TEXT & PHOTOS BY ROBIN PAILLER.
No sooner have our feet touched the ground from freeballing in Catalonia, we’re back on the road.
This time it’s Malmö, Sweden. A city with it’s roots firmly in skateboarding. But also the place that gave us The Cardigans & Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Anyway, yes it’s another skate competition but unlike SLS, which caters to the tech wizardry side of skateboarding, the Vans Park Series showcases transitional park terrain, a little more on the gnar side…
If you’ve seen Kroksbäck Skatepark you’ll know exactly what we mean. Designed and built by the Malmö based skateboarding organization Bryggeriet, it’s 1000 square metres of perfect concrete with a tombstone on one side that will literally put you 6 feet under if you fuck up.
Upon arrival, the women are already practicing for the Continental Championship about to take place. Anyone who states that “girls can’t skate” (*cough* Nyjah), needs to not only revaluate such a sexist remark, but should seriously go and watch the 7 participants on display. Chloe Bernard in particular shreds harder than the average seasoned bowl rider. Currently residing in Marseille, she’s casually cruising the park barefoot, backside grinding the deep end whilst simultaneously defining the term nonchalant. Likewise Laurine Lemieux is a beast. Her second attempt at dropping in from the tombstone resulted in spectacularly crashing head first into the ground, a moment in which a collective echo of wincing in agony filled the air. Yet somehow before the medics can even scurry down, she’s on her feet walking away unscathed with a cheeky grin. Hats off to you Laurine.
After Poland’s Amelie Brodka takes the win, free reign is back on with the park packed with ams and pros alike, everyone getting a feel for the course before their imminent heats. We bump into Ishod who suggests ‘wrapping one up’. We duly oblige. Swedish authorities are a lot less lenient than Barca so we opt to sit on top of mushroom hill outside.
As we come to the roach a young Austrian guy approaches.
“Hey excuse me…….are you Ishod?” he asks, in broken english.
“Yeah man how you doing?”
“Wow this is so cool! Do you want any weed?”
“I mean…shit, I ain’t gonna say no”.
“I have to leave tonight and I bought too much” he says handing a baggy containing a good three grams of Christiana’s finest haze. Ishod looks at us shellshocked. All the guy wants in return is a photo. He hands over his iPhone to us having barely acknowledged our existence. We fire off a couple in both portrait and landscape, it’s important to give your client options. Needless to say he doesn’t ask for an insta handle, guess mans won’t be getting that photo credit then.
Did we mention the weather? It’s hot, I mean on par with Barca hot, 25 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. We’ve definitely blazed too early and too quickly. We head back in and Ishod jumps back on his board without any hesitation, while we desperately search for rehydration options.
By the time the Mens Continental Championships begins, we’ve stocked up on h20 and we’re in a good place. We’re in an even better place watching Dannie Carlsen do the absurd. His horizontal tailstall on the side of the tombstone was hands down one of the gnarliest tricks we witnessed.
It’s only fitting however that fellow Copenhagen local Rune Glifberg takes the win, rolling back the years, proving that at 42 years old, age is but a number.
The VPS qualifiers follow and we can’t help but be gutted to see Skankiee miss the cut. Not that he’s bothered of course, half an hour later and we’re back on mushroom hill watching him drop in on grass after downing a beer. You can’t help but be infatuated by his raw approach to life, sadly we’re not that young anymore.
By day two we’ve settled in nicely. The sun’s still shining proving that the Norse Gods are on our side. Today’s finals day and if you want your mind blown as well as nicely tanned, there’s literally no better place to be. Naturally we’re amped to see the likes of Oski & Ishod but it’s tiny CJ Collins who impresses us most. He’s so young we’re surprised not to see him trip over his umbilical cord dropping in. He’s got banter too. Upon discussing skate videos, some of the older dudes laugh that he hasn’t seen Girl’s Yeah Right.
“Well when did it come out?”
“That was the year I was born”.
“Wait! You were born in 2003?”
“I’m 13, it’s 2017, do the math dummy!”
Jokes for days.
Sadly for CJ, he doesn’t qualify from his heat despite being allowed a second attempt at kick flipping off the tombstone into the bank, resulting in a pretty brutal slam which has everyone gasp in a moment of panic. Luckily after a brief look from medics he walks away to huge cheers and a collective sigh of relief. No one looks more relieved than Tim O’Connor who’d been goading him on seconds earlier.
As always the locals get the biggest cheers, Oski in particular a firm favourite, his semi-final run a joy to behold. No comply tail stall on the tombstone looked so easy.
Karl Berglind is one to watch too! Fully meriting third place after a seamless final run.
Floridian Alex Sorgente however has the honour of champ for the second year running and it’s hard to argue, the consistency he possesses is next level.
As the crowds and media disperse, we decide to hang about for a bit, the park doesn’t shutdown for another hour, the sun’s still shining and CJ’s back in there jabbering away at the older dudes as he cruises the park. Cody Lockwood isn’t finished either. He’s adamant he’s getting a front blunt nollie flip out on the tombstone before it closes. His thirst for it is relentless, getting closer each time, barely pausing for breathe between each attempt. After getting absolutely robbed on two consecutive attempts he goes for broke, literally. The flip out looks good but the board sticks and he falls to ground in a heap.
“Cody you good?”
“I think so I mean……..oh no, no I’m not good”.
“I’ve broke my wrist, yep I’ve broke my wrist. Shit I don’t even have insurance I don’t think”.
As the medics tend to his wrist with the offer of morphine, we salute Cody and decide to leave him to it. It feels like a sour note to end on but it isn’t. Watching Cody go for at least 25 attempts was the perfect way to end things. That’s what it’s all about. The insatiable desire to make that one trick. There is no real ‘winner’ in skateboarding but on this day we’d happily hand the crown to Cody.