dinsdag, juni 06, 2006

Week 100: Malmo, Sweden - 10 days of skateboarding

I arrived in Malmo, Sweden at 10am, after an overnight stay at Stanstead Airport where I spent the evening making a website to pay for my flights. I took out some Swedish Kronas from the bank and bought a coffee. A 20 Krona note for one cup of coffee! I had no idea how much that was in dollars, but I knew life in Sweden was going to be expensive. The new Concussion Swedish distrubor Kalle agreed to pick me up, and let me stay with his friend Per, in Malmo. We went straight to the indoor park, Bryggeriet, after Per gave me an 8.4% beer, which I waited until the night to drink. I met up with his brother John Magnusson, one of the most famous Swedish skaters and the man behind the new Stapelbaddsparken designed in part by Oregon's (PTR - Placed to Ride) skatepark designer, Stefan Hauser. We then went to Per's house, dropped off my backpacks and skated down to Stapelbaddsparken, which from here on out I will refer to ass "The Valley", the nickname Per gave it after chronically listening to Eddie Spaghetti's latest solo album. "They're going to be peace in the Valley, tomorrow," which would become the late night, early morning sing-along ballad. When you hear Per singing that, you knew everyone was drunk and having a good time wandering the streets/bars of Malmo.

So we arrived at the skatepark, I'd had little sleep, maybe 2.5 hours, because sleeping at the airport, worrying that you won't wake up and miss your flight, doesn't lead to a deep sleep. Upon arriving at the park, I was in awe, as this was one of the largest, and probably most creative parks I've ever skated. The sun was shining and it was hot in the notoriously cold Sweden, and within an hour, we were drinking boxed wine, a few Swedish beers, and getting a bit crazy. I met up with long time Swedish subscriber, Marcus Olsson, (aka Pissling or Swedish Bailey) and watched him draw smooth lines around the park he's been skating, and helping build for the last few months. I'm not really sure who all helped build the park, but let's just say I'm sure all the local rippers, Per, Marcus, John, etc. etc. had a good deal of input on the final lay out of the park. Kalle was busting rolling in lip slides on the THICK pool coping in the shallow end of the big bowl, and everyone else was working on their tricks in the new park. I was just getting warmed up, when I did a backside grind in the shallow end, and my front foot followed the board, and my backfoot didn't, resulting in the splits, and bashing the inside of my knee on the cement. I couldn't skate for a few hours, but after a little wine medicated pain killing, I was back skating the sick kidney pool before sunset. I took numerous slams, just getting a little grind in the deep end, and trying to learn the tight, and at the time, slippery walls of the pool. We later went down to the bars, and had a long, blurry night finally returning home in the wee hours of the morning.

The next morning I woke up and I couldn't move my leg. Sharp pains were shooting through my knee and I was panicking as I had no idea how bad my injury was the day before. I couldn't stand up or sit down without using my hands to lower me down. I spent the next day taking some photos at the park, and just drooling at all the people skating the insane park, while I could hardly squat down to take a photograph. Luckily for me, my injury rapidly healed so that I could skate two days later, at Steppenside, the park engineered by Pontus Alv (film maker "Strongest of the Strange" and also pro skater and photographer). Of course, everyone else helped build the park, so I'm not going to get into any disputes over whether it's Pontus's park or whatever, but many people helped construct this DIY hectically sketchy park in the middle of an abadoned lot in Malmo. The 'park' or cement structure, is super tight, bumpy, dusty, rocky, and almost impossible to skate. But watching Pontus and D-Boy skate the park I was impressed at the potential not scene at first glance. After trying to make it around the tight corner about 15 times only to fly onto my hip, I finally started getting the hang of it, and finding some grind lines! I was stoked, but unfortuantely due to shitty weather, and body pain, the rest of the week, I never made it back to skate or take more photos, and I tried to persuade Jimmy the Greek and Screech to have a session at Steppenside (because Pontus wanted to film them), but they were too burnt from skating, and drinking free Fosters in the VIP tent, and Screech not wanting to leave all the girls in the tent. So unfortunately, it never happened. It would have been sick...

Speaking of free Fosters, let's jump to the Quiksilver competition at 'the Valley'. No, first I must talk about the first weekend competition, the Globe Bowl Bash. The comp went down in the pool (unlike the Quiksilver competition that was held primarily in the rest of the park). Guys from all over Europe were ripping it up, with Mathias Nylen from Sweden finally taking first place, with Enrico Petralia (Sweden) and Seb Durel (Bordeaux) taking 2nd and 3rd. Front side blunts in the deepend, nose grinds, hi-speed smooth lines, and airs of all kinds were going down, and the weather held up just long enough for the competition to finish and the party went on throughout the night. Some serious slams went down in the heat of manic action, so the next day was a mellow day of cruising around, not heavy skating.

The next severals days before the Quiksilver competition we went to the indoor park, which has one really sick bowl with over vert, pool coping wall, and 3 other bowls with coping to rip around, as well as another large bowl, a street course, and a wide vert ramp. I was doing fine on the rest of the park, when Per told me to skate the vert ramp while he was eating his sandwich and wanted some entertainment. I should have had a sandwich too because I was dizzy from not having eaten enough. So I dropped in (no pads or my usual broken thumb/wrist guard) and a few backside kick turns later, not even quite grinding, I went into a four wheel slide down the ramp, which had me falling belly first onto the flat bottom, not being able to breathe and slightly spraining my right wrist. Ugh… We ate that night at Lilly’s Chinese food, which is really like the dirtbag skater hang out, with cheap Chinese food, and sometimes that week there were over 20 skaters in there filling their empty bellies before a large night out on the town at one of the numerous ‘after parties’ (which also had ‘after parties’) which were the norm all week.

The Quiksilver Bowl Riders competition arrived which much skepticity (oh, that’s not a word), as the weather was predicted to rain for 4 days in a row. There was talk of moving it to the indoor park, but that would have been a disaster, since it wouldn’t have been big enough for the 50 skaters + media + spectators that arrived for the event. Talk of putting up a tent to cover 'the Valley' for 500,000 euros was put to rest after realizing holes would have to be drilled in the park. Luck was on the side of Quiksilver and all the skaters, spectators, etc. who had come to Malmo to witness one of the best skate competitions of all time.

I’m not going to go into detail about the competition, you can read about that in Concusison or something, but Rune Glifburg (Denmark), Omar Hassan (USA), Daniel Cardone (from Italy), and a ton of local European rippers absolutely destroyed every inch of the park, with the hugest boned out airs, high speed everything, and technical tricks on large walls being carried out simultaneously, as 5 skaters would skate at the same time during parts of the heat. Total mayhem and very difficult to shoot photos of, focusing, following a certain skater, avoiding the other camera dudes, etc. But you can check out the photographs here:


What else went down? About 100 free Fosters beers as all the media and skaters had VIP passes to the Quiksilver tent where at 4pm each day, free Foster’s cans were waiting to be drunk, and get drunk they did, as did everyone else who had such luck as to have the free food and free beer wrist bands. From the tent it was to the after party’s, skate film premier’s (including Hosoi’s biography and a local Swedish skate film), bands (like stoner rock band Nebula), and your not so typical dance party, punk rock fest with Malmo’s Concrete SS. A funny story I'll end with is when Concrete SS were playing and Screetch (one of the most ripping pull skaters from So. California who was killing the pool to everyone's amazement) got too psycho smashing beer bottles all over the pit, and smashing into everything, including knocking me over into the speakers. The body guard grabbed him and was smashing his head on the table. The bodyguard stopped but Screetch kept head banging the table without his aid. The bouncer stood confused and didn't know wha to do. The same night my friend Linus from the bands Concrete SS and Disco Volante, who also played at the two skate competitions, spit on a cops back when they were taking away (for being too drunk) the one skater from Belgium who was in town. After the cop, he spit on the bouncer who has helping the cop. The bouncer caught onto it after Linus was narced on by some idiot who thought it was the right thing to do. The bouncer grabbed him by the throat, but being used to anarchist street protests, Linus knew how to get out of it. The bouncer chased him down the street and wanted to kill him so I followed. I pushed the bouncer off Linus, almost onto a parked car because I really thought he might totally pummel him, and next thing he had a 8 inch metal rod sticking in my chest.. I somehow got around him as he pursued Linus who just went home, and I snuck back into the club before anyone knew what happen.

The nights were chaos, but the drinks were expensive, and I spent all my money before I left Sweden. I literally had an extra $30 to spend in Dublin for the next 4 days. I could write another 10 pages about Sweden, but it’s probably time to wrap it up, but I am definitely going to return to Malmo, which is right on the beach, sometime before the snow falls again. It’s not the most beautiful city in Europe or Scandanavia, but it has tons of parks with geese and rivers and bridges that you can walk through at any time of the day to escape the small concrete jungle. I met some great friends in my ten days in Sweden, and it is true that Swedish girls are beautiful and interested to talk to you and wonder what you are doing in Malmo, Sweden.

Hopefully the competition will go down there next year (it has been in Marseille’s for the last 5 years or so), because I think it’s the perfect place for people to go visit for a week or two, skate the amazing park, hang out with the Swedish people, and just get wild and crazy… The Swede’s know how to party, maybe because it’s only sunny a few months of the year, so when the light is out, it’s on. – Check Concussion soon for some video footage of the skatepark. I'll also add some photos from Steppenside and the indoor park this week.