I originally had no plans to go to Blading Cup. I worked in Virginia that weekend. I distinctly remember how sad I was, seeing my schedule fall on those days. I was moping around my apartment, frustrated at my bad luck, all but resigned to the fact I was not going to make it out to the comp when my friend Kirill hit me with a FaceTime. He was going to the competition and casually referenced the fact that one person dropped out of a hotel arrangement, and that was all it took. I looked up flights leaving Virginia to Southern California the morning of the last day of Blade Cup. My plan was to work all weekend and finish out late Saturday night, then rush to the airport. I’d be making two separate connections, but if there were no delays I was gonna be able to make it to the last day of Blade Cup, getting to the Pro competition by noon before leaving the next day back home to NYC in time for work. I was gonna be exhausted, but I was going for it.
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After a delayed flight, losing my jacket, a cat biting me, and a guy who claimed to be a chiropractor popping my neck like I couldn’t believe, I made the Oregon Trail-style journey to Blading Cup… mostly in one piece. Once on the ground in California I took an Uber directly to the comp.
Now let me tell you, I have never been a person that has religious or spiritual experiences in the traditional sense. I remember when I was a Boy Scout and we went to the Grand Canyon for the first time. People were crying and having this profound experience witnessing something so immense and beautiful. I didn’t get it at the time, I thought it was amazing but I couldn’t FEEl IT like they did. Blade Cup was a Grand Canyon moment for me. To get out of my Uber and casually see a handful of the industry’s most talented and venerated skaters was beyond overwhelming.
I have never and will never be a ‘cool’ guy. I geek out on the stuff I love and Blade Cup had me losing my mind. If you care at all about blading I implore you to attend Blading Cup at least once in your life. Jon Julio has created something so incredible and so special I can’t say enough about how fortunate we are as skaters to have access to an event where you can casually speak to and watch so many talented and incredible people.
The comp itself, while amazing, was honestly not even the highlight as I was originally thinking it would be. Blading Cup is full of amazing skating, product out the nose, and pros and industry heads you can talk to on a human level. But what ended up being my favorite part of the trip was the friends I made. In just 24 hours I was introduced to so many incredible and diverse people. I have said this many times, but no group is weirder than rollerbladers, and I say that as only the highest of compliments.
After Blading Cup we went for what I thought would be a small low key session at a local park with a few of my new friends, but it ended up being one of my favorite sessions I have ever had. It was an absolute mob of bladers and quad skaters all pushing each other to have fun and learn. Bladers with so much style and trick vocabularies that constantly surprised me. It was one of those good sessions where someone is learning something on a small simple obstacle that at first glance seems like one or maybe two tricks can be done on it but by the end of the session everyone at all skill levels is absolutely shredding this silly small thing and the creativity seems limitless.
I think this right here is what I would like anyone reading this to come away with. Blading Cup is sick, it’s gnarly as hell, and a huge part of it is watching skaters like John Bolino, Catherine Reyes, and Montre Livingston kill it, but the heart and soul of Blading Cup is the community and the opportunities we have to come together.
Blading will never be about hammers, it will never be what you can or can’t do on blades. It’s not about trick vocabulary or style or 8 wheels or anti. Rollerblading is about how it makes you feel. When you land a trick and feel that Grand Canyon feeling. When you see someone else skate and it gives you that special feeling. That’s what rollerblading is. That’s what Blading Cup is.
Special thank you to Jon Julio for everything you do. Shout out to the Utah Blade Boys for having me out and encouraging me to be a maniac. Also to all the homies from Austin, Texas! I will be seeing you soon. — Shayne Smith
Catherine NRO Reyes
Mario Pacia Ramos
Alex Del Campo
Header Photo by Steve Steinmetz