(Above: Brian Delatorre, backside Smith. Josh Matthews, frontside bluntslide)
This trip started out as a plan to do the yearly camping trip to Oregon, which has become a Habitat tradition over the years. This time around though, 'Tat TM Brennan Conroy decided we should ditch the tents and ride around Europe on the coattails of the team members' shoe sponsors. That's one hell of an upgrade if you ask me, and although it wasn't quite ten nights at the W, the Airbnb's, hostels and a couple of couches in Helsinki and Copenhagen far outshone sleeping with a rock for a pillow at a campground in Gresham.
Words and Photos By Dave Chami
Al had been in England with Brian on a GX1000 trip and we snagged the two of them between that and a Converse trip that was due to start a couple of weeks later. So Al was looking down the barrel of a couple months on the road and I think even tacked an extra trip on the end of that eventually. Needless to say, it can be a bit of a grind travelling for that long. But at no stage could you wipe the smile off Al's face or his zest for getting into things. He has that type of personality where people just want to be around him. One day while we were skating in Helsinki, a random girl came up to him and handed him a portrait she'd drawn of him from across the street. That type of thing doesn't happen to most of us!
Marius is the Scandinavian connect, and we started off our sojourn at his second home of Helsinki. Our free accommodation there came with one shoestring—the boys had to skate the Helsinki skate contest which comprised of a hill bomb carnage course and the most amazing DIY bowl race/joust. Marius did Finland proud, skating every event like a bat out of hell. By the end of the day he remarked at how tired he was but that he just couldn't stop skating. Tim O'Connor, who was announcing the contest, made a great parallel of Marius calling him a young Blonde Beetlejuice—though I doubt Beetlejuice was nearly as much of a skate rat.
Kevin was in Copenhagen on an adidas trip but we managed to steal him away a few times to sneak him into our article. (Sorry, Ches!) I'd found the slappy ledge on a bridge on the previous spread while walking around the city one morning and although it was the only spot in Copenhagen with a "No Skateboarding" sign on it, we decided to give it a shot. Between an instant kick-out from an irate dock-worker, an insane amount of foot traffic, and me not being able to find an angle I was happy with, I thought the whole thing was a write off. Kevin wasn't having it, though, and calmly talked the worker into giving us five minutes. The pedestrians dispersed and I was able to find a vantage point from the deck of a barge whereupon he flew at the thing Mach 10, slicing a slappy backside five-0 up-over-and-down the whole beast.
This was Josh's first big excursion since joining Habitat but it felt like he'd been on the team for years. One thing that strikes me as a definite component about riding for Habitat is that not only are you an insane skateboarder but a relatively chill human with a strong sense of adventure both in the streets and in the wilderness. Hailing from Eugene and steeped in the streets of San Francisco, Josh fits the bill perfectly. A funny thing I noticed was that Josh skates in HUF slip-ons and when they start to flop out a wee bit (as any slip-on will) he pulls out a leather hole punch and laces them up to get a few extra days out of them. You can't take the Oregon out of the boy!
Brian divided his time equally between murdering it on his skateboard and chasing tail, most of his evenings involving a Tinder rendezvous that often spiraled into a chance meeting with an even finer female.
Either way, it was rare for him to arrive back at our Airbnb before 11am where we were treated (willing or not) to his unfiltered descriptions of XXX shenanigans before he'd even had a chance to shower them off. Brian is definitely having a great time and who can blame him?
Fred being in Copenhagen with us was something that Brennan had thrown out to me but I was too stoked to believe. When we did finally run into him it was raining and he got snatched away by another crew to skate a DIY spot. I really thought that was it and my dream of a Fred photo for the article was dashed, but on our last day we managed to corral him for a few hours ending up at an evening session at the Christianaia bowl. Fred chipped away for a while at this low-to-high frontside flip at the same pace he chipped away at the case of beer I'd bought, with the end result being him reeling it in to a sea of cheers as he pounded the last beer. It isn't a Habitat tour without Fred!
We were riding bicycles down the street in Copenhagen one afternoon and randomly ran into Eric Koston skating this bump over seat with some Nike Europe bros. Our crew began skating it with Eric and I was instantly reminded of the effect that being around Koston can have on people.
Mark and Brian were really excited to skate with him and Mark seemed like he couldn't focus, much like I often see younger skaters acting when they're around him. Koston got his trick pretty quick but Mark had to really work for this front-shuv and when he pulled it I could see that he was really stoked to get it in Eric's presence. Even your favorite skaters have favorite skaters.