Photos by Felipe Lobos, Matias Veras, Javiera Garrido Text by William Lobos
Before talking about Chilean skating scene, we need to understand a few aspects of this country. Chile, due to its geography, has a variety of landscapes from north to south; because of the extension of territory we can find desert, coast, beaches, mountains, woods, even polar landscapes. Territory diversity reflects on the skating scene as well. It reflects on the relationship between skaters and their city, the diversity of landscapes gives every city a unique infrastructure depending on the zone of the country that they are located in. For example, the cities located in the desert have concrete as the predominant element in public spaces. On the other hand, in the rainy cities we can find more vegetal elements. The size of the cities is a relevant aspect to understand the local skating scene as well. There are cities that due to their size and infrastructure are more suitable for street skating, and also there are cities that have appeared on the scene because of the skate parks that they have.
Regards of the evolution of skating in Chile, as in almost every country in the world, it went basically through two phases. The first phase is the skating boom in the middle 90´s when the first skaters and skate parks appeared in Chile. During those years, Santiago was the emerging “mecca” of rollerblading in Chile, this was possible because there was a relatively large market surrounding the sport with a decent variety of skate shops as well as private and public skate parks. At that time, many emblematic hotspots of the sport appeared on scene, like “Los Cobres de Vitacura Skate park “ (closed in 99´ and reopened in 2001), the “Parque Araucano” ramps, and the “Crazy wheels vert” in La Florida, Santiago. On the late 90´s with a more consolidated scene new skate spots appeared, like the “Macul” skate park, and the rebirth of “Los Cobres Vitacura”, bringing new specific locations to the development of our sport, with a better design than the older skate parks.
A city like Santiago has the problem of every big city, the long distances. In mostly every street session, the distances between spots are longer that the actual time skating in each spot. Despite of the long distances there are street routes that have became classics in Santiago, like the sessions in “Maipu” district given the large investments destined to the continuity of public spaces in that area, the same happens in the wealthy side of the city. These street routes are nice because they are mainly downhill routes.
Before going to the current skating scene in Chile, we must cover the big break of the rollerblading era. The disappearance of skate parks and skate shops almost led to a complete extinction of the sport, which was even prohibited. People couldn´t get neither skates nor skate parts, and off course couldn´t find skate parks to practice. At 2006, rollerblading and other urban action sports began to rise again in Chile, with new sports implementations such as the “Copiapó Bowl”, the “Atenas” sports complex in Coquimbo, the reconstruction and reopening of “Parque Araucano”, the “Teragon Club Ramps” , and the mini half pipe in “La Pintana”, offering new meeting places. This, plus the advances in communications compared to the 90’s made the scene a lot more bonded and connected, more skaters with experience and previous knowledge were teaching the new school kids bringing new blood to the sport.
Within the last years, the skating scene has been growing and developing at huge steps. Since the construction and opening of the “Parque de Los Reyes” skate park in Santiago during 2007 to the current date, is clearly the most important step in the Chilean scene. Five years ago Chile had cero skate parks, now we have over 20 skate parks in 10 of the 15 regions of the country. Along came all the contests in different regions of the country, being the “Iquique” skate park the most predominant because of its size and location (2nd region of Chile, located in the north, literally right next to the beach). This park was opened in 2008, and it´s the biggest one in Chile, this has been bringing new generations and talents to the scene. Also, the capital of the 2nd region “Antofagasta” is well known for its street scene. The nice weather, closeness to beach, and particular architecture of this city makes it perfect for street skating.
It is important to mention the contribution of people who had always been part of the skating scene, the organization of contests with a decent frequency, the appearance of skate shops across the country, and the support of these shops to local skaters.
In conclusion we can see that the Chilean scene is conditioned by many aspects, on one hand we have the landscape diversity which leads to cultural diversity, this cultural diversity reflects on the skating of the different “schools” and ways to see, live and approach the sport; simultaneously we have the development of public spaces (street, or skate parks) that shapes the skater’s scene of each city in its own way. With that understood, we can see that in cities like Iquique and Santiago, skate park style skating predominates; and in cities like Antofagasta, La Serena, and Valparaiso we are more likely to find street skaters.
All these facts, instead of dividing the Chilean scene, it enriches and strengthens it; it gives the scene and the people in it freedom of options to express their skating, offering different paths to the skater to take his own. This is how the everyday of the Chilean skating scene is experienced, trying to reach the next level and to be able to unite the boarder countries in order to be only one unified LATINOAMERICA!
We would like to thank everybody that have been supporting our art and sport for years, all of those who had kept the skating scene alive and wanted to take it to the next level on a fair way. Also we want to thank Olli and all the guys from Be-mag for allowing us to showcase the scene of our country, for supporting South America and the underground scene. You are all invited to our country whenever you guys want!