Action sports contest circuits are a funny thing. They are a little bit like Vice Media, insofar as the self-appointed tastemakers of any particular scene claim not to follow either, and yet the happenings within both everyone seems strangely aware of. Hmmm. The power of social media to leave them in its wake, one might suppose. And so, events like Estonia’s Simple Session flourish despite a certain sniffiness toward their showy production, because they are good fun – heaven forfend.
Spread across what is now really three disciplines – Skate, BMX Street and BMX Park – the BMX aspect has long been a top global draw for the elite in both divisions, drawing as it did riders from Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, Russia and so on. On the skateboarding side, 2018 marked a definite shift towards bigger international names with Pedro Barros, Thrasher Magazine’s skater of the year Jamie Foy and the Floridian game-changer Zion Wright all in attendance for the first time.
So why do people fly in from all over the world to snowbound Estonia to take part in this weekend?
Well, from the riders’ perspective there is the broadcast audience which all told during and post runs into millions now via various outlets, but for everybody else in attendance there is the opportunity to get the band back together during a dead weekend in the middle of winter while everyone else is busy giving up on life and being chippy on the internet.
In some respects, in as much as the idea of a mixed format, dead-of-winter weekend contest can ever be a good one, Tallinn is kind of ideal to stage it: the placed is geared towards winter and modern life positively hums here despite it being Brass Monkeys outside (and it is).
The internet airline revolution also throws up these anomalies which make opportunities to hit events like this far more straightforward than they might first seem.
Flying out of the UK at Stupid’O-Clock in the morning from Cowshed Airport on a packed flight cost me less than a train journey to Manchester, and you can fill in the blanks on that punchline yourself.
Tallinn is by no means expensive, with new find Italian talk-to-the-chef chain Vapiano being my new top tip for eating well on the cheap, and if the really quite substantial after-parties hosted at the swanky Club Hollywood prove too much for your sensibilities then I can recommend a gorgeous Irish boozer called The Dubliner nearby in the old town in which to steady your nerves.
Culturally, of course, Tallinn has much more to offer, particularly in this its centenary year of independence, and should your other half like a bit of shopping it certainly has that in spades – but that is by the by, because it is the Simple Session in particular and not the city in general we come here to praise.
Is it the coolest event in the world? It is not and never will be, because crossover events always fall foul of the blacker-than-thou brigade’s doubtless exquisite taste, plus it is after all held during winter in the Baltic’s.
But, if you are so inclined, and can make it to the area, it is by a country mile the best action sports event held in Europe in that season. In the end, there is a delicious irony in talking to professional skateboarders who are coming back to skate the course the day after the contest is over.
Skating a BMX course? For fun? Didn’t they get the memo?
Let’s hope we never do.
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