After an exhausting week of work filled with many sleepless nights, it was finally time to make the journey to the annual Popularity Contest in the province of trees, mountains, marijuana and environmental activists otherwise known as British Columbia. Jeremy Macht and I left the city of Calgary, Alberta, around noon, filling the car with as much camera and blading gear as possible. The original plan was to make it from Calgary to Kelowna in the least amount of time, and then Friday head up to Kamloops to meet with all our friends…
We made it to Kelowna by 5 p.m. local time and met up with Steve Eising, aka. Sleazy Beef, and Mike Eb at the infamous Ben Lee Skatepark. The Ben Lee Skatepark has a lot of history with Canadian rollerblading, being featured in a ton of old school videos and almost every SOL flick. Since it has played such a role in Canadian blading I really wanted to shoot some great photos there.
Jeremy Macht / Kindgrind
Mike Eb / FP to Back Full Torque
After our brief warm up, Jeremy wanted to Kind Grind the big park rail for our first photo of the night; without a trace of effort he laced it flawlessly. Since he had it dialled he insisted on getting a photo of an alley-oop fishbrain. First try: fail. Second try: stuck it and fell straight onto his wrist. It began swelling up instantly and almost buzz killed the session. Mike Eb, not deterred by Jer’s big fall, insisted on banging out one more photo on our way out of the park. With the second try Mike fastplanted to Back Full Torqued the rainbow ledge from end to end. Being the nice guy that he is, he did it a few more times until it was exactly how I wanted it—as it turns out I’m a perfectionist.
We quickly packed up all the photo gear and left the skatepark to seek medical attention for Jeremy’s wrist. We found the nearest medical centre 10 minutes after they closed. Our only other option was to wait until the morning when the clinic reopened, or head to the hospital and wait in the emergency ward. So we did the next most logical thing we could… found a liquor store. After consulting numerous customers with the question, “Hey, does this look broken to you?” Jeremy actually ran into a doctor who had just left the clinic that had closed. He insisted to ice it overnight and get it x-rayed in the morning. Perfect: permission to party from the Doc himself.
The rest of the night consisted of crushing beers at Sleazy Beef’s pad and watching classic Canadian skate flicks, a perfect ending to day one…
Waking up relatively early, by blading standards, we gathered our belongings and hit the road. The plan was to meet up with all our friends and bang out a ton of blading photos. Unfortunately for us, Mother Nature had other plans. By the time we made it to Kamloops it was pouring rain and the whole city was soaked. Being the resourceful individuals, we made the most of the situation and found the nearest liquor store again. After a steady pre-drink it was off to dinner and the bar to tear Kamloops apart. For anyone in attendance the evening was a blur of beers, shots, cigarettes and blade talk.
The year prior I partied too hard the night before the Pop Contest and couldn’t even function the next day. I had my heart set on skating and having enough energy to shoot all day, so my plan was to pack it in relatively early. With that in mind I left the bar around 2 a.m. with many other drunken bladers in tow.
Being a blading photographer, shooting contests becomes a necessary evil. Somebody has to do it, but the logistics of shooting a contest make it almost impossible to get “the perfect shot.” There are constant challenges such as lighting, an endless amount of skaters in the way ruining your shot, and the list goes on. All complaints about shooting aside, the contest was incredible. It was a traditional jam session format with all the skaters on the park at the same time. Bladers from all over Canada, from B.C. to Prince Edward Island, were in attendance and going off. This year’s MC was our man Steve Eising; not only is he one of Canada’s OG bladers, but he is also probably one of the funniest bladers in Canada. Not one to waste time, the moment Steve hit the mic it was game on.
One of the most notable changes at this contest was that a new generation of bladers have slowly come up and taken over. At the same time bladers who have been absent from the game have re-emerged and are better than ever. Watching this mix of old and new battling at one of the best concrete skateparks in North America makes for one exciting contest.
The first spot was the east side of the park with all the action taking place on the quarter pipe. The quarter can be hit from both sides, which is an advantage for skaters, but due to the volume of competitors it was ground zero for some nasty collisions. After a half hour of frantic skating on the quarter, the round was over and it was time to move on to spot two.
David Schlaikjær / 450 Back Full Torque
Spot two was the central north side of the park, with the kickers and grind boxes as the main obstacles. Contest organizer Matt Vigneux came up with brilliant idea of making a triangle coping box to sit on top of the pre-existing ledge. Needless to say, it was a breath of fresh air for the bladers and the audience who have been to the contest in the past. Within moments, everyone was launching crazy spin-to-win disaster tricks at the box. Highlights included Winnipeg skater David Schlaikjær pulling off a super clean disaster 450 back farv, shocking his fellow bladers and sending out the message: step your game up.
David Schlaikjær / Back Full Torque
Eli V / Sweatstance
Daniel Davidson Pilon / BS Torque
Dustin Jamieson / Rough Grind
Ryan Roux / AO Negative Mistrial
Ryan Roux / BS Backslide
Dustin Jamieson / Negative Makio
Mother Nature made a brief appearance with a bit of rain, but it wasn’t enough to stop the skating. It was, however, a sign to keep things moving at a decent pace before we got rained out. Steve ushered the bladers into the last round and everyone’s favourite spot, the down rail and ledges. Too many tricks went down to keep track of, but it was the tricks of Eli Vuong, Dustin Jamieson, Leon Basin, and Ryan Roux that had the crowd on their feet and cheering. Ryan Roux pulled off a flawless back farv up the rail and 540’d out with ease. It was shocking, but not enough to match the consistency of American Dustin Jamieson who dominated the park all day.
It was a unanimous decision that the 2010 Mr. Popular would be Dustin Jamieson. Not since Randy Juarez has an American taken home the title of Mr. Popular. In the past, people have complained about favouritism on the side of Canadian skaters, but on this day that was definitely not the case. It was a well-deserved win for a skater who showed Canada how it’s done.
Popularity Contest is a Canadian rollerblading staple and I highly recommend you come and join us next year in the city of Kamloops for a great time. If you ask anyone who has attended in the past they will tell you that there truly is no contest like it. With its amazing park, chill vibe, great skating and legendary after parties, it truly is one of rollerblading’s best kept secrets. — Chris Wedman
1st : Dustin Jamieson
2nd: Daniel Davidson Pilon (aka DP)
3rd: Matt Garrity
Best Trick: Leon Basin
Best Line – David
Most Progressed: Eli Vuong