Can you imagine doing something for fifteen years? Also, can you imagine doing it better and better, being able to re-invent yourself and your job through the process, making in more successful, more loved and respected? Only a true master of his craft, a true, dedicated artist can do that. Jojo Jacobi has found his vision with Winterclash, and that’s why it’s maintained the status of the most important ‘bladers only’ competition worldwide. In this respect, Jojo is an artist, and we can draw a parallel between him and Alex Broskow, another rollerblader that keeps reinventing himself and finding new ways to remain relevant and influential. Will be great to see both at this year’s 15th annual Winterclash coming up next week. Ofcourse, we again didn’t pass the opportunity to talk to Jojo before the competition to give you a scoop of what’s to come. Words: Josip Jagić Photography: Gareth “Stig” Morton So, this is the 15th year of Winterclash, making it the longest running blading competition in the world. Did you ever think you’d make it last this long? Well, in the beginning we were just jumping from year to year without thinking about its future too much. It was weird enough when we hit the 10th anniversary. To be honest, there was times when we weren’t sure if we should keep it running or better put it to rest before repeating ourself too much. But since two, three years we started to almost reinvent the concept and with adding the panels, workshops and all kind of side events, the whole thing just made so much more sense again. It’s funny that after almost thinking about it’s end, I now realized that Winterclash just last year finally became what it always was supposed to be: A proper festivals with all sorts of stuff to see and do. It is so much fun to work on it and our team just got bigger, our vision better and the riders line-up is getting crazier every year as well. That came unexpected to us and is a huge motivation to keep on going! What will the course look like this year? How did you change it compared to last year and why? We don’t want to tell too much about the course upfront, as its a huge part of the excitement to keep our ramp-additions secret until everyone enters the building. But its going to be much more technical and there is a few more rails compared to last years course. There is going to be something to ride for everyone and of course theres going to be this one nutcase obstacle again as well. Could you see Antony Pottier winning for the third time in a row? Do you already have your secret favorites in each category? I would guess that its almost impossible to get into that mental state again and be able to deal with the pressure for a third time in a row. But who knows, Antony Pottier is an animal. When looking at our line-up, its obvious that there is plenty of people with the ability to take the win. Usually I have a few personal favorites every year, but this riderslist is intense and I have no clue who is going to make it this year. I´m just super excited to see people like Martin Danning or Dominic Bruce competing in Pro, since they both started out in our Junior contest years ago. What will the mix of competitors be this year? Are there a lot of US skaters that have registered already? We have more US riders signed up than ever before i believe. And theres a few more to be announced soon. It’s super super exciting for us to still welcome first-timers to Winterclash after all these years. I was always afraid that we would run out of riders for the Pro comp at some point, but this year proved that there is many more exciting years to come. Check the full line-up yourself: Riderslist What’s the whole lineup of side events and what can we expect with special guests this year? We are going to have panel discussions about skate-schools, DIY events and the next generation. Next to that there will be workshops about filming, social media and youtube as well as how to live healthy and stay on top of your game in older age. We are going to have a video night dedicated to Alex Broskows carrier, the premiere of Brian Bina’s new flick INTI, the European premiere of Valo 6, the Hanglosers Superbowl, a huge aftershow party and a photo exhibition. the list of special guests is growing every day and it#s almost too many to name them. Make sure to pass by winterclash.com and check out our side events and riderslist for all the names. If I would have to pick one person, it would be Alex Broskow, since he hasn’t been at Winterclash for years and because of the very special side-event we’ve planned with him. This is going to be a night to remember for sure. Last year’s was maybe the best ever, truly like a rollerblading festival with everything that was prepared. So I wonder do you feel anxious about living up to the newly raised expectations of regular attendees? Rather the opposite. Like mentioned above, last year made us realize how much more we can do with this event and this turned into hundreds of new ideas for the future. We are super happy about this year’s program and the riders-line up already, and already now people are writing us that they expect it to be the best ever. Its insane that this is even possible after so many years and it really motivates us to step up our game even more in the future. Is there something you finally managed to organize for this year that you are specially proud of? I´m very happy about the Alex Broskow event, since i never expect him to agree on it. This amount of people and atmosphere are just not his favorite thing in the world. I´m glad he was up for it and I´m sure it will be a great night of celebrating his career. next to that, I´m very excited about the mix of guests we managed to invite for our panels. Its going to be great conversations and discussions about important topics! Also, can you please give me your overview of the state of rollerblading 2018-2019? We got more skate-schools than ever, new DIY skateparks and more juniors and women than a few years ago. There is a very healthy amount of good vod and free edit releases and there is a good amount of remaining DIY and cooperate events. So, in general I would say blading is doing just fine. But of course theres a downside. Almost no Pro rider can make a living anymore and most of our companies are struggling for many years already. It’s tricky, but it has been like that for many years and instead of blaming companies or whoever, we need to step up our game and get more kids involved and start local projects and initiatives. Specifically, coming from working with Hoeme and the music industry, where do you see the similarities and opportunities for us as an industry to grow? There is a lot of similarities. Upcoming bands can’t count on the big major labels and need to put in a lot of DIY effort in order to play shows and get recognized. Thats something we can and need to apply to blading as well. We need to invest more of our time and more people need to start their own projects in order to get moving. No one else is going to do that for us, it is in our hands only and we need to be aware of that. If you want blading to change for the better, take action yourself. That is something we really want to push with Winterclash in 2019 and the coming years. And the other way around there is a lot I learned from the way that music festivals promote and curate their program.We are now applying that to Winterclash and it makes me proud to treat the event as a festival as well, instead of a skatepark competition. It opens up so many new opportunities. Your final message to all the people coming this year? I said it many times before, but I really mean it: Thank you so so much for your trust and support during 15 years of Winterclash. It is insane to me that we are still here after all these years and that it still feels fresh and exciting. Thats because of all of you. Thank you for believing in Winterclash and for making it such a celebration of our sport. We just set up a five years agreement and are working on a concept to keep Winterclash healthy and alive for many more years to come. Unfortunately this will lead to a raise of our ticket price in 2020 – but this will enable us to develop the event, make it more stable and ensure to keep on going for many years. We will speak more about it during this years event and we can already promise that we are far away from being done. it feels like we are just getting started. Thank you!