[Text and photos by Linda Lindenberga (if not stated otherwise). Original text in Latvian here. Translation into English by Edijs Plume]
Now that the Kuramo Voyage tour has been talked about, shown off through various videos and photos and celebrated with a big premiere and a kick-ass dance battle, I get to share my perspective on how the whole thing went down. In this write up I’ll talk about some of my highlights from the trip, share some raw footage and a few photos that I took. This experience changed a part of me and impacted the way that I look at skating. I can only hope that at least one girl reads this and gets sparked to challenge and push herself, to believe in her own abilities and seek out the positive in life outside of the bounds of her comfort zone.
9AM. Meeting point – Lokal house parking lot. Kaspars was the one who told me what time we were meeting up, while we were talking on instagram about whether or not I’ll be competing in the contest in Saldus. I’m not on facebook and so people tend to forget to pass on info about the trip and stuff. I did my best to not get offended about that, but my brain did create some weird delusions that suggested that maybe everybody is trying to leave me behind on purpose. Ahhh, shut the fuck up brain! – ‘’Linda, if you want to go on the tour, just go!’’
Yes. I really wanted to go. But a few days before the trip I seemed to catch something that I can only describe as some sort of anxiety diarrhea. What’s there to be anxious about for a girl going on a skateboarding tour in Latvia? Well, maybe it has something to do with the fact that I can’t even kickflip, or maybe that I might be occupying a spot for a person that could be doing gnarlier tricks than me. I had some sort of a guilt trip about taking up space in the van. Although every time one of these doubtful thoughts came through my head, I tried to calm myself by justifying my place and how I can be a valuable addition to the tour.
The first spot was in Ķemeri, at Fricis’ famous concrete DIY monstrosity. I tried to skate there, ate shit and switched to filming and taking photos, after giving up on my skateboard abilities. It did seem kind of pointless to film at that specific moment since Gaba was on fisheye, Roberts had the long lens covered and Rudzitis was doing his documentary thing. Nevertheless I did manage to get a shot of Rudiks’ heelflip across the gap.
Riding in the van had a similar feeling as going on a class field trip. Somebody’s talking shit, another person is getting pummeled, someones just observing. I was the observer at this point ‘couse I hadn’t yet figured out how I fit into this whole thing. I was cracking up about how big of a bully Gaba was. Half of the way to Dursupe he was constantly beating on Rudiks. I saw a child like excitement in the guys.
The spot at Dursupe was some sort of a handrail from hell that most of the people on the tour didn’t even touch. So I just sat in the grass and watched. I don’t even think I need to mention Artis’ (Strazdiņš) battle or how Maksims (Feofilovs) broke his finger and the fact that the only trick landed was Kārlis’ (Bogustovs) 50-50. You’ve probably already seen the video and read some of the previous articles. Something that i can add to the whole Dursupe story is that at one point Arturs (Paugurs) came up to me and suggested that I ride down the stairs, ‘’It would be sick!’’ I guess at that point I was stressed over the fact that I can’t even touch the rail and forgot that I can still have fun and do something within the bounds of my abilities. I told Paugurs to go first and I’ll follow. No matter how silly that trick may seem, It was the first step that I took to become a real part of the squad. For me riding down those stairs symbolized my indoctrination in the squad of skaters touring around Kurzeme.
Paugurs read me perfectly and got me sparked to take that next step. With sweaty palms and stiff legs I stepped over my insecurities and got my first clip. I smile when I remember that moment when I rode down those silly stairs. Everyone clapped and at that very moment I started to feel more laid back and accepted with my funky rooky moves.
The timeline is a bit foggy for me, but the next thing I remember I was skating this brick bump with everybody. Egons shouted: ‘’Davai!’’ (Let’s go!). I was like: ‘’fuck it, I could do a boneless 180.’’ I was feeling the tension. I felt like it couldn’t even control my body, like I couldn’t open up. You can even see it in the footage. But nevertheless, I was skating.
At the end of the first day we realized that there was a free spot in the van. Somebody could join the tour. I was hyped when we decided that we could ask Emilija (Stoka), who unfortunately couldn’t skate, since she was injured from that trip we went on to Tallinn. What she absolutely could do is support us and hype us up. We picked her up in Talsi.
At Talsi we spent almost the entire day at this one spot. It wasn’t really my jam. That entire day wasn’t really my jam. I got bummed about something. Now looking back it seems funny. I don’t even remember what it was. During that day a question arose. Is it okay to split the group if half of the people are feeling the current spot and the other half wants to do something else? In my opinion it’s cool as long as there’s a filmer and/or a photographer on both sides.
My grumps continued into Pavilosta. Why am I even talking about this? Because It’s about skateboarding. Because I saw other people around me killing it and I was stuck in my own self-doubts. I couldn’t find a chance to slip in the sesh at the bowl in Pavilosta, because it takes me five seconds longer than everybody else to convince myself to drop in. I didn’t say this to anybody. At one point I went by the beach to calm down and get some air. When everybody stopped skating the bowl I had the chance to get a few laps in with the ten year old’s. Don’t take this the wrong way. This isn’t about me feeling sorry for myself. This is about stepping over my insecurities. This is about how I ignored the aforementioned gripes I had and went on a street mission with everybody and got a noseslide at the ledge in Pavilosta. The session was nice. Everything turned out super positive and we even got a new catchphrase from the old wolf of Pavilosta – ‘’Opiņā!’’, which we were chanting all night, until dawn.
I had to get up early the next morning to go to Liepāja, where together with Wise-Liepāja we organized a little meetup for the skater girls. Big thanks to Boga (Artūrs Bogdanovičs) and Sensey (Kārlis Grīva) for coming with me early in the morning after an intense singing session in the previous night. We arranged to meet up with Rūta who joined the tour with distant parental supervision. Only about five people entered the event but that didn’t stop us from catching a nice morning session led by Sensey. Big thanks to Wise-Liepāja for giving out some product, supplying the speaker and helping organize the event.
Eventually the rest of the squad arrived and soon enough we were on our way to Dzintars. An intense filming session started there. At that moment I got hyped to start filming too. I managed to get some lines for Sensey and Kamerrāvejs (Kārlis Purvēns). I was hyped on how Kamerrāvējs’ clip turned out.
After that the session continued by the Deli snack banks. I managed to catch some good clips and photos. One session after another. Artis battled out a handrail trick, and where Artis destroys rails I destroy the stairs sets when I do my ride-down’s. I’m not sure how but all of a sudden I ended up in the van with all the people that didn’t want to skate anymore. We were driving around town searching for the rest of the crew. It seemed like we weren’t even really trying too hard to find them. Ultimately we failed in the search and much to the chagrin of myself and a few of the others in the van who still wanted some skate action, we went to Karaosta to look at the sea instead. For fuck’s sake.
When the day ended we all met up at our crashing spot for the night – BB wakepark. A couple more people joined the tour. We were three days deep at this point. Now, like a fresh breeze, a party had arrived from Riga. I’ve been contemplating whether or not I would talk about this, because this isn’t the prettiest incident that occurred. Long story short – somebody spilled beer all over Emilija’s face and clothes. It happened right in front of me. I was super confused at first. I won’t mention who it was, but I guess Emilija had it coming. Apparently she said something like: ‘’You could have spilled the beer in my mouth and not on the floor.’’ Context – there was some sort of a beer fight, spilling contest happening beforehand. Of course the guy apologized and Emiljia said it’s all good, but come on. Seriously? It was just disrespectful. There’s a thin line between a joke and humiliating someone. Sometimes that line gets blurry. Maybe I’m overreacting, but it just didn’t feel right. Nevertheless we weren’t going to hold a grudge for the rest of the tour. We moved on and had to get along. Life goes on.
The following day we headed for Saldus. There was a contest happening over there, which was also being streamed live on TV. I thought about entering, but after some of the things that happened in the previous days, I wasn’t really feeling it. On this day Rūta joined us again to skate in the contest. She had already registered. I hadn’t yet. She put it to me pretty bluntly: ‘’I’m entering only if you are too.’’ That hit me pretty hard. I wanted Rūta to go through the contest experience, but I was not feeling it at all myself. Both of us were feeling reluctant, but after skating flat for a bit and getting warmed up I thought: ‘’Fuck it, I’m entering.’’
And so we did. It was our shared experience. The both of us were not experienced, scared and the only two girls there. Although one was 14 and the other one 32. We got ourselves together and went back to the park. The warm up started and soon enough it would be time for our run. Right before our run it started raining, which fucked with the flow of the event and messed up the live broadcast a few times. We were on the ramp, ready for the run, but since the rain came in and shut everything down for the time being, we realized that we’d have to go through that anxiety all over again. While it was raining we decided to go to the thrift store. I bought myself a brown jumpsuit and realized that it was going to be my kit for the contest. Eventually we skated in the contest. I did my boneless’s, nose stall on the ledge, fakie shuviJt, manual. All my go-to tricks. Rūta tried to do her flip tricks, but her anxiety got the best of her and she couldn’t roll away from anything, which gave me a chance to win my first and probably last girls contest against Rūta. The organizers gave out some awesome product. I won a Breana Geering board with violet glittery grip tape. Overall it was an amazing experience. One that I’ll remember for sure, since it was a challenge stepping over my anxiety, my doubts and my insecurities.
After the event we hit up a few street spots. While Rob (Roberts Krūms) and Gaba (Ed Gaba) got stuck on a hippy jump spot I had a chance to practice my filming on some of the others. I was actually doing a pretty good job I think. Really felt like I was at work. That spot was in direct sunlight and the wind wasn’t blowing at all. I was filming non stop for about 40 minutes and my brown jumpsuit was beginning to get sewatty, but I was honored to be in charge of filming some of the top Latvian skateboarders. I felt like a fish in water. I always try my absolute best to make the footage look as good as possible. I’m still in the learning process and every time I film I notice new things that I’m doing right or wrong.
There’s always an option to do nothing at all. That way you’ll never make mistakes and no one will give you shit.
Being a part of this tour got me to see skateboarding in a different light. It also showed me how I fit into the whole thing. Skateboarding is a really personal experience. Weirdly it has a pretty substantial connection to what’s going on in my head. If I’m feeling good about myself, free from self judgment and bad thoughts, then I’ll be feeling more free on my skateboard. Skating with guys showed me how creative skateboarding can get. That inspired me to see the next tour I’m going on in a different light – The Baltic Connection tour with girls from all over the Baltic states. Soon I’ll be telling you all about that experience.
If someone were to ask me if I would ever go on another tour like this, the answer would be yes, yes and yes. I know that next time I’ll be feeling more confident, comfortable and I’ll be less anxious about my abilities. I’ll just be doing what I love – skateboarding, filming and having a fucking blast with the tightest crew in the world.
The last night we all spent together at Kurzeme was magical. Nesaule (Artūrs) did an amazing job in picking the right overnight accommodation. Those ‘’last nights’’ are always special. Everyone’s getting along and feeling super comfortable. Just enjoying every moment before the adventure ends. We were eating and drinking, making toast’s. Someone is going in the sauna, someone is dancing or singing. Someone is chanting ‘’Opiņā!’’ We were celebrating life, the summer, skateboarding and of course each other. The summers in Latvia are no joke and July is hands down the best month, which I already booked for the next RajonTV tour to Zemgale.
I really hope that more girls come on the next tour. I also hope that the next tour after that, this question will be irrelevant, because of course they’ll come!