As noted elsewhere on the Rad Season site in recent days, summer 2022 has seen international air travel return to pre-pandemic levels, which is surely driven by people naturally wanting to get back into actively living and experiencing the wonder of travel and sharing. The secondary part of anecdotal evidence that humanity is rushing back to engage with one another is the beautiful sight of the return of festivals and live events of all kinds. People seem sick of their screens.
If you are into skateboarding, Rome just hosted a free downtown skate contest that kicked off skateboarding’s road to the Paris Olympic Games of 2024 (all things being equal in the world between now and then, which is the bunny ears we have to put around everything these days, sadly).
The broad brushstrokes of this awesome event is that it runs for a week of graduated qualifiers culminating in a Sunday night spectacular finale, although the previous night’s semi-finals were superb too and accordingly packed.
220 skaters from 45 countries entered overall, including 63 women which is the thing which has transformed skateboarding in the last handful of years while of course acknowledging the pioneers who held the door open and created a home in skateboarding for the generations flooding in underneath. Held in a municipal park overlooking the Colosseum this time around, you can just turn up and watch. That’s it.
No ticketing, no barcodes, not reservations. First come first served for the seating, even more people elected to watch from the park itself which had a live big-screen and snazzy bar for those who wanted the ambience without the guy in front of you standing up every time a kick flip was landed. Again, all free to enter and overlooking the Colosseum.
The event was hosted by World Skate, who can create safe, free experiences like this by being better organised and staffed than is the norm for many other events- which is important in a city like Rome.
The security was rigorous but polite and kept everyone safe by being sharp on numbers and enough perimeter security to ensure that there was no chance of overcrowding. Very commendable job, and all done with a smile- which takes us onto the wider point about Rome.
Notwithstanding that the airport was pandemonium which seems a given for every international airport in Europe this summer (who imagined that if you lay off highly skilled staff during a pandemic despite government bailouts that they might not be so keen to return?) and the high cost of hotel rooms in Rome- a consequence of being an absolutely unique city- Rome has 2 other things going for it if you want to go and see a skate (or indeed any other) event there in the future.
Firstly, what makes Rome synonymous with romance is the everyman experience of La Dolce Vita: you and a friend can take your pick of restaurant terraces across the entire city and eat superb pizza the size of bicycle wheel or a bowl of lovingly made pasta with a couple of drinks for 25 euros and have the same experience of Rome as the Mayor does. If not, walk into one of the many places where they weigh your choice of equally superb pizza by the slice and liberate an ice cold Peroni from the fridge all these unpretentious and friendly places have, and walk to the nearest fountain and watch evening life in Rome unfold. It really is people- watching paradise.
The second is that Romans are on the whole very accommodating people: their city has been an avenue of humanity since pussy was a cat so they are at ease with strangers and love a good old conversation if they can get away with it.
Given the success of the World Street Skateboarding Rome contest (it was broadcast live on the Olympics website) and the fact that this is World Skate’s second consecutive event in Rome (albeit at a different location this year) you could see Rome becoming a new fixture on the summertime skate contest circuit which created history in previous generations by uniting the skateboarding world in a train tour from Northampton to Dortmund, Antwerp, Munster, Lausanne, Amsterdam and many other contests now confined to fading memory.
Many of the entrants themselves in Rome had made their way there under their own limited means but unlimited steam, so if you can find a workaround on the accommodation front and get a reasonable flight, then making your way to a free continental skate event like World Street Skateboarding Rome is an amazing way to see skateboarding’s heroes bust out right before your eyes, meet new people with whom you already share an interest and almost inevitably bump into someone with a ‘What are you doing here?’ story to tell. This, then, is a new axis of skate event to choose from when planning your summertime jollies- and how nice it is to be able to use that term again.
Men’s Final Results
1. Nyjah Huston (USA) 279.43
2. Aurelien Giraud (FRA) 275.96
3. Gustavo Ribeiro (POR) 261.40
Women’s Final Results
1. Funa Nakayama (JPN) 264.13
2. Momiji Nishiya (JPN) 255.64
3. Yumeka Oda (JPN) 254.91
Next World Skate stop is Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, this October- should you be so inclined- and we will circle back here after it with all the juice, if not!
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