OZ/NZ The Blue Steel Tour

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Keith Hufnagel, V20N12

OZ/NZ
The Blue Steel tour.
Words and photos by Andrew Mapstone

In February 2002, a surge of skateboarders came to visit my hometown of Melbourne, Australia. The reason: the World Cup.

Oblivious to what was going on outside of the World Cup where I was trapped inside for three straight days, pure terror was produced in the streets by skate intruders-riders without the knowledge, the know-how, or the code of the Melbourne streets.

Spots that weren’t a bust, became a bust. Rails and ledges that were skate-proof free, now have been shut down with makeshift skate-proof contraptions.

Kicking off the tour in my hometown would usually be an advantage, but this time I found it to be quite a disadvantage. All the spots I had for the team were already spoiled by the skaters who arrived the week before. We got kicked out of most spots, and the others had been shut down-the crew was losing faith in my street knowledge.

This really sucked because my name was hyped up before I even met the guys. In between the in-stores and demos-which were multiplying by the day-we got some stuff done, reimbursing faith in my name. Whew, all right. Let’s go to Sydney.

Most of the riders had already visited Sydney at one time or another. The DVS distributor was located in Manly, just over the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge. The city hadn’t been invaded by busloads of traveling skaters yet. Sydney killed it for us-we had more time and less demos, so the crew was able to hit the streets.

Speaking of the crew, I should give you their names before I stall for too long and lose you.

Jeron Wilson-damn, just like those Girl videos. Much pop, tech, and clean as hell. It was the first time I’d met Jeron-he’s super cool and nice.

Kerry Getz-so precise. He has tricks for every spot with an unbelievably high consistency level.

Keith Hufnagel-looks so relaxed on the board, flowing throughout it all and making it look so good.

Steve Berra-a tweaked ankle slowed him down, as well as having to cut his trip short to get back for a Hollywood deal. But he still managed to throw down.

Jereme Rogers-the youngest of the lot. He still loves skateboarding, which is good. He always had plenty to say and do. Jereme, are you still upset at me for beating you in a game of SKATE?

Jason Dill-jumped onto the trip from a previous Alien/Habitat trip. He loves Australia, so he tells me. He even came back to Melbourne for another month. The fact that he loves it doesn’t stop him from taking the piss out of our Australian accent the whole tour! Plus, you have to see his triple kickflips on flat. He does them at will, a definite “letter in your game” with that one. Kelly Bird-the “Boss” of the boys.

And finally, two New Zealand fellas: Crazy Chris Wood and Chey Ataria-the New Zealand god.

We stayed in the city, which was great for street skating. Parking’s such a bitch that we ditched the cars and skated from spot to spot. On the last day, we took the car out and parked. A heated session went down for hours, then we returned to the car where Chey found the car window smashed and his backpack stolen. Its contents were lost for good-a Walkman, phone, and video camera that was on loan from a friend. Not only was the camera gone, but the tapes, too.

We headed to Queensland, and straight off the plane the crew went to an autograph signing. I opted to go skate with one of the local DVS riders in Brisbane, Richie Stewart, in the hopes of getting a photo before the demo. Richie took us to a perfect nine-stair where he wanted to shoot a frontside nollie flip-I got a still then went for a sequence. He was flipping and catching the board perfectly every time. Then the last one he tried, his foot slipped off the tail causing the board to flick up directly into his face. With one cruel smash, it rearnged his nose to the other side of his face.

There was so much blood because the bone had slid up the inside of his face, causing him to bleed from his nose and mouth. We had basically just arrived in Brisbane, I felt so sorry for Richie. It was horrifying-bright-red blood was everywhere.

The team demoed in Kurraby, and then it was on to Surfer’s Paradise. It’s harder to find good spots in Surfer’s as it’s not a big city/street environment, but more of a tourist town. So aside from the in-stores/demos, a relaxed approach was taken, and the guys spent most of their time doing tourist stuff or chilling on the beach. Kerry worked on his Philly tan and soaked up some rays. There were plenty of didgeridoos and boomerangs to be found as well. As for me, well, I went skateboarding.

We were running late when it came time to leave Australia and head off to New Zealand. The night before we left, two of Chey’s so-called “mates” came into our room and ripped us off while we were out. We didn’t notice that anything was missing until we started to pack-that’s why we were late.

After informing the hotel staff about the theft, we took a look at the security-camera video and saw them-dogs! We knew who they were, so Chey, Chris, and I drove around madly trying to hunt them down for the slaughter. By now we were all late, so we put the word out to the local skaters, and then it was back to the hotel. From there, we had to make our way to the Brisbane airport.

Just making it onto our flight to Christchurch, New Zealand, we were seated and ready for takeoff, when the staff announced the in-flight movie-Zoolander. The whole DVS crew burst out with laughter. Jereme had based the whole trip upon this movie-since day one, we’d watched this movie in his and Kerry’s room over and over again. Zoolander quotes were a constant and made the trip more pleasurable, curving the sanity in all of us. Once in the air, we sat back and endured the movie one more time.

When we arrived in Christchurch, it was so dark we couldn’t even see a spot to skate anywhere, so we had no choice but to call it a night. The next day brought in-stores and demos for all. As we waited for our rides to turn up, the boys gathered out in the front of the hotel where a not-so-smooth flatland area greeted us.

One by one, everyone started skating flatground, and before you knew it, just about every kid who knew the DVS crew was in town crowded around to watch. The cars finally rocked up, and we were late for another demo.

The skaters in Christchurch were super cool and really appreciative of the guys who came out to skate, and the demo was deemed a success. Chris received word from some locals of a set of rails right on the beach. The sun went down fast, and the wind and cold came on even faster.

It was pitch black and cold as ice when we arrived at the rails. We had to light one of the rails with the car’s headlights, and Chris jumped straight onto it-de-virginizing these Christchurch babies. It wasn’t long before we were out of Christchurch and in Wellington, where it was even windier. Wellington is Chris’ hometown, so he was pumped full of ideas of places to skate, however, Mother Nature put a damper on things when she decided to make it rain for the next few days.

The rest of the boys were bummed with the weather and opted to stay indoors. I went skating with some locals and got a bunch of stuff-the kids were amped on getting photos and footage, which pleased me as well. We shot while all else slept. Jereme heard about some of the spots and came out to play the next night, but security wasn’t liking us much at all by then. The demo in Wellington was moved indoors because of the weather, but turned out to be the best of them all-Chey, Kerry, and Jeron killed this one.

The weather gave us a dry spell, so we hit the streets of Wellington with Chris as our guide. He took us to all the spots where he wanted to throw down and did. All worn out, we hit up some other spots everyone else could skate.

Auckland is my preferred destination when I’m in New Zealand, but it was just a very short stay, only one and a half days. The first day was taken up with a demo and in-stores, which went well. The park was gnarly-tight tranny with lumps, a kinda strange but interesting layout.

Chris skated like a madman, blasting off everything, Chey completed what I think must’ve been the longest bluntslide in history. No shit-it was long, and he claimed no flat spots. And Jereme flipped into everything.

Kerry skated well at the start, but lost his temper and then his board to the crowd, which I think they saw as the highlight of the demo. Dill enjoyed the unusual obstacles at the park by floating huge ollies over them. Huf hopped over the hips like he was about to fly home, and Jeron gave the greatest manual session ever seen in Auckland.

The last of the demos happened, and the dudes were done. I, however, didn’t let Chey off that easy-he was now home and wanting to spend time with his girlfriend. But I cracked the whip and got him up early the next day. We hit up the last spot of the trip-a clothing bin-and then it was off to the airport. I didn’t get to say my good-byes to the rest of the crew as they were all sleeping and booked on a later flight, so from me, adios and good-bye.

ets of Wellington with Chris as our guide. He took us to all the spots where he wanted to throw down and did. All worn out, we hit up some other spots everyone else could skate.

Auckland is my preferred destination when I’m in New Zealand, but it was just a very short stay, only one and a half days. The first day was taken up with a demo and in-stores, which went well. The park was gnarly-tight tranny with lumps, a kinda strange but interesting layout.

Chris skated like a madman, blasting off everything, Chey completed what I think must’ve been the longest bluntslide in history. No shit-it was long, and he claimed no flat spots. And Jereme flipped into everything.

Kerry skated well at the start, but lost his temper and then his board to the crowd, which I think they saw as the highlight of the demo. Dill enjoyed the unusual obstacles at the park by floating huge ollies over them. Huf hopped over the hips like he was about to fly home, and Jeron gave the greatest manual session ever seen in Auckland.

The last of the demos happened, and the dudes were done. I, however, didn’t let Chey off that easy-he was now home and wanting to spend time with his girlfriend. But I cracked the whip and got him up early the next day. We hit up the last spot of the trip-a clothing bin-and then it was off to the airport. I didn’t get to say my good-byes to the rest of the crew as they were all sleeping and booked on a later flight, so from me, adios and good-bye.