Real Latvian Skateboarders

In October of 2011 the great and unparalleled Latvian skateboarding Bible —Triecienspēks magazine — published its last issue. Due to reasons we are not going to get into, the mag had to shut down and stop existing in print form. The last 14th issue with its cool photos, interviews and a new stylish format was a glorious finito for a legendary publication. 

One of the articles in the last issue discussed 10 things a real Latvian skateboarder must do. The author, Rudolfs Henčels, admits right away that this topic should not be taken seriously, as there are no rules one must follow in order to be called real. The only thing you must do to be a skateboarder, is to love skateboarding. But! Since the author had spent years participating in and observing Latvian skate scene, and had an intriguing opinion to share, this checklist article was given the light of day. Solely for entertainment purposes.

The article can be seen as an advice to Latvian skaters on how to live a fulfilled skateboarder’s life and get the most out it. Of course some of these postulates can be applied to other national scenes as well. Just replace our local spots with yours and you got a universal skate doctrine. But how does it hold up? Are these ideas and observations relevant in the present day skate climate of Latvia? Along with a rough translation of the article we analyzed it according to the current situation. Enjoy!

(All images are scans from Triecienspēks 2011 October issue)

You must skate the legendary spots of the capital: Kongresu nams

“Skate Kronvalda parks flat! Play a few games of s.k.a.t.e there. With a disgusted frown due to brick flat perform a screech on the three stair drop ledge, turn around and ollie up the three stairs. Walk away looking back on the opposite ledge. Shit your pants in astonishment of how Herbe did a noseslide up the three 8 years ago.”

[RAJON COMMENT] Kronvalda parks flat is still there, but you would never want to skate it now, having Museum or even Kalpaks. The Kongresu nams down ledge, on the other hand, still hasn’t seen everything, so doing a screech there still is a not such a bad idea. Herbe’s noseslide definitively and forever is relevant, however, for modern generation Rudolfs Rorbahs’ back 50 on that funked up rail is something to shit pants about as well. Also with addition of LNB to Riga’s spot catalog, going to Kongresu nams is no longer a necessity but rather a voluntarily torture.  

VERDICT: Barely relevant 

Also, Uzvara monument

“Climb the monument and ollie down. Realize that this gap is not so gnarly. Start messing around with a fliptrick until the fuzz arrives to check your identity and intentions. Limping away you don’t feel upset, as you know what you will tell your pals, a phrase of an experienced skater: ‘I landed on one, but the f…ing cops kicked me out!’.”

[RAJON COMMENT] Uzvara is not so gnarly, but still has its legacy. One of the most significant and picturesque spots in Riga for sure. Nowadays, it is not the classic gap, but the drop to bank that peeps are looking at more and more. Never forget that Madars kickfliped in it! Waiting to see the clip. Back in the days ollie down Uzvara was a milestone for every Riga’s skater. You just had to do it to consider yourself cool. Today a trippy IG account will do the trick. 

VERDICT: We wish it was relevant

And of course, Rainis Monument

“A unique, yet annoying place. You can feel how nice it is to slide on granite and hear the real sound of a grind. And at the same time feel irritated trying to run up on the broken tiles. All of this will help you appreciate the hard work and patience people invested in lines at this spot. Do a 50 on the big Rainis and going away ask yourself how did Guntis Ozoliņš pull of a kickflip fs 5-0 there six years ago?”

[RAJON COMMENT] Rainis has not changed one bit since that article was written. Still grinds good and is annoying as hell! If you want to have a mellow session, consider not going there. If you want to film a sick ledge trick, doing it at Rainis will add significance. So, it is up to you. Although big Rainis has seen a flip bs crook and lip, kickflip fs 5-0 is still untouchable. Even 15 years later! 

VERDICT: Relevant

Be a devotee to the virtual environment of Latvian skateboarding

“First of all, you must register in every popular skateboarding web page, and paste links to your favorite music and most recent clips. Participate in objective discussions of other users’ content and play an active role in the said pages’ development.
It is also very important to create fake accounts on the same web pages and judge every user for their slightest mistakes in Latvian skate scene. It is vital  to use the most oppressive and offensive language in the comments which reek of unhappiness and attention seeking.”

[RAJON COMMENT] Latvian skate scene back then had a richer internet presence. Facebook and Instagram were in their infancy, but people wanted to share their stuff and talk shit no less. Boards.lv forum, skateboarding.lv etc. were homes for the lonely internet skaters back then. Nowadays, we create our own mini websites centered around ourselves. Is it good? Is it bad? Kids seem to like it, to a point. Anyway, the crazy shit talk of the past is gone. Maybe it was juiced up by the  innocence of the newly born internet, where our every action was not yet seen by a potential employer or Cambridge Analytics. However, we interpreted this advice as an invitation to become a devoted Rajontv.com fan. So send us your letters and keep clicking.

VERDICT: Kinda relevant

At least once passionately get into an argument with a spot overseer

“It can be a security guard, a lonely lady who is about to call the cops, or a war veteran from the opposite side of the street. Chose your opponent wisely and be as insistent with your truth as he/she is with theirs. Do not be aggressive but rather educational. Base your arguments around the phrase, ‘It is a free country! I can do what I want!’. Try not to create an impression of a hooligan. If your opponent says he/she doesn’t need to listen to you, become rude too and say everything you were holding inside. But do not go over the edge and be ready to flee if the veteran gets too pissed.”

[RAJON COMMENT] Skating streets will get you into encounters with upset people sooner or later and it is good to be prepared. When you are more experienced, you sort of have a standard answer and a set of arguments. However, getting into fight and letting off some steam on a random law abiding citizen does not help anybody. Talking shit to people at spots can ruin the session for the next group of skaters. Therefore, we all must strive to be polite and leave the best impression. Of course until the fucker in the window starts to call you names! Then it is on! 

VERDICT: Eternal

Have the ability to fix your gear

“You need to know that this little black tube holds a liquid that you must pour under the chip of your low budget board. Also you must realize that this tube’s contents are perfectly suitable for fixing holes in your shoes. Just cut a piece of an old shoe or a lather belt, or anything else, and stick it over the hole.”

[RAJON COMMENT] In some form or the other fixing gear will remain with skaters forever. It is kind of a natural even if we don’t do it on the same scale as we used to. Before placing patches on your shoes, which is a mellow repair, people would stick 5 layers of duct tape on their shoes. Oh, the good ol’ days! 

VERDICT: Relevant

Maintain relationship with the Latvian skateboard market

You must support Latvian skateshops. Later talk shit behind their backs, as non of them are real and belong to some businessmen who do not skate, and the product they sell is shit, because . . . because they refused to hire you.”   

[RAJON COMMENT] We gladly state that things have changed since 2011. We have skater owned shops now. We have Clockwise skateshop and we had Tikari (RIP?). So the shit talking part is non-relevant these days, right? 

VERDICT: Relevant

Respect Nolemtie

“Respect Egons for his unique LSPA diploma in extreme sports pedagogy and for giving the best advice to Latvian skateboarders: ‘If you can’t skate, don’t!’ Respect Marcis because there is no reason to do otherwise, as disrespect can cause humiliation and a punch in the face. Also there is no other person in Latvian skateboarding who devoted 20 years to skateboarding being a rider, photographer, filmer, contest organizer, ramp builder and the soul of the party. And respect Pagrabs because he is a likable person to everyone he meets, and if someone thinks differently, then this someone is just not a good person.”

[RAJON COMMENT] It is our scene. The only scene we have got. And we need to appreciate and respect people who devoted their lives to it before us. Hats off to the OGs. 

VERDICT: Always relevant

Go on a skate trip

“If your budget allows it, then go abroad. But if your budget is standard, then travel around the homeland. Voyager, Golf, X5, Polo or Mercedes minibus – it doesn’t really matter as long as the vehicle is full of friends who skate, or skaters who might also be friends. One week, one camera, one photographer, one sober driver and girlfriends in every city you are spending the night. Go where the road takes you and stop every time your skate spot vision catches something. If not the best time of your life, a great experience on skate tour is guaranteed.”

[RAJON COMMENT] A skate trip gives a chance to skate in a new place, be with friends and (a very important thing that you get only when you are older) be free from your daily responsibilities. Skate trip is a key experience everyone with a board has to have. As for the girlfriends in every town part, we are now old and monogamous enough to have just one significant other.  

VERDICT: So relevant it hurts

Latvian skateboarder must strive for education and thoughtfulness towards their craft

“You must skate years, daily and think about skating as you go to sleep. But one day your efforts will pay back. Your kickflip will be higher and nollie flip will straighten up. No one will ever mock you again for wearing a waist-tied sweater, long shorts, a Fred Durst type cap and mall grabbing your board. Your bag of tricks will divide into two groups: one for streets and parks, another for solo sessions. Because you do not consider fakie 360 shove-it body varial a worthy trick to do in public. Seeing a funbox you either skate it the right way, jumping over the table, or not skate at all. Jumping over the slope from the table does not seem cool to you, even stupid. You start to notice that you have opinions about skating, what is good and what is not. It becomes harder for skate media to convince you to dress a certain way, to skate at certain spots. All of this becomes simply information to you (this article included). And you enjoy all of this like the lonely nerd enjoys solving a math puzzle.”

[RAJON COMMENT] Take it from us: it gets better. Most of us were weirdos and had only one friend. We weren’t the nerds, but we weren’t the jocks either. It was tough. But now — now we have risen above it all, we have become wise and experienced, sort of like when the ugly duckling becomes a swan. So don’t be afraid if you are the only skater in the skatepark among pro bmxers or even the only newbie among older skaters at a popular plaza. Hang in there, little buddy. The future is yours. We know it, because we are already there. 

VERDICT: true

Check out the full scans from Triecienspēks:

 

 

 

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