Awesome conversation with one of the organisers of the KnK longboard camp and the upcoming Bear Gut’s freeride on April 28. Nadim gets us stoked for the 4 day event and warns: THE BEAR IS HUNGRY!
Hey bro, good to speak to you again! Where are you from?
Hey mate! Great to finally catch up with you. I’m from a little unknown country called Slovenia. Most longboarders didn’t even know about it until KnK Camp last year.
Is that where you started skating?
Actually no. I started skating (or longboarding to be exact) while I was living in Toronto. There I saw a lot of longboarders commuting and was drawn into it. So I came across Silverfish and went to buy myself a board at Hogtown, a well known local skate shop. Soon afterward I moved back to Slovenia, where I met Mihael. We started bombing a soon-to-be-finished highway and learned important lessons in DH. Shortly after that summer in 2008 I moved to the UK to pursue my master’s degree in probably the flattest area of UK – Norfolk. Not so many longboarders in Norwich back then actually so I went for solo car park sessions which were half as fun, but still better than nothing.
I had no idea you lived in Canada!
Oh, it was for a brief period only. Great experience nonetheless, but little did I know that I was living in a country well known for longboarding and longboard manufacturing.
Did you manage to skate at all in the UK?
I remember I sold my Dervish and bought an old Loaded Fish on Gumtree, which in a way was perfect for campus cruising and Norwich flat terrain. My girlfriend who was from Vancouver bought me a brand new Rayne Isis. Shortly after, I paid a few visits to London where I discovered a huge longboarding community. They generously accepted me and for some time I became a regular to Hog Hill sessions, Crystal Palace Park and “secret” car park sessions.
Haha I heard those car park sessions are still the best sessions you’ve ever had.
True! Riding “Nirvana” was so much fun! What I was most amazed by, comparing to longboarding scene here in Slovenia, is that a huge generation gap exists. You can easily spot a middle aged hardcore DH longboarder in the UK, while in Slovenia, longboarding is perceived as a youth or a teenage sport. It is amazing to see a father with his son, both shredding local hill. I guess there’s a difference in mentality. That’s what I liked the best about longboarding scene in the UK.
Will you be back in London to skate with us?
No doubt! I miss my London family dearly. True, London is not the most hospitable place for a longboarder but it seems like you managed to create a lot of stoke around it and found the best of what London can offer you. It’s an amazing place to skate and to meet fellow longboarders as everyone is so friendly and hospitable. I’m glad I saw some of you in my country last summer. I’d never have thought you’d pay me a visit. Now it’s my turn I guess.
YES! How did you meet Mihael?
I met Mihael through local Slovenian longboarding forum. He’s an IT expert so he launched a Longboard Magazin website. It seemed like he’s one ambitious fella as he came up with the idea of one-stop portal for local longboarders in Slovenia and Croatia and from what I see, things are going great. He invited me to cooperate on the Kurescek Cup last spring. From there it was a logical step towards the KnK Longboard Camp. Although at that time, we had no clue it’d become the biggest event in Europe.
Regional longboarders, not just Slovenia?
Right. Longboard Magazin Croatia is up and running by our mates there for couple of years now. We have huge plans to expand even further to other countries of ex-Yugoslavia. Also, we have plans to expand on many functionalities of the web portal so it will present an all-encompassing longboarding site where enthusiasts will be able to share ideas, share spots, experiences, post their pictures and post second hand gear ads. All this will be incorporated into social networks, such as Facebook. It is easier said than done so you’ll just have to wait for it, I guess.
What is the long term plan for Longboard Magazin?
Roughly, what I have just mentioned. Or wait, maybe that’s considered a short-term plan. Hehe. On a serious note, you’ll have to ask Mihael about it. He came up with the site idea and many other cool stuff. We’re all collaborating on writing articles, news, and gear reviews – in short, making meaningful content. We’re also active in organizing events, as you know by now, not to forget, we’re doing free longboarding courses for beginners, as well as for more advanced longboarders. We have some plans to expand our free courses into local high schools, so we’ve plenty of work to be done!
What was your role in the Kurescek Cup?
I was the “annoying” guy who shouted at the riders at the starting line, haha. I was helping out with the logistics and other mundane tasks. I came to it pretty late as I have just arrived from my work in Kenya as I remember.
Where did you skate after you left the UK?
In summer 2010 I went to the Middle East for my dissertation assignment. Of course I took my longboard with me, knowing that Jerusalem is built around huge hills. In the end I didn’t manage to meet any Israelis for a session as most of them are concentrated by the coast. Nonetheless, I had this bizarre experience, skating the deserted army patrol road next to the Israeli “Apartheid” wall with steep turns and amazed Bedouins (An Arabian ethnic group) with their sheep. I thought to myself, all this money invested in the Wall, it might as well be used for something positive. I wish there could be more benefits to it though.
Did you see many longboarders there?
Unfortunately, I haven’t met any longboarders there. Although apparently there is a community in Tel Aviv.
What are your plans for this season?
Right now I’m quite busy with the April’s event at the Bear’s Guts, getting all the documentation, arranging for the track protection, hiring marshals and others who will make this event possible, as well as liaising with gear manufacturers to get them to sponsor the events. So, lots of work to be done yet in order to assure things running smoothly in those 4 days of freeride. We’ve listened to rider’s demands last year and we are trying to implement all the improvements.
How is the preparation going?
We’re finished with the documentation and logistical aspects. We’ve managed to secure many well known gear manufacturers to sponsor the events. It is safe to say we’re on well on track and everything will be ready by 28th April.
How many riders are you expecting?
So far 120 riders from all over the globe registered for April’s event. I would be happy if the number stays as it is as it means easier job for our crew. We put the upper limit at 150 riders although having 2 tracks and adequate shuttles we could easily go for 200+.
Who makes up this crew?
The core crew is me, Mihael, Nadia, and Miha. And we have about 20 people helping out with the event, not counting our local crew who is responsible for placing 2400 hay bales on both tracks.
If someone wants to volunteer as a marshal how do they get in touch with you?
Extra hands are always welcomed. Organizing events of this magnitude with a very technical track with lots of hairpins means that we need heaps of marshals by the track. Unfortunately, it is not financially viable to hire 50 marshals, so, if you know anyone who would like to help out then please let me know.
Who do you have so far?
Huh, where do I start!? Our sponsors include Original Skateboards, Rayne, Kebbek, Fibretec, Bastl Boards, Surf-Rodz, Olson&Hekmati, Murksli Custom Longboards, Fortrate, Original, and Lush. We’re grateful to have each one of them aboard and their help is much appreciated.
What has been the hardest thing about getting this off the ground?
Probably the biggest emphasis has been placed on adequate track protection so that riders will feel safe riding the tracks. No matter how many hay bales we install it can never be enough. Its hard to grasp until you’ve actually been riding the Bear. The track is fast and highly technical so if you cannot control your slides at 70+ km/h, then no amount of protection will be good for you. This year we’re placing more protection with 2 ambulance vehicles present at all times.
Did you have many accidents last year?
Given the number of riders and number of runs each day, I would say not many. But accidents did happen at very last runs when riders were already exhausted by a hard day shredding the hot and sticky pavement. Maybe people got overly confident in their riding, I don’t really know. Mostly, there were minor injuries with a few serious ones which inevitably disrupted the daily flow of runs and put us under additional stress. Of course, I don’t like to see people getting “tattooed” by the Bear. The Bear can be a hard bitch to tame and can break many bones, haha! Seriously though, accidents are part of our sport and the risk is always there. It has to be accepted. We as organizers are always trying to minimise the risk by providing good riding conditions.
Why have you decided to have 2 events this year and what is the difference between both sessions?
People were so stoked about the KnK Camp last year that this good feedback actually gave us the will to do 2 events this year. It is hard work and we would rather be skating the bear all day long, but I guess seeing people enjoy the event and appreciate our efforts make things worthwhile. There’s not much difference between the two. The first is a 4 day event and the second a 7 day event. We decided not to hold any races this year as many riders who are doing the Eurotour are either fed up with the competitive side of the sport and/or just wish to relax and freeride with their mates. The message is: skating is supposed to be fun and we’re giving you lots of runs on 2 great tracks. You can bomb it or just freeride, be creative and enjoy!
Will you be doing the Eurotour?
I am really not into competing. I like freerides best as well as meeting fellow longboarders. Last year I was at Velefique and Gioasteka freerides. Both freerides were awesome and I hope to return to one of them this year. Also, it is always good to attend other freerides to learn from others on how to organise such events.
Any other events on your radar?
Unfortunately my time won’t allow any distant trips as we just set up our online longboard shop which consumes much of my time.
Congratulations! What shop is this?
It’s Absorb Longboard Shop. The one and only shop in Slovenia specialised in longboarding gear. As we are an important part of the community with organizing sessions, events and free longboarding courses, it goes well hand in hand together. There is never lack of beginners asking for advice on what to buy.
Where did you guys get stuff before this?
We got our stuff from Sickboards mostly.
Who is behind the shop?
It’s a 2 man band. Me and Mihael. There’s a plan to open up a “brick” shop as customers wish to feel and see the product they are buying. I guess we’ll have to see how it goes by the end of season.
That is great, you guys are doing a lot for the scene in Slovenia!
Choose 3 numbers between 1-25
4, 19, 20, did I win a lotto?
Haha you win a handshake.
How about a hand relief? haha!
Oh hang on. Who are those Bros before Pros?
The infamous Bros before Pros? They’re up and coming and very talented bunch of riders here in Slovenia. All very creative minds, who are producing great and very distinguished vimeo videos. You should check a few if you haven’t so far.
How does one get one of their shirts?
Haha, you should ask them. They’re too busy skating instead of printing t-shirts. I’ll get one for you, I think there’s one left, size Small in pink only it says hoes before pros. Will that do?
4 – Whos is the best person you’ve seen skating ?
Kevin Reimer, most probably.
19- What is/was your favourite video game
Command and Conquer, Red Alert 2. Old school!
20- If every job paid the same amount, what would you do?
Giving foot massages that don’t tickle and shit!
Haha that is definitely not the answer I was expecting. It’s been great talking to you again bro. All the best for Bear guts!
Thanks Gbemi, looking forward to see some of your crew shredding the Bear and hope to see you over here someday.
Do you have any ‘thank yous’/shout-outs?
I would like to thank All Around Skate crew for spreading the STOKE! Cheers!