The Gathering 2012 report

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Last year, the guys at Longboard Sweden organised the first ”Gathering”. They had about 400 people come to the one day event. A few of the guys came along to La Noche En Negro in Madrid and the influence on this years event was easy to see.

3 days of rad skating were planned with a similar calendar. The emphasis was on “something for everyone”.
We have featured quite a few Swedish riders, and our love for the Vikings has grown incredibly over the past year with each one and vice versa. Aside from the small group who came to Bo Peep last year, I hadn’t met any of them in real life. So I was super excited about seeing them all again and riding their spots.
The flight to Sweden was pretty standard. Turned up in the airport and everyone spoke English. Stoked! I was excited about not getting lost on my way to Jesper’s house. On the final train, I thought this fellow was trying to sell me something… Or worse! But he was just an over friendly ticket inspector.
Got to Jesper’s and saw a bunch of new faces, including Toki, who I interviewed many months ago. The vibe was good, the people were friendly.
That first night, just like our first night in Madrid, the guys had organised a skate water gun fight. We were waiting in the park for a while and I may have fallen asleep on a bench. But hey! Jet lag will do that to you.
We went out and caused some polite bother, it was quite fun. But I was really looking forward to the pub after.
The place we settled in was in the old town, an old school Viking drinking spot. As is customary when you’re in Sweden – I tried some mead! It was really good. We were all having fun when all of a sudden someone burst into song. I felt like I was in Lord Of The Rings. Really quite funny war song I thought. I thought someone would be killed. The guys all joined in and told me after that it was their version of Happy Birthday! This is now my favourite celebratory song!
Went back home, had a few beers and managed about 3 hours of sleep before a red haired Viking disturbed my rest.
For breakfast on Friday, I asked if Niklas had any bacon in the fridge. All the Vikings looked at me like I was crazy. “You eat bacon for breakfast”? Erm yeah, like all healthy mammals.
Turns out they had something else planned, something a lot more traditional. For the first time in my existence, I had yoghurt and muesli for breakfast and a boiled egg. I was definitely embracing the Swedish experience. But I drew the line at “caviar in a tube”. Come on Vikings.
Our first stop that morning was the Kahalani shop. Now this was one of the things I looked forward to most on this trip. Interviewing Adam and Ishtar was great. Really really fun. Their spirit and love for skating shone through and they are perfect embodiments for the shop motto “riders to riders”. So I was looking forward to seeing where it all began for them.
The shop was smaller than I imagined, but it had an awesome selection of real boards made by real brands. A big wall was decorated by all your favourite boards from around the world.
I had a really nice chat with Mike about skating and plans for the weekend. He told me a little of the history of the store and why they coined the phrase “riders to riders”. There was a really good vibe in the shop.
Later in the afternoon a bunch of people came by to say hi. Little Spagnel wasn’t very little all. Adam, Matt and two HUGE groms all came together and we went to a local slide hill by a pretty church. It was Matt‘s birthday and I had a little surprise for him. One of the groms was called ”Love” and I got awkward looks when I shouted ”Bye Love” to a tall ginger boy on the streets.
Mathias (the other grom) and I skated to the gathering welcome party together and we stopped by a local convenience store for food. That’s where IT happened. I was just walking around, looking into the aisles and my eyes caught the word “bacon”, but to my horror it wasn’t with all the other sliced meats. Oh no sir, it was in the ”toothpaste food” aisle, I walked closer fearing the worst, and alas, my heart sunk – it was bacon in a tube. Or ”bacon cheese” as Matt said in defence of this.
Stop it guys. Treat your bacon with respect. This is no way to package a nutritious vegetable.
Still recovering from shock, we went on to the opening party. It was really chill. First big difference I noticed about the community here was the abundance of groms. Some of them may have been beyond fully grown, but they were still minors. The plan for the day was free ride, cruise then game of skate at night.
At the end of the party, we were all standing together saying hej and whatnot and then I saw a guy with an AllAroundSkate sticker on his board! I got really excited and started to wave at him. He didn’t run away. The moustached man was called Speedoff, he was the other Swedish guy who threw down at Peyragudes, setting the 7th fastest time on the strongest field in Europe. Yeah!!! (must have been the sticker).
Martin was with 2 other guys, Ben and John, together they had by far the easiest names to remember. This was the birth of Team RAMLA!!! I hung with them for a bit, then they decided they were going to ”Hairpin City”. We bid each other goodbye and I went off to Hogdalen.
After the welcome party, some locals said they knew a nice skate route to Hogdalen, I was very very up for doing it. The route took us along the river and past lots of museums and really touristy things. I took lots of photos. The guys answered lots of my questions, telling me about knights, the royal family and other Swedish general knowledge.
It had rained that afternoon and the hill we got to was soaked when we got there. Not sexy at all. What was most puzzling was the absence of other souls. We skated there for a bit before we moved off puzzled.
After this, we went to the “skate create” event in the kings garden, which featured some urban artists making lots of custom graphics on griptape and underside of the boards. It was pretty cool. After chatting to a few people, it became clear that we had not been to Highvalley but some random deserted hill in a posh neighbourhood. Had I been abducted, none would have known. Therein lies the best part of travelling. Avoiding organ harvesters.
The game of S.K.A.T.E that night was pretty standard. The turnout was massive and lots of my new friends were there. It started with about 12 competitors having to do items on a trick list. The finalists would then play the traditional game, setting a trick and whoever didn’t land it got a letter. Whoever got the full word – SKATE lost.
The groms were absolutely rocking it. My money was on little Isac Printz, who won last year and is far too good at doing these tricks I can’t name. The final 3 were Adam, Felix and Isac. Isac won “rock paper scissors” and proceeded to set a succession of crazy tricks. Switch no comply shuv-its and the like. Adam and Felix got to S.K, before the baton was passed.
Adam was riding a short skateboard with a tail but no nose. It could have been an Alva. He set an Ollie. Everyone laughed, but that would set the tone for the kinds of tricks he was going to pull. Felix had a style that reminded me of our Axel. Maybe it was the Apex 40, or the Original Skateboards shirt, but he had something about him. He was many locals choice to win, but I had never seen him skate. His tricks were more based on footwork. So that was the final 3 skaters, 3 unique styles.
In the early rounds, the guys were still feeling each other out and setting the basics, hoping for silly mistakes. Then Adam set a tre-flip and the groms cried NOT FAIR. It was pretty even, Isac was ahead for a while, then he was unlucky with a couple of tricks and before you know it – Felix was ahead and it was time for the final round.
We expected this round to feature the hardest trick. Without much ado, Felix said it would be Lady Killer. I smiled. The only people I’d seen do it successfully were Texas Matt (a rad London Longboards rider) and the sublime Gador Salis. Felix showed them how it was done, they both got 3 tries to do it. Nobody even came close and we had a very worthy champion.
Speaking of Gador, there was only one Girl competing, but she did very well in the early stages. In Sweden, there is a HUGE community of skaters. But really few girls, there was only one shredding all weekend. It’s funny, I would think the land that produced Ishtar Backlund would have sown the seed in other hearts. Oh well.
At the end of the comp, everyone hung around for a bit and the number of people on top of the hill had exploded to about 200.
I turned round and saw one of the faces I was looking forward to most in the flesh – The Viking Queen herself, Kristina Engstrand. It was great to finally see her. Team RAMLA were also there, with a new member – Emil!
Martin and John showed me a super sexy video they made of Adam earlier that day. My mind was BLOWN. So so good! Friday, apart from being Matt Borg’s birthday, was also Klawitter’s. So when he appeared on the hill all the Vikings burst out into their war cry sounding song. Love it. In a land where most people are blonde, Klawitter’s sun like hair colour still sticks out. Like Naruto would in a crowd.
The plan was for us to go for a skate around the city and hit up some urban hills. As a seasoned critical mass attendee, I am aware that the first rule of skating safely in a gang of over 100 – be at the front. So as the skate started I bombed to the front. We went down some really gnar streets, a few of the Swedes could push hard but most of them drew the line at pushing uphill.
After this, Aho led us to “The Helipad”. This skate was hard. It felt like a race and lots of it was uphill. I took it easy in the end, pacing it with RAMLA ‘s John aka kufunnipuh. Got to the top and I felt the beginning of cramps. But Kristina gave me some of the best skate advice I ever received, stretch my leg out and curl my toes towards myself to take the cramps away. And BOOM I was pain free!
 At the top of the hill the groms with too much energy were bombing the hill and entertaining us. This one kid called Elis had such nice style and big standees. Super stoked to see him skating, definitely one to watch out for on the international stage.
We hiked up to the helipad and bombed the hill in groups of 2 or 3. It was so sweet! Really tasty, 2 mellow turns and a long straight, then a left at the bottom by the traffic lights were it got flat. We all bombed that together and the group of pensioners at the bottom were loving it. As were the girls in the high rise buildings getting “stoked” off our antics. We carried on doing this for 2 more hours, at which point I was thoroughly exhausted.
Got the bus back home, and some drunk people started to sing a song, you can already guess what. I had heard it so many times that I could actually join in this time!
That night, as I was falling asleep ToKi was playing Metallica on his acoustic guitar. That was really really rad.
Managed another 2 or 3 hours of sleep before the big day. The Albinos aka Albin & Albin aka Life On A Board were organising the slide jam. After which would be the first official critical mass with long boarders.
Aho and I went to the Kaha shop to pick up some prizes and I went to mingle. Kaha is run by 2 brothers and I didn’t meet Dan the day before, so we had a nice conversation about life and skateboarding. He is such a happy, easy going dude! Made me wish for a shop in London.
So. Slide jam. Turns out it was on the hill we had skated the day before. Good times. Met Lamin aka Gnarmin – Vikingrom and Isac properly. Really good to talk to them in real life. And they are way both bigger than they look online. Little Isac isn’t so little. Matt was there rocking his brand new shirt. And then I finally met Albin aka Moose 2, after months of chatting. The LOAB team were all rocking. Otang shirts so they were easy to spot. Petter was rocking a changra (chopped Bhangra) and to make it extra sexy – he had one of our stickers. Made me glad. He said a crazy bald guy gave it to him at Teolo.
The slide jam started with a free for all/warm up. There wasn’t anyone skating Spanish style – without gloves, but they were all into big standups. The first competition was for  the longest stand-up slide. All your usual suspects were competing. Sublime rider was the first 2nd place was local hero Adam Persson and 3rd was Speedoff. Rad!
At this juncture, I went to the top of the hill to chill in the Mrboard tent with Felix and the rest of the team. On my way up I bumped into Mr NordicSurfMagazine – Mathieu. I had no idea he was coming so it was a pleasant surprise. He’s s rad photographer so I was definitely looking forward to see his shots.
Also in the tent was Henrique, organiser of the King’s Hill Freeride tomorrow. Really rad to run into him.  Watched the slide bowl from the top of the hill. The aim of the game was to skate into the slalom cones and knock as many over with a stand up slide without falling over. Spagnel cheated by using his lush legend and he came 3rd. Felix won and Lamin came 2nd. Groms killing it!
After this we all gathered together for a group shot and set off on Critical Mass.
Then it was time for the weekend’s main event. The race at Stockholm’s best hill. The turnout was awesome. There were many faces I hadn’t seen at any other events like Mr Fredrik Molin. Really good to meet him in real life. Heats went well. As expected of the Swedish Champion – Adam was powering through all his heats. Some of the groms were doing really well too – like little Ville, another future champ.
After the race – more skating. About 50 of us skated some tunnels and some more Stockholm hills. I thought I was tired before, now I was nearly dead. Had some nice dinner on a riverside restaurant, then had an early night. Well it was supposed to be an early night, then we went to the pub. There were lots and lots of us skaters in the basement. There were stickers, they went everywhere. Fun was had. Upstairs a drunk/stoned man singing the Chorus of the Nine Inch Nail song ”Closer” to Manne or Roosa or ToKi, or maybe all 3 at the same time. Here is a link to the song, you shouldn’t click this if you’re at work or there are kids around. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru_qbP-aqsE
Eventually slept around 4, I was so tired! The plan for the next day was a freestyle comp at 9, then Freeride High Valley from 1 and race finals. At 8:45 Michael asked if I wanted to come along; in favour of a long life, I declined and went back to bed. Woke up around 1:30 feeling like a king/baby/T-Rex. Super energised.
Of all the people I wanted to see this weekend, only one remained – Erik Lundberg. So I went again to the Kaha store and hung out with Dan, Mike and Erik. We had a really really good chat and I said my final goodbyes to the the 4 walls that keep the spirit alive in Stockholm.
Made my way slowly to highvalley and got there just in time for the finals. I said hi to everyone and sat down just in time to see Adam leading followed by Molin, Naruto Klawitter and Speedoff. Superfast guys. Finally heard Swedish people SHOUT! You guys are way too polite and reserved. More screaming needed at sessions.
Aho did prizes. As in the past 2 days, Adam gave his winnings away to some of the groms. And that was it! The end of an epic adventure.  We went to get pizza after and I finally had BACON!
Thank you Swedish people for being so welcoming and accommodating. Especially Joel, you lifesaver.
Thanks to Dan and Mike. Your shop is rad. Thanks to all the people who support our site in Sweden and show so much love online and now in real life. Thank you Vikings for always being up for doing interviews. Thank you Aho and Longboard Sweden for throwing it down this weekend. Thanks to all those who let me use their wifi for important things like updating the AllAroundSkate instagram account. Thank you Gnardam for being an AllAroundSkater. Love you long time.
Thank you to the dude who helped me with the only person in Sweden who didn’t speak English on Monday morning when I tried to get a train ticket.
Big hugs to you all. Looking forward to sharing more Viking stoke with the world.
Stay rad!

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