Article by Arne Fiehl
Photos by F-stop.at
Gmunden has a bowl now… but ANYHOW, we have a bunch of lives less…
Fellow skateboard and concrete activists!
It’s been over two months now that we finished the last Concrete Flow project of season 2014, and most definitely one of the last one on the European continent, just in time to be home for Christmas and the Easter bunny. But it took me a while, two months so to say, to regenerate energy to write something about that damn thing and spread the news via our beloved Confuzine.
To make a long story short (if a BOARDSTEIN could ever do so): Gmunden is a lovely, small and very old city in Austria between Linz and Salzburg and the main man pushing the skate scene in this town is veteran pro Michael Nadler, who’s been playing around the European skateboard and contest spotlights for at least fifteen years now. And since every skate scene needs someone like Michael he’s the one responsible for pretty much all advanced skateboarding happenings there, because nobody else would do it. Fueled by some natural ambition, talent in organization and a deep love for skateboarding Michael opened his own shop 5Boro some ten years ago. The name comes from some core connections to the infamous skateboard team / brand from N.Y. City. And with a good running shop in the back he managed to have a skatepark built at the local sports arena and has been organizing the Rumble In The Park, probably the longest running competition in all of Austria, ever since it’s beginning.
ANYHOW, since the big wooden spine miniramp had to be torn down due to constant wear and tear over the years, the park definitely needed a lift up. So Michael was once more able to convince conservative politicians to spend money, this time on a concrete bowl and he raised some more dough from sponsors out of the skate scene as well to fill the last financial void (big thanks to Vans for mainly helping out on this one). Michael had been in contact with brother Mikey of Concrete Flow for a while, but the whole communication and translation of non-english speaking Austrian officials and a crazy french-speaking Belgian concrete artist seemed to cause some problems for the contracts and everything. At one point we were like, if the money has to be spent in 2014 we need to start now (that was at the end of October), considering that snow in Austria in November is absolutely normal.
So we pretty much just started, and when we arrived in Gmunden and on the site, we realized there would be much more work to do than originally planned. We thought we had to do some precise digging and could start setting the copings, but no, we had to build the complete drainage and then fill up and dam the whole place with dirt first before we could start digging the bowl at all. So much for translation problems in the planning, and all this with a budget that was tight from the very beginning. ANYHOW, we started to get shit done, because we definitely wanted to finish the bowl in 2014 and as soon as possible. Well, working with concrete in temperatures around zero with moisture and fog around at almost all times (you could see the surrounding mountains about once or twice a week) goes for long, long days with not much daylight, but that was just the work part oft it.
Part of the contract was that the city would take care of the accommodation, so after Mikey and me spent the first week on Michael’s couches we upgraded to what the city thought would be a decent crib for professional construction workers, the local cloister (a place where monks or nuns live) from around the year 1600. Well, I’m totally into history and appreciate the experience to have lived in such a place for a good four weeks, but we stayed with eight people in a twelve bed room (which used to be the library in ancient days), and it was freaking cold in there just as in the whole fucking building. And there were way too many rules, so we pretty much broke every single one of them on a daily basis. But what do you expect with eight smokers / stoners who come home after twelve to fifteen hours of work in the cold and are not supposed to smoke inside after work? Dude, some of us slept in their clothes because it was so cold at night. I mean, it’s not that we were some christian boyscouts enjoying an adventure trip or something, we were there to build a professional skate bowl that’s supposed to last a good 20, 30 years and longer.
ANYHOW, you can say we were super lucky with the weather, because it snowed only once. And it’s always a pleasure to witness a young dog getting his first touches of snow, yes, Gypsy was with us again. You might remember him from our time in Mers les Bains, France, the little puppy Conni adpoted along the way. But I’m getting romantic, it wasn’t too romantic a lot of the time, it was bloody hard work. Nevertheless we felt very welcome by the people of Gmunden, and you could tell, they see a bunch of proletarian freaks like us only every ten years or something, if ever at all. We caused some ruckus while we were there for sure, but so did they. Speaking of that, you can tell by the mountains that the people there don’t always have the biggest horizons, but they make up for it with a ridiculous consumption of alcoholic beverages.
ANYHOW, who am I to judge? We had our fair share as well, but really, at the end of a long and exhausting season under conditions like that you just have to adjust, especially when you’re once again with a bunch of bloody Belgians. And while we’re at it, honorable mentions at this point to the crew: Besides Mikey and me, it was Alex, Ratman, Thierry, Conni with Gypsy and for the first time on a Concrete Flow endeavour Janno courtesy of Minus-Ramps. More big time thanks and shout outs go to Bruno from Concrete Dreams for bringing the copings over from Belgium! And a special mention to Martino Cattaneo who volunteered for a good month and shared blood, sweat and tears with us to learn the fine art of concretism. Let me tell you something about Martino and why this was just one of the occasions why I love skateboarding, we will need an own paragraph for that now:
Martino had just had an extented interview in Kingpin magazine and me as a subscriber of skateboard magazines had studied it just one, two weeks before I left to Gmunden (the mag was actually on the trip and people got to read it, amazing what paper does, isn’t it!?). Martino is a young skateboarder from Lugano, which is kinda like the capital of Tessin, the italian speaking part of Switzerland with a long and good history in skateboarding. Alex, a true Lugano Warrior himself, had often told me about his friend Martino and his amazing talent on a skateboard before. So I’m checking out this interview back home and really like what I’m seeing and reading, because to me the pictures and the text prove that Martino seems to be a very gifted and for instance creative skateboarder with a good head on his shoulders. Then I realize this is the Martino that Alex has always been talking about…
Fast forward two weeks: I’m in Gmunden already for a week (with my Kingpin magazine in the bags), Alex arrives and starts talking about Martino being ready to hit the road from Lugano to join us and help work anytime. Next thing you know Martino shows up… I mean, seriously, after 26 years of skateboarding, that’s one of the main reasons I love it so much. On this planet as a whole it’s such a small world in our brotherhood and camaraderie of real skateboarders. Damn, and Martino worked fucking hard, learned a lot and from now on hopefully is one of us concrete builders. Dear cities and communities, please keep us all occupied so we don’t have to do anything else for a living! To finish this off, and I don’t want to fan out too much, but if you see Martino on a skateboard you will realize in a second that this good lad was born to ride a skateboard. In a two hour session on Michael’s private indoor miniramp I witnessed more than 30 NBDs in between runs that at least I’ve never seen before, and they were all first try. Watch out for Martino Cattaneo, he loves to play skateboard! Hope to see you soon, bro!
I guess, that’s a pretty good way to wrap this up. Sometimes not to say most of the times you gotta fight to get things done, and that’s exactly what we all did to build this bowl. Michael has some more concrete plans for Gmunden, and I’d love to come back sometime sunny, I would even stay in the cloister again then, though I know head honcho Berni won’t let us in anymore. On the other hand what can he do for christ’s sake? He’s a bloody christian whose doors are open for all the poor and abandoned at all times. So, Berni, we’ll be back sometime somewhen, and we`ll bring Gypsy again, too!
Thanks to Michael for all the dedication to make this project reality! Thanks to the city of Gmunden for, well, yeah, you paid some money and did your best, folks! Thanx to Mikey and the Concrete Flow team for giving everything on almost empty pockets and battery levels. Thanks to all the nice people we met along the way and who make this another chapter in my oh so boring life. Shit was not only tight, shit was sweet… Thx skateboarding, as always, without you none of this would be happening! All the best to everyone…
P.S.: By the way, during our stay we twice made the one hour long drive to Salzburg to skate their brand new concrete park that had just been finished. Actually on our second visit it was the grand opening! I guess, shit’s happening down in Austria. And while we’re at it, cheers to all the lovely Salzburg locals who showed us a jolly good time! It was much appreciated, better twice than once.
P.P.S: Everybody who made it until here better stays tuned for the first BOARDSTEIN Special Issue ever, pretty much six years after the demise of our beloved magazine. This very first and hopefully last special issue is called BAUSTOP and will feature 256 (!!!) pages of skatepark concrete construction madness and mayhem. You might contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you wanna track a copy down. It’s in german, but there’re not that many letters, and the photos are all esperanzo. ANYHOW, it’s filled with concrete and skateboarding, so you better go and get one! – Arne Fiehl
The construction of the new bowl in the Skatepark Gmunden