After winning our very first Vans Shop Riot competition in Cardiff earlier this year, our riders, Joe Hill, Josh Mayson and Joe Hinson found themselves qualified for the Shop Riot Finals, which this year was held in ever-sunny Manchester at Graystone skatepark. Qualifying for the Finals meant we found ourselves up against the winners of all the other Shop Riot winners from their respective countries across Europe. It was an amazing weekend with great vibes, rad skating and free beer & food throughout the weekend, which meant it was basically impossible to not have a good time. The skateboarding we witnessed in Cardiff was incredible, but what we saw in Manchester was definitely a whole other level, something we will go into more detail with shortly, but let’s set the scene first…
Day One, The Swiss Army-Piano
Shop Riot events take place over two days, the first day concentrates more on everyone getting to know each other, feeling the park out and getting the juices flowing, with the best trick comp hosted this year by Skateboard Cafe. At first glance, the bespoke obstacle for the best trick appeared to be a beautiful piano, adorned with golden Cafe details, but upon closer inspection, it was actually an absolute Swiss Army Knife of a skate obstacle.
You could choose to skate the huge flat bank which rose over the main body of the piano (some even chose to fly out of it) or you could skate the kicker to ledge placed to the left of the flat bank, where the keys of the piano would usually reside. I might be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure I was told this piano was created by Manhead, I was a few beers deep when whoever it was told me though, so sorry if that’s not true. Massive props to whoever made it though! It really was a thing of beauty.
As you can imagine, the best trick jam was ballistic. You’ve got to bear in mind that as rad as the piano looked, it was not an easy thing to skate. There was little room for error for grinding on the keys, and at the height, the piano was set, if you missed locking in you were going to be slamming hard. On top of that, I know a few dudes were having issues with how close the kicker was to the ledge. The flat bank was probably slightly easier to skate than the ledge, but it was still a gnarly thing to be skating, with a perspex middle panel the perspective for when to pop must have been pretty trippy. Did I mention that the flat bank could gradually be disassembled? I did say it was a Swiss Army Knife…
Once the Piano lid (the uppermost part of the flat bank) was removed, a kicker launching everyone over the body of the piano was revealed, thus creating even more chaos. All of this combined with Shaun Currie and Churchill on the mic created an environment where at one second you could be laughing, to suddenly yelling like a howler monkey at something mind-blowing going down on or over the piano.
Chris Pfanner had so much cash to hand out for tricks that the piano was absolutely abused for 2 hours.
Our guys handled business throughout, Joe Hill did every switch flip/hardflip variation you can think of on the flat-bank as well as dabbling on the keys too. Hinson won’t mind me saying he was not the biggest fan of the piano, but him being him, still made sure to show it who’s boss. Josh skated the piano in every which way, throwing himself out the top of the bank, tre fifty fs shuv out on the keys and even a cheeky flip nose manny on top of the piano when the bank was transformed into a kicker.
It wasn’t just our guys tearing it up though, absolutely everyone was, but there were some special standout tricks for me. Josh flying out of the top is easily one of them, but Rob Maatman with a huge k-grind above the keys as well as a heelflip bs noseslide and then Bert Roeterdink’s switch fs k-grind and switch fs blunt were so so so sick. A special shout-out to Sparrow Knox too, I honestly don’t know how he was walking by the end of the weekend, dude has zero self-preservation.
Once the cash dried up and everyone skating the piano was totally wiped out, we headed out to get to the shuttle buses, which were taking us to Tracks Brewing for food and beers. Fully loaded with drink tokens to use at the brewery and the guy’s pockets now filled with cash from the best trick comp, it was time for a much-welcomed rest. As we sat amongst Tracks’ large brewing equipment and taps, with a large screen showing the footage of all the shop’s domestic Shop Riot clips it felt like a special place to be. All you had to do was look up at the big screen and stare at it for 5 minutes to see how good every team here was. The beers, food and good times flowed throughout the night, all with the knowledge that tomorrow was going to be a colossal day crammed with even more skating, beers and good times!
Day Two, A Stiff Knee & Even Stiffer Competition
On the Friday, we had a taster of what was to come on the big day. But it wasn’t until the day of the comp we all realised how different this was going to be compared to the Shop Riot in Cardiff…
All the shops that had entered in Cardiff were very good, but the level was different gravy in Manchester. In the practice, everywhere you looked around the skatepark something nuts was going down, and with the route to the final being much more intense this time round, we all knew it was going to be a huge achievement just reaching the quarter-finals, let alone the finals.
Throughout the beginning of practice, Joe Hill was nursing a bad knee he had picked up the day before, taking it super easy and leaving it until the last ten minutes to truly test the knee’s strength. After filling him with painkillers and hoping we weren’t the first shop to be called up for qualifiers, we were, of course, called up first to open up the comp. We all expected this to be the case, considering we were technically the host shop, but we could still hope.
Luckily, Joe’s knee held up well, with it not seeming to cause him too much hassle. Whether that was due to the painkillers or pure adrenaline, who knows, but it worked nonetheless. Luckily for us, Hinson knows Graystone like the back of his hand, instantly dropping hammers down the handrail and well, all over the park to be honest.
Josh was classically styling around, effortlessly gliding around the park, even going so far as launching an emergency fs grab over Hinson’s head whilst he was walking up the quarter pipe. Much to the crowd’s delight.
Joe Hill handled the tech side of things, switch fs flips and nollie bs flips down the stairs as well as his showing off his unbelievably consistent 180 switch 5-0 variations on the block. Bad knee? What bad knee?
We dropped a few tricks in the qualifying round, but overall it was still very solid. Then the other teams dropped in… Every shop, and I mean every shop, tore the park up. By the end of the qualifiers, we were genuinely unsure if we had reached the next stage, I really can’t stress enough how good everyone was.
After a nervy beer (just me on that one) it was announced that we had qualified 5th, comfortably finding ourselves in the quarter-finals. By this time, the guys were in a much better groove, the only thing was it felt as though every team seemed to find that same groove, the quarters felt just as tight as the qualifiers. However, fewer tricks were missed and more tricks were landed by all three of our guys and this time they found themselves heading to the semi-finals in 2nd!
With the nerves, beer and hectic nature of the day, it’s hazy for me which shops were left in the semi’s if I’m being honest. But, I believe the semi’s left us up against Frisco (Italy), SkateBoutique (Belgium), SkateCH (Switzerland) and Venero (Spain). To be even more honest here, by this time it was pretty clear who was probably going to win this thing. The whole way through the day Venero was absolutely killing it, Ariel was landing absolutely everything. Even when Christian Estrada was lying on the floor in front of him, he stomped a k grind nollie flip out on the smaller down rail.
That being said, it was still totally up for grabs for any of the teams left, as we all know with skateboarding, anything can happen. Our guys smashed it again in the semi’s, rifling through all their tricks and possibly dropping the least amount of tricks they had all day. Even though SkateCH and SkateBoutique hammered through their heats too, we managed to find ourselves in the final up against the already two-time champions Venero.
Reaching the finals was a huge achievement for us, regardless of the result. This was Supereight’s very first year competing in the domestic Shop Riot, let alone the Finals! I think the semi’s was our best heat, and thanks to some severely tired legs we did drop a couple of tricks in the Finals, but so did Venero.
I think they actually had their worst heat in the Finals, a shock to everyone in the crowd I’m sure, but those guys were skating non-stop all day. This left a tiny grain of hope that there was a chance we had won the whole comp. Unfortunately for us, this wasn’t the case. Venero deservedly took the number one spot and I think there would have been a riot if they didn’t win too. The skating those dudes did throughout the weekend was just on a totally different level. Congrats guys, you truly earned that win! Also a quick shout-out to Ariel for never ever listening to Churchill when he asked skaters to clear the park, I enjoyed that immensely.
After the huge cheques were handed out, and the champagne bottles popped, we all made our way back to the hostel to grab some food and recoup some energy for the after-party happening that night. I didn’t skate at all over the weekend and I was running on empty so I can only imagine how the guys were feeling. After a shower, some food and a well-deserved lie-down, we all made our way over to Six Trees bar for some more free beer and good times. Good times were definitely had, just don’t ask me what happened… I cannot remember.
Being able to experience the incredible Shop Riot competition twice in one year is both a blessing and a curse. The curse is the fact that next year we may not qualify for the Finals, meaning we will have to wait a whole year until we get to do it all again. Although, now we have all had a taster of the Finals it’s only going to add more fuel to fire to qualify again! Joe Hinson, Josh Mayson and Joe Hill all took care of business once again, and I couldn’t be more proud of them all.
I know I’ve already mentioned it, but to enter our very first Shop Riot this year and to qualify for the Finals is a huge achievement, never mind ending up being the 2nd best shop team in Europe! Sorry for the hazy recollection in some of this write-up too, I can only blame the free beer. As ever, I have to thank Joe Walchester for all his help over the weekend too, not only shooting rad photos but helping with absolutely anything he could throughout. Of course, a big thank you to Vans for putting on one hell of an event and last but not least, thanks to all the guys at Supereight too.