Sometimes, you need to go through some sort of a hassle to turn a great experience into a truly amazing one. Our return trip from Jeddah quickly turned into a mission after our original flight was delayed, and before we knew it, the deadline for this article had passed and we were still a long way from home. Fortunately, now we finally caught some sleep after being up for 48 hours straight, and here it is:
Enjoy the full report on the FISE World Series 2018 launch event in Saudi Arabia!
Words:Freddy White Photography:Maxime Genoud & Antony Pottier
For the inaugural event of their 2018 season, the hard working people over at FISE struck a big blow and organized the very first extreme sports event to ever take place in Saudi Arabia! Located in Jeddah, the largest port on the Red Sea, second-largest city in the country and principal gateway to the holy Mecca, the FWS launch event took over the highly popular waterfront with two massive skateparks and several stages to accommodate the BMX flat, Parkour and even Wakeboard competitions. Over the course of just three days, 137.000 spectators attended the event and witnessed a whole new world for the very first time: Composed mainly of families, with lots of young kids running all over to place to catch a glimpse of everything, walking around this enthusiastic crowd and meeting some of the local people was definitely one of the very best aspects of this whole event!
Now that the scene has been set, let’s take a closer look at the freestyle inline contest itself. With 13 riders invited by the FISE to take part in this inaugural event, and a wide range of styles on display, the competition promised to be a heated one, even more so with a 4000€ cash prize for first place! In addition to some of the usual suspects for this type of events, and a selection of the highest ranked bladers on the 2017 series, one could also spot the ever-smiling Montre Livingston, two times Winterclash champion Antony Pottier, or the flying Scotsman & Razors pro Scott Quinn! Unfortunately, Switzerland’s Maxime Genoud and Holland’s Jelle Briggeman injured themselves in the early hours of the event, and couldn’t take part in the actual contest. Nevertheless, it was a varied assortment of styles and tricks, and an obvious pleasure to see on such a course!
Speaking of the course, this time again BMX and blading shared the same park, and given the speed and amplitude our friends on bigger wheels are used to, the structure was built accordingly: With a massive wall, lots of transfers and possibilities for fast lines, the park was truly a great one, although unforgiving. The smallest of mistakes, any sketchy landing could cost you all your speed and the ability to keep your lines going. Not only did the bladers have to go big, they also had to be really precise: It really proved to be a demanding setup where only the very best & most athletic performances would give the pros a chance to make it on the podium. The 50-seconds-best-run-counts format only highlighted the physical aspect of it all. Taking a quick look at the qualifiers, the high energy run of France’s 19 years old Nicolas Servy proved to be the best performance of the day, and gave a hint of the challenges awaiting everyone for Saturday’s finals!
These finals took place at 4:30pm, in the blistering afternoon heat: The 35° Celcius temperature definitely didn’t make things easier for the top 8 riders qualified, yet it didn’t seem to phase anyone as they still went hard and all gave it their best shot! Joe Atkinson floated some amazingly smooth lines around the park and reached 5th place, while Roman Abrate laced some big spins, only missing the podium by the fraction of a point. Making a small detour on his way to Thailand, Australia’s CJ Wellsmore landed in the 3rd spot after putting together a solid run full of surprises and varied tricks. Nicolas Servy went hard to keep his spot at the top, and pulled yet another great performance, but on Saturday however, France’s enfant terrible Julien Cudot was simply untouchable. Starting his runs with a ballsy backflip drop, and landing hammer trick after hammer trick on all the biggest obstacles the course had to offer, Julien improved on his score with every run and showed his opponents no mercy: With a virtually perfect 95 points score, he logically ended in first place and 4000€ richer!
If the competition thus proved to be one of the highlights of this whole trip, some of the riders and guest judge Anthony Avella also found the time to shred the streets, as you can see in some of these pictures! An intense experience for sure, in a surreal atmosphere: Blading around the empty streets in the middle of the day in the Middle East most definitely wasn’t something any of us would have ever imagined we’d be able to do! Regardless of any sort of ranking or competition results, it is safe to say we were all winners last weekend: Getting to experience life in Jeddah for a few days, eating delicious food and getting properly taken care of, sharing good times and discussing with the local bladers, visiting the old town or walking through the sunny streets, these are moments we were all lucky to experience. It is pleasant to think that this is also true for the great people and local crowds who clapped and cheered for these sports the huge majority was witnessing for the first time: For the FISE itself, as with everyone involved with the event, it obviously was even greater of a success than any of us could have imagined!
But for more thoughts on this, and our personal impressions on this incredible trip, you’ll have to read our Behind The Scenes article which should be up once the roll of analog film we brought back in our luggage is all developed for your viewing pleasure: Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more!
In the meantime, watch the full replay of the finals: www.be-mag.com/jeddah-inline-finals
Visit the official FISE website and check out their upcoming events: www.fise.fr/en
And a lot more FISE coverage, live updates and past articles: www.be-mag.com/?s=FISE