Noun. German shorthand for Spielhalle. English for arcades, a cheap casino.
For the sake of argument, let’s compare competing at a rollerblading competition with gambling. It’s about win and loss, taking chance for a dopamine rush. Most of the time though, the outcome is you’ll lose. Whether it’s money, dignity, or the integrity of your body. A successful performance in these domains requires a set of outstanding skills, keen knowledge of the rules and knacks, and a good initial position (such as capital/sponsor). This makes a winning outcome biased. If winning is restricted to just a chosen few, it’s obvious why there isn’t a desire to compete within most of people. Why not focus on being playful and create competitions that allow for more people to enjoy themselves together (this lasts e-winterclash comes to mind)?
It took me a while to get used to the idea of overthrowing all previous concepts of an annual, national contest format that has existed for decades. It was about time and people were hungry for a change. With the greatest crew of bladers and friends around me that I’ve ever been with, Vollkornblading, I felt more than confident this shit would turn out great! Yes, I’m pretty biased. And so is Marc Nickel. He is more the empathic, living-the-moment type of guy with plenty of Verschwende-Deine-Jugend energy (ed. quoting the band DAF) would quickly feel when things went sideways, because he would have stopped enjoying himself.
This years’ Xmas Jam was a special one for the crew and me. Changing a contest concept to be so radically different was a shot in the dark. We did our thing, wondering how it would be received. While everything was going down, I quickly realized my worries were overblown. All the competitions we presented that day exceeded my expectations! People were enjoying it and carried along the vibe that we wanted to create.
By the end of that day, I had lost my voice. I went to a bar afterwards to celebrate, realizing I hadn’t eaten all day. It was an exhausting weekend, with countless hours after work in preparation. Realizing the things you planned and carried through created an event people will actually remember — this made it clear that it all was worth it.
PW: Spielo Royale was held during a pandemic (but you knew that). That was the biggest buzzkill. To overcome skepticism and uncertainty, even within our crew, was work. Long discussions held to negotiate the final go, which still left us with an unpredictable outlook on how many people would actually attend, bearing in mind all possible (shitty) scenarios.
I have to briefly mention the 50+ people who came to the event late and had to wait outside the sold-out I-Punkt Skateland (I’m so, so sorry) until others quit and left them their places. It wasn’t how we would have wanted it, but these are the times we live in.
After waking up around noon and trying to focus on what lied ahead, I was not even sure if my crew and I were going to make it. Took us several hours to freshened up, eat and get our asses to Skateland!
As soon as we got through the door, the vibe of the common rollerblading war hit us — noises of hands clapping, people cheering and Miguel Martinez shouting into the mic! The place was cooking! The German blading elite as well as lots of other amazing bladers were throwing everything they had at the popular sub-box. We were witnessing Cash4Trick.
(PW:You were late, Patrick. And came at the most traditional part – which isn’t the worst moment when expecting the regular. But you missed a good chunk of the new-new and already lots of fun. Sorry. Please go on, Patrick.)
So, hardcore throwing went down! It was fire. But what came afterwards made this Xmas Jam a unique affair. After Cash4Trick was done, the staff rolled out this rainbow-colored spine ramp, which was shaped so short and steep. It really was hard to actually get up high and not land flat on your face!
This competition was called Ikarus Cup and was presented by Le Soir Berlin. It was a high jump contest with a purposely not-so-perfectly shaped ramp. Believe me when I say it was a blast – maybe even more for the spectators. Lots of slams. Not bad ones— rather funny ones. The laughter was long and loud! You didn’t feel the high tension that usually comes with a contest!
Blade Roulette came afterwards. You’re asking yourself what is that? It’s like wheel of fortune but instead of numbers, you had grinds, variations and other tricks that had to be done on a longer p-rail. It was not about throwing the craziest grinds or switch ups. Nope!
Some of the options on the wheel included Take off one of your blades during a grind and land on one foot run up to the rail (no rolling!) and do a grind (which is harder on a concrete floor than you’d think); roll up on a scooter and then jump to a grind (luckily without the scooter). You’d be surprised how many participants gave up at the scooter task. haha.
This gave everybody a bigger chance to compete against the Crème de la Crème! I liked that a lot. It evens the playing field. Everybody can feel more confident and motivated when participating, even when they are up against a pro like Eugen Enin! Well ok, he won anyways. 😉
After the contest, we were happy to get home, take a shower, lick our wounds and party again. This Spielo Royale edition of the Xmas Jam was a blast with refreshing ideas, new concepts and most importantly, lots of fun!
PW: Thanks, Patrick for that heartwarming story! Fun might be a scarce commodity in these crazy times, but it’s important to live it up and enjoy yourself without the fear of losing.
Throughout the past years, squads of dutch bladers and bladies have visited Hamburg’s annual event. They were a staple of party atmosphere at previous Xmas Jams. This time, it turned out a bit more serious. Olga and Pieter from Adapt Brand were not only attending, but heavily supporting this year’s event with goodies and a pair of one-of-a-kind aluminum frames for the winner of the Ballercross — A race through the skatepark with additional tasks and crazy twists. They also brought Sem Croft with them to win back their frames (so evil, lol). Sem was so kind to pass on the frames to the next in line and thereby honoring himself to become the first and most gracious Spielo King ever.
Our first Spielo Queen also came from the Netherlands — Aniek Kerkhofs. She attended the Xmas Jam for the first time and was skating the best all day long. Aniek participated in almost all games and that’s not an easy task, let me tell you. Mad props to our new Speilo Queen!
This is the most original and creative competition I have ever participated in! There were six games and it felt like you were just playing with your friends. It was so much fun! You could see that the organizers put in serious effort into making this contest so different than anything before it.
They built extra obstacles like cardboard figures to jump and grind through; a kind of spine sort of thingy (to be technical haha) to jump as high as possible. The last game was a wheel of fortune with funny images and tricks.
It was a fun day and I hope to see more creativity in future competitions!
PW: Our Dutch friends were definitely happy with their visit. That is an achievement!
Talking about achievements: Winterclash, a contest that has successfully pulled off blading events on a worldwide scale, with thousands spectators and riders from all over the planet. We dearly miss it this year, like we missed Jojo. Fortunately, he made it to Hamburg! Please, speak up Jojo!
With Winterclash 2020 being the last event I attended, I was looking forward to making an appearance at Xmas Jam 2021. Not so much for a skate contest, but more so because of the exciting event-format. Ironically I’ve never been a huge fan of testosterone and ego-driven hardcore competition events. Life (and blading) is more fun when we don’t take ourselves too serious. That’s exactly what the Vollkornblading crew had in mind with their Spielo Royale concept.
When they announced a halfpipe contest to start the day with, my legs got worried immediately! I’m getting older and my legs are definitely not used to big airs in a vert ramp anymore. Well, no need for big airs, it turned out. Right before the start (without anyone knowing) they turned it into an Under the Coping contest, setting up an upside-down/dark-side coping. It went from people being worried about killing themselves to “everyone can play around without getting hurt.“ That’s a different kind of contest right there.
What came after followed the same concept: Racing, high jump, jumping and grinding through holes… They turned the skatepark into a playground for everyone. I’m not sure I have ever laughed this much during a competition before. My legs gave up during the first half of the day though, but I had even more fun turning into an annoying, beer-drinking spectator for once.
Thanks to the whole crew for making this event happen! Thanks making the event inclusive for everyone and all levels of skating and for pushing people outside of their comfort zone. Keep on doing things your way. It is inspiring others to step up as well.
PW: OMG, that sounded quite nice Jojo. It has a fresh air vibe to it. May it overcome the old habits and bring new life to… Okay, I’m getting carried away now. Will such ideas become accepted in the inline skating culture? Our local, beloved blade-geek, Markus Friedrich, contemplated this topic and came to the following conclusion.
When I looked at the polls and awards for 2021 with questions like who’s your favorite skater, favorite edit or brand, I asked myself what would people rate best about inline skating culture this year? Is it the community effort to be inclusive and open? Pluralist and unashamed to be part of this culture? Being bold about it; spreading and expressing your joy in skating? Or welcoming humor back to a scene that might have taken itself a tad too serious?
Hamburg’s skate crews had a thought — why not take an event like the official German Championships, make it open to everyone, no matter if you are pro or simply on skates, welcome every aspect of you, your skating and the tricks you do, and make this all visible to a wide audience so as to give positive feedback?
By creating new formats for a contest, the organizers made a bold statement about what they saw as necessary to make our sport a stronger and well-rounded community. There were games during an actual half pipe session, a crazy race through the skatepark inspired by underground bike-messenger races, silly trick games right out of Tri Tri Rudolphs’ basement and a pretty gnarly high-jump contest. Yes, there was a Cash4Trick as well, but I was impressed the most by the pure joy coming from rollerblading in all its diverse possibilities. Thank you guys for showing us such a fuller picture of blade culture and providing the our community an opportunity to see themselves in a fun light.
PW: It’s scary good how well the event went (with room for improvement going forward). This event resonated with most of the crowd that attended. It left a good mark on the German blade scene and well past our borders. We leave the final words to Marc Nickel.
The amount of positive feedback I received from friends and attendees (blader or spectator), made me feel we made the right decision. Shoutout to all the people that attended, we appreciate you deeply! I hope this event won’t be the last one of its kind. We are already thinking about the next event…maybe you’ll get lucky playing one of our games.
UNDER THE COPING
1. JO ZENK 2. EIKE LOEST 1ST UNDERGRIND: LINO BACH
SYMETRICS X VOLLKORNBLADING BALLERCROSS
1. SEM CROFT 2. FELIX KERRINNES 3. DAVE BOTCHWEY 4. ANDERS HAUERHOLT
SGT. SNAKES’ CASTLE
1. JO ZENK 2. SEM CROFT 3. BASTIAN THÜRING 4. SAMUEL OBST 5. MAX HEID
GRINDHOUSE CASH4TRICK (BIG TRICKS)
BASTIAN THÜRING PATRICK KRÄMER JO ZENK LE SOIR BERLIN
1. MAX HEID 2. EUGEN ENIN 3. EIKE LOEST
VOLLKORNBLADING BLADE ROULETTE
1. EUGEN ENIN 2. CORNELIUS GRUNT 3. PATRICK SMITH 4. RENE BRUCKERT 5. ENRICO FRAIME
SPIELO QUEEN ANIEK KERKHOFS
SPIELO KING SEM CROFT
BLADING KANZLER 2021 & NEW GERMAN CHAMPIONS(ELECTED BY VOTE) TEBBE SIEMS & TOM THIELEBEIN