The Mystic Cup: Europe’s Skateboarding Institution

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The Mystic Cup was a skateboarding institution back when the old European summer circuit was part of the global culture.

Legends were enshrined at this laid-back, bohemian skate contest now into its 23rd year which takes place on Stvanice island on the river Vltava in the Czech Republic which snakes its way through what was once the most fashionable city among ‘Slackers’ (think: proto-hipsters) in the world during the 1990’s.

History of the Mystic Cup

The contest would develop into a neighbouring mini-festival with 3 nights of music (usually a mix of metal and rap) and occasionally frightening debauchery, but in that period Prague gave way to Barcelona and later Berlin as the nexus of cool for the world’s bright young things and the contest itself began to attract less of skateboarding’s A-list as time went on, their numbers replaced by a phalanx of Brazilians and Eastern European skaters for whom the event was both within their financial reach and thankfully devoid of the make-believe elitism of American pro skateboarding.

Why head there?

And this is rather the point: despite the Mystic Cup no longer being part of the A- list of international events (most of which are controlled by sportswear conglomerates today), it remains a reassuringly loose and fun weekend event. Do the predominantly local, boozy and animated crowd care that the skaters they are watching do not appear in video games? Absolutely not.

“That is the charm of the Mystic Cup: it is the antithesis of something like Street League.”

The tickets are cheap, the city is all around you and it is pretty much an anything goes atmosphere. Why more people don’t travel to the Mystic Cup these days is beyond me; it seems a new conservatism walks abroad in the Instagram generation. What I can tell you is this: the event itself is always rammed, the cheap beer flows endlessly and Czech people have a pretty cavalier approach to rules.

For all those reasons, the Mystic Cup is my shout for a European skate contest which is neither too serious nor too dry. With the rumours that the industry-darling Copenhagen Open having hit the skids abounding, keep it behind your ear: Prague has been doing this year in, year out for almost a quarter of a century now: get yourself along.

For more information on next year’s event go to Mystic Skate Cup

Photos by: Mystic Sk8 Cup

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Niall Neeson

Niall has written for magazines all around the world for the last 15 years and runs a brand strategy consultancy involving youth culture and action sports.

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