The best in the business of skateboarding compete in Prague

Mystic Sk8 Cup 2004, foto: Kay Grigar

Close to one hundred athletes from over twenty countries came to Prague at the weekend to compete in the Mystic Sk8 Cup 2004, part of a World Cup Skateboarding series that attracts thousands of spectators every year from Europe and beyond.

Mystic Sk8 Cup 2004,  foto: Kay Grigar
Surreptitiously situated in the centre of Prague is the Stvanice skatepark. Skateboarding fans had the chance to see the world's best riders demonstrate the most technical and innovative tricks.

I managed to speak to a number of skaters as they warmed up ahead of the contest, which began on Friday. Following a good showing at the world championships in Dortmund, Germany, last weekend, Neil Hendrix from California had modest goals for this weekend's vertical ramp contest.

"Just getting a good run together, getting used to the ramp and hopefully, if I do my best, I will have a good result."

Have you competed in Prague before?

Mystic Sk8 Cup 2004,  foto: Kay Grigar
"Yes, I 've been here about three or four times before and every time, the competition got rained out, with exception to the last time I was here when I broke my shoulder in practice and flew home. So, Prague has been kind of a bad luck contest for me, but this weekend I'm going to try to break the bad luck."

Do you notice any stylistic differences between some of the western skaters and the Czechs? Skateboarding is a relatively new sport here.

"The first time I came here was in 1995 and I know that since then the skaters have gotten a lot better. Even their skate parks and just their knowledge of skateboarding have got a lot better. I expect it will continue to as well."

What are some of the tricks you're going to be showcasing this weekend?

"I don't know really. I did well in the competition last weekend in Germany so I want to do a lot of the same tricks I did there, maybe try to do a couple more technical tricks. On the 'vert ramp' the more spinning tricks and the more tricks flipping your board the better."

Mystic Sk8 Cup 2004,  foto: Kay Grigar
Do you have any names for tricks that you want to tell me?

"Sure, nollie-heel-flip-front-side-air, half-cab-heel-flip; those are some of my tricks."

No broken shoulders or rain this weekend - Neil Hendrix finished a satisfactory fourth in the 'vert', or vertical, contest just behind Digo Menezes from Brazil, Renton Millar of Australia, and top finisher Rune Glifberg of Denmark.

Bastien Salabanzi from France was set to compete for his first time in Prague.

"It's my first time in Prague. I'm looking forward to have a good time. I've heard about this competition for a couple of years so I'm really stoked."

What do like about Prague so far?

"I don't know. I like the women here for sure, for sure. You know people say that Paris is the place to go but I think Prague is better for sure."

Being distracted by "Prague's sightseeing" was not enough to keep Bastien out of the top ranks this weekend. He came in second in the street contest just behind Rodil Jr. from Brazil.