Featured rider: Arjan Koek

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Enjoy this chat we had with legendary Dutch skater – Koek earlier in the summer. He tells us about the scene in his country, his DH group, his crazy cats and BRULLEN.
Hoi Koek, how are you?
Good, except I’m sitting behind a computer and not skating.

Where are you from?
I am from Den Haag in the Netherlands (a very flat country).

What’s it like in Den Haag?
Den Haag is a great place for longboarding. There is a big board sport culture here because of the surf scene and there are a lot of stoked longboarders to skate with. We even have a local mini downhill where we play around. We go skating at least once a week on Thursday nights at Spui square in the centre.
We never miss a week, rain or shine. If its a sunny summer day 40/50 people will come out to skate. Even when its freezing 10 people will be there to skate with you. To give you an idea about the scene in Den Haag, we have a Facebook group with more than 500 people from the area. Having one of Europe’s biggest longboard stores around the corner helps.
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Are you a surfer?
No! Haha I will never do a sport that has a shit alarm. But seriously I would love to start surfing and snowboarding and wakeboarding, but that would mean less downhill so, no.

Shit alarm?
Haha don’t know if it’s something Dutch or even local, but here in Scheveningen somthimes with certain currents the sewer will flow to the surf area, surfing between floaters.

When did you start skating?
I started skateboarding around the age of 10 and played around with other stuff too like inlineskates, BMX but skateboarding was what I liked best.
When I was 16, I didn’t skate that much and bought my first longboard just to cruise around. After a while, I started skating in the skate parks again but now on a 120 cm kick tail deck.
I loved it. I am quite tall, 202 cm and this was way better than a small skateboard. I also discovered long distance skating and dancing. Holland is perfect for that. After that I got in to downhill which is what I really love.

Christoph Batt wants to know if you are the tallest skater in Europe?
I hope so. Wouldn’t wish this length to any downhiller. Skinny and tall ain’t perfect for speed. I hate short, fat, fast people haha.
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Isn’t skinny more aero?
I am a feather (tall and skinny), you a rock (small and heavy) drop us at the same time and observe.

Just eat a lot of bacon for 3 days up to the race and take some Loperamide. Thank me later!
Haha I like the bacon part tho.

What was your first skate love?
Skateboarding in general. I love to do it all. Long distance, slalom, skate park, dancing, downhill, anything!

Did you go on many distance adventures back in the day?
I rode with a group of friends doing a lot of long distace training, 100km rides were normal at one point. We skated things like; Antwepren – Amsterdam 171km in 24 hours, we also did Paris – Amsterdam in 2006, that was 608km in 7 days. One of the things we loved doing most was taking the last train somewhere and finding our way back skating trough the night. Those were awesome trips and memories.
Personally I also set my best record during an ultraskate – 270km in 24 hours.

You did all that just for ‘’fun’’?
Isn’t all skating just for fun?
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Is there a point around 500km of pushing where your body stops having fun?
My body stops having fun long before 500km. For me LDP is 10% being fit and 90% being stupid. I just empty my mind and go into stupid mode aka the zone.

Are there a lot of pushers in Holland?
There are many pushers/pumpers in Holland. This country is perfect for long distance. The roads are great, there are almost no hills. There are bicycle paths everywhere and I think it’s impossible to get lost here in Holland with all the road signs.
We also have an ultra skate every year and the dutch pushers/pumpers do very well on the ultraskate list.
http://home.comcast.net/~pavedwave/rankings.html

Currently I am number 24 but I started as number 8. Don’t think I will top 270 any time soon (ultraskating is painfull). Holland is just perfect for longdistance and dancing, too bad it’s not perfect for downhill.

What’s the hardest thing about pushing so far?
Having one giant left calf.

Goofy or die!
YES! Of old age. I love riding with regular people.
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How can you downhill in the flattest country in Europe?
Haha I know it sucks but we make do with what we have. We have a number of small hills where we can practice sliding. And there are some hills that can be really fun when you’re just starting to get into downhill.
If you want to go faster than 60 km/h or want to ride something longer than a few hundred meters you’re screwed. We have to go outside the country to Belgium or Germany. Most of the time we travel 600+ km for a day of skating.
The Dutch DH scene is so stoked we can have fun anywhere. We have a small hill in the dunes at Scheveningen (the coastal part of Den Haag) called zwarte pad. It’s a small slow hill but if you skate there with some of the local riders in a pack pushing and pulling its tons of fun.

When did you first go fast?
On a hill all downhillers in Holland know. It’s the fastest spot you can ride pretty safe, no hard corners, some bikes and wild horses and almost no cars. If you tuck, there’s a steep part where you reach 60km/h. This was around the time I was training for my trip from Paris to Amsterdam so somewhere around 2004/2005. First time doing something more serious would be at the Kurescek cup in Slovenia in 2011.

Who else was riding longboards when you started?
Nobody, well not in my area! So I got a lot of friends into it.

When did other people start longboarding?
It’s been growing slowly, but I think it started exploding in the last three years.
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Is there a big dutch downhill gang?
Its pretty big. Most of the Dutch downhillers went to Wallonhill, around 50 people. It was awesome.

Was that the first time you skated outside the country?
Kurescek cup you mean? Not the first. I’d skated some hills in Belgium before that and some random steep downhills in France during Paris-Amsterdam. But Kurescek was my first freeride/race.

What was it like?
Mega awesome! I found out I knew nothing about downhill. I was flying out of corners left and right, having the time of my life. This is  my love for downhill started.
The Slovenian scene and roads are awesome, can’t wait to go back to KnK longboard camp for the third time. One of the best freerides I’ve attended.

Have you kept in touch with your slovenian friends?
Yes I try to see them once a year. as a bonus I get to ride 17 hairpins all week!

How has skating changed your life?
Skating is something I can’t do without. Its an outlet, a way to express myself. If I am in a bad mood, a good skate session will give me new energy. It makes me happy.
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What’s your role in the dutch community?
I work at Sickboards. For a lot of people getting their first board, I try to get them their perfect setup. Also I send them to different Facebook groups so they can go out and skate with other people from their area. Working at the shop, I see a lot of small kids getting into downhill. That’s cool but I don’t want the groms destroying the few spots we have. So I started the Den Haag rookie downhill division. A group on Facebook where I give free lessons to beginner downhillers to educate on spot behaviour.
Wearing the right protection, keeping the spots clean, stuff like that. In the beginning, I thought we’d do one lesson a month but it exploded. The group started to lead itself and now there are multiple meetings and the group is growing like crazy. There’s more than 280 people in there. In the future you’ll see a lot more Dutch downhillers at freerides.

What is Sickboards?
The most awesome longboard shop on the planet!

When did you get involved?
I started at sick around 2010. Still operating from their home back then. It’s crazy, we were operating from a room no bigger than your average bedroom and look where we are now. We have a store with around 500 completes which you can stand on and ride around the shop. It’s like a giant candy store.

What was your role in the growth?
I have been longboarding for around 17 years and I am a big gear junky, so over the years I’ve tried a lot of stuff and gained a lot of experience since I had to find everything out for myself. Working at Sickboards, I can share good advice and I think that’s something people like.
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Do the groms bow to you or call you ”Sir”, since you skated before their parents shook hands?
Haha no, they are a hand full though.

Did you have any problems with groms before you set the group up?
Nothing serious but you would see videos of beginners riding dangerously on open roads without helmets, being disrespectful to the police etc. Here in this flat country we don’t have a lot of hills, so we have to be careful not to lose them. Instead of getting pissed about it, I thought it would be better to educate them.

What did you aim to change by founding the group?
One of the things was getting the young kids to wear helmets. The lessons are free but the helmet is mandatory. Now we are at a point where they make fun of the kids downhilling without a helmet. The other thing is keeping the spots ridable. It only takes one broken skull for the police to say ”no skating here it’s to dangerous”.

How has the gang evolved over the years?
The gang is only about half a year old, but it’s growing like crazy. Its one of the most stoked group of downhillers you will ever meet. It’s not just young kids there’re also some older guys/girls that are starting to get into downhill through this group. One thing they can all do like pros is BRULLEN! (translated: roaring. its like going all out).
If you hear people randomly shout BRULLEN, there’s some crazy Dutch downhillers around you.

What’s the best thing about the group?
The stoke! The group is so stoked that even the smallest hill becomes an epic session. Now the hills I was getting bored on are fun again. And I love the way the group teaches itself. If you come for the first time, the group will help you along and teach you the right techniques. The Den Haag rookie downhill division will out roar anyone, even Vikings!

How has this year gone so far?
Pretty sweet. First Koffeschnaps in France and Wallonhill in Belgium. Had tons of fun preparing the rookie’s for their first freeride.
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What are your plans for the rest of the season?
On the list are Wallonhill luxeburg edition, knk longboard camp slovenia, koffiescnaps france, loralo ostria.

What do you ride?
I ride Xtensionboards. I even have my custom downhill deck by Xtension, The Vimana. I am riding a proto of the Vimana v2 now.

What is an Xtension board?
Xtensionboards is a Dutch board builder named Robin Pelgrim. He makes awesome longboards and custom boards. Hand made in Holland. I ride for xtensionboards and  work with Robin, thinking up new downhill decks and then test them at freerides. He is a great board builder and a awesome guy to shred with. Extensionboards are available at sickboards.nl

What do you do when you’re not skating?
Eating, sleeping, thinking about skate related stuff and spending some time with my girlfriend and my 2 crazy cats <3.

Pick 3 numbers.

2 (2 trucks+ lucky number)

4 (4 wheels)

1 (1 deck)

And I am Dutch, we like discounts so 2 4 1 is perfect!

1 – What would you do if you were President?
    Build downhill tracks just for downhill.

2 – In a Zombie apocalypse, who would you wish to survive?

   My cats

4 – Who is your favourite skater?

    Skateboarder: Mike Vallely

    longboarder: Phillip Lemire

Any thank yous?
Sickboards and xtensionboards for sponsoring me. The rookies for BRULLEN and my girlfriend for supporting me and always taking great pictures.

Link.
www.sickboards.nl

https://www.facebook.com/xtensionboards

https://www.facebook.com/NataliaMielniczukPhotography?ref=ts&fref=ts

 Photos by Natalia!

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