Skateboarding’s collective genius take over Deutschland.
Words by Mark Waters
Skateboard tours come in many forms. There’s the throw-your-stuff-and-your-friends-in-the-car-and-go tour, the modern-day plush-bus tour, and then there’s everything else in between. Any skateboard tour can be a lot of fun, but the people and the circumstances involved always hold the potential to add or subtract from the general tone of the excursion. Getting the right people together-skaters who get along, skate well, and are willing to do their part with the kids-is usually a challenge.
In April 2002, the à‡S team-the right group of people in this case-gathered in Germany for three demos and whatever street skating they could manage. Tom Penny, Arto Saari, Eric Koston, Rick McCrank, Bob Burnquist, Rodrigo Teixeira, Mike Taylor, Paul Rodriguez, and PJ Ladd were accompanied by filmers and photographers for their trek from Stuttgart in southern Germany through Frankfurt, and onto Hamburg in the north.
The congregation of this crew was in itself no small feat, as these are among the busiest and most reclusive guys in our little world of skateboarding. And they’re busy for a reason-talent and determination have elevated them to the top of their world. The kids in Germany understood that they were seeing something special-they showed up in droves to cheer on and ask silly questions of the à‡S team.
This was the first time the entire team had been together in three or four years, and the synergism was electric. Paul, Mikey, and PJ were excited about meeting Tom for the first time, Arto was excited about skating the demos with Tom-actually, everyone was pretty amped that Mr. Penny was going along on the trip. PJ Ladd was officially inducted onto the team on the trip, having been added to the roster only a few weeks before the trip’s departure. Veterans Eric, Rick, Rodrigo, and Arto showed their usual calmness, taking everything in with poise. Bob flew in with a cast on his foot-check out the loop of death with the ten-foot upside-down gap from the King Of Skate contest for visual proof of Bob’s broken-ness.
The demos were amazing. There were many highlights and … well, demos are demos, so they don’t really require too much attention, but here’s some of what happened: Koston did impossible manual combos. Arto ollied giant tranny channels. Paul pretty much ruled everything. Mikey killed the rails with power and the ledges with tech. McCrank flew, spun, grinded, and slid with smooth prowess. Rodrigo amazed with impossibly contorted flip tricks. PJ Ladd kickflip feebled and kickflip back Smithed rails. Tom flowed with his amazing style, pulling giant flip tricks out of his deep bag o’ tricks. The kids cheered, and then asked if they could have Eric’s board, Paul’s shoes, Tom’s jersey, or Rick’s iPod. Some things are universal, only this time they asked for it in German.
The young guns never got enough, so at night, they went out and skated more. Their enthusiasm was so contagious, the whole crew became skate rats-out skating until the early hours of the morning. The long hours of skating, the relatively short bus rides, complete with plenty of food stops and enough free time to satisfy even the most spoiled traveler, and that elusive combination of all the other possible factors, made the eight days fly by. Before we knew it, the trip was over. The photos and the memories are all that’s left, and another tour is in the bag.