Arriving early at the event, the media team and professional product blagger Matt Cheeseworth sought last minute sponsors for the event, sourcing dozens of shirts, some boards, shoes and literally thousands of stickers to go towards the event’s worthy winners. A highlight of the morning was sneaking away to meet with World Cup Skate announcer Dave Duncan, who was hyped to be interviewed and was happy to share his support for the growing freestyle scene.
Back at the event, a crowd started to gather as the amateur practice got underway. Having been to NASS for the freestyle event for several years now, it’s clear to see how freestyle has progressed, as we attracted the largest audience I had seen in several years. With the crowd gathered and the riders on site, the amateur contest began.
Skating first in a contest is never easy, so this year I was super glad that it was my turn to do it. It’s hard to describe the feeling you experience when you step out in front of all those people, run in mind, somewhat afraid and very excited. My two minute run felt like it flew by, and with that, I sat back and prepared myself to enjoy the rest of the contest!
Bob Renner was up next, turning up early on the day, joining the contest as a last minute entry and skating on Simon Mrozinski’s board. I’ve always been hyped on Bob’s skating and it was great to see someone skating with such love for the sport. Following Bob, it was the turn of the 2013 Paderborn Amateur Freestyle Champion and a new force to be reckoned with: Felix Jonnson. Felix put down an almost perfect run, really exciting the growing crowd.
Next up was the rider who had travelled the furthest to be there and was also the youngest rider to compete. The incredible Mirei Tsuchida from Japan put together a stylish flowing run with a healthy mix of tricks. In interviews after the contest, Mirei was often referred to as one of the favourite riders to watch, taking the event by storm. Next up was crowd pleaser and rider favourite Marius Constantin. Having followed Marius’ skating for some time now, it was incredible to see how he had progressed to reach this run today. He blew the crowd away with his flawless footwork and incredible coco wheelies. Rounding off the Amateur event was UK rider Matt Cheeseworth who landed far too many contest NBDs to keep count! Hardflip crossfoot, tripleflips and toeflips to one foot rail to name but a few!
Another set of runs later and the amateur contest was done. The pro practice got underway and it was very interesting to see the mentality of the professionals in action. The practice session highlighted their absolute focus and dedication to the sport. Running through entire runs, hammering through trick after trick over and over until they got it just right. Even at this stage, I was immensely glad I was not one of the event’s judges!
Kicking off the Pro competition was UK Freestyler and LateTricks favourite John Hanson, skating on an arnkle deformed almost beyond recognition from hours and hours of skating over the weekend. In spite of this, John held nothing back, throwing down some incredible tech trickery with his unique blend of traditional freestyle and modern streetstyle flatland. Following John was Albert Kuncz, a freestyler I’ve seen rise from an amateur to a top pro with such a unique style of freestyle tech it was a true marvel to see him skate. Flawless railflips and fingerflips to rail, spinning, linking everything together beautifully, Albert was truly incredible to watch.
Running one of the most exciting teams in freestyle right now clearly isn’t enough for Christian Heise, who stepped up to the pro comp and laid down an almost flawless run: A clean, crisp style, linked beautifully together incorporating classic wheelies and footwork with his continually developing technical tricks. Stefan “Lillis” Akesson was the next rider up, exciting the crowd with his vast array of wheelie variations, rolling and stationary flatland tricks, with flawless spacewalks and a great handstand variation.
After winning the 2013 World Round Up in Cloverdale, Gunter Mokulys was always going to be one of the riders to watch. A dominating force in freestyle for decades, Gunter has continued to develop his run, adding more and more, year after year. Fakie tucknee nose wheelie? Are you kidding?!
The final run from the pros came from the current World Champion, Sebastian Heupel, fresh from his success a week earlier at the Paderborn contest. Hammering through trick after trick, Sebastian amazed the crowd with his lightning quick run executed with deadly precision. Sebastian’s skating has continued to amaze crowds for years, and with his performance here, I feel comfortable saying Sebastian is well on his way to cementing his place in freestyle history as a true legend of the sport.
Six more incredible runs from the professionals later the contest came to a close. Time passed as the riders waiting anxiously to see where they had placed. In the meantime, the Game of Skate contest got underway, albeit greatly hampered by difficulties with transport leaving half of the competition stranded in the Midlands! In an exciting final between Adam Keats and Nathan Gathercole, Adam threw down some unbelievable tech and snatched the win. If I recall the winning trick was a nollie half heelflip half late flip. Who can do that on demand?!
The results came in, and it emerged that Sebastian had snatched the win from Gunter in an incredibly tight contest, with Christian Heise taking third. Felix took the win in the amateur category, followed closely by the incredible efforts of Marius Constantin and Mirei Tsuchida.
And with that, the World Championships drew to a close. It had been a long and difficult journey to get to this point, but I had enjoyed every second of it!
I just wanted to say a massive thank you to Matt Smithies, Darran Nolan and Callum Bowran for their efforts ensuring the event went ahead as smoothly as possible. The event wouldn’t have been nearly as fun or successful had it not been for the efforts of the Media Team of Chris Garnham, Adam Laker and Edward Kowal, who helped source so many sponsors for event and established great links with so many companies.
A huge thanks goes out to all our sponsors too, for their love and support of freestyle, along with all the gear they gave us to help out. Check out the Sponsors page and make sure to visit their sites’, knowing that you are supporting companies that believe in freestyle.
And finally, I wanted to thank you, the readers, for checking back with the event and for watching over the videos we’ve put out. I hope you’ve all enjoyed what we’ve put together, and we’ll see you down the next year for NASS 2014!