances which prolonged the Friday qualifications to such extent where Girls division had to be postponed till Saturday... and at the same time AM Finals, Pro Contest had massive delay. At Saturday the situation or I would rather say park space was getting worst with every hour. Without any barriers, even tapes separating the course from the crowd, the volunteers had a hard times with getting people out of it. There was no way back – group of Dutch fans took over the area near the small rail and from than on the crowd started a massive flow-in to the course. The idea of lines and runs quickly changed for tricks on handrail, transfer-rails or the quarter-pipe with occasional ventures on the disaster flat rail or the grindbox near the round corner pipe.
Above: Crowd flow-in started ...getting crazy
Anyway, the tricks of the contestants could easily make you forget about all that jazz. Julien Cudot, Roman Abrate, Romain Godenaire were getting crazy on the quarter-pipes, Frederik Anderson with his disaster Royale to flat rail started a sick battle on this obstacle, followed by Horn, Stephan De Freitas and finally Nils Jansons kept throwing stunts there like it was a breeze, while Nick Lomax simply left me speechless after his first run during which he landed Topsoul 360 Soul first try in a line... As I said that and many other stunts could make me not to think about the crowded course or unclear rules of judging yet I don’t think contestants themselves would agree with me. Chilling and watching is one thing while competing is another. If the time between your first and second heat extend to 2-3 hours, or you need to fight your way among the dazed crowd or 100+ media guys while judges won’t look at you unless you do some trick on the quarter extension it’s no wonder that some people just let it go and either not compete or simply took it easy. Maybe even way too easy - as a result some of the highly anticipated riders weren’t even included in the final group, what’s more the top five decided by themselves that they should be left to skate simultaneously - tough stuff for the judges indeed..
The thing with Media guys was really irritating too. Way too many times some guy in Media jacket stood exactly on the obstacle where the the trick was being done – I would be super pissed if I smashed into some camera man while lacing a trick. Is it really necessary to have like 20-30+ people with Media vests on the course? One official edit isn’t enough? With so little space (only 1000 people were officially let in to watch the contest) I think the number of the official Media guys on the course should be limited!
Above: Nils Jansons - Fighting his way through Media guys for Disaster Ao unity
As we all know Winterclash is not only a contest but a chance to get some sweet deals at the...
Little bit smaller than last year, yet still Tradeshow got some nice snips. Ucon was selling older collection for a bargain, great chance to hook up your girlfriend with some blading stuff before St.Valentine Day. I was hyped with Themgoods booth where Jon Julio himself presented first gameplay of Blading apps on his phone and we could have a closer look at new Youth Co. frames. The booth that really stood out was Chimera and Adapt. Guys put a good effort of preparing everything and it was really nice to talk with the designers of the new skate brand and check the product in real life. Adapt skates looks super similar to USD Carbon skates yet as I was told the material used in manufacturing is way more solid and much easier to modificate (adapt) to your feet shape. Good news to all USD Carbon fans is that Adapt soulplate will be compatible with their skates too and I`m telling you it’s worth the wait! The Adapt soulplate is much more thicker, and has a bunch of features that perfect soulplate should have. You can say it looks like old Night hardware stuff (similar material used, drilled holes for more speed and less friction) which is of course a good thing!
Above: New skate brand from Holland - Adapt
Winterclash 2012 was everything what I expected to be – grass roots event with no strict rules, serious competition or a pressure from the organizers...and you know what, I enjoy it that way. I wanted to go for a rollerblading trip to “re-charge” my energy for upcoming year, meet with friends from all over the world, skate, party and all that – Holland again happened to be the right place. While exchanging experiences and opinions with various people about WC2012 I come across statements that the event haven’t progressed since last year. Well partially it’s true, yet I can’t think of any better solution for this event in Area 51 facility. If we want something different we would need a new place that’s for sure, yet we know how it turned out at the end in 2010 (Berlin) with park closed to the crowd, empty after party and so on... We shouldn’t make or force Winterclash to become something more than it really is. Winterclash is us, it’s rollerblading!
Photos: Kuba Urbańczyk, Chris Luca
Edit: Przemek Madej