Hey Collin Martin, you’re the organizer of the Windy City Riot and owner guy of THE PULL skateshop. That’s cool. Tell us, is the WCR your baby, and where did the idea come from?
My baby? I dunno. I hope I don’t have such a love/hate relationship with my baby if I ever have one. I both dread and greatly anticipate the Riot’s advent. I’m not sure which I feel more though. Basically, The Riot wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Travis Conn and his ability to get Red Bull to sponsor the Riot. I also think Drew Bachrach’s Chi City True Street Comp played a role in this. I believe his contest was the first street contest to take place in North America if not the world. Maybe we can get Drew to comment on this. In 2002 (the year after CCTSC2?), Travis Conn of the VFW crew was able to wrangle a few thousand dollars from Red Bull to have a blading contest. The next year they offered a few thousand dollars again. In 2004 Red Bull decided not to support the contest so Travis didn’t intend on hosting the event. I thought that would be a shame so I asked him if I could take the event over. I’ve been hosting the WCR since. Click here to read what Travis has to say about the history of the first couple years of the Riot.
How many years has the WCR been going on?
This year is our 11th year.
What has the experience of organizing the comp taught you about blading, bladers, and street contest?
I’m not sure if I’ve learned much that most other people who’ve been blading for as long as I have don’t already know. I suppose I’m reminded of a lot of the characteristics of our sport, street contests, and characteristics the majority of us have. Here are some examples: We tend to be broke. Some of the best times in our lives took place at, on the way to, or the way home from a contest. We always have an opinion that we will voice to our friends about what is good but mostly bad. We feel an intrinsic sense of connection with anyone that blades but can’t bring ourselves to call up the kid who skates those Razors with the neon green cuffs and purple backslide plates. We are more interested in seeing good street skating over good park skating. We skate street with a sense of entitlement. One out of 10 rollerbladers is 100 times cooler than the coolest dude out of a random selection of 100 people off the street. The 9 other bladers are…. well, you know what they’re like. Something I’m always surprised by though is that there doesn’t seem to be a single high profile pro in the last few years that is willing to blade a real street contest (the type where you travel from one street spot to another street spot). Sure, there’s significantly more risk and uncertainty involved at a street contest than a park contest, but I think that’s a cop out. You say it’s really about the money with respect to the risk? I don’t think that’s true because these dudes get broke off filming a section for a video and they’d be lucky to see $1,000 for it. I think it has little to do with the money or risk but has almost everything to do with ego. Instead of elaborating, I’ll let you read into that what you’d like.
Tell us about the way you plan out the event — how spots are chosen, etc.
Usually I try to do everything as a group. I try to get as many of the OGs from Chicago together as possible and we brainstorm about what should happen and what spots we should go to. I’d like to thank Joe Esquivel for being one of the most consistently helpful people over the years. These meetings though are usually only slightly productive because of the aforementioned opinionated characteristic which bladers have. It’s worthwhile nonetheless. As we all know, every event needs that one person that actually makes things happen and makes those difficult final decisions for which others would prefer not to be held accountable. So after these meetings, I gotta be that dude.
What’s important for a street comp to work out, and what can the organizer do to help make that a reality?
This also could be a very long answer. I’ll try to keep it short. Other than getting people to your event and having a cash purse, the most important and the most difficult aspect in making a street contest successful is in spot selection. You obviously want sick spots but beyond that, each spot needs the following: low bust factor, space for spectators, space for parking, and a location near other spots which have each of these characteristics. In my opinion, the spots should be diverse as well. You can’t go to a bunch of drop rails. That’d be lame. Also, you need to be aware that you run the risk of ruining any spot you select. If the owner of the property is angry enough that your event happened at his spot, he may make the spot not skatable for anyone in the future. If you’ve got spot selection and attendance under control, you’ll only need to be sure you have some cash for your winners and a rad after party. Let’s face it though. Even if a 9-year-old skateboarder who knew nothing about blading wanted to throw a contest and could put down $10,000, it’d be a relatively huge event for our sport.
Colin is a Hall of Famer in my book! Keep up the good work and see you at the Riot.