Jemma J / May 30th, 2024 / Events
FISE 2024 – Montpellier
Julien Cudot

It’s summer in Europe which means it’s event season! One of the biggest stages to showcase blading to the public is FISE, and this year ONE teamed up with photographer Jemma J to capture the action in Montpellier. Over a long five days, skaters from far and wide come together to skate the big ramps and enjoy the excitement that surrounds any action sports event. Throw in an extra rail comp and street session, and well that’s a packed house. Check out the full coverage below and look for more event coverage soon!

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In the world of action sports, few events capture the spirit and community quite like the Festival International des Sports Extrêmes, or as most people know it, FISE. Established in 1997 in the vibrant city of Montpellier, France, FISE has grown into one of the largest action sports festivals globally. This annual gathering draws hundreds of thousands of people and features some of the best athletes in the world, making it a cornerstone event for fans and participants alike.

FISE is renowned for its diverse array of competitions, showcasing a mix of sports including BMX, skateboarding, scootering, parkour, and, of course, rollerblading. Each discipline brings its unique flavour and challenges, contributing to the atmosphere that celebrates extreme sports. The festival’s flagship event in Montpellier is a place for people and passion, whether it’s for the sports or the parties—but I guess the two go hand in hand.

Takeshi Yasutoko

The festival’s media coverage, including live broadcasts and social media presence, amplifies its impact, reaching millions of viewers worldwide. This accessibility helps elevate the profiles of participants and promotes the vibrant culture of action sports to a global audience. And that’s where I come in.

A photographer rather than a journalist, I still wanted to put my spin on the event. This was my first time at FISE. And. What. A. Week.

Riverbank Crowds Forming

I landed Monday night, ready for the start of the festival. After collecting my pass, I was buzzing. The previous week had seen a lot of rain, and when I got to the park, the sight of diggers and JCBs moving sludges of mud everywhere made me rethink the bright white Nike trainers I had bought. But hey, the forecast for the week was favourable, so I prayed to the baby Jesus for the continued sunshine.

Day 1 (Tuesday)
World Series Roller Freestyle Park Men and Women’s warm-ups.

The warmups for the World Series Men and Women started at 12:00. My first thought was, who’s gonna do the rainbow rail? Of course, it was Cudot.

Julien Cudot

If you saw the pictures from FISE, well, Greg, that picture is the nuts. At this point, I was trying to gauge where I could and couldn’t go. I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way, but after seeing Charly running around with his gimble and phone I thought, fuck it! Another cool shot I was hoping to find on Instagram was Aurel Le Cam doing a misty over some guy on the Samsung ramp. Super sick!

Women’s Warm-Ups

After a while, people started finding their flows. The men seemed to have pep talks in their heads, whereas the women wore their hearts on their sleeves. A few gasps and, I’m sure, a few swears about the size of the park, but within minutes, they were flying around with cheers of support for each other. Mery Munoz once again proving she’s got the guts to try the big stuff, grinding the rainbow rail.

Armelle Tisler

Knackered from travelling and eager to get an early night, I headed back to the hotel, only to find myself in a ramen place with a beer. When in France?

Note to self: no early night can be accomplished by staying in an Ibis…

Julien Cudot

Day 2 Wednesday
Roller Freestyle Park Amateur Men’s Qualifications
World Series Roller Freestyle Women’s Qualifications
World Series Roller Freestyle Men’s Qualifications

Okay, I thought, this is the start. Everything is prepped (I need a new camera bag!) let’s fucking go!

Walking down, I knew it was going to be quiet. It’s the morning; it’s just getting started, but it was a great surprise to see some people on the banks of the river ready for rollerblading!

The amateur men’s event was first and it was great. It took the longest time to get through because there were so many, and it would only be whittled down to 12.

The WS Women’s was after. I’m always excited to see the women do their thing. Tricks that stood out to me were Carla Martin’s epic wall rides and Amelle Tisler getting some serious air grabs on the Occitaine ramp. I’d seen her do this in warm-ups and was ready to capture it with the sun shining from behind her. It was a pretty dope shot. Of course, the Japanese impressed with Miyao Kaho throwing spins out and around too.

Roman Abrate

Moving onto the WS Men’s. Roman, Roman, Roman. Can that man skate! I always compare him to a male version of Chynna. Smooth as butter. By this point, the rainbow rail was getting action from pretty much everyone, and with the sun going down, my camera welcomed it! The atmosphere was super hyped for the men’s event. It was exciting and so good to see people coming out for rollerblading!

With the number of people competing, it was getting to be a long day, and the longest day was still to come.

Day 3 Thursday
Roller Freestyle Park Amateur Women’s Contest
Roller Freestyle Park Amateur Men’s Final
World Series Roller Freestyle Park Cup Women’s Final
World Series Roller Freestyle Park Cup Men’s Semi-Final

The longest day.

With two finals and a lot to get through, this was the most exciting day so far. Still, the lack of sleep and slightly burnt forehead (had to buy a €24 cap…) didn’t put me off.

I was especially excited for the Amateur Women’s contest because Sara was skating, but also because this group of women are gnarly as hell. The supportive energy and the go-team-go attitude is what always makes my excitement soar. Yes, of course, it’s a contest and they’re all trying to do the best line they can, but so is everyone else. Why be negative about it when we can share in each other’s success and passion? The only thing I would question is the 45-second limit for runs. Five seconds may not seem like a big deal, but it definitely is.

Anyway, your winners of the Roller Freestyle Amateur Women!
1. Lilou Fumery (France):81.25 points
2. Anelim Arostegui Stet (Italy): 70.88 points
3. Lilo Verticcione (France): 66.38 points

A mention for Sara who came 6th! Well done, girl. The only woman to compete from the UK.

Kwon Ho Seong

As the day progressed, anticipation mounted for the Amateur Men’s final. This was a big moment. The riverbanks were filling up slowly as the day moved on and I really needed a beer at this point! It was a display of skill and determination. You should have seen Alex Francois doing this front flip up the huge wall! I MISSED IT. But luckily, he wanted another go on his 2nd run and I got it on camera. What a man! Honestly, it was crazy and everyone was gearing him up for it. Super sick. Oh, did I forget to mention his double-back flip too over the Samsung ramp? No? Well, the only amateur to try it, that’s all I can say.

Alex Fernandes Jurado

Your Roller Freestyle Amateur Hommes winners:
1. Peter Le Couls (France): 85.50 points
2. Alexandre Francois (France): 82.13 points
3. Alex Fernandes Jurado (Spain): 77.88 points

Emi Parejo

Emi / Fishbrain

The Women’s World Series final was next. One question: How can a 900 spin be your staple trick?! Well, the very talented and young Brazilian Ana Julia can tell you that. You probably remember her from other episodes of rollerblading such as winning Winterclash. The talent that these Brazilians are bringing is absolute fire, igniting the park with their performances. From massive airs to technical grinds the skills they’re developing I’m sure will only encourage everyone else!

Miyao Kaho / 540

We obviously can’t forget about the rest of the talented women. The Japanese always bring such a style that you can’t compare with anyone else. These women pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible, captivating everyone with their creativity. What’s also great to see is the close friendship shared between Carla and Armelle. Clearly, the best of friends who support and give each other shit. It’s those kinds of role model behaviours that encourage others into this sport.

Mery Muñoz

World Series Roller Freestyle Cup Women’s final winners:
1. Silva Ana Julia (Brazil): 84.63 points
2. Miyao Kaho (Japan): 81.74 points
3. Eneritz Quincoces (Spain): 80.75 points

Freestyle Women’s Final Results

Closing out the day was the World Series Pro Men’s Semi-Final, another showcase of the sport’s elite talent. The competition was fierce as riders battled it out for a spot in the final. At this late in the day the sun was behind everything, it was getting dark but the contrast on the park and the limited area to take pictures pulled me away. I think at this point, if I’m honest I’d already taken around 2000 images which needed sorting. William who I’d chatted to over Instagram before FISE, was shooting for Be-Mag and going to let me know who qualified for the Finals.

Victor Nguyen

Top 3 qualifiers for the men’s World Series Pro Final
1. Danilo Senna (Brazil): 94.12 points
2. Julien Cudot (France): 92.00 points
3. Jaro Frijn (Netherlands):91.90 points.

Um, how close at the top!!

I couldn’t help but feel extremely grateful for my hotel beer and the chance to be in the wonderful city.

Day 4 Friday
Roller Freestyle Park Amateur Junior Contest
World Series Roller Freestyle Park Men’s Final!

How old were you when you put on your first pair of blades? I was 7. I rocked some really cool and colourful orange, yellow, and blue toy skates, and I rode them around my back garden for years. Then I never touched blades again until I was about 14, and then again until I was 28! These kids, I’m sure, were born with blades on their feet. Natural mini shredders. It was fantastic to see such young talent coming through, dominated by the French, with the youngest being just 8 years old. What a great place to experience the world of rollerblading! It was also great to see the pros like Roman out to support the younger ones. I’d seen a lot of that from Takeshi, which again, is role-model behaviour.

Your Roller Freestyle Park Junior Winners
1. Sacha Hebreard (France, 14 years old): 87.00 points
2. Elio Sala-Naessens (France, 12 years old): 82.73 points
3. Simon Mansencaut (France, 13 years old): 80.63 points

Friday was a split day, with the juniors hitting the park super early in the morning and then the Men’s Pro Final scheduled for later tonight. And in between? Why not throw in the gnarliest rail contest you can find? Well, that’s exactly what happened. Being my first year, I wasn’t quite sure about the format of FISE, but I quickly learned that everyone took the opportunity to skate at every possible moment.

So, let’s talk about this rail contest. It was located on the edge of the festival site, right in front of this mad building next to the river (surely, I thought someone would end up in the water!). The setup was SICK! I hope my photos do it justice. I would have loved to have attempted a soul grind down that rail, that’s for sure. Chatting with Charly on the other side of the barrier, we were both ready to get the shots. With these images, I wanted to capture a wide-angle shot of a sick rail trick with the Mad Hatter-style building complex in the background.

At this point, I hadn’t touched my wide-angle lens much and I had also brought my 35mm Canon film camera and was determined to get a shot of someone on it.

Victor Daum / Hurricane Topsoul

The bladers that stood out in my mind included Bastouil, Victor, and of course, Manu! Manu hits the rail every year without fail and gets the crowd on his side. Watching these guys was mental, in a good way! Their creativity on the rail was mind-blowing, creating some epic moments that I couldn’t wait to capture.

Your Rail Contest Winners!
1. Julien Cudot
2. Victor Daum
3. Robin Lupo

As the day went on, the energy kept building. The juniors had set the tone in the morning with their enthusiastic vibe, and the anticipation for the Men’s Pro Final was real. It was all building up.

By the time it came to the men’s final, William and I were poised and ready. However, the sun had decided to disappear again, making it tricky for pictures. Gregg from Rollerblade, (you MUST of seen his pictures, the guys a legend) was employed by FISE this year and given the magical FISE Media bib—MULTIPASS. Even though William and I were there on behalf ONE and Be-Mag, we still weren’t allowed where the sun was shining. Ha. Anyway, with three heats and everyone running twice, it was about to kick off. Another image I really wanted to capture was someone doing the Hurricane rainbow rail on the other side of the park. It was situated nicely in the setting sunlight. I managed to get Roman and Julien on that.

The star of all three heats for me was the young Japanese lad, Shimizu Haruhi. At just 13 years old, he was taking on some of the best in the business. You could hear the crowd behind him too. Another crowd favourite and one of the top contenders to win was Lenny Jourda. There were even guys with signs and what looked like mini flares!! Yes!

Shimizu Haruhi

A firm favourite trick of the whole festival was misty over the Samsung box and 540 flat spins on the bank behind. Takeshi’s 540 flat spin over the gap in the middle of the park and then taking his helmet off in the process—WHAT! You should see the picture William got. Oh my god, its perfect. Another one of my favourites from the festival.

Takeshi grinds

As the last heat took to the stand, it looked like it was all between Takeshi, Julien, Danilo, Jaro, and Lenny. To be honest, I was sure Danilo had it in the bag, but Julien proved once again he is currently the king of rollerblading. A backflip over the Hurricane back top box, a double backflip over the Samsung box, a unity over the top rainbow rail—it was all there.

It was so close. The only people who knew were the judges.

Takeshi soars

While we waited in anticipation for the winners to be announced, William and I followed the podium stands. Unfortunately, to our disbelief, they had decided to take the podium up onto the ramps. Multipass only, I guess. Frustrated, we ran to the VIP spot on the other side of the park. Now, my French is very limited, but I guess so is my English. William, being French, very politely asked the security guard to let us up to take pictures. It was frustrating. Literally, the two biggest media outlets for rollerblading, and we’re stuck. Fine. Luckily, he convinced the guard, and we were up. Not the best shots from far away, but it’s something. Don’t ask, you don’t get, right?

Your FISE World Series Roller Freestyle Park Men’s Winners!
1. Julien Cudot (France): 94.25 points
2. Danilo Senna (Brazil): 93.87 points
3. Lenny Jourda (France): 93.25 points


Friday, Day 4, done. It’s a shame that this was the only part of the rollerblading competition that was televised. Not even the Women’s World Series made the cut. Disappointing, but I guess that’s show business.

Day 5 Saturday
ESA Street Competition
Roller Freestyle Spine Ramp pro Final

Mery and crowd

To finish the week off and top up my sunburn, I was invited to take pictures at the annual ESA Street comp hosted by Arcena and Thomas Riffuard. Thomas told me about the long history of ESA, dating back to 2002! He said there’s no ego here; everyone skates for each other and to share in the story of ESA and rollerblading. Sectioned over three spots, the first was the longest flat bank I’ve seen in a while. Everyone just went for it, and the lines were continuous until you ran out of rollerbladers. Once the beer trolley arrived, the party started!

Robin Lupo

The next two spots were situated next to each other and consisted of rails. The first was a long, relatively angled one next to some flower beds. The other was steeper with a kink in it. Richard Vasquez and the Hurricane Top Soul should be the title of his autobiography. That man did not give up! Amazing. Revelling in his disappointment from the rail contest, Bastouil was determined, as was the crowd, to land some tricks. Hearing “BASTOUIL” and techno music blaring in the sunshine put a smile on my face.

Julien Cudot

This was my favourite part of the whole week. The community atmosphere, the sound of techno, and the cheers of “ALLLAYYY!” I got my film camera out for some of these shots, and I’m so in love with them. The raw colours are beautiful.

At this point, I wanted to thank and apologize to everyone I met there for, first, coming to speak to me, and second, for my terrible French! (I promise it will be better next year!) So, thank you. If there’s one thing in this world that I will forever be grateful for, it’s the bond rollerbladers have over this sport.

Unknown / Backslide

Point to Note

I waited nearly an hour in a stream at the last spot, hoping an airplane would fly over. Now that would have been a cool shot! Don’t ask me why I moved or gave up, but the second I moved, of course, a plane flew over… slaps face.

Your ESA Street Comp Heartbreakers!
1. Julien Cudot
2. Richard Vazquez
3. Robin Lupo
4. Hadrien Bastouil
5. Victor Daum

This was it—the last event. Was Cudot about to complete the series, topping all rollerblading events at FISE, not forgetting he had also won Winterclash this year?

The Spine Pro Final
This was a mixed-gender event, but noticeably, there was only one female competitor: Carla Martin. It was great to see her holding her own with the lads. The camaraderie was incredible, with everyone supporting each other. The last event came down to three heats, with each rider getting two goes. In the last heat were the top riders: Cudot, Danilo, Shimizu, and Jaro. The anticipation was building when Cudot attempted a backflip drop-in but messed it up, making it seem like Danilo was sure to take the crown. BUT THEN. Cudot delivered the most perfect round, landing each trick flawlessly, and the energy in the air hinted at something magical about to happen. Another flip, a clean hit, and then I saw CJ Wellsmore stand up and put his hands on his head!! Incredible.

Your FISE World Series Roller Freestyle Spine Pro Winners!
1. Julien Cudot (France): 97.38 points
2. Danilo Senna (Brazil): 94.63 points
3. Jaro Frijn (Netherlands): 93.88 points

A 97.38 saw Julien Cudot the winner.

Describing the magic of the event is a challenge I’ve attempted, but words fall short. These experiences demand to be felt first-hand. It’s no wonder people keep coming back. For me, FISE could end up being another Winterclash and what feels like a sacred journey, a pilgrimage shared by all who understand it.

Boots on the ground

Reflecting on that surreal week fills me with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I’m thankful for the chance to pursue my passion, for the remarkable individuals who embraced me into their world, and for the memories I’ve gained.

To everyone who crossed my path during those unforgettable days, I extend my heartfelt thanks. Your passion, your spirit, and your generosity enriched my experience beyond measure. I’ll carry those moments with me always, eagerly anticipating the next chapter of our shared journey.

Peace, Jem J.

[The END]

Photos and Words by Jemma

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