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    It's the end of the world IGSA and do I feel fine?

    Sorry this looks like it will be a long blog post. First to Jacko words from Calgary: Such a boring day, everything took so long to happen. Things got a little bit out of hand at the end of the day when it was 4.30 pm and they haven't even started the downhill skateboarding finals. The riders were in an up-roar. Things were running so slowly for no reason. In the end the skaters took over. We rallied together and ran our own heats. I was at the top ready to walk down the track filming the finals but as nothing was happening, I was lurking at the top for a good 2 hours waiting for something to happen and watching all the skaters start to get a little anxious as to why everything was running so slowly. In the end the crew had enough, Kevin was stepping up and telling the guy on the start line to pull his shit together and start acting like the guy at the top, get the heats ready and prompt the rest of the track to get ready for racing. There were too many chiefs, not enough indians. Everyone wanted things to happen but it just slowed things down and no one was really focusing on getting things done quick. Kevin and I got our loud voices together and rallied all the skaters up in their heats and put them on the start line and then just started running the heats ourselves. They were running coloured arm bands to distinguish which rider was which (which was kind of pointless as every rider had numbers on their helmets) but there were not enough bands to go around. The general consensus was the honor system - if you did not come 3rd or higher, just go sit down. If you crashed in your heat and you're going to lose, get off the track. All the riders agreed on these terms and racing got under way. Because of the lack of arm bands I guess the IGSA wigged out and couldn't get it together. James Kelly was getting through rounds and was put down as out within the first few heats, when someone called Roger Jones was getting through. Riders were just sick of the fuck-arounds and just worked together to make sure everyone knew what heat they were in and who was in the next round. Once things got under way it all ran well like a machine, until 5.30 came along (about half way through round 2) and the chairlift was shut down for the day. DEEEERRRP. No we are back to shuttles, how fun. In the end the race got run and crew raced hard, James won the race and is now world champ, as you would have read in previous blogs, but right here I'm just describing the f around all the riders had to pay over $200 for. Here is what Kevin said on his Facebook page Hop's words: Watching the video from Australia, it was clear there was a problem. We were saw the skaters organizing themselves, Kevin standing up in front announcing something. Without any words to go with the pictures, I was joking, Kevin was asking if there was anyone here not on Aera flow?  We didn't realize it was a complete break down in race organisation, we just assumed it was an IGSA race organisation slow down, not melt down. I'm not an IGSA apologist but if a race organizer has problems, it is unfair to blame IGSA. Essentially IGSA is an umbrella organisation for a group of race promoters. I don't personally know all of them but I am assuming some are businessman, some are fellow racers and some are non profit organisations. The goal for all of them is to make money or to make a profit. Losing money is not a good business model, it has no future. Some promoters might say we aim to break even but there is always a small profit built in for those cost over runs. The biggest myth in this sport is the one that race organizers or IGSA are making lots of money. In Australia, ASRA closes a road down for three days, the budget is way over the $50,000 rider fees that can potentially be collected. If you start reducing budgets to increase prize money then it is the safety of competitors that will be compromised in the long term. It is not just poor organizers that lose money on events. ASRA was looking down the barrel of huge money loss at Mt. Keira this year but four sponsors stepped up and saved the day: Landyachtz, Loaded and JHS Distribution. Oh and the fourth sponsor was that place you will buy your next longboard at :-) I would like to say that Marcus Rietema is in my top 10 longboarding heroes. Our community and world would be a far different place without his dedication. Skaters say they would do this sport without getting paid, but guaranteed the top racers in the world would look very different if no one got prize money, no one got sponsor paid or flowed gear for the last 5 years. Marcus has essentially worked for a decade and not got paid. Yet he still smiling at every IGSA race, he does not dummy spit that media companies outside of our community don't see the value in what we do or if his organisation gets let down by amateur race promoters. Lets get real here. This is an amateur sport, run by volunteers. Aren't we all just faking it until we make it? You are not a professional sports person unless you can make enough money in your career to retire. Making money to pay the month's expenses is not my definition of pro. That is a job like working in a skateshop. How come IGSA gets the blame when an event is run poorly but the event organizer gets praised when it goes right? ASRA is sometimes held up as an excellent race organizer but IGSA never gets any credit. Double standards? Here is the problem. This sport can not rely on its own industry to support all the aspects for a world wide downhill competition. Brands such as Landyachtz are paying for racers equipment, travel expenses, then they are asked to pay for event sponsorship! There are plenty of other soft costs that never get accounted for, such as closing down a business so the staff can go volunteer or race at an event. This sport does not have a "boardshorts" product like the surfing industry, that is high margin and can be sold to the mainstream. Skateboarding does, it's called skate shoes but the skateboard brands ain't going to let longboarders or racers into that feeding trough unless they can dress the longboarder up as a street skater and leverage off something they are not involved in. Be careful for what you wish for. Going independent, and to be successful would mean no prize money for a few years. The reason ASRA is so successful is it is run by volunteers that don't get paid and who DON'T compete. ASRA essentially is a group of people from all parts of the community with a passion for skateboard racing. They bring those diverse skills together to make something happen. They also have thick skins that can tolerate abuse. They work stupid long hours, and give up a lot of personal time to make shit happen. Why kill something like IGSA that has so much history and goodwill behind it? If you design some trucks, make them and the axles keep bending do you kill the whole project, start a new company with a new name and try again? No, you do the evaluation and then redesign. What we have here, is a failure to communicate. If riders are not happy, they should get more involved in IGSA not start a new version of IGSA. IGSA and Marcus needs to be more flexible. This sport has evolved, it needs to change and make itself more relevant. It appears IGSA is designed around the notation of creating content for TV. There is no TV deal coming, what our community represents is everything TV is fighting against. Free online content. Our community and sport is like no other in the world. They have grown up on the internet, they consume more internet than anyone else because what they want to watch is not on TV so they use the internet to create the TV they want to watch. The genie is out of the bottle, it is not going back in. As a community, are we going to watch TV to see our sport? Think about where you were, what you were doing when Newtons was broadcast on Youtube or Calgary was broadcast on Ustream. We like content creators like Brian and Push Culture because we can consume our sport whenever we want. TV only works if we are willing to tune in at 7.30 pm on a Friday night to watch the sport. I don't care how cool you think you are, the audience for downhill is the million plus longboarders out there not Joe and Betty mainstream. It should be broadcast online, there should be mainstream sponsors like food, drink, and apparel because those million longboarders do consume. Race organizers need to understand when they are in over their head, they need to ask for help. What is so bad about competitors stepping it up and helping organize an event? Be the change you want to be. Competitors should stop expecting that their money buys them 24 hour concierge service at an event. There should be a riders representative at every event not to complain to but to organize some riders to help out. Riders should take more responsibility. At Newtons there was two volunteers dedicated to finding downhill riders for their race. How ridiculous is that! This blog post is not about blame. It is about pointing out that there are a lot of reasons why things go bad. I am not opposed to an independent tour. I actually think it is a good idea, something that is needed to give IGSA some competition and improve the overall scene. Destroying IGSA will only set the sport back 5 years of development. If the riders feel frustrated, I'm sorry to break the bad news to you, the pain will only get worse. As this sport grows, the grommets you laugh at will be the ones that reap the benefit of all this early pioneering. Rod Laver one of the greatest tennis players of all time made 1.5 million in prize money during his whole career, he was one of the first of the reap the benefit of the "open" or professional era. Over a decade later Borg was the first to win a million dollars in a season (1979). Fast forward 34 years: whoever wins the Australian Open next year will win over 2.3 million dollars, but it is all relative, sometimes even that is not enough.

    IGSA Mt Keira race report and videos

    I know it has been a few days, but here it is. It was an awesome weekend. The Sydney downhill scene grew up on Mt Keira. It is where the Hopkin Racing team honed their skills and introduced new riders to downhill. There has always been a dream to hold an event on this mountain. ASRA has spent nearly two years negotiating with Wollongong Council to get the event cleared and sanctioned. The commitment and dedication of a few has resulted in an amazing new track on the World Cup scene. However, all dreams need to be funded. There were three important sponsors: Ourselves (Hopkin Racing). Orangatang Wheels and Landyachtz longboards. Both those companies have gifted the Australian longboard community with a sponsorship deal that will stoke us for many years. It was a big ask and we are grateful for the support. The other people (skateboarding's power couple) that contributed and never get a mention is John and Christine from JHS Distribution, without their generous support we would not have had the capital to run Mt Keira. These events survive on a knife edge of funding. You want to know what happened. When I arrived on the mountain on Sunday morning, there was carnage. The road was slightly wet from the night, and the corners were slippery. Two big crashes affected the Hopkin Racing Team. Lea went down and dislocated her shoulder, and Luca crashed and smashed the back of his helmet. He was wearing the new Predator, and I have seen the helmet, the Predator saved his life. More on that later, but Luca hit his head at the worst position, at the back, the Predator absorbed the impact, the outer layer took the force and the shell remained in tact. As the morning progressed the track dried up. Mid morning the heats began and the racing was eye popping. What makes this track so great is the length and gradient. It is fast all the way, not too technical as you can rail all the corners with a bit of air braking, but it is long enough to create close tight races. The only surprises in the first round was how many Australian juniors were progressing. Particularly Dejan Djukic who quickly got the Striker nickname of "mustard". You know you have made it when Striker nicknames you! What was impressive about mustard was that he qualified for the final 64 by winning through the repechage rounds. He would only be stopped by the Arbor team riders James Kelly and Duke Degen in the quarters. Who else kept racing all day was young gun Will Morphett. He also progressed via the repechage and got knocked out in the quarter finals. Can you imagine the nerves of steel this guy had, raced for two days to find himself in a final sixteen up against Dalua, Kyle Martin and Tony Graves. New Zealand youngster Api also showed that our cousins across the ditch have what it takes. He also made the final sixteen but raced up against Louis Pilloni, P-swiss and Matt Kienzle and was knocked out. The remaining Hopkin Racing team were knocked out in round two, and no shame in that. There was tight hard fast racing against the best skaters in the world. It goes to show that racing on Mt Kiera is a bit different to freeriding. One mistake or mis judgement and your out. Every race was super competitive and Round Two was where it all happened. On a race tree, round 2 is where 16 racers do not progress and there are always big names that bow out. The Australian Round Two curse continues for Mischo. He got caught in the rough at the start and fell over on his push. He never recovered and could not catch the field. Where is that rough section? Locals secret, Mischo knows where it is now, maybe he'll tell you or kept it for his advantage next year! There were two hero performances within the Hopkin racing Team. That of Kelly Carter and Lea Robertson. Lea dis located her shoulder on Sunday morning. She had it gaff taped up and raced the women's draw. Made the finals and came a board lengths away from winning on debut in an IGSA World Cup race!! It started to rain during the women's final and on crash corner Lea had the inside opening drafting Marisa and as she dove in to overtake her board slipped out and she crashed into the hay bales. Marisa crashed too but she managed to get on her board faster and win the race. Kelly Carter dislocated his shoulder on Saturday. It did not stop him competing in the junior round. He made it to the final. Lead into the final corner getting drafted by Jayden Mitchell, and had one small wob on his board which gave Jayden the opening to pass and win. He lost by a board length but in my mind he did not lose that race, he has just shown that even with a busted wing he is still one of the best juniors in Australia. That leads us to Jayden Mitchell. Not much I can say, his performance speaks for itself. In the after race ASRA meeting it was generally agreed that the best racer of the event was Jayden Mitchell. There is no award, if there was it would be Most Valuable Racer award. Not only did he dominate the juniors, he matched it with the best in the world and represented Australia in the open downhill final. The Australian scene has been watching his progress over the last 2 years. He has won a few junior races and a few outlaws. He definitely has stepped it up. He was racing on a Early prototype called Olive, another longboarders pro model, who knows, it could be released under Jayden's name! I was on the finish line for the finals. When it started to rain, we all yelled over the radio to the startline to start the open standup downhill final first. We thought the track would still be a bit dry but it was too late. Wet track, which resulted in a chaotic final. Most of the men crashed multiple times. It shattered Dalua's race lines. Only Alex Tongue managed to stay up and finish first. Watch all the videos below, the racers tell the story in their own words of what happened. It has been dry so far this week in Bathurst for Newtons Nation which starts Friday. Dalua holds the course record and he is itching for revenge. I would not be surprised if he smashes the course record and becomes the first downhill longboarder to break 1 minute on Mt Panorama. I could write stories all day. There was excitement in every race. Thousands and thousands of people showed up and crowded the course to watch. Hopefully we have inspired one of those young locals and he or she will grow up and compete in a Mt Keira race in the future and take on the world's best. Thank you to the residents of Wollongong for having us in your city. We love the Gong. See you all next year.  

    Patrick Switzer (2nd) interview 

    Alex Tongue (1st) interview 

    Jayden Mitchell (4th) interview

    Lea Robertson (2nd) and Ishtar Backlund (3th) interview 

    Marisa Nunez (1st) interview

    Hopkin Christmas sticker mail out

    Instead of a Christmas card this year, we are sending STICKERS to all our wonderful customers! If you were a Hopshop customer this year, thank you, you made 2011 the best year ever. We loved seeing you in the skateshop, at the events, talking online and generally being part of the Australian skateboard community.

    OK SO HERE IS THE DEAL

    We have collected over $100,000 worth of skate stickers from all your favourite brands. We are mailing out to our top 3000 customers over 20,000 stickers!! First 1000 envelopes were mailed out a couple of days ago, if you have received mail, you are one of the top Hopshop customers. Not everyone is going to get stickers, we had to make a few rules. You had to have ordered something in 2011, and for logistic reasons, the cut off was the end of November. We sorted customers by their total orders, so if you only ordered bushings this year, you probably missed out. You had to have a Hopshop account or ordered online, it is only these customers that we know who you are and your address. That's why it is so important to have a Hopshop account ... you know it is free. HUGE thank you to the brands that helped us share the stoke this Christmas. It sounds simple but it has been a huge effort getting organised. Stickers have been arriving months in advance, and they have been hidden in the Hopshop waiting for mail out time. There is also a real cost to all the skate companies that participate. PLEASE give them a huge shout out. I have provided below all their social contacts. Like them, friend them, send them a thank you. We want this to be an annual event, if you share the stoke, they will see the value in doing it all again. Big thank you to the elves in the Hopshop that stuffed envelopes: Caspian, Harrison, Josh. Also the family insider help from Veronique and Lisa. Special mention to the distributors: John and Christine at JHS and Co, Peter at Goliath, Glenn at Black Box.

    WHAT STICKERS HAVE BEEN SENT OUT

    Caliber Trucks Caliber on Facebook or Find them on the web Give em lots of love, they were very generous. Loaded Boards Our friends at Loaded and Orangatang are always first to join an event to stoke skaters in a major way, they send a slab of stickers!! Big moon hugs to Loaded - you can squeeze their face or grab their tweets or watch the vids Rayne longboards Always a favourite in the skateshop, and they love you very much with thousands of stickers. You can return that love on the face or tickling their twitter or watching their moves Sector 9 Shout out to the Sector 9 Australia team, you rocked Australia with a suitcase of stickers. Show em that they are not too big for a hug, pinch em on the tweeter or stalk em on facebook or just be a voyeur. If it wasn't for these blokes, Jackson would not be Number Two in the world !! (IGSA World Cup rankings) Heelside Magazine Your favorite Australian skateboard magazine. They are original, creative, bold and crazy. They deliver you something your mum does not understand and probably does not approve of, so let them know their hard work is appreciated. Get social on their arse. Or a quick little spray.  You must subscribe for them to survive. ASRA - Australian Skateboard Racing Association They are the only REAL skateboard association in Australia. Real members, elected board, community inspired and skateboarders looking after skateboarding. So who is fake? SbA or Skateboard Australia are a $2 event company. The sham is our tax money is funding a private skateboard company. No elected officials. No accountability. Hundreds of thousands of dollars siphoned off with our Government's approval. They know the facts, and continue to waste your money. WE NEED TO GET MAD. Join ASRA. Even better become a financial member, it makes ASRA stronger and SbA look stupider. Time magazine has made the Protester the person of the year. You can make a difference. You can change the world. You can create the world you want to live in. No generation in history has more power at their fingertips than you. Protest. Talk. Yell. Scream. Skate. Create. Dream. Then take small steps to make it happen. Contact your elected politician or senator. Tell them to stop wasting our money and take skateboarding seriously. Then get your mum, dad and all the family to do the same thing. If you use twitter, so do they. Fallen Shoes Some of the raddest skate stickers you'll find on the planet. I did not scan every sticker that went out. If you got something different, post a pic. On the Fbook or on the inter webbie thing, they probably dont want to know you like them, they're too cool for school. And are core = only little boards here (they're easier to carry). Early Skateboards The OG crew on the Goldie, designing boards for Australia. Twitter or FB or web Fibretec: Swiss made dream machines. They are fine like a piece of ... art. 50 stickers were add into the mix. Vicious Griptape: Sent 50 special decals to stoke, if you got one, your lucky. If you have their tape on your deck your even luckier...and probably dont have any fingerprints. Bombsquad, Ladera, Dekline and Slippery Dip all contributed some special stickers. Thank you to everyone who is apart of the Australian skateboard/longboard scene. Lets do it all again next year. We promise the Hopshop will be bigger and better in 2012. We hope you will be a part it. Live life ... skate every day. PS: We send out stuckers to our bro's in New Zealand. We  love our cousins across the ditch too! TWITTER USERS We are using #hopkinstickers  

    Skate mission in the Alps - the best of times and the worse of times

    Words, images and luck by Jackson Shapiera Photo captions by Hop

    Part One - Life is heaven Swiss Alps

    We are at that part of the European Tour where we enter the Alps and disconnect from the real world for 2 or 3 days and skate some of the most amazing roads in the world. However before we get too far into it I'm just going to share with you what we managed to sneak, while I  have some connection to the real world. Just outside of Luzern we stopped at this spot in a beautiful valley, and rode a gondola to the top of a narrow as hell, steep as shit, windy and curvy road that went through the forest and then opened up into 8 back to back hairpins followed by long drops through the town.

    Epic run near Luzern

    The run finishes right back to the gondola to ride back up. There's not much I can say about it right now except...RAD. It was just straight up rad

    Patrick Switzer in the gondola, can he be beaten at Padova and if he becomes World Cup Champion will his wheels mysteriously change colour to green in 2012?

    Anywho, I'm off to get lost in the mountains and skate some epic shit, and sleep in the grass at the top of the hill.

    Jacko ... no caption required

    Part Two - the opposite of lucky is... Well... the Van died... fuck.... We got to Susten Pass yesterday arvo, got 3 runs in then called it a day as the sun was setting and got a feed. In the morning we had the biggest fail ever... went to start the van, but it wouldn't start, and the battery light came on. Crap, we drained the battery. Next thing we thought of was to jump start the van, so we rolled it down this little pathway which was quite steep, but with no luck. So we tried again, and rolled it down further, still no luck. Got to the point where there was no road left and we had to call for help. Patrick went up to the road and tried to flag down a van as big as ours with a diesel engine to possibly give us a jump start. However it didn't take long to realise the chances of that happening are slim to none, so he went to the nearest emergency phone to call for a tow and fix. He came back and told us it would be at least half an hour, so I grabbed my board and hitched up to the top to take a run while we were waiting. By the time I got back down, the van was back up from the trail and working again, but something smelt REALLY bad. Turns out we were using the wrong key, which is why it wouldn't start. While I was out skating they eventually figured it out and got it started, but because the hill was so steep and there was no where to turn around, they had to reverse it up. With so much weight in the van, it totally killed the clutch. It was burnt and I could smell it from at least 50m away. So we got back on the road, then BAM a storm hits, no more skating... We decided to head to the next pass, but the clutch was hurting, badly. We got stuck in traffic and with a lot of stop-starting, the clutch in the van just totally died. As soon as we got past the traffic the clutch had failed and struggled to get us into gear. We altered our route and started heading to the nearest garage. As soon as we got there, and dropped gear to pull into the garage, BAM! the clutch blew... lucky for us we were all ready at the garage, as it started to piss down again. So right now the situation is we are holed up in a hotel somewhere near one of the sickest roads in Switzerland, but with no transport to get us there. Should have used the right key! The van will be fixed tomorrow afternoon and we will head on to Padova, which cuts short our tour of the Swiss Alps. At least I get to sleep in a bed tonight! cheers Jacko [Hop's notes] Epic Alp's tour stories brought to you by Orangatang Wheels and Sector 9 Downhill Division.

    Orangatang Fat Free longboard wheel review

    Review by Patrick Hurel Whoever said great things come in small packages must have had these wheels in mind. http://orangatangwheels.com/wheels/fat-free-65mm The Fat Free's are a 65 mm wheel from Otang with the same finish as a Stimulus. From these little buggers you get the same smooth slides as the Stims just with more fun. The yellows (86a) are a great wheel to learn to slide on as they grip just enough to carve on but break loose faster than Kelly grom after a cup cake. The orange (80a) these are the fun ones by far, they let you carve some big hills without ever losing grip, but as soon as you give it a little more push they slide like butter. Don't think these are a small wheel, like a Stim, it really is a middle size wheel. The advantage of these wheels, for you groms out there, is they feel like a bigger wheel, and you'll get more speed from your smaller runs. There size means you get a faster take off than a Stimulus. A faster take off, less contact patch for easier sliding, and butter smooth thane ... Otang have produced a fine wheel for small streets and gorilla jungle city riding.   Who is Patrick Hurel? When he's not playing surrender monkey all over Europe, Pat is usually found trying to remove the wheelbite from one of his 10 topmounts