Thursday, August 21, 2014

Extreme sports scene in Mongolia

Extreme sports competition X-games Mongolia took place at the National Amusement Park in August 17, with a demo show of professional skateboarders from London, Paris, Tokyo, and Berlin.

The competition had four categories: skateboarding, rollerblading, BMX, and bike trials, in which over 80 competitors, aged from 11 to 26, took part. The competition was the second extreme sports event organized by Mongolian Uukhai Skateboarding Association.

This year, the association prepared a small skate park for the event, which had a couple of quarter pipes, a spine, wedge ramps, a wooden box, and a bench. The judges gave points up to 10 for each participant.

With dubstep music blasting, young skaters jumped over 8 to 12 people in front of a crowd of over hundred, on a hot summer day.

One of the highlights of the event was that a female skater participated in this year’s X-Games Mongolia.

In the BMX contest, it was quite challenging for contestants to do stunts as it was their first time riding at a skate park, the hosts commented.

BMX is an off-road bicycle, which costs around 1,000 USD, used for racing and various stunts. Last year’s champion Turmunkh, 24, noted, “There are many young riders competing compared to last year. When we are doing shows in the countryside, there aren’t any BMX riders out there. So you can say that this competition is a state championship.”

Turmunkh has been doing freestyle stunts on a performance bicycle for five years, and started doing professional BMX stunts a year ago.

“It is very challenging for us to train in Mongolia, because of the harsh weather. In winter, we can’t train, so when summer comes we forget the stunts we learned a year ago. Our crew Hand-up’s main goal is to promote extreme sports to the public. But due to the lack of sponsorship, we’re only riding BMX as a hobby. With a sponsor, we can lead extreme sports to a professional level,” Turmunkh highlighted.

Turmunkh said his crew is hoping to build a skate park for young athletes.

Bike trials were held after BMX, which is relatively new to the Mongolian extreme sports scene. Trials riding requires extreme bicycle handling skills over all kinds of obstacles. It was introduced to Mongolia three years ago. Competitors have to jump over industrial pallets without ever setting a foot on the ground. Shinekhuu, 26, last year’s runner up, noted that trial bikes are very light weight, has no seats, and sturdy.

“In the past, we had to learn trial riding from online videos, now we have the opportunity to teach young riders,” Shinekhuu said.

After a short break, high-jump contests began for roller skaters. This year’s high-jump rollerblading record was set at 105 cm; whereas BMX jump record was set at 100 cm. Skateboarders also had to “ollie”, over a tape, a trick where the rider and the board leap into the air without the use of the rider’s hand. After a tough competition, the high-jump skateboarding record was set at 65 cm.

As the local hard-rock band Rec-on was playing, skaters rehearsed non-stop for the free style skateboarding contest. The youngest competitor, Erkhembileg, aged 11, was competing for the first time. He has been skateboarding for a year, and learned tricks from older skaters. Erkhembileg said, “I learned about this contest just yesterday, and I hope I can skate well.”

All skaters were nervous, and falls during tricks was common. Nevertheless young skaters showcased their talents, and tried their best.

A American skateboard group, The Carhartt WIP, did a demo show after the competition. The team has 11 members, including six pro-skaters.

It was the skaters’ first time in Mongolia, and they are on a mission to document their journey. The Carhartt supports artists, musicians, and skateboarders in the USA.

Some 10 years ago, The Carhartt representatives came to Mongolia for a month, and published a photo book of the experience named, “Dirt Ollies”. They also released a documentary film called “Mongolian Tyres.”

Joseph Biais, a French professional skateboarder of The Carhartt, comment, “We have been skating in Ulaanbaatar for five days. We also tried to skateboard in the countryside. Mongolia is a very interesting country, and the city has a lot of great spots. Mongolian skaters are really into skateboarding, they progress fast, and aren’t scared of failing.”

Organizers of the competition mentioned that the number of participants increased this year, and expressed their hopes that more will take part next year.


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