Winterclash real quick with the homies

Annually, the city of Eindhoven has become the venue of what can only be described as the world's most important skate festival. Prior to this year, Winterclash had created then surpassed benchmarks of what a skate event could or should be. Winterclash being defined as a skate competition is way off.

There has always been a diverse representation of nationalities. Area 51 skatepark was outstanding in its colour and respect of the flags of the world. I was told that a record 47 nationalities are represented this year. The quality of venue, industry marketplace and bespoke skate obstacles have evolved through support from the wider community and careful planning of the event's organisers.

This year, the event has transcended these former benchmarks. What attendees expect is laid out for them, the excitement of the best riders in the world skating with each other and whoever is brave enough to drop in. There has also been an evolution in other aspects of the event. What has emerged is a space for the thoughtful and historically interested individual to thrive and interact more so than ever before. The hosted panel forums added depth and wisdom to an extraordinary schedule of skate events.

Night at the movies with Adam Johnson was a personal highlight. What an amazing idea, conducted by the charismatic AJ. Those lucky enough to have attended mingled and relaxed, not exactly sure how the evening would transpire. As Jojo introduced Adam, the grandeur of this special moment struck me. AJ described personal situations and insights to preface each ground breaking video section he created. This was a unique opportunity to truly understand the emotional and physical adversity, bravery and bond created in the production of these awe inspiring parts.

I found the reflections on Brandon Mateer and Yuri Zupancic injuries and the collective effect on his group to resonate deeply. Most of you can relate to injuries, but some injuries dramatically change the trajectory of a person’s life. That degree of severity is difficult to account for unless a personal connection exists or indeed you were there. The video tells some of the story. However, having AJ articulate these excruciating feelings added an intimate context of their relationships.

The reverberations of such experiences were certainly represented in AJs masterpiece ‘KFC: Members Only, Zombie Comatose’. Members of the group dramatized ‘the reanimated’ with face paint and gory flashbacks of the incidents that changed their worlds. AJ played the intro for us and also showed us a part of Brandon towards the end of the evening.

The conversations that occurred before and after this incredible presentation respected the occasion. Interactions were immediately dealing with a flood of reflections and foresight. There was a palpable energy in the room which was consistent with the spirit of the event as a whole. This particular event has paved the way for a more sophisticated approach in exploring the story telling prevalent in the skate video.

Well done, amazing.

The skating throughout the weekend was outstanding. Eindhoven has amazing street spots which were difficult to pass up. Some respite from the skate park scenario is always welcomed. It was like the whole city was the premise for the festival with each situation allowing for anticipation or reflection.

Seeing the younger & female skaters excel gives rise to a hopeful future. Watching the homies kill in the Am and Pro events snowballed into the expected fever pitch. As you all have probably seen, the big tricks were to entertain and accentuate the standing of that skater in the competition. What was also on display was the true expression of these high level athletes. In the immediate moments following a ‘big trick’ the attitude of the rider always interests me.

Soichiro tends to combine a pinpoint accurate approach with an attitude that you

root for. He dismantled the big box. As he withdrew from his final trick he gracefully accepted the adulation, with arms extended prompting the crowd to further celebration of this amazing skater. It was those moments of character and expression that remain strong in my memory. I enjoyed watching others cruise too.

Robbie Pitts brought his unique and vibrant aesthetic to the set obstacles of the park. He expressed his techniques and embodied a softer and fun approach to a hectic and at times dangerous environment.

Martin Danning has clearly grown in stature and personality. He won the Am context and received the honour admirably. His skating was of such high energy and amplitude, cruising the bowl and park with fluidity and consistency. He is now an undeniable force in the skate world and has ‘come of age’. Very exciting to see the fruition of a young man who has been metamorphosing mostly via social media platforms.

‘The state of skating’ was one of the panel discussions which I wasn’t able to view. Often the view that skating is ‘dying’ or ‘skating needs…’ are popular themes of posts or conversation online. The feeling at this year’s event is contradictory to this view. Real legends of our culture were present,

Arlo Eisenberg with his daughter and Jon Julio, with his family, presenting his new boot brand to the world.

There was a buzz surrounding the emergence of some other skate companies that had previously expired. It seems as though Winterclash breathes life into the skate culture as a whole. The event can only be successful on the proviso that each person goes out into the world and explores skating in their respective environments. Importantly, each person’s responsibility is also to support the integrity of the industry in whichever way they can.

One of the lasting rewards of journeying to this event is always the impression left by a number of intense and meaningful discussions in conjunction with a healthy session here or there. The impression left from this year has been overwhelming. My hope is that the 2018 resurgence reveals the return of Summerclash.

In sharp contrast, we all returned home to the devastating news of the passing of Keaton Newsom. Shocking and sobering news. It is so difficult to compromise between the sense of hope and positive energy tangible at Winterclash and the suicide of a respected and loved member of our community. Listening to each other with open hearts and minds & honestly expressing ourselves in whatever situation we are in might help in the depth of terror and sadness. Using these strategies may also help in the longevity and health of the artform we are so invested in.

Keaton cared about skating to no end, that was clear. RIP Keaton Newson.

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