You may be wondering why on earth a stand up comic would be asked to write some thoughts about a rollerblade competition, and honestly you wouldn’t be alone. When I was young, I always fantasized about being in a blade magazine. I would pour over back issues of Daily Bread so often they would literally fall apart in my hands. I would imagine myself on the cover, doing a misty flip to soyale off a burning building, or something equally ridiculous (My rollerblading fantasies were and remain unhinged). All this is to say I imagined my involvement with a blade magazine not to be the result of my career talking about pooping my pants on stage, but here we are. I am a comic by trade but I have rollerbladed my whole life, so make no mistake I am qualified to speak on our beloved sport and subculture. I tattooed “Früt boot” on my knuckles, so if you were needing more from me to vet my rollerblade credentials, I don’t know what more I could do for you.
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I’ll start with saying the Boschi Pope Skate Off 2021 was an incredible time. I went to BPSO in 2019, and while I had a lot of fun that day, I think there are a few differences that I saw from 2019 to now that are reflective of the growth of our sport, and I would like to highlight them.
Firstly, the level of skating in general has seemed to increase. Style is king, and so many of the skaters at BPSO 21 looked incredible. This is not to say that skaters in 2019 or before weren’t stylish, but there is a distinct feeling that rollerblading has come into its own with so many very diverse and pronounced styles of skating. Now, more than ever, I would like to watch many of these guys, like Duran Brickmore, Chino Sin, Zack Pollak, Arsenio Patterson, and, of course, Yandriel Silverio, simply just do soul grinds.
Secondly, this competition, much more than many bigger competitions I have been to before, was incredibly welcoming. Rollerbladers might not realize it, but there are times when they seem guarded and intense. I understand we all feel a certain way; rollerbladers, after all, have been bullied and treated like second class members of the action sports community. Unfortunately, many of us, as a result of these experiences, take ourselves just a little too seriously. There was none of that at BPSO 21 though, it was all smiles. It truly felt like a big session between friends. I skated next to pros like Colin Kelso and Danny Beer, doing incredibly creative and difficult tricks, and in that same box session someone landed their first pornstar, with everyone being equally hyped on both. This, to me, is the true spirit of rollerblading — no fear of how people outside our sport perceive us, or our skill level, or tricks. Rollerblading with reckless abandon and no rules, armed with the self awareness that you have silly wheel shoes on, and this sport is all about shredding on your terms and feeling good. It was an incredibly uplifting experience, to say the least, and gives me a lot of hope for our sport as it grows beyond this past year.
The third and final thing I noticed from BPSO 19 to 21 was a marked increase in women attending the event. Outside of Woodward, I think this was the most women I have seen skating at one place in a session. It is amazing to see rollerblading’s efforts as a subculture to be more inclusive paying off, as our passion is shared among people of all different backgrounds and identities. This can only be a net positive for us going forward. It feels like just yesterday I was being called “gay” for rollerblading, and rollerbladers were taking the bait, buying into the idea that “gay” is an insult. Now, in 2021, if someone calls me “gay” I can reply “yeah, I am queer, what are you gonna do about it?” and to know rollerbladers are gonna have my back in that confrontation is a difference in culture that is hard to describe. It is incredibly meaningful.
So yeah, BPSO was incredible. The level of skating was the highest it’s ever been. New and talented skaters are popping up all over the place. Rollerblading is welcoming the new beginners, and guys who skated in the 2000s that are returning to the sport now with open arms. Women are shredding, and rollerblading as the biggest underground action sports subculture is leading the way on inclusiveness. Thanks to ONE for helping my dreams of contributing to a blade magazine a reality. I am gonna go work on learning how to skate flat now. — Shayne Smith
Follow Shayne’s online hijinks at: instagram.com/shaydozer
Photos by Drew Humphrey instagram.com/dhumphreyphotography