Young skateboarders check out the moves of European masters of the craft
“He’s pretty good”, murmurs 12-year-old Tino Yijälä
By Jorma Palovaara
Whirrr... clonk... whirrr... clonk, clonk.
The same blissful noise that fills many street corners in almost any city these days is particularly obvious in the vicinity of the Helsinki Ice Hall on Sunday.
The youngest skateboarders present are almost as short as the skateboards in their backpacks.
Inside the hall in the Helsinki Hookup 2012 event, the young Finnish skateboard enthusiasts watch beady-eyed as the European top skateboarders demonstrate their skills on the track built in the arena.
Most of the performed tricks result in an acrobatic tumble with the board rolling away from its owner.
But when a board completes a couple of full twists during a difficult jump and locks under the skateboarder’s feet as if glued there, resounding cheers fill the hall.
Mastering this magical snapping into place requires a lot of practice and countless repetitions, and bruises galore. Most of the attempts during practice end in failure.
Twelve-year-old Tino Yijälä from Vantaa leans against the side of the rink while following the senior skateboarders’ round in the arena. These “geezers” were already accomplished masters of the discipline before Yijälä was even born.
”These are pretty old-school tricks. The one who did the handstand on the board breathing heavily is Rad Mike. He’s pretty good.”
Next it is the female skateboarders’ turn.
“That girl who is about my age is not bad. Perhaps girls do not pull off quite as crazy stunts as the boys do. They are lacking in strength a bit.”
So, what are Yijälä’s own merits then?
“I have taken part in some competitions in the Tapulikaupunki Skatepark. Once I was the only one of the younger skateboarders who made it through to the next level. There I competed against older boys. I finished fifth out of six.”
According to Yijälä, learning a new trick can take a couple of hours, but the more difficult moves may take a few weeks to master. So, patience and hard work is needed.
New tricks one can learn from friends or by watching YouTube videos, Yijälä explains.
Yijälä’s answers become shorter and shorter, and our questions more of a nuisance.
Another competition featuring top professionals has started in the arena, and frankly, pesky journalists take second place.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 6.8.2012
Previously in HS International Edition:
Skateboarding towards sixty: "The city is a longboarder´s adventure playground" (29.5.2012)
Thirty years of skateboarding in Finland (11.8.2009)
Edgar Kiisa (the guy in the picture) seen at Simpel Session in 2011 (YouTube)
Helsinki Hookup 2012, Sunday (YouTube; works a lot better in 3D)
Helsinki Hookup 2012
Skateboarding Parks in Finland
JORMA PALOVAARA / Helsingin Sanomat