Story by Chris van der Merwe Images by Eric Palmer Edits by Chris van der Merwe and Neil van der Walt
I’m sure the world will know by now that South Africa isn’t only a country with lions chasing zebras and African tribal people living in huts. We hosted the FIFA World Cup, come on! South Africa must have some sort of rollerblading scene, right? It surely does.
When the scene was booming in the 90’s we had Clifford Viljoen, Herman Potgieter and Frank Joubert competing on international level. Since then the scene did get smaller but certainly didn’t die out. Lately the scene went from Saturday hammer street sessions to random park sessions with and only hitting the streets when the hunger kicks in. It might have looked like rollers are dying out but the new young guys are slowly coming up while the passionate OG’s are keeping it alive.
We have skaters with the most unique styles like Lloyd Goss and top level tricks like Earl Abrahams. The cities with the most skaters are Johannesburg/Pretoria and Cape Town. I guess there are about a 100 rollerbladers actually skating in South Africa with one or two girls also in there. The really cool thing about being a rollerblader in South Africa compared to US and Europe is that everyone knows each other. If you see someone with aggressive skates that you don’t know, you will get to know each other. The lack that we do have in the South African rolling scene is the filming and editing equipment and access to internet. We got one or two good filmers/editors like Neil van der Walt who made one of the featured edits. Eric Palmer is an amazing photographer. Both these guys really rip on there their skates also. Sometimes it just comes down to trying to make a living and not having that much time to skate and film anymore. Lots of spots are also off limits and have to travel far to get to spots or other skaters.
The biggest competitions we have are the Son Skate Nationals in December in Cape Town and the My Culture Resurrection Jam in April in Johannesburg, both on WRS. There are some good skate parks in Johannesburg but in Cape Town, where I stay, we are lacking a bit. Our best and only skate park got torn down about 4 years ago. Shortly after that I started an indoor skate park at my church with only a little mini ramp and a grind box. For a year I voluntarily built this park barely getting through each month. My church employed me after that and if been running and building this park till today. It is a really sick full-on indoor skate park now. Running with a skate shop in the back selling actual aggressive rollerblades on the shelves (something we didn’t have for years). I also build up and sell second hand skates for dirt cheap from the park. You basically pay the price for a cold drink to skate the park for the whole day and if you don’t have money we let you skate for free anyways. We have three big competitions during the year at my park. Join the Son Skate Stellenbosch skatepark fan page here.
I committed my life to Jesus 4 years ago and that’s when my rollerblading also changed. When I stopped worshipping rollerblading, I started skating on an international level. I went to Dubai X-Games twice to do demo skating. After that I went to China for the Asian X-Games three years in a row and made the finals twice. I went to the US to compete in the AIL finals where I qualified AIL Pro. Recently I also got invited to the ChunCheon 2010 World Leisure Cup in Korea. Last year after the Asian X, Conference put me on their Ambassador team. It has really been a dream for me to compete overseas and to be sponsored. I know there are lots of skaters in South Africa who deserves to be in my place. I just like to thank every skater and non-skater in this country that did their part by keeping the scene alive. Thanks to the guys and girls that push each other for the love of the sport and not for the sake of being better. Even though we don’t get to hang out that often, I love all you all!!