Pow-Wow IX: The Final Story
Another Pow-Wow story?! Yeah, another Pow-Wow IX story… and you know what, this is the one we’ve been waiting to tell. Thirty-six photos. Words by Jacksonville local Joey Rogers. Pics by Corey Oringderff and the patient (but hairy) Drew Humphrey. They say that good things are worth waiting for… so I guess you’ll have to let us know.
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This past weekend, rollerbladers from all over made the journey to sunny Jacksonville, FL to witness what has undoubtedly become the premier rollerblading event in North America—The Pow-wow Pro Am. What started out as the Pan Handle Pow-Wow, a one-day street competition in Tallahassee, has turned into a four-day festival complete with camping, a massive bonfire every night, competitions in inline cross, vert, flatland, three-vs.-three hockey, over-27, women’s, amateur qualifiers, best trick and the showcase Pow-Wow pro competition.
My Pow-Wow started Thursday when I showed up during the early afternoon, pitched a tent next to some familiar faces, and began the weekend. More and more people showed up throughout the day. Nothing official was going on, so it was nice to have time to get settled and wander around or skate. Before I knew it, the sun was was down and the fire was started. Some skating went down, some drinking went down, some burgers went down.
I woke up Friday morning to the sound of people yelling from the shock of ice cold showers, and the smell of bacon cooked over propane burners. It was fucking great. After I did the “Kona ice bucket challenge shower” and filled my stomach with bacon, eggs, hash browns, bc powder and Gatorade, I was ready to see what this year’s Pow-Wow had to offer.
But be warned, the weekend’s activities start to run together at this point, so I’ll do my best to give you the highlights.
First off, Blake and the rest of his staff do a great job of providing a ton of different obstacles for everyone to enjoy. I’m never let down by the lack of stunt obstacles at a Pow-Wow, and I don’t think anyone ever will be. Walking around the Kona skatepark grounds, you’ll find boxes and rails in random corners, being incorporated in the park’s existing assortment of obstacles. Which itself is pretty random! Also, if you’re brave enough, you never really have to the leave the grounds. Food trucks were a presence all weekend, and those who camped were given use of the showers. As for restrooms, the port-o-potties became more and more “rustic” as the weekend went on, turning the surrounding forestry into an ever-more viable option.
I’m sure everyone was ready to finally see some skating by the time Inline-X started on Friday. It was an exciting event to watch as always. It’s intense enough just going down the snake run at all, so you can imagine racing others at full speed can create some heated moments. Close calls and bad spills are common. Julian Bah won men’s. Coco won women’s.
I was most hyped for the best trick contest, and I wasn’t disappointed. Bladezilla (Adam Bazydlo) royaled one of the most death-defying obstacles I have ever seen, only to go back and lace it once more, this time with the fakie out. After that, as if his royale wasn’t enough, he 540’d first try into the snake run from the picnic table deck above. Joey Chase and Wake Schepman both did incredible tricks, launching out of the cement half pipe to the black down pipe as well. Other people were attempting some things. Other people landed some things. It was a long day and the night was pretty much a repeat of the last.
There were competitions going on all day Saturday, and a list of my favorite things were all happening at once. I watched great skating, listened to music, camped, threw Nerf footballs, ate food all day, and drank beers with friends I grew up skating with (as well as with new friends). The skating was INSANE. Wake Shepman walked home with first in vert. The amateur comp and 27+ comp were both just as awesome as the pro comp. Come on now, they need to increase this old man comp age. 30 at least. Some of these guys are still competing for pro contention.
The Pow-wow has always been one of the more prominent women’s events as of recent years—with the women’s inline cross and open park event—and this year was no different. With hte lack of Coco Sanchez and Fallon Hefferman in the Women’s Open, Chihiro Azuma had other bladies to compete with. Chihiro did end up holding onto her title again for 2015 with Mary Munoz taking second, and, all the way from France, Auriane Daries taking third.
The pro comp was insane. Some of the names that come to mind are Chris Smith, Jon Cooley, Julian Bah, Yuto Goto, Dave Lang and Kevin Lapierre. I could go through a laundry list of tricks but all you really need to know is Yuto won hands down, Julian killed it, and Kevin Lapierre has become one of my favorite bladers to watch as of recent years and his tricks were eye-catching as well. (Julian got second and Kevin got third.)
I decided to check out the local beaches as well as street spots on Sunday so I can’t tell you much about the activities that were going on at Kona. But I assure you, the beaches and street spots were just fine.
So, I’ll leave you with this. YOU NEED TO GO TO THIS COMPETITION/FESTIVAL—WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT. Camp out in the oldest skate park in the United States. Have beers with rollerbladers from EVERYWHERE. Witness some of the best skating on some of the biggest obstacles. Meet cool people. BE THERE, to see the best and coolest things rollerblading has going on right now.
— Joey Rogers