BMX and skateboard devils to let rip in Tallinn contest

  • 2004-01-08
  • By Steve Roman
TALLINN - Quarterpipe, roll-in, wallride, flat banks, subbox... This exotic terminology will get your blood pumping if you're in the know, or leave you curiously baffled if you're not. In either case, the only way you're going to satisfy that itch is to head to the Simpel Session Winter Bash 2004, an international BMX and skateboarding competition that will be held Jan. 9 - 10 at Tallinn's Saku Suurhall.

Dozens of pro riders from around Europe, and even a couple from the U.S.A. and Canada, will be descending on Tallinn to participate in the two-day event, which is part serious contest and part dazzling show.
This month's event is going to be something of a first, explained Risto Kalmre, one of Winter Bash's two main organizers. Though Simpel Session is now in its fifth year, this will be the first time it's being held in winter, the first time it's indoors and the first time tickets will be required for spectators - something that might change the makeup of the typically young crowd. But he expects the atmosphere to be just as buzzing as ever. "It's going to be chill," he said. "There's going to be so much stuff people can do."
The competition plays the key role in the event. A BMX park and a skateboard park will be set up on the floor of Saku Suurhall, and the pros will battle the obstacles for cash prizes totaling 8000 euros. Riders are judged very strictly on originality, difficulty of the tricks and how clean the run is.
Despite the stiff competition, Kalmre stresses that it's not about the money. "I think the prizes have almost nothing to do with why the people come here," he said, adding that individual prizes are small, and competitors are really in it for the opportunity to see a new place and meet new people.
In addition to the warm-ups, prelims and finals, a "Vert Ramp Show" will be held twice a day on both days. This involves show riders using a huge, Austrian-built halfpipe to leap into the air, pull some stunts, and outdo each other in altitude while the crowd oohs and aahs.
Of course, to really follow the action, it'll help to know a little of the riders' vast and elusive dialect. For example, according to Kalmre, a "roll-in" is a smooth ramp to get up speed for the launch ramp. A "wallride" is a construction where a rider can jump into a vertical wall.
"These are just some of the names that are used," he said. "Actually there's no limits on the stuff. You can build whatever you want and you can name it whatever you want."
If this linguistic anarchy isn't daunting enough, consider some of the event's official literature, which states, "Half of the spine will be without the rail and construction with hip and banks will be connected to the spine."
Whatever this means, it's good to hear that at least the "hips" and the "spine" are still connected to something, despite all this breakneck action.
Aside from what's happening in the main arena, spectators in the hall can also watch whatever's on the giant TV screen, shop for skateboards and videos in the sports stores, and play with "finger boards" - miniature skateboards that measure just 10 centimeters. These are at least more likely to leave you with your spine and hips intact than the full-sized version.
Through Jan. 8, two-day tickets to Simpel Session can be bought on presale from Piletilevi and Piletipunkt outlets and at Statoil gas stations for 100 kroons (6.50 euros). At the venue, the two-day ticket costs 125 kroons and the one-day ticket 100 kroons.
After-hours events take place both days, but tickets for these cost extra (with discounts for event ticket holders). On Jan. 9 at 9 p.m., the Kinomaja cinema house (Uus 3) will screen the premiere of an Estonian homegrown skate film, "Louend." And on Jan. 10 at 10 p.m. you can drop in at the official afterparty in Von Krahl (Rataskaevu 10), hear some cool bands perform, and compliment the riders on how they "ripped," a term which, according to Kalmre, means "you're riding really, really good." Maybe this lingo isn't so hard after all.

Simpel Session
Winter Bash 2004
Jan. 9 - 10, 11a.m. - 8 p.m.
Saku Suurhall
Paldiski mnt. 104b