On Saturday 23rd May, it was raining. It hadn’t been raining the day before; or really even the week before for that matter. Rain hadn’t been forecast and it hadn’t been cloudy but we all knew it was going to rain. Saturday 23rd May was the first UK freestyle Jam of the year at the Crackling – of course it was going to rain!
Having skated Tunbridge Wells with Tony Gale & Denham Hill and spending the night watching the 2004 UK Championships, debating the World Round Up results and some good old fashioned freestyle geekery, a short night’s sleep preceded the session. Thankfully, Tony knows how to make a mean cup of tea, so by midday we headed out to the event. Which was when the rain started.
Arriving at the event and joining up with James “Fairbro” Fairbrother, we preceded to amble over to the nearest covered spot and begin one of the slowest and most awkward freestyle sessions of my life. The ground wasn’t smooth and the area wasn’t big but this was a great way to ease us into the day.
The Crackling is traditionally a longboarding and slalom based event, so the addition of freestyle skateboarding was new for this year. Moreso than some street events the freestylers have crashed, the longboarders were very receptive to a spot of freestyle. There was one guy there, whose name I didn’t catch, who had some seriously impressive freestyle tricks – he even picked up one or two freestyle moves first try!
As the day went on, we were joined by Michael Erskine and Nathan Pseuzan. It was the first time I had skated with these guys, and I have to say they were both pretty fantastic skating companions! Michael has one of the finest one wheeled wheelies I’ve seen and Nathan can throw a mean crossfoot impossible – plus, the man really knows his fish, which is always good!
By this point, our small, dry spot was feeling a little smaller, so we were thankful when the sun emerged and began to dry everything up! Whilst the sun was busy doing it’s thing, we took a quick break from skating to check out the slide jam that the longboarders were holding on a nearby hill.
This was the first longboarding event I had attended and I was seriously impressed by the speed at which these guys throw themselves into stuff! There was a kid doing fakie 540 reverts down hill with some serious speed, another guy pushing some tweaked out nose wheelie slides and one insane guy who barrelled down a hill in the coffin position and launched himself over a kicker – a fine contender for “best bail” of the weekend.
Once everything was dry, a new, larger dry spot became available, so we headed over for a freestyle session with a little speed. As is the way with so many things, this new opportunity obviously invited an immediate problem. Not 5 minutes into the session, Tony Gale’s trick, to put is simply, just exploded for seemingly no reason; it took 3 guys to pull the remainder of his truck off the board!
The surface we found was smooth and on a slight incline, so it was a little harder skating one way than the other – but it was great fun for a few cheeky slides and wheelies the other way! With half an hour to go, I decided to pull out the camera and put together a clip for the day.
Denham Hill is an absolute machine, filming the majority of his part on his first try (360 flip crossfoot line, first time, ollie pogo, carousel out, first time. Insane), Tony won a battle with an awkward line challenge I set him (180 kickflip, fakie 360 “lazer” fingerflip), Fairbro and Michael nailed their tricks first try, so we even went back and filmed cleaner versions, I got a few of my goofy tricks in one line, which took ages so I cut it down in the end, and Nathan nearly smashed the camera right out of my hands in what has to be my favourite clip from the day.
Overall, it was great fun skating with the freestylers and longboarders – especially knowing that soon I’ll be heading over to Paderborn on an epic road trip with so many of them! Hopefully, freestyle will return to the Crackling later this year for another session – I may even have to get hold of one of those longboard thingys too!