Words and Photos: Tom Quigley
Making things happen in skateboarding can be tricky. Certainly, organising a skate trip abroad that is accessible for anyone, no matter their income or background, would prove near-impossible. So when not-for-profit community interest company Skate Nottingham managed to raise funds, kindly supported by Bryggeriet and Skate Malmö, to send 3 local skaters to compete in Skate Malmö Street 2018, it was a huge step for our local scene. Chris Lawton (co-founder of Skate Nottingham CIC) explains the aims of the organisation and the links they’re building between Nottingham and Malmö:
“Malmö's route to becoming a 'skate friendly city' was a combination of big events that put it on the international skateboarding map; a good relationship with its city council, great skate parks, a proactive skate organisation that sustains a community to keep those parks in use, a politically progressive city council, and a healthy grass-roots scene, with all-year-round activities, brands, businesses and projects. In Nottingham we have an amazing scene and heritage, and we've built the organisation - but we still lack a big outdoor park and don't have the friendliest political environment, which makes it difficult to conjure a big event out of thin air. So it was really important for us to do everything we could to get a team to Skate Malmö Street 2018 - as a kind of statement of intent.”
The qualifying competition happened at Nottingham’s award-winning King Edward skatepark, (the creation of which was another of Skate Nottingham’s recent achievements) where Kaii Gunn, Kevin Harris & Vic Camilleri all came out on top due to their different styles and tricks thrown down. Three weeks later they would be in Sweden, representing Nottingham, and backing up the UK presence over there as one of many crews from around the world to sign up to the three day, city-wide contest.
Day one, and we wasted no time getting to Malmö after our flight touched down in Copenhagen. The five mile bridge that joins the two cities was a strangely familiar welcome for those of us who’d never visited Malmö before (but had seen many an edit from older Notts crews), and likely an even more welcome sight for seasoned visitor Dan O’Neill, our filmmaker extraordinaire and unofficial Malmö guide. Getting out at Hyllie, we found ourselves a perfect warm-up spot to reassemble skateboards from the checked luggage and get the legs and shutter fingers moving, myself tagging along on the trip for the photo duties.
Vic Camilleri kicks things off with an awkward 5-0
The first day’s event was the open street session at Källan, which saw a variety of obstacles sessioned by all crews at once, with Polar Skate Co’s Pontus Alv testing the limits by mixing up the objects and seeing how big a gap could be tackled for the cash prizes dished out on the spot. This was followed up with the premiere of Polar’s new video We Blew It At Some Point, which was great to see on a big screen with all in attendance, even if we were a little distracted by Folkets park’s mini ramp.
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Day two was the big one – three different locations around the city, new skateable installations from three architects, and designated two hour slots to film an Instagram edit at each. The first, Alexis Sablone’s “Lady in the Square” was a lot of fun and added another dimension to what was clearly already a killer ledge spot.
Kevin Harris Frontside Rock and Rolls at Alexis Sablone's Lady in the Square while Vic Back Smiths...
The second was Rich Holland’s “We’re All Golden”, which was a firm favourite with our boys – the biggest wedge of golden metal presenting us on arrival a mysterious what’s been done/what can be done quality. The nose manual up and over was definitely an eye-opener from one of the other crews we sessioned with. Rich says of the sculptures: “The installations bring with them an opportunity to show a different perspective on how skateboarding can be represented within the public realm. These pieces of architecture, sculpture or 'urban sports equipment' blur the line on what these definitions are, in doing that it lets the objects be interpreted in many different ways by the users. They come alive with the imagination and creativity of the skaters who use them, giving a whole new positive dynamic to the city.”
Kaii Gunn kickflips while Kevin Harris unleashes the cannonball on Rich Holland's We're All Golden.
There was a great vibe throughout the day, travelling from spot to spot and seeing the other crews from around the world also moving around Malmö with the same freedom one can expect from such a progressive and skate-friendly city. Our final spot was the incredibly fun top floor of a car park, smooth enough to rival our English multi-story winter retreats, and made all the more creative with the various movable pieces of “Prototype 1” by Søren Enevoldsen.
Vic Polejams while Kevin Front 180s at Søren Enevoldsen's Prototype 1.
That night we even had an amazing vegan buffet put on by our hosts, which was a good chance to put our feet up and meet the legends themselves, Gustav Svanborg Edén, Nils Svensson & long-ago Nottingham resident Rich Holland. The work didn’t stop there though, as Dan had to race back across town to our bnb and put in a solid two hours editing of the day’s clips to get the videos up on Instagram for judging.
Dan O'Neill's edit from day two.
The third and final day of the weekend was the big jam at Svampen, where all crews sessioned together once again. As most teams continued stacking clips, we gradually recovered from the previous day’s skating and enjoyed the huge open space of that day’s locale. Watched often by the public, both on foot and on bike, it was a fine example of what can be done in an open public space with the right organisation. (Our Sneinton Market back home the obvious open space to potentially play host to similar events.)
Kaii Gunn, Varial Kickflip
Kevin Harris, Nollie Frontside Flip
Skate Malmö’s Gustav Svanborg Edén explains how “skate tourism” is now hugely beneficial for their city: “We have skaters and families move here permanently every year just to be part of what Malmö offers skaters. Students move here to go to the skate-school and people choose Malmö University for skating. Aside from that, skaters from all over the world make Malmö a prioritized stop on their travels around Europe, and Scandinavian skaters travel here all the time. Then we have the events that attract thousands of visitors every year, giving a substantial addition to the tourist economy as well. The story of Malmö as a skate city has become part of the Malmö brand, so to speak.”
Fully Committed Smith from Vic Camilleri at everyone's favourite.
With an extra day before heading home to our own skate city, we also got in a street mission or two to take in some more Swedish concrete, both professionally poured and DIY. In fact, the morning of our flight home proved to be no time to be packing up boards either, as Kaii seemingly found the energy for a giant glass drop in at the metro station entrance. Thanks for having us, Malmö; we’ll be back real soon. Come visit us in Nottingham in the meantime!
Dan and Kaii filming.
Kevin Harris Nosebonks
Kaii gets the last minute drop in!