What is Vans Shop Riot?
The very first Vans Shop Riot was held at Burnside skatepark in the Netherlands in 2009. The whole idea was to bring a team mindset into skate competitions and move away from the norm of skaters competing on their own.
Every skate company or shop worth its salt has a team of riders, so why not take those teams and pitch them up against each other? I’ve been skating for just over 20 years now, and I have heard/taken part in countless debates on which team is best, be it a company team or a shop team. Well, Vans Shop Riot is the perfect way to answer these debates! Since its inception, Shop Riot has snowballed into a huge annual event, with shops desperate to represent themselves every year.
Supereight, Shop Riot rookies
A lot of skate competitions can feel incredibly sterile and formulaic nowadays. Vans Shop Riot, however, is definitely not one of those competitions. We are huge fans of it here at Supereight, and we were hyped to find out that we had been accepted to enter a team for this year’s event! So, last weekend, we took a team of guys down to Cardiff to compete in this year’s comp, hosted by Spit & Sawdust skatepark in Cardiff.
This was the first year Supereight had ever entered a Shop Riot event, but as the guys I took down consisted of Joe Hinson, Josh Mayson and Joe Hill, I was quietly confident that we would be able to at the very least, reach the finals. I would have been over the moon with this, and anything on top of that would be absolutely amazing.
Well, without ruining the story, we only bloody won it and with our incredibly talented resident photographer Joe Walchester being with us shooting some rad photos, it only made sense to write a blog and tell the story of the weekend. On that note, before we go into it all, I just want to thank Joe W for his help across the whole weekend, not only was he shooting rad photos the whole weekend, but he also helped with absolutely anything he could and I can’t thank him enough for that.
Day 1 – Bute Square and the “Spicy Dragon”
Once we got the green light from Vans and we were able to put a team together, I knew we were going to put on a decent display over the weekend. But it wasn’t until Hinson started counting how many times he had won this comp (riding for other shops of course) whilst we were driving down to Cardiff that I realised how much a shot we had at winning it. He also made it abundantly clear that he had never actually lost one of these events, clearly wanting to maintain that insane record of his. Not only that, Josh had finished second a few years back for Slick Willies and Joe Hill has been a powerhouse in the German scene for many years. That’s all well and good but we were going to be competing against some properly hard-hitting competition, with teams such as Flatspot, Black Sheep and Welcome all bringing incredible skaters. It must be said, every single shop ripped, and the vibes from the crowd for every team were dope.
There is a lot going on at a Shop Riot event and it is far from being a one-day contest. This year, it all kicked off on Friday the 4th at Bute Square, a very well-loved Cardiff spot, and then Saturday the 5th was the day of the main comp at Spit & Sawdust.
Once I had the team checked into their hotel rooms and figured out where Bute Square was, we all made our way to the infamous Cardiff spot. This was the first time I’d ever been to Cardiff, but I had seen this spot many times before. It’s a haven of ledges, manny pads and flat ground, so I was very curious to see what new additions were going to be there. We knew Carve Wicked was going to create an obstacle in the square for everyone to skate and earn prizes from Cardiff Skate Club, what we didn’t know was what the obstacle was going to be. Although, there were a lot of predictions of gnarly quarter pipe set-ups, which turned out to be pretty much spot-on…
As we rolled up to the spot we could all see a red wooden dragon(ish) shaped feature, planted right in the middle of the flat ground of the square. Now, I know Dragons are generally known for being fairly dangerous creatures, but this was an especially spicy bastard. With a bank going up to a whippy quarter pipe, this thing was spitting skaters out left, right and centre. When you are seeing dudes like Sam Pulley and Daryl Dominguez getting shot out of the transition, you know this isn’t something to just mess around on. Just ask Stevie Thompson, easily one of the MVPs of the day, booting the dragon’s head with every foot plant variation you could imagine, until the dragon bit back and spat him out, resulting in a really nasty arm break. The bank leading up to the quarter also created a fun-box feature to the left of the quarter and on the right of the quarter were some seriously steep banks. The whole structure was truly a sight to behold.
Once the guys had figured out how to tame the dragon, it was on. Hinson found the biggest feature he could hit pretty much right away and went straight into either launching himself over the whole box or hitting the wooden ledge to the left of it. My man was fs blunting a wooden ledge with a fairly hefty drop on the other side. Joe Hill and Josh found themselves hitting up all aspects of the dragon, rifling off tricks and stacking prizes in the process. All three of them walked away with prizes from the very generous Cardiff Skate Club and smiles on their faces.
Once everyone was suitably worn out, we all headed back to the hotel for a shower and got back out to find the after-party, which was quickly located, and with the beer tokens collected, we could all relax. Once it reached about midnight, I (boringly) suggested we head back to the hotel to avoid overly foggy heads at the comp the next day. I managed to wrangle everyone, aside from Josh… If anyone was going to still shred with a hangover it was going to be him, so he dipped off to explore what else Cardiff had to offer. Somehow ending up in mine and Joe W’s room in the early hours of the morning (unbeknownst to myself, until I was told at breakfast) and had to figure out which room was actually his, whilst, let’s say, decently intoxicated.
Day 2 – A Coke float and some hammers
Funnily enough, Josh was the first one up on Saturday, waiting for the rest of us to get up and eat some breakfast. Once sorted, we all headed over to Spit & Sawdust for the main event. As we walked in, the smell of BBQ and nervous anticipation filled the air. Well, perhaps the latter was just me. It was already pretty rammed, even though we tried to get there early enough to get a mellow warm-up session. Everyone else obviously had the same plan!
Similar to the day before, everyone was absolutely killing it. That’s not where the similarities stopped though. Again, there was a brand-new feature in the park. A huge, (and I mean huge) bright yellow rainbow rail was plopped in the middle of the flat. Very few riders were touching it in the warm-ups, although a lot of them were definitely eyeing it up. Josh and the Joes began to get their legs warmed up, steadily figuring out lines and feeling out the transitions of all the features, whilst Joe W and I found some spots to film and shoot photos.
We got to watch 10 shops skate the qualifiers before we got to drop in and try and earn our place in the finals. By the time it was time for us to skate, the rainbow rail had taken a good few prisoners, so much so that I had to go around to the team and tell them to not touch it at all. Not that I had to, they were already thinking the exact same thing, even Mark Churchill on the mic was pleading with everyone to leave it alone. Then we were called up for our turn to qualify…
I am totally aware that I’m going to be biased here, but that qualifying run was some of the most insane two-and-a-half minutes of skating I had ever seen in my life. Everything the guys were doing or trying in the warm-ups was being landed. I have a 59-second clip on my phone of this run and it’s just mind-blowing, everywhere I pointed the camera one of the guys would be landing something insane.
Something I really love about this Supereight team is that each rider has his own speciality, something that I’m sure did us huge favours throughout the comp.
Hinson, as we all know, is an absolute machine on rails, I’ve never seen someone so consistent with flip k-grinds, tre lips etc. Not only that though, the dude was learning tricks on the fly, during warm-ups he was messing around with full-cab bs tail down the rail, within 15 goes he stomped it with ease. Not only that, when it came down to the best trick, he did it three times in a row. Just mind-blowing.
Then you have Joe Hill, the tech-king. Joe’s hardflip BS 180s and nollie BS flips were so consistent I think he maybe dropped one or two the whole day from what I saw. His ledge tech is unbelievable too, I’m pretty sure he can detach his torso from his hips, resulting in him being able to pull body shapes I’ve never seen before. Pulling BS 180 fakie 5-0’s back to regs like it’s nothing and even going for hardflip fs 180 over the hip in the warm-ups, something I’ve genuinely never seen anyone even try before.
Then you have Josh Mayson… I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I could watch him skate alllll day long. The way he pops his tricks with so much height and distance but looking like he is putting about 10% effort in is so rad. Watching him nollie flip and heel the hip just screamed Antwuan Dixon to me. What I’ve just mentioned is about 5% of everything the guys were doing that weekend, I could write a whole blog on the tricks being thrown down by these guys. I can’t stress enough how impressive it was, and I know them, it shouldn’t shock me as much as it does, but here we are…
It may sound arrogant, but we didn’t need to wait for the judges to let us know that we qualified for the finals, the conversation between us revolved around where we had placed in the Top 5. Turns out, we finished 20 points above the second-place team. I’ve got to say, what was going through my mind the whole time was not being said out loud, I was not ready to tempt fate!
After the qualifiers, we all sat down and considered getting food. Joe Hill and Hinson opted not to risk it and wait to eat until after the finals. Josh, on the other hand, walked around the corner with the biggest Coke float I have ever seen, with a huge smile on his face, just after ploughing through a big ol’ plate of food. The dude is just built differently!
The finals rolled around fairly quickly, and as we had qualified in first we had the advantage of being able to watch the four other finalists put their runs down before us. This was great because we could all see what needed to be done if we wanted to win. However, it does have some disadvantages too, the guys were getting stiff and tired. I’ve never seen a massage gun put in such a shift, in fact, that may have been the true MVP of the whole weekend. Anyway, the first three shops were shredding in the finals but I knew if the guys did the same as the qualifiers, we would have no trouble finishing above them.
Then Black Sheep stepped up, and I’ve gotta say, they were on it. Jiri Bulin was on an absolute tear, he was easily another favourite of mine over the weekend. I distinctively remember a nollie fs board shuv out on the down rail that he put down in the finals which was so so so clean. Still though, if we were to put down a similar or slightly improved performance in the finals as last time, we were going to be gravy. Easier said than done though, the guys had been skating nearly non-stop the whole weekend, and those tired legs were setting in. But when the time came, Josh and the Joes stepped up and absolutely nailed it yet again.
The difference between us and Black Sheep obviously caused the judges quite a headache as it was a good while until the results were called out, and honestly, I’ll admit it was a tight call. Whilst we were waiting though, all sat outside drinking a beer, Churchill let everyone know the best trick comp was on. Josh and Joe Hill looked at each other and got up and left. Even though 30 seconds before they heard this, they could barely walk. We say good luck and I begin to roll a cigarette. By the time the cigarette is rolled a huge cheer and “JOSH MAYSON WITH A FLIP BACKTAIL BIGSPIN OUT” was screamed through the mic. Chuckling, Joe W. and I just looked at each other shaking our heads… About 20 mins later all three of the guys come back with a couple £20 notes each in hand!
Eventually, the results were ready to be called out, and I instantly felt nervous (again). As I said at the beginning of this, I was over the moon with the finals and anything else was just a bonus. But after everything, the boys did that day, it felt important for them to be properly rewarded for their mind-bending skating. I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling that travelled through my body when Black Sheep was named 2nd place, it was unreal. I became a goosebump, I didn’t have goosebumps, I was one whole goosebump, and that’s the only way I can describe it.
Our very first Shop Riot as a team and the boys absolutely crushed it, I couldn’t have been more proud. I kept finding myself saying the exact same thing to the guys throughout the rest of the night, desperately trying to reinforce how proud I was. Plenty of beers were drunk over the rest of the night, Joe Hill even cancelled his flight home that night so we could all properly celebrate! What a weekend.
Thanks again, to Joe Hill, Joe Hinson, Joe Walchester and Josh Mayson. I’m sorry about all the confusion every time I said the name Joe. I’ve also got to say thanks to Nick Warman, Sam Culshaw and the rest of the Supereight crew, all of you guys rule.
Oh, and last but not least, thanks to Vans and Spit & Sawdust for putting on an incredible weekend. I can’t wait for the finals in October and to do it all again next year! <3