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Herbert’s Dilemma

Herbert ‘The Hips’ was king of the surf. Instead of smelling breakfast in the morning, he could smell swells. No wave too big, no reef too sharp, and no curl too curly. But alas, here lay the problem. For Herbert was a man of world, he had conquered all there was to conquer, a new challenge was needed.

Late one Tuesday evening, after a hard fought victory in their regional darts league, discerning Herbert, hunched over a packet of pork scratchings, aired his grievance to team mates, Ollie and Fred “the Shred”.

“It’s lost the buzz, I need something new.”

“Yeah cus, I feel the same way too” pitched in Ollie, a master of the half pipe.

“Ok, but what we gonna do? I love snowboarding. Hey, let’s start an ATB crew!” shouted Fred. Spilling his pint of Admirals in the process.

And the rest, as we can all imagine, was history.

But what was the moral of the story? Is it that pork scratchings are not only a great pub snack, but also a catalyst to enlightenment? Or is the real story, the fact that All Terrain Boarding (ATB), is a sport that combines aspects of different extreme sports to create a unique alternative to its more fashionable siblings. Throw in the ability to ride a variety of terrain, and ATB becomes unlike other board sports.

Photo from: woodiewright.co.uk

Once a rider pads up (always pad up, kids!), said rider must strap feet into bindings, align board in direction of bottom of hill, and let gradient work its gravitational magic. With wheels that can be as large as 13”, an all terrain board is better than a Sherman Tank, for traversing foreign grounds. They are so popular in fact that a National Governing Body was created, otherwise known as the ATBA-UK.

The ATBA-UK was formed to represent and promote mountain-boarding in the UK. As an association, they source funding for issues such as riders safety and training, as well as running competitions and events. One of these performances just so happens to be at X in the City, where we’ll be having demonstrations from the ATBA boarders, and giving you plenty of time to “have-a-go” yourself.

So pad up, strap in, and roll on!

For more information on ATB, and ways in which you can help ATBA-UK as a  volunteer visit http://www.atbauk.org/.

Disclaimer: All characters and events in this blog—even those based on real people—are entirely fictional.

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Who loves Freestyle skaters? We love Freestyle skaters!

I used to think that inline skates were a vindictive present bought for kids by their unwitting parents. Wheeled contraptions, designed to excite young minds, that for some, brought no joy, but only pain. This perception, in hindsight, was probably biased against the sport, and my parents, as I now believe my total lack of balance was key to my downfall(s). Fragments of skin would have marked my trail had I not spent time fastening my knee, wrist and elbow straps, followed by covering my crown with a battered helmet. By the end, my layers of padding had seen more action than John Terry’s PR team. But that is in the past, and I am now ready to move, somewhat hesitantly, onwards.

The UKFSA (UK Freestyle Skate Association) is the “governing body for freestyle skating sports in the UK”. Part of their mandate includes promoting and providing funding for freestyle skating within the UK. X in the City will provide a great platform for the UKFSA, allowing them to demonstrate their skills and encourage others to join in. The website www.sportsdefinitions.com, gives 46 different terms involved in freestyle skating, which is 45 more than I had. The only term I knew was “ouch!!”. However, “swizzling”, “rockering”, and “spacer” sound more like terms used at a 1970’s Woodstock festival, than at a blading competition.

YouTube videos see contestants dancing through a slalom of miniature cones, in what could be confused with a animalistic mating ritual. However, a combination of spatial awareness, agility and co-ordination make for quite a spectacle, and therefore the UKFSA can expect a lot of attention come October, when X in the City gets rolling.

Below are a few links to my favourite inline skate videos:

Check out “Asia’s number one” Kim Sun Jin (the bloke), weave his madness into our minds and through the cones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYNyaqZ9F2w

Footage from the 1st World Freestyle Skating Championships in Milan. Some great spaghetti leg action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lE4BRPqninM&feature=related

A man “dancing” over a pack of fags without touching them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwkG1QjIWgI&feature=fvw

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So here we are… first blog of the week. I thought this time I should set myself a challenge…an assessment if you will. With the help of a short brainstorming session, a few spider diagrams, and the inability to fall asleep before midnight, I devised a task that would not only be relevant in some part to extreme sports, but would also test my eye for a good photograph. And so, the “Fifteen Minute Photo Forage” was born and the umbilical cord cut.

My task, if I chose to actually bother with it, was to trawl the 49,261,052 (vaguely accurate at time of writing) websites on the internet, in order to find the 3 best skateboarding photos out there. And as the name says I only had 15 minutes to do this in.

Immediately doubt entered my mind. I don’t know much about skateboarding, do I? Where will the best photos be? 49,261,052, that’s a big number isn’t it? Shall I look for renowned photographers, or shall I look for renowned skateboarders? Will my kitchen tap stop making that really high pitched noise so I can concentrate? Do I have a stopwatch?

I decide to put these worries to the back of my mind. I eventually find a stopwatch above the oven and set it to 15 minutes. I fire up the internet before starting the watch. The challenge should be testing me, not my computers constant failure to respond to simple on/off instructions.

I start the “Fifteen Minute Photo Forage”. The following 15 minutes went something like this:

0 mins 26 secs: Homepage is set to BBC Sport: read about Henry escaping punishment for his handball. Think situation is ridiculous. Remember what I’m supposed to be doing.

0 mins 33 secs: Type in ‘cool skateboard photography’ to Google search. Click on first link I see: http://thehotcrew.com/2006/09/19/the-100-best-skate-photos-on-flickr/ It shows the best skateboard photos on Flickr! My hunt gets off to a good start as I find loads of cool pictures of skateboarders in mid-air. But, like Catherine Zeta-Jones I could do better, alot lot lot better!

1 min 58 secs: Nearly at the 2 minute mark. Go back to Google search. Click on surfdoggy.com, not sure what to expect. I could be moments away from pictures of a doggy doing human things on a surfboard, or humans doing doggy things on a surfboard. Turns out to be some crappy clipart photos of surfboards.

2 min 38secs: I refine my search to “skateboard pictures”. This proves to be key in my search as straight away I am directed to Matt Price’s skateboard gallery at http://theskateboardmag.com/articles/fresh-crops-matt-price/ . I rifle through the pictures and stumble across one that catches my eye. A black and white photo of Ethan Fowler grinding down a hand rail. He’s got long hair and a beard.  I like this guys’ style, he joins my shortlist.

4 mins 22secs: The clock is ticking. The noise from the kitchen tap stops. I however continue…

4 mins 24secs: The word ‘artsy’ is added to my search. I need something with a bit more class. I quickly find a link to the photos at http://www.ascartel.com/interviews/71-antton-miettinen-professional-skateboard-photographer , and rummage through Antton Miettinen’s galleries in pursuit of my favourite. I find a photo of a guy flying through the air. Another black and white, I admit. But this is a great photo showing  that cool stuff happens anywhere, anytime. Fact.

9 mins 43secs: The last search was undoubtedly a lengthy one, and time is slipping through my hands. I replace ‘artsy’ with ‘sexy’.

10 mins 05 secs: It takes too long filtering out the ‘inappropriate’ sites to make this search worthwhile. ‘Sexy’ is replaced with ‘cool’. Realise I have already searched this. Again I click on the top of the list because it must be the coolest, right? I am taken to www.snorad.com. This is decidedly uncool. I am annoyed, Google has deceived me.

11 mins 23 secs: My computer is slow to get back to the previous page. More time wasted

11 mins 51 secs: I am now using Ask.com as a search engine. Surely Jeeves won’t try to fool me. The search is repeated: ‘cool skateboard pictures’. And low and behold, Jeeves comes up trumps! I am inundated with possibilities. I choose http://www.briancaissie.com/, a gallery compiled by Brian Caissie, showcasing his photography. He’s a professional skateboard photographer, and a good one to boot. Again a quick search of his albums leaves me astounded, and personally I think I have a winner: the guy in a red jumper doing an ollie with a fag in his hand (5th photo along – Wade Desarmo). I’m surprised this is my favourite because usually black and photography gets the nod. But it is deserving of my award because, just like X in the City, the extreme sport is being transferred into an alien, urban environment, but still retains the essence of its art and purpose.

14 mins 37 secs: Feel happy. Foraged for 3 photos in fifteen minutes. Job complete.

14 mins 40 secs: Tap starts crying again. Feel unhappy.

So, you may ask what I’ve actually learnt from this. And in truth, the answer is ‘very little’. I have however helped share some skateboard photos (of varying quality, I admit), as well as finishing a challenge for the first time since the last time.

Can you do better?

'Wade Desarmo by Brian Caissie

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What is X in the City?

X in the City is an entirely new way to experience extreme, urban and adrenaline sports. Part stunning spectacle, part hands on experience, XTC brings an adrenaline rush to the heart of the city.

See the professionals in action, get hands on with cool new kit, discover the latest sports and learn “how to” from the masters.

Held in London’s state of the art ExCeL centre it’s totally weather proof, with docks for watersports, outdoor trial areas, demo theatres, 200 exhibitors of the latest gear, a retail zone and “taster” sessions and the amazing centre piece Theatre of Xtremes.

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