Over the weekend Amsterdam was host to a huge variety of urban sports demos and tournaments as part of Urban Sports Week Amsterdam. As an old, I was pretty unfamiliar to the world of urban sports (beyond skateboarding and tourist bashing) and it was delightful to wander around the city watching the kids do their flips. We started in Westerpark, where Big Air Bag was sponsoring a street diving competition.
Street diving is just like regular diving, minus the water. Instead, athletes fling themselves from a platform at the top of a crane into (maybe you saw this coming) a big air bag. In between jumps, the hydraulic crane lowered and raised the competitors 22 meters into the air. The info I read about the street diving competition said that the participants were mainly big-air athletes from other sports that rid themselves of the confines of a BMX bike or snowboard or whatever. In reality the best competitors turned out to be the ones with traditional diving skills (of the aquatic variety).
Nearby the street diving was a wakeboarding demo in the canals. Wakeboarders were winched down the canal by grabbing onto a tow-line, grinding across a railing (“slider”) and flipping off of a ramp (“kicker”) along the way. It was novel to see wakeboarding in the murky waters of an Amsterdam canal, but each run was limited to a short length of space so the tricks were pretty low-key. Kudos to the athletes willing to get into that water…
Next we battled the crowds along Damrak just in time to see some tweens in Beursplein get their medals for the free running qualification round. Some of the guys were still messing around the equipment, running up walls, jumping across chasms and generally doing a fairly good impression of the lemur exhibit. It would be another three hours before the finals of the free running competition started up again, so Trenton and I made our way to Museumplein to see the skateboarding.
Tony Hawk is pushing 50 but skateboarding never gets old. You can often see people using skateboards as their primary means of transportation in Amsterdam, and there are half-pipes all over the city. The last event we explored Saturday was the Amsterdamn Open, a freestyle skateboarding tournament. We saw a wide variety of experienced skaters compete, from the teenage phenoms to the old veterans. There’s something hypnotic about watching skateboarding and it was a great way to wind down after a busy Saturday. I don’t think you’re likely to find me jumping from a crane, strapped to a wakeboard in a canal, or even attempting a frontside noseslide any time soon, but I’m looking forward to Urban Sports Week Amsterdam 2017 nonetheless!