Latvian skateboard history

Slalom Skateboarding in Latvia

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Gints Gailitis
1964-2011 (RIP)
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Latvian skateboard history

Post by Gints Gailitis » Sat Oct 03, 2009 2:03 pm

<center>Latvian skateboard history
by Gints Gailitis


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First skateboards appeared in Latvia only in 1979. The only sources of information about skateboards was Czechoslovakian magazine “Stadion”, it was possible to subscribe to “Stadion” in USSR, and also some friends who have heard about such a thing as SKATEBOARD. In begging of eighties I found out that there are skateboards also in Estonia and it is possible to buy them there. Then there were also first Estonian skateboards in Riga’s sporting goods shops. When I studied in Murjani sport school 10th class I got my first board – Estonian skateboard “Rula” (rula means skateboard in Estonian language).

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Skaters in Biekernieki</center>

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Andrejs Staltmanis</center>

As I already tried to skate in autumn 1981 in Riga, Bikernieki auto-moto race track, it was quite easy to skate with my new board. By thunder, skateboarding was associated just with going down hills (even if there aren’t any big hills in Latvia). Skating uphill or on flat nobody had ever seen yet. In Bikernieki race track we started to skate through cones, but if there were no cones, we used knobs and skated around them.
Soon there were also some guys with handmade boards in Bikernieki race track. But they were few and always people willing to skate were many more than the number of boards we had.
In the shops it was almost impossible to buy boards and if there were some, they were bought out immediately. There were also guys who went to Estonia just to buy boards.
Riding on a hill or slaloming was the primary activity of Latvian skateboarders.
In autumn 1983 I organized first skateboard competition in Bikernieki race track. We competed in slalom and there were 24 competitors. And a lot of riders found out about the competition only after the race when there were many reports in the mass media. Aleksandrs Geraimcuks from Liepaja also read them. It turned out that he also organized a race in Liepaja at the same time as I did. After a month there was also a race in Limbazi.
In 2008 I made celebration for 25 years since the first skateboard competition in Latvia with a party.

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Latvian skateboard history celebrates 25 years</center>

In the history of skateboarding in Latvia very important was next year, 1984, when factory “Sarkana Zvaigzne” (“Red star” – in Latvian) started to make skateboards “Ripo”. They were almost the same as “Rula” but the general difference was that it was possible to buy them in every sport shop.

In 1984 Latvian skaters competed abroad for the first time in Estonia – competition “Zelta Rula” (“Golden skateboard”) in Pernava. There were skaters also from Russia and Lithuania, but Latvians Rolands Musins, Inta Indrane and Arturs Ratfelders got the first places in their groups. In the mid eighties besides slalom racers competed also in freestyle, high jump and also pumping on distance, but it required more physical training.

In 1985 competition “Ripo” were held for the first time and the main prize was a skateboard. Participants came from all of the USSR. First again was Arturs Ratfelders.
Few Latvian skaters competed in skateboard “Summer Camp” in Czechoslovakia in 1986. First time I meet Jani Soderhall who always help Latvian slalomers and who have Big name in Latvia skate slalom scene.

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Jani Soderhall and other slalomers in Jurmala watching todays race on the daily news.</center>

In 1987 Latvian skateboard association was founded and it coordinated and guided skateboarding in Latvia. In 1988 in “Ripo” skateboard competition there were 86 competitors in giant slalom. Some participants come to Riga from Alma-Ata and 7000 km from Habarovsk (Kamchatka).
In 1988 the first skateboard magazine in Latvia “ZIG ZAG” was published (of course there was no internet). It was impossible to buy “Transworld” and “Thrasher” magazines in Riga. Latvia was still a part of USSR. This year Latvian team participated in European championships in Prague for the first time. Latvians participated in slalom and high jump. Nobody got a podium place. We saw the best European street and halfpipe riders. Now we finally had our first real street boards that were much different then slalom boards. So the era of Latvian street skating begun. First street skaters were Gints Zommers, Karlis Bundza from Riga, Janis Birznieks, Martins Vidzenieks, Gatis Vidzenieks, Juris Goncarovs.

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Gatis Vidzenieks 1989</center>

In 1989 Latvian skaters participated in World slalom championships in Munster. Janis Birznieks competed in street (AM group).
In Jurmala next to Dzintari concert hall the first Latvian championships were held (the same place as World cup 2005 and 2007, European championships 2006). The winner in slalom was Armands Sausins. In 1989 Latvian skateboard federation was founded.

In 1990 in VEF stadium territory the first ramp was built, the biggest competition “ZIG ZAG” was held there. Also competitors from Czechoslovakia were present. Best in slalom were Latvians, but in street and ramp – Czech guys. The competition was broadcasted by Latvian TV.

Latvia slalomers in Gothenburg 1990.

In 1991 Gints Zommers won slalom competition in Policka, Czech – it was the first victory in such a high level for Latvians.

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Gints Zommers in Policka 1991</center>

Latvian team participated also in World slalom championship in Italy.

In 1992 in Riga ISSA World cup was held, Janis Gailis became European champion in high jump. For my part, I celebrated my participation in 100th competition.

In 1993 best Latvian slalomers, Gints Zommers and Armands Sausins, participated in Pyrennean games “Les jeux de Pyrennes”. I was judge at this event.
“Baltic Sea Cup” competition took place for the first time in Liepaja. Participants competed in slalom, streetstyle, miniramp, freestyle and high jump. Special guest was Daniel Ridoli from Switzerland, who won in slalom.

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The first Baltic Sea cup in Liepaja</center>

In 1994 Edzus Konosonoks won the World cup in high jump.

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Edzus Konosonoks in Cesis. </center>

In 1995 European slalom championship took place in Riga – Bikernieki race track! There were participants from Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland and of course Latvia. In parallel, special and giant Luca Gianmarco won. Edzus Konosonoks won the high jump. Armands Sausins beat Gints Zommers in the fight for the 3rd place. Lienite Supe (Skaraine) was 3rd in special slalom, women group.

From 1996 till 2000 there was a impoverishment in Latvian skateboard scene. Slalomers met once a year and number of participants was around 10.

In winter 2000 it was possible to skate in “Riga film studio”. The competitions of slalom and street were held there.

In 2001 the first skateshop in Riga was opened – “Boards.lv”. Also the first fingerboard competitions were held.

In 2002 the first concrete skatepark was built in Ventspils.

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Lienite and Jelena in Jurmala.</center>

New turn was in 2003 when Lienite and Salvis Skarainis found out about slalom race in Gruningen thanks to Salvis sister – Ilva Skaraine – from the USA, NYC, who had found information about the race on the internet. Armands Sausins and myself, we also went to the race.
In Latvia street skating dominated the skateboarding industry. It was impossible to buy slalom equipment in Latvia, so the only possibility was to buy it during the competitions abroad.

In 2003 Lienite Skaraine was 3rd in special slalom in European championships in Antibes. Skateparks in Jurmala, Imanta, Grizinkalns were established.

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ConeRacing team in Paris 2006</center>

In 2004 Lienite become European champion in special slalom in Koeln.
First time Jadranko Radovanovic and Remo Thaler come to “Baltic Sea cup” in Jurmala.
Jadranko is special men who always help Latvian who participate in Swiss.
The first skate tour for street skaters around the country took place visiting all the skateparks. For the first time I participated in World championships in USA, California, Morro Bay. In autumn Latvian skateboard federation was renewed. Skateparks in Liepaja, Salacgriva and skatepark “Troja” were established.

In 2005 Madars Apse was 2nd in Tallin, in big street competition “Pop Session”.
Lienite Skaraine was 3rd in World cup in Paris and Hannover.
Janis Kuzmins was 3rd in European championships in Stockholm in special slalom. In Jurmala, next to “Dzintari” concert hall the World “Baltic Sea cup” was held. Lienite was 1st in special and 2nd in tight. Janis won both disciplines in PRO group. Indoor skateparks in Ventspils and Salaspils were opened. Skateparks in Olaine, Jelgava, Kandava, Limbazi were established. The first skateboard film festival and street skateboarding competition “Converse skate attack” was held in Riga. Madars Apse won “Avantis” scholarship in extreme sports category. Janis Kuzmins was nominated as a candidate to “Sportsman of the year” award.

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In 2006 European championships in Jurmala and Lorupe were held. Competitors came from 11 countries. Janis Kuzmins was 3rd in special slalom, Lienite was 3rd in tight, special and giant slalom. Gustavs Gailitis was 2nd in special slalom in junior group and also Edgars Rubenis was 2nd in the junior group but in tight slalom. In World championships in Brixlegg, Austria Lienite was 4th in special and Janis was 7th in tight. The skateboard film festival and street skateboarding competition “Converse skate attack” was held for the second time.

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In 2007 in Jurmala the World “Baltic Sea cup” race was held. Janis Kuzmins become double European champion in Grenoble and Gustavs Gailitis was 2nd in junior group. In Statesville Janis become World champion in tight. Due to his success in Euros and Worlds Janis received 5000 lats (about 7500 euro) from the government.

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World Cup in Sigulda</center>

In 2008 in Jurmala and Sigulda the World cup was held again. Janis won the overall. In Amsterdam Janis become European champion 2nd year in a row.

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Gustavs Gailitis</center>

June 21th, 2009, Gustavs Gailitis set a new World record in 50cones.

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Lienite Skaraine</center>

In Policka Janis again won the European championships. Lienite was 1st in tight in women group and Juris Grundulis was 1st in junior group.

Chris Favero
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Post by Chris Favero » Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:13 pm

thats hardcore.It makes me wanna skate,i am gonna go right now.C
Freak Bros. Racing
www.chixillskateboards.com

Gints Gailitis
1964-2011 (RIP)
1964-2011 (RIP)
Posts: 127
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2002 2:00 am
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Latvia slalom champions

Post by Gints Gailitis » Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:12 pm

Latvia skateboard slalom champions:

Armands Sausins – 1989, 1993, 1995
Gints Zommers - 1990, 1991, 1993
Martins Vidzenieks – 1992
Salvis Skarainis – 1994
Valdis Sermols – 1994
Gints Gailitis – 1995
Didzis Jasukaitis – 1995, 1996
Janis Kuzmins – 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
Gustavs Gailitis - 2008

www.skateboardinfo.lv

Jani Soderhall
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Rula - Estonian made skateboard

Post by Jani Soderhall » Mon Oct 19, 2009 5:04 pm

Gints Gailitis wrote:In begging of eighties I found out that there are skateboards also in Estonia and it is possible to buy them there. Then there were also first Estonian skateboards in Riga’s sporting goods shops. When I studied in Murjani sport school 10th class I got my first board – Estonian skateboard “Rula” (rula means skateboard in Estonian language).
...and here's an Estonian made (former USSR) Rula deck ridden some 20+ years later.


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I received this deck as a present from Gints Gailitis probably around 1990, probably just before. It was brand new and it's original packaging. I then asked myself. Do I just put it in a storage box and leave it there until it'll be placed in a musuem or should I just rip the package open and skate it? I quickly realized I couldn't just leave it there. A skateboard is meant to be ridden, I decided, and I quickly opened the package and went out to ride it. The original wheels had grip like nothing else you have ever tried. And with the incredible steering of those trucks the deck would turn on a dime. At the time we didn't ride courses that tight, so I couldn't really use it in slalom contests, but one time I entered a local streetstyle contest and all I did was slalom and dance, Oh, I meant pump, the board around. I even used some obstacles that I went up on, then made a sharp enough turn to make my way down the jump ramp again. I guess I didn't score very well, but at least I had fun and I showed the crowd a different kind of skateboarding. Don't know if this was prior to Dan Gesmer becoming famous for this kind of routines or not. It was probably after his appearance in the Bones Brigade movie, but at least I had not met Dan in person yet.

When I went to Leningrad (now St Petersburg) around 1990 I discovered the figure slalom event and managed to adapt quickly enough to at least enter the event. I finished third, but far behind the unbeatable master Anatoly Matsukuvich, possibly the inventor, if not at least the perfector of the figure slalom discipline. The recently told me his secret. Just put up two cones and make 8's going around them!

Eventually the wheels wore out and even started to fall apart. I took them off the board and replaced them with Cambrias. My youngest son Alexei is now riding the deck. Not that he skates that often, but when he does this is the board he's using. With the super soft bushings handmade by Anatoly he quickly learned to master the board, and he's now ready to race any type of tight slalom courses. I have since obtained a few more sets of those Estonian trucks and I'm probably setting up a few more easy turning decks for my sons and their friends. They make excellent learning boards!

Famous riders from near and far have also had a go at the deck. Steve Olson, while visiting Paris for the Trocadero Grand Prix couldn't stop himself once he got the hang of it! He also gave a couple of lessons to Alexei as the two kids skated together for half an hour or so. Alexei, of course, had no clue as to who this guy in a black leather jacket was. And I guess he didn't care either. All he wanted was to skate!

I'd like to thank Gints for this gift that has given us so much riding pleasure over the years.

/Jani

Jani Soderhall
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Post by Jani Soderhall » Tue Oct 20, 2009 11:16 pm

Check out this issue of Slalom magazine where Gints introduces us to the Soviet skateboard scene. It was a big eye opener for us western European slalomers and really ignited the slalom scene for almost a decade. It was like a dream coming true. A whole lot of slalomers are out there, and we had no idea!
http://www.skateboardmemories.com/magaz ... age01.html

In the contributor list I stated the country as Russia for Gints at the time. I knew the Baltic guys never really liked that, stating they were not Russians, and I understand now. Bu at the time for me being a Swede with little knowledge about the pre-war borders in this part of Europe, Russians were simply the names we'd use to describe the people living in Soviet Union.

/Jani

Gints Gailitis
1964-2011 (RIP)
1964-2011 (RIP)
Posts: 127
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2002 2:00 am
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Jani board

Post by Gints Gailitis » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:44 pm

I have a special board, which gave Jani. I think this was 1989 or 1990 year. Since then, with the Jani skateboards have learned to drive more than 100 people.
This board has been in Florida and California, France and Russia.

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In 2009, the rapidly learned to ride and took part in competitions Veiko Tamme from Estonia:

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In November, Anna Gailīte first time with this board participated in the competition in lady’s group in Brno. And it won 3rd place:

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