Sun, 21 February 2010

The 2010 Ultimate X event was hot, literally. Chris Mason (words) and Pierre Marqua (photos) of Wavescape went through to chug a few cold beers and check people getting serious air.

This year’s Ultimate X event at the V & A waterfront was sun scorched and lively. Traditionally alternative disciplines like skateboarding, BMX and FMX came together in the thick heat to celebrate the search for perfect motion.

When I arrived at around eleven it was already uncomfortably hot, I could almost hear the crackling of skin as people got fried. There where a couple hundred people around, a mix of spectators, pros and enthusiasts. Sun glass and peak caps dominated the environment of slow and continuous milling customary to event watching.

The FMX started an hour later with the three riders; Nick de Wit, Stuart Cooper and Brendon Potter, scrambling about and revving their engines. With full helmets and goggles and bright bodysuits, I couldn’t see their faces, and they reminded me of the baddies from the power rangers. My silent mockery was cut abruptly short as they start jumping. They threw some crazy stuff, like superman things and full bodied handstand extensions, before just getting back into position for the deceptively hard landing. I don’t know what the moves are called, but they must feel amazing to do if they gave such stoked to watch.

Next was the BMX demo, which was equally impressive, in it’s own way. The course was a steep roll-in leading into two jumps, where riders would come off the first air and straight into another one. It was interesting watching, with both BMX and jump bike riders on the ramp. By far the most impressive moves thrown down were the back and front flips landed by a rider called Colin, who stuck one front flip and called it quits, claiming it as the fourth one he has ever landed.

By the time the skate comp came around, the concrete was hot enough to cook on. Despite the heat, the skaters were pushing hard. More than any other sport there, the skating had a sense of competition, and the small rectangular space became a proving ground where the lighties mixed it up with the main ous and everyone ate shit.

The comp was simple, best trick wins. But skaters don’t land their best tricks all that often, and we groaned as they skidded off near landings. There were also whoops of elation intermixed into the shimmering heat and clack of wheels. Moses Adams was the favourite, landing a huge nollie big spin and then a heel flip melon consecutively. The judges liked it and he got first, with Durban’s George van Blerk taking second with a stylish tail slide fakie out.

As the afternoon drew on, the bands started up. Music pounded from the stage in the intense white light of the day and people laughed and looked on, covered in a communal film of gritty sweat. At events like this, you get the feeling it wouldn’t matter if it were raining or a blizzard. Sure, there were the usual posers and trendies, but for the majority of the people it seemed to be all about the core of their sports, and the love they had for them. And it‘s there where the small moments matter, like when the kid landed his hard-flip in front of the crowd, and felt the surge of success under pressure for the first time.

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