Words like “amazing”, “great” or “outstanding” get thrown around a lot, but when it comes to the FISE event which took place in Hiroshima last weekend, it is safe to say the latter deserved all of these superlatives, and then some. The first official stop of this year’s World Series offered one of the freshest skateparks to date, drew massive crowds on site, and hosted some of the very best inline finals we have seen in years:

So if you’re ready for more laudatory words and exclamation marks, read on!

Words: Freddy White
Photography: Miguel Martinez

Not even two weeks after the invitational event which launched the 2018 season 9000 kilometers away in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the whole FISE staff made the miracle happen again: A massive event site, located on the city’s former Municipal Baseball Stadium, had seen the light of day! With structures set up for bouldering, parkour, BMX flatland, two distinct courses for the several skateboard, BMX and freestyle inline competitions, and a separate stage for music shows and award ceremonies, the whole area was dedicated to action sports. It is especially worth noting that the main park designed and built by fellow blader Pascal Morasse-Raymond and his crew looked like a giant bowl with countless lines, hip transfers and the always  impressive craddle!

This set up sure opened lots of doors and promised an intense contest, full of suprises and plot twists, but before we get deeper into the action itself, a word about the city: Hiroshima is a name you’re most probably familiar with, but chances are you don’t know much about the place besides the fact that death fell there from the sky, one sunny morning 73 years ago. Today, the peaceful city is home to 1,2 million inhabitants, and having opened its doors to global tourism, draws many visitors from all around the world. Its quiet streets might seem a suprising location when you’re used to the light madness and party antics that come with any FISE stop, but in retrospect it did prove to be just the perfect place for their very first event in Japan!

Blading was once again given an impressive platform to showcase some of its very best talents: Of course, the 2015 WS champion Joe Atkinson himself, along with the usual French suspects Julien Cudot, Manon Derrien, Anthony Avella & Yuma Baudouin, Adapt team rider Sem Croft & Hedonskate’s Tomek Przybylik, the underrated Thaï killers Worapoj Boonnim & Jeerasak Tassorn, Switzerland’s Maxime Genoud, Diego Guilloud & Stéphane Torres, and the ever entertaining CJ Wellsmore were all in attendance. But more importantly, many Japanese bladers entered the contest as well, including 2017 World Champion Chihiro Azuma, young street prodigy Yuto Goto and the legend of vert, Takeshi Yasutoko himself: Now that’s what we call a riderlist!

Despite a rainy Friday which saw the cancellation of all events, including inline’s qualifications, the Japanese crowd showed up in great numbers on Saturday, and while standing in the cold wind, the enthusiastic audience nevertheless warmed the whole place up in order to welcome the pros for some exciting semi finals on the BMX park. Two times champion Julien Cudot barely made it through, qualifying last in 12th place, while Joe Atkinson flew a flawless line over the course all the way to the top spot, followed closely by Kobe’s frequent flyer Takeshi Yasutoko and his signature airs. Japan has a long and rich blading history, and seeing him destroy the park alongside new generation hero Yuto Goto, who placed 4th, proves the future is just as bright as the past there!

And talking about Japanese skaters, it seems like the overall level of talent and skills knows no age or gender restrictions in the Land of the Rising Sun. On the more street oriented skateboard park, the kids and women contests were both full of young rippers and stylish bladies. Seeing 7 years-olds throw perfect 540s on transition, or even Okayama’s Misaki Katayama follow the lead of this year’s winner Chihiro herself, eventually placing second while Manon Derrien ended in 3rd place: It was all not just impressive, but also extremely positive when considering the future of the sport. Many generations of bladers overlap in Japan, as they support one another, the kids cheering for their teachers, and the latter encouraging their students: It’s definitely a sight to behold!

On the main park too, the pro finals were something you had to see to fully believe: If you haven’t done so yet, we’d highly recommend watching the full replay so we can simply avoid making trick lists in here! We would most definitely hate spoiling the results too, as Takeshi and Joe were losing to Cudot until their very last run: With an 84,25 score to beat, the Trigger pro kept the pressure on the whole contest, but there’s nothing like a last minute plot twist to make the crowd go crazy and leave the judges a little puzzled! So let us just say both of them pulled near perfect runs, back to back and right on the buzzer, thus offering everyone the most intense ending to any contest we’ve attended in a really long time!

But we have written many words, and used too many exclamation marks already: As your dedicated crew of reporters is currently on an extended layover in Tokyo, there’s still a plane we have to catch, so for now we will just let all that sink in while you appreciate the beautiful pictures provided by the Voice of rollerblading himself, Mr. Miguel Martinez! We would just like to use this final paragraph to express how thankful we are to have experienced such an event, in such an incredible setting, in such an amazing country! That might sound like a lot of superlatives in just one sentence, but you better believe we actually mean it: This event was one for the history books, and along with the whole FISE crew we sure hope to be writing another chapter in 2019.

See you next year, Hiroshima!

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