Lots and lots of flatlanders from all over the world were moving in the direction of Amsterdam on the last weekend of February to attend the Braun Flatground 2004 contest. It was advertised as the biggest flatland contest of the world and they could be right!
All the ingredients were there: the perfect floor, a stunning location, numerous riders from all corners of the globe, lots of media attention, a positive vibe and big pro names to shock the spectators with their magical moves and styles. The location is a unique building which has a dome shaped ceiling and a very industrial atmosphere, check out the pictures!
Friday was a day for jamming to test the floor and to size up the competition. Lots of jam sessions were going on with people like Simon O'Brian, Yanmar, Chad Johnston, Jesse Puente, Michi Sommer, Mike S., Jason Forde, Kimmo Hakaana and Jeff Desroche getting it on. The floor quickly became so crowded that collisions between riders occurred on a regular basis.
Almost everyone who meant something in the wonderful world of flatland was there and it was great to see so many crews from so many different countries hanging out together. Switzerland, Portugal, France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Spain, USA, Canada, Finland, Hungary, Greece, Australia, Japan, Sweden and many more countries were represented at this contest, all bound by a single passion called flatland!
Friday evening held the KGB release party to celebrate the fact that the long awaited KGB frames were going into production and that the company formed by flatland bigshots Martti Kuoppa and Viki Gomez is on track to conquer the world. There was also a DVD premiere show of the new Intrikat flick and Martti brought a hiphop act over from Finland to get the party going. Basically, lots of people got drunk, showed funky moves on the dancefloor and had a great time. I did, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one!
Saturday started of with Pro Prelims, about 40 riders in Pro Class! Of course, a lot of crazy combos and links were to be seen, as usual, when the big boys get busy. Riders like Sergio Concalves, Moritz Edschmidt, Stefan Dittrich, Dan Hennnig, Wolfgang Sauter, Chad Johnston, Cedric Borghy, Seppl, Sam Foakes and many others did their best but weren't good enough to make it to the finals.
Dan had some funky new moves and was pretty dialed flowing around with his supersmooth style. Jason Forde entered Pro Class for the first time in a major contest and did very well with his tech switches and tricks. All the big names made the finals, riders like Martti, Viki, Jeff, Mike S., Michael Sommer, Matti Rose, Alex and Jimmy, Jesse and a Japanese Ground Unit with riders like Yanmar and Kataro Tanaka.
Now everybody knows Yanmar by now, he is incredible. Kataro is not so well known and unless you have been following the KOG series in Japan or watching the Flatland Manifesto Videos you probably haven't heard of him. He is specialized in backwheel tricks, and by that I mean that he does crazy insane backwheel links with very original switches and tricks like deathtruck g-turns and hard gerator and kaboose variations, linking them all up into long combos and closing them up with stuff like manual to catapult!
One thing I have to get off my chest: Sven Steinbach from Karlsruhe had a perfect run with no touches whatsoever and with some very hard tricks and I believe he should have gotten a spot in the finals where some riders, in my humble opinion, did get into the finals with many, many touches doing stuff they did two years ago and which are hard but not harder than the things Sven pulled (perfect)...
Saturday also hosted the Expert Prelims with a full house, that means 60 (!) riders showing their skills to the judges. Lots of riders doing lots of cool tricks and combos to battle for a place in the finals.
In the evening the Pro Finals were to be held and the place was packed with spectators. There were some breakdance acts and then the action was on. Some riders like Jeff Desroche and Kataro had great runs, Jeff doing his aggressive brakeless links where you wonder how he can keep his bike under control and Kataro pulling some very long backwheel links.
Matti Rose had a bad run, it was the worst run I ever saw him do, it surprised me somewhat because he is a very consistent rider. Jimmy didn't ride so good in the finals either, no luck for the Style King from Paris. Alex pulled some of his stuff, crazy fast and high-tech as ever, so did Viky and Martti.
But it was the Japanese Innovator by the name of Yanmar who beat them all with his original and superhard tricks, he won the Pro Class. I could try to describe some of his moves but they are beyond words, just check out FLATtv 3 and you will see for yourself what kind of craziness this flatland magician has to offer!
On Sunday the Master Prelims were held with almost 60 riders getting busy. I always like to watch the Master riders go at it because they hold the pros of tomorrow. Riders like Gregory Gonzales, Florent Guyennon, Steven Blatter, Olli Mueller, James Smith, Valter Guerreiro, Holger Rupp, Giannis Katernellis and our own Dutch Destroyers Stefan Passeri and Bram Verhallen went all-out for a place in the finals.
Ten riders made the finals and the top three riders were really a treat to watch! Third place was for the boy wonder Bram Verhallen. He can do things with his yellow Sick Child which are phenomenal, especially after only two years of riding. He even pulled his cross-footed hitchhiker kickflip clean! Giannis Katernellis from Greece rocked the house with solid links including tricks like the pedaling time machine and hard frontwheel stuff and nice pedal steamroller combos for second place.
First place went to a 15-year old kid from Hungary called Peter Sarlos. He rode like a pro rider, pulling hard links with stuff like spinning cliffhanger and crazy megaspin combos, the way he linked his tricks together and the ease with which he performed them made him the champ!
Expert finals was also very cool with riders like Melvyn Hills, Mike Plas, John Lebond and Thomas Theamlitz doing their thing, Thomas was surprised to make it to the finals and gave it his best. So did the other riders, Melvyn had some bad luck with his run, he can do much better! Another Belgian rider did have his day and got third place: Alexis Bracke.
Timo Quitter from Germany took second but another rider from Hungary went home with the first prize. Pal Varga had a solid run with some oldschool stuff mixed with newschool moves, I don't know what they feed the riders in Hungary but with guys like OG Marton, Adam Kun and all the other riders going home with prizes in their backpack it must be good!
Another great flatland weekend in the bag! Thanks to the Soulcycle Crew for putting together another great contest, it was a blast!