The ULIMATE Report - Inlineskating at the YOU Messe Berlin 2008
Holy Shit! What a week, what a competition - 1000 & one story...
I'll start at the very beginning so whoever is not interested to read the whole story, read from Friday or Saturday onwards.
Monday It was already afternoon when the SAG-Building-Team arrived in Berlin Messe Hall 25 accompanied by two huge lorries each weighing 40 tonnes. Each one was stacked to the roof with half-pipe and street-park obstacles disjointed in funny looking component parts. Apace the (everybody's darling) forklift truck was started up and both lorries were unloaded. Because the day was still young and the team was in an incredibly good mood, the assembly of the street-park and half-pipe began immediately! One aimed to use the available time most efficiently, especially on the street course where some of the ramps were new and nobody could say how long it would take to assemble them.
Signed by the work... Mr. Herklotz
Also, the Team was split in two parts; one of them was setting up the vert ramp whilst the other assembled the street course. The vertramp-team was led for the very first time by Maestro Gianni (the erudite disciple of Master Magiera)! At about 10 p.m. the brave workmen decided to knock off work and return to the appartment to brace themselves in the for the next day - the great battle day!
Some kind of unexpected and weird aesthetic surprise awaited the group on arrival at the apartment... The former owner had decorated the flat in her own morbid taste. The walls were painted in strange colors like orange and green and some sort of artworks... when a photo was to be taken of this sight the camara just fucked up and point blank refused service :( The best thing to do was to go out for a meal in a, in comparison to the appartment, subtly and tasteful decorated Chinese restaurant - some isotonic refreshments were in order...
The rest of the evening passed blissfully by listening to the sounds of a 10 bucks/5 quid portable radio...
lost tension for a moment
Tuesday Fresh like morning dew the troops showed up at point eight o' clock in the morning - like some strange dream - at hall 25 of Messe Berlin just to do the impossible as well as working miracles! Heavy stuff was moved around as if by ghost hand, brown things changed to blue, and things which would not fit were forced to fit.
Split into two heroic battalions the vertramp and the street-park where set up at the same time on the concrete floor of hall 25. Incredibly by around midnight the majority of the work was done and both, the vert ramp as well as the street course, were mostly set up!
Throughout the day, destiny showed mercy and the brave brigade got a new, inhabitable appartment in place of that eye cancer causing one. It was a very big and nice flat in Keuzberg. So everybody was moving in a hurry by midnight from the first colored one into the new flat. This meant hauling heavy luggage to the third floor so on completion of this task a little party was in order... Tired but satisfied looking faces where mirorred in green, amber liquid containing glass receptacles....
Wednesday Since the majority of the work had been completed the day before, this morning was a splendit opportunity to dig all heads deep into pillows and to remain in this position until the sun had passed the zenit. Sod's law had it that a mobile phone brutally destroyed this excellent plan and a caller required attention at stupid-o'clock, meaning 09:00 hrs. Some responsible person even managed to answer the call which turned into a lengthy conversation about attaching advertising banners to the half-pipe. (Never leave sponsors waiting for you)! One after the other woke up and crawled out of bed and it was time to show up at Halle 25 to meet the demands of show business. There was plenty to do from wiping the half-pipe down and levelling to sticking all banners to the places they were supposed to be on, to meeting organizers to arranging the final check for Thursday and so on. Wednesday passed very quickly... Nevertheless a visit to a local skate park was in order in the evening. The rest of Wednesday was -yet again- a distinct lack of sleep and digestion of a large amount of consumed turkish cuisine.
Artworx in the Streetpark
Thursday The day of the final check. Anyone who has put together a skate park at the Messe Berlin kowns pretty well what this means. It basically means that a bunch of professional sticklers is checking that every part of the skate park is build according to rules and regulations. After some interesting experiences in the last couple of years there we were quite curious. At the same time we also were incredibly well prepared with stacks of relevant papers like building permissions, statically calculations and so on and gladly passed these on to the relevant stickler person. Apart from very few minor faults everything was fine. Then Paddy turned up to let a great Grindhouse-Logo appear on the wallride. Thanks, Paddy!! In the meantime there was a Berlin local volunteer session going down at the street course. Especially the small ledge, the Altobelli grind box and the Steffanelli low rail were hugely popular. At some point the 3 obstacles were placed behind each other and they attempted to grind all 3 in one go. Oh well, as long as kids play they are healthy and happy! The rest of Thursday was spent driving to and from the various Berlin airports to pick up guests from all over the world; the nordic group arrived at the Schoenefeld airport.... 9 Bulgarians arrived at Tegel airport and gradually more guests from all over Germany turned up to meet us. After they were assigned accomodation we all met up for some beverages and to catch up with whatever happened since we last met.
a part of the street course
Friday (start of the Messe - open practice day) Everyone was up early and piled into cars to get to the Messe at 09:00 hrs. 2 hours later we were still stuck in a traffic jam caused by a jackknifed lorry on the Berlin Stadtautobahn. We finally did arrive at the Messe where we were greeted by a cacophony of sounds of various types of music, voices, motors and skaters. The vert ramp was already busy as some of the amateurs had arrived very early to skate before everyone else showed up. Throughout the day it got so busy that we were wondering if we could do with a second vert ramp. At the street course there was also some sick skating going on. Dave Mutschall's back side royale to alley oop fishbrain on the wallride was amazing and so were the bios and spins over the funbox. The new rail (which originated from the now closed Skate Factory) was also hugely popular. Paule Schnorr's back side savannah was just sick! Even a few bikers had come and they were riding the course like there was no tomorrow. The Berliner Sprosse had fun doing flairs above the 2 meter high quarter. The people from Gibbon-Slackline had set up their slackline (for technical reasons unfortunately in a corner) and did their best to present their new sportsgear. There was plenty to see for the audience who loved every minute of it.
It took a little while for all skaters to accept the "No helmet - No skate" rule. But Thanks to Ronny & Andre this was no problem and everyone enjoyed their time.
The Messe got busier and busier throughout the day and the skating got better and better. Especially in the half-pipe the level of skating was astronomical; Jo Zenk and Dave Mutschall showed amazing spin 2 grind tricks and evil switch ups! But there were also loads of the 'classical' vert tricks to see. Everyone got used to the ramp with e.g. high aired alley oop McTwist (imported from Denmark) or rocket flatspins à la Bulgarie on the edge of the ramp! Everyone who knows this half-pipe is aware that this blue lady, "blue Mama", has some oddities, but this did not deter the skaters from enjoying this rare international gathering, pushing each other to the limit! Even our commentator Jojo Jacobi could be seen on skates! Jojo Jacobi showed that not only is he an amazing street/park skater, he skates vert, too! It was a pleasure to watch Mr. Winterclash cruising the "blue Mama" with tremendous flow and style! Later that day the last guests arrived.
Amazingly, all bar one expected skaters and judges had arrived and the day started with a kind of nervousness that is quite normal on competition days. The SAG orgateam (formally known as constructor, decorator and gofer team) took their place and the whole thing could begin.
The vert was packed with skaters to the point where closure could be considered but this did not deter some of the skaters to show a firework of the sickest tricks! In no time Sven Boekhorst showed the craziest switch-ups (e.g. topsoul 360 topsoul or back side royale to alley oop makio to topsoul) and together with the hight of his airs he showed that he had not only come to Berlin to party! Kevin Lopez could have taken the lights out with his rocket grab whilst Jo Zenk and others left their mark on the coping of the "blue Mama". The Bulgarians, especially Niki Najdenov & Pavel Mitrenga, stoked everyone with their McTwist900s and Mc1080s and it soon became clear that they were impossible to beat in this discipine. Unfortunately Kyril 'Fireball' Trajanov was not able to skate due to an injury he sustained during practice in Bulgaria. By last year Kiro had gained an incredible amount of confidence as well as style and his niveau rocketed. (EM Montana Edit)
The amateurs, too, were showing amazing progress! We did expect to see sick grinds and got them, but the spins (720s and high 360s and 540s) well above the coping made soon clear that in this competition there was plenty to see! The two female competitors (Assia Zaharieva D/BG, Hristiana Musafchieva BG) also showed that they could keep up with the demands of in this male dominated competition!
The Judges (René Hulgreen, Milan Schirowski, Bernhard Scheffold) had a very difficult job. Traditionally the SAG amateur competitions are open for everyone to enter and with that every level of vert skating could be seen; from the beginner who dared a first sit-in to a strong 'midfield' to skaters who could have easily skated in the pro competition not coming last! The run of the day was by Nikolai Borisov (BG) with his high airs and incredibly long grinds! Check the edit of the Amateur competition!
As soon as the amateur competition was finished the pros occupied the "blue Mama" for a warm up session. Once the competition started this ramp was, plainly speaking, rocked and Jojo commentating brought the huge amount of spectators to boiling point. The atmosphere was incredible!! The judges could hardly keep up with what was going down and the first run had real surprises in store! Some of the favourites unfortunately fell or made mistakes; others, like Jan Mertens and Felix Herklotz, owned the flow of ramp on this day. But the result of the first run for the German skaters (for the German Mastership) put Richy Sedlar, whose back-to-back tricks are impressive, in a good place. By the second run it soon became clear that this would be not change. Overall, Sven Boekhorst showed his usual confident skating, yet his tricks were not as spectacular as they were during practice. Nevertheless Sven Boekhorst made second place. Richy Sedlar came third overall and with that he won the German Mastership. Pavel Mitrenga (BG) (improved a lot) and Grindhouse team rider Kevin Lopez (Belgium) shared the fourth place. A big surprise was Niki Najdenov, who in the European Mastership held in Montana/Bulgaria came only in sixth place after Pavel Mitrenga. Niki showed what he is made of and deservedly won this competition. Another big surprise was Jan Mertens whose runs put him into second place in the German Mastership!
Once the competitions were over, the "blue Mama" was occupied by the skaters who believed they hadn't skated enough for the day - everyone else just grabbed a seat or sat on the red carpet in the rider area to have a chat, nationally and internationally, or just simply to catch up with sleep... Some daring plans were made to pass the evening in about every language going and once everyone knew what the plan for the evening was it was time to head back to quarters for a shower or bath.
Resonably recovered and rested one after the other arrived at the Skate park in Friedrichshain, where we all had arranged to meet. The group consisting of Norwegian, Belgians, Bavarians and Germans were on the way to enjoy Berlin's night life, when it was noted that the Bulgarian fraction was missing. Some expensive phone calls were in order in case they had got lost. This was not the case, the Bulgarians were still in their appartment and were too tired to travel all the way to Friedrichshain. A further phone call was made, here the exact words: "Hi, this is René Hulgreen, if you don't come, I gonna remember you as some ******** " (at this point the language turns into a rather colourful expression which would have labelled the Bulgarian fraction party-weaklings). This did the trick. In no time the Bulgarian fraction was on the S-Bahn to Friedrichshain to defend their party honour. The next thing that happened was slightly bizarre. Jan made a brief phone call to make sure the little private party was still going ahead, which it was. So some late night shopping was done and everyone (by now 30 vert skaters & friends) piled into a 2 room flat for some serious partying. The look on the hosts' faces on our arrival was well worth a picture! It was quite funny, but there was a distinct lack of space, so someone proposed to change the location of the party to a professional establishment. Our two hosts had planned to move the soulexplosion party to to a nightclub, (sorry, I forgot the name) so we all went there to heckle a group entrance fee and join everyone else in there. The rest of the party is left to anyone's imagination! Some partygoers left pretty early (at about 04:00 hrs), others stayed on. A nice time was had by all and no sooner had our heads hit the pillow the alarm clocks went off.
Sunday - SAG European Vert Challenge 2008 & RTS#6/2 Getting out of bed was a great challenge but with almost superhuman discipline and strength the full SAG-Orgateam met at 09:00 hrs at the vert ramp to be greeted by skaters who came early to use the "blue Mama" for a quiet skate. There was a buffet waiting for us (THANK YOU MARINA!!!! ) and everyone was talking about who might have won the competitions the day before, as well as how the European Vert Challenge 2008 would be.
When the winners and places for the competitions on Saturday were announced, there was plenty of cheering but also some disappointment as it is the case in about every competition. The prizes, sponsored by Grindhouse and Cottonclub-Berlin, were handed out according to place achieved in the competition and everyone prepared for the European Challenge.
One after the other the competitors started to arrive and at 13:30 hrs, later than planned, the European Challenge finally was on it's way. Traditionally the comp is open for entry for all international pros - it has all in all 15 spots and is filled up with the best German pros.
Again it was an amazing competition! If anyone thought that all skaters had spent their energy the day before they were in for a surprise! Kevin Lopez, the "Belgian eagle", spend his run achieving breathtaking heights and Sven Boekhorst proved that 2 consecutive days of competition are not a problem for him at all! Again, the surprise of the day was "made in Bulgaria". Pavel Mitrenga was seen shortly before the start of the competition wondering about in Friedrichshain, but this did not stop him from arriving in time and achieving second place in the European Challenge! "King-of-the-day" was, like the day before, the sunnyboy from Sofia, Nikolaj Najdenov! He made sure that no-one was going to beat him this weekend with his confident skating and height of airs as well as a series of back-to-back tricks!
As it is with everything, when it is nicest you got to stop and go. The event had to come to an end, everyone was in best of moods and it was time for a last group picture, as well as loads of hugs and promises to meet up as soon as possible again. What a great atmosphere - like an extended family although many people met there for the first time! Three days of skating together, three days of fun and celebration!
We would like to say THANK YOU to all who came to the event! Our drivers, helper, relatives, friends, photographers, judges....
Until next year when we meet again!
Nearly the complete clan on one rare pic...
We would also like to say THANK YOU especially to:
and all of the SAG-we-can-do-anything-team who weeks before the event started to put all the things together... as well as our friends and families without whose support this event would not have been possible!
Should I have forgotten anybody - sorry my age is of questionable value...
translated from the German report by Brigitte Schulze
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