Empowering Skaters Through Education

Empowering Skaters Through Education

 

The Collegiate Skate Tour is truly making a difference

Every year, Collegiate Skate Tour Founder Keegan Guizard makes it out to New York City for one of four different events in the tour’s annual circuit. This year’s stop in Astoria, Queens was more inclement than expected, but served its purpose nonetheless: to encourage higher education for skateboarding youths.

Before the event, Guizard and I were able to chat before the rain to learn a bit more about how the tour started and where it is going. After a college career at North Carolina State, Guizard started a successful skateboarding club. It was praised for its support to the local community and Guizard sought to expand this positivity. As a result, the Collegiate Skate Tour was born as the first national contest circuit aimed at promoting college and skateboarding.

As an alumni himself and a full-time employee in the skateboarding industry, Guizard has seen that the opportunity for skateboarders to be successful in the professional workforce is present. With that end goal of success in mind, the Collegiate Skate Tour helps promote the idea that college is not only accessible but achievable. From there, the tour helps youths in pursuit of higher education realize the potential for college to propel and to conquer their life goals.

By the same token, Guizard is also aware of the financial hurdle posed by higher education and seeks to use the tour as an answer for that as well. Plans for the immediate future include a non-profit scholarship offered to dedicated, college-bound skateboarders.

 

Under an ominous looking sky, hundreds of skaters in both student and non student divisions descended upon a slick park to put on a show. With NYC local Billy Rohan on the mic, skaters hailing from Oakland University to UMass Amherst to all across New York, made the best of the wet conditions.

Over the course of the afternoon, skateboarding’s potential college proteges tore up several heats of jam sessions and a best trick contest, greeted in the end by product tosses and prize packages. On top of that, all left with the message that higher education is both attainable and achievable through skateboarding on the Collegiate Skate Tour.

 

A video recap of the event:

 Next up is Carlsbad on November 12

 

 

 

 

 

Philly Freestyle Championships

Philly Freestyle Championships

At a time in skateboarding when most people seem to be more frenzied about how our beloved lifestyle might be stripped from its counter-culture roots to become an Olympic spectacle, I took a two hour drive from North Jersey to South Philadelphia.

 

And on a crisp Saturday morning, I walked into a scene of people who seemed not to have a care in the world as to how the Olympic committee might interpret a kickflip differently from a 360 flip.

AJ Kohn with a truckstand.

 

Instead, a couple dozen skaters all of ages and backgrounds were already warming up and rehearsing runs they’d practiced well in advance for the day’s event. Here, there were no national anthems, no ten stairs and no sportscasters detailing what was going down. Instead, Philly’s own AJ Kohn was behind the mic, warning the participants that they had only 10 minutes left before the 7th Annual Philly Freestyle Championships kicked off.

 

 

As I grabbed a seat to watch the action unfold, I must admit that even with my board in hand, I felt like a bit of an outsider to this scene. As a street skater who rarely even looks at spots unless there’s at least a curb or a parking block, and as an Instagram user who’s become familiar with the coverage from today’s modern skateboarding contents, I was completely unprepared to the level of skill I was seeing before me.

 

Some skaters had their songs planned out while others focused on setting up multiple boards for Daffy Manuals in their runs. While some chose the more stationary approach for their hand plants and rail flips, some skaters made use of the whole basketball court we were on to blast into some screeching powerslides. For the next several hours, I watched skaters from novices to pros, who travelled in from Colorado, California and even from Sweden to skate the flatground at Rizzo Rink. A bunch of talented, dedicated individuals in their own world, doing their own thing. And killing it.

 

One handed, hand stand kickflp.

A personal favorite skater of mine was Tim Morris. A teacher by day who has been working his way back from a knee injury took the 40+ Masters division by storm. After an impressive display of sweeping manuals and caspers, Morris landed himself on top of the podium of the Masters with a couple of impressive runs. I spoke to him briefly afterwards and he expressed concern over his knee holding up before the contest’s 360 spin competition was set to take place. Evidently, the injury was a non-issue as Morris ended up the victor of that phase of the competition too.

Tim Morris. Teacher by day, freestyler by weekend.

I drove back to New Jersey later that weekend but kept my outsider’s take on this contest as a beacon of hope. A beacon of hope for the potential that skateboarding’s core shralpers can still provide to a world dominated by “9-Club” scores and Olympic hysteria.

 

Check out the video below:

  

Snapshop of an Event: Newquay-UK

Snapshop of an Event: Newquay-UK

It’s Saturday morning, 11.00 am, the morning after a Friday night out in the town celebrating the beginning of the weekend. Newquay is a town in Cornwall, England. This is the town where memories are made; the reckless ones, the wild ones, and the ones that leave you beaten and bruised by the power of the hill.

 

Gathered today at the bottom of our favorite hill, located just off the main street in town, are the fellow longboarders living amongst the concrete waves of Newquay. As hills go, the one looming over us could be described as more of a gentle bimble; lush terrain, a sloping decline leading into a sweeping car park, a hill accommodating for all abilities.

 

Newquay is simply an incredible venue to hold a skate event. The sun shines at least once in the 2 months of our ‘supposed’ summer and today, is the chosen day for some ‘half decent’ weather! With the lack of breeze, speed wobbles will be simply carried out without the wind helping to throw us aboard and thane lines appear easily with the heated concrete. Sweat builds and the heat of the event rises.

Newquay's very own Rocky Poole.

As we reach midday, the adrenalin begins to bubble and the rise of the longboarders slowly takes place. To my right, is one of my closest friends and to my left, is the designated camera man of the day, complete with bubble wrap from head to toe and a hip flask of JD to calm his nerves as he watches us zoom down the hill. He’s also got a helmet of his own to protect his livelihood from us fellow adrenalin junkies flying off our boards and straight at him. Dotted here and there, are the many skaters in their personal domains, giving themselves individual pep talks, some clutching their boards, most likely giving them a one to one, asking for their wood to look after them and some distracting themselves by laughing off the nerves in the pits of their stomachs, man’ing up nicely! 

 

With all the usual accompaniments that follow a downhill skating event; at least 30 cans of Monster Energy, 6 packs of cookies from the local Londis and various other necessities, we’re finally ready to begin the downhill spiral. Slide gloves, leathers and pads fitted securely, complete set ups at the ready, numerous skate tools lying at the side of the hill and spare wheels rolling around in the boots of cars. 

 

We’re ready.

Skaters are shredding in their very own individual way demonstrating their own styles. The down low, soulful, floor touching Zephyr wanna’be’s, the sketchy, quick speed freaks simply attacking the road and the calm collected, wary skaters obtaining levels of control as oppose to the few adrenalin junkies creating havoc on the hill. Ryan Beer, one of Newquay most talented boarders, begins to set the pace as his board violates the hill, speed ever increasing. Ryan throws in a stand up pendulum, thane lines appearing behind him, a trace of pure remaining stoke. ‘The outlines of adrenalin, the remainders of a successful shred!’ Shortly behind Ryan is Alf Underwood, another of Newquay’s talented downhill skaters.

Alf has his own unique style and his aggressive pumping and his striking skate stance sends him souring around the bottom corner, with an incorporated sit down slide to end his shred. Matt Houlton, fellow conformed short boarder to long boarder, a changed man as we say, tears up the tarmac shortly behind; leaving little, if any time at all for the camera man to switch from preview image, to take a shot. Matt simply cares about the road ahead, the free ride, the pure gnar and simply rides for the freedom. Matt skates a Hybrid board, combining short and long board into one. Matt adds a whole new element to the event.

 

All downhill events aren’t complete without their very own complimentary blood bath and you’re sure to leave with a few souvenirs! Plenty of scars, bruises and grazes left on your skin for you to brag about your battle damage to the ladies later on. Road rash smeared like crunchy peanut butter from head to toe, leathers holy and torn, wheels beginning to bite popped bearings and sweat dripping. It may all sound rather gory and unappetizing, yet that is what longboarding events are all about. They’re a breed of their own. They’re not glorified, they’re real! 

 

As the day sweeps subtly to an end, all skaters gather at the foot of the hill, some beaten and bruised by concrete kisses and some just so simply full of stoke, all memories of road rash are erased and replaced with pure gnar. The sun is slowly setting and the tummies of fellow tarmac temptress’s rumble, so it’s a call to the local pizza joint, order placed, beers chilling in the fridge and boards safely tucked away in the boots of our cars. 

We all know the drills, prizes are awarded and the trophies are handed out. Some more amusingly labeled than others and the faces of sweaty skaters show the pure enjoyment and adrenalin that was endured throughout the day. 

 

‘Until next time…’

 

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