Blader Digest: Orange Is The New Black

Last weekend was the third installment of The Blading Cup. It was, as it always has been, a damn good time filled with tons of homies, beer, days in the sun, and nights spent running around the east end of downtown Santa Ana, Calif.

You might have heard about it if you read the article in the Orange County Register, or at least saw the 2013’s champion Alex Broskow on the cover above the masthead.

This isn’t that story, especially since this one has all these badass photos from bladie Megan Petersen. This is a potentially libelous rehash of the weekend based solely on my memory, which may have been heavily influenced by legally controlled substances.

We left Oakland after work hours Wednesday. Our four-man team—Omar Ontiveros, Cameron Talbott, our brother in NATO Kevin Polaczek, and myself—arrived when the other residents of Hotel Julio were asleep. Jason Reyna greeted us and told us to make ourselves comfortable on the concrete floor.

We came to join our fellow orange-shirted crew members and build a Day of the Dead street course—complete with chainsaw, casket, and other deadly things—in two days and tear it down in one. In that time, we made it possible and had a blast doing it.

John Bolino fucks with acids.

Those helping to build varies slightly each year, but since my first experience, guys like Reyna, Damien Wilson, Nick Wood, Erik Sauer, Jose Fuentes, Chris Bjerre, Miguel Ramos, and others only keep getting better at what they do well. New talent like Cameron, Kevin, Steve Steinmetz, and anyone who turned a loose screw is always appreciated and fun to have around.

Kevin ended up being the man, no matter how many times anyone referred to him simply as “German” or worse.

Time to put some shit together

Baddest dude on the planet, Miguel Ramos

Fester brothers Wilson and Wood brought Neighbor Dan and Dave, two rad dudes, to help with everything, including a rail to wallride to rail transfer seen properly shredded in this edit from ONE Magazine:

Watching the contest from behind one of the rails provided the best view, but when Demetrious George is jumping with his skates pointed towards your temple, well, you tend to flinch every time because in the innate flight-or-fight response, it’s probably best to get out of his way.

But Fester Wheel’s latest invention—a casket shaped rail box, complete with built-in smoke machine—was truly the piece of art.

J. Bah smoking through.

Building Thursday and Friday, was a blur of sheets of plywood, two-by-fours, trips to Home Depot, dead batteries, sampling a level of contempt some locals have for sweaty skater gringos, light beer (because, as Damien says, drinking heavy stuff will make you useless at a certain point), nail guns, course reconceptualizations, running into Sneaky at Tim Franken’s to pick up the box…

Farm coming up.

…and an awkward introduction to Chris Farmer provided by me and some of Neighbor Dave’s baked goods. Thankfully, Dan didn’t tell Kevin there was anything special about the cookies, so he doesn’t remember me putting him on the spot. Thanks for that hell of a time, Dan and Neighbor Dave.

Festerville, featuring the Woodster, Dan, Damien, and company.

Time to Blade Something

The contest was sick as it ever was because the course and the skaters were. All sorts of different skaters from all sorts of different places found all sorts of different tricks to do, including the guy whose direction in ramp building should never be questioned, Woodward West’s own Miguel Ramos…

The Puerto Rican Salute

…or guys from Japan…

Box art by Chuck Caution. Skate art by Itchy.

…or men without countries…

Richie Eisler has rubber knees

…and bladies who earn money.

The best introduction to any run was Howie Bennett with his logic-defying gap from the launch to back transfer. The best exit from the course easily goes to John Bolino for backsliding the parking sign via the quarter pipe.

"Fuck your sign. I'm out."

‘The Pride of Wisconsin’

One of my favorite parts of the Blading Cup is the am contest. Last years’ finals involved an on-fire Kevin Yee, Michael Garlinghouse, Gav Drumm, and Mike Froemling. Each of them hungrily fought for a chance to advance.

This photo is by Steve Steinmetz because Steve does lots of shit.

This year, Froemling returned to win the am contest and skated hard into the pros.

Sure, Wisconsin is proud of their Packers, but they should really be proud of Froemling. Dude kills it, and I’m sure he’ll easily go down as the best blader to come out of the Dairy State. I, personally, love the shit out of the guy because like all good ams competing in the first round of the pros with two heats in, he can shred hard with the endurance of a marathon runner.

The Guys Whose Names Are On Your Stuff

The pro contest was as great as you could expect and will see as all the edits come out.

It was a course with enough difficult elements to test the toughness of the skaters, while still providing some staples to allow for showmanship and diversity. The contest only proves the level of creativity and athletic talent of some of the best in our sport is one that can easily rival others in the same arena.

The Blading Cup course is one built for bladers by bladers and it shows in it’s best form: the pro finals. I don’t have an extensive vocabulary enough to describe it adequately, so I’ll just say some applauded in praise while others reacted with eyes filled with disbelief…

These contests, these events, those Meat Ups, these are what this is all about. It’s the chance for old and new friends who choose to be together to collectively assemble something that will continually shape our lives and possibly get a clip or two in the process.

Guerrero, Bailey, Eisler, Kanashima, and Spizer all in one photo. Talk about some blade progression.

Let’s Keep the Party Going

For me, the Blading Cup is like being a roadie for the Stones, Black Sabbath, Snoop, and Dre on the same tour, but still getting the best seats in the house.

Kennan Scott likes to talk about rollerblading a lot.

I can mush on for pages and pages, but weekends like the Blading Cup, Bitter Cold (R.I.P.), the River Ruble, video premieres, and so on and so forth, are about getting away from these stupid glowing screens that occupy our lives to carrying on with something that will always our hearts.

Spiritual adviser to the gods, Rob G.

That, mother fuckers, is rollerblading, and the Blading Cup is a prime example of all that’s right in the world.

At least for this greying-bearded guy who grew up in a small town idolizing guys like Jon Julio who now enjoys smelling up his loft while helping the guy put on a fun weekend for a few hundred bladers. Thanks for everything, Papa Jon.

It's not the end of the day. It's the beginning of another night you'll barely remember.

If anything the Blading Cup affords me another opportunity to act like a big dumb idiot—just like I was when I started skating—by being a part of something better than anything else I know in life.

See you all next year. Bring a screwdriver, just in case.

Blade or Die,

— Brian Krans

P.S.—I want to write about rollerblading more often, but I have to pay my bills. If you need something to read, check out my last two novels on Big Cartel and be on the lookout for my next one in May.

One Comment

  • Inspiring read and fantastic imagery guys!! Petersen and Krans make for a fine team indeed … heh … first thing I’ve read in whole in a while.

    Really made me feel like I got to experience a part of what I missed in not being able to make it out this year, and in the way that I would have wanted to experience it … so, thanks so much for that!

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