By Tony Evjenth, éS Team Manager
Tuesday, July 13—There we were at LAX once again, about to board British Airways Flight 2932. Our final destination: Amsterdam, Holland, in the heart of the Netherlands. Eric Koston, Rodrigo Tx., P.J. Ladd and éS flow rider Bobby Worrest (who you will be hearing more about in the upcoming months), as well as infamous éS filmer, Scuba Steve, and myself, Tony E., all stood in line, waiting to board another long flight.
We were all looking forward to meeting up with Tom Penny and Javier Sarmiento in Amsterdam, who were already there waiting for our arrival. We had the honor of booking Joe Brook from Slap magazine on another trip with us. Anyone who knows Joe personally remembers how damned funny this guy is, which is a definite morale booster on long, tedious flights and train rides. I think we laugh just as much as we skate when we are in the presence of Joe (also known as Fat Shack). Anyway, we were scheduled to meet up with him in Amsterdam, as well as the Sheriff, Mark Waters, who would be riding along with us for a week or so.
Wednesday, July 14—We arrived an hour late due to a long delay at LAX, which put us on our connecting flight with only 15 minutes to spare, and no bags to pick up when we arrived in Amsterdam…and it was raining. Eric and I were wearing shorts…not good attire to be wearing in the cold Holland rain. I needed a tan to go with them.
We met up with our tour guide, Fred, from Left Distribution, who was waiting with Javier Sarmiento. Fred rules. Not only is he a great guy, easy to get along with and completely dedicated to the éS team's agenda, but he also had the worst luck with rental cars I've ever witnessed. Three engines destroyed in three vans in four days! They were all rented to Fred with bad transmissions or came complete with the capability of a total power loss at any random time. We'll be sure never to rent from the Hertz in Holland again!
So, we met up with Fred, got into our tour vans and drove to a quaint little town called Zeist. Tom and Joe Brook were waiting for our arrival at the hotel. They had their bags and a change of clothes, the lucky guys. We decided to drive into Utrecht to raid a skate shop for some pants and hoodies. This was where Scuba grabbed the pair of Carhartt tan cords, which became his most prized possession during the rest of this tour.
Thursday, July 15—It was still raining, and our bags had not yet arrived from England. What you have to understand is that it's a 45-minute flight from London to Amsterdam. How could they not have our bags on the next flight out yesterday? Who knows? I think Fred thought it was his fault that it was raining. We assured him it wasn't. We visited Utrecht again, and Eric and the boys did an MTV Europe interview at an art museum for an hour, then we headed to Amsterdam, where we ate, shopped, and visited an indoor skatepark before heading back. It was still raining, and there was still no word on our bags yet. Scuba commented, for the first of many times, how he really liked his Carhartt cords.
Friday, July 16—The sun came out, and our bags arrived safely from England, so we finally enjoyed changes of clothing, hoodies and jackets to survive the rain. Fred still thought the rain was his fault, but we again assured him it wasn't. Scuba could have shaved and changed his pants if he had wanted to, but he continued wearing the same Carhartts and shirt.
That afternoon, Fred took us to an amazing spot in Utrecht: an old parking structure complete with hand-painted steel manual pads, a flat bar and water gaps. Because of the heavy rain from the previous two days, we had to squeegee the water away to dry the place. We all took shifts sweeping and drying the skate spot together with the locals. Talk about a moment of unity. It took three hours to clear the area of water, but then, like a miracle, the sun came out and dried the rest of the puddles for us. That was it—the session was on. We skated for the first time in three days. It felt good to get back on our boards again. I lost a manny contest against Fred. I'm not that good at manuals.
Saturday, July 17—Demo day. Rotterdam is special. There were 1500-plus kids there to witness one of the worst demos éS has ever put on. Between the rains, the driving and the fact we had only skated once in three days pretty much put a damper on the demo, although the signing went off. Bobby had a chance to hook up with a hot Rotterdam girl who worked in the caf' on the ground floor of our hotel, Hotel Bazar, but he dropped the ball. Scuba still hadn't changed his Carhartts or his shirt, and it had been two days since we got our bags back. Thank goodness he showers every morning.
Sunday, July 18—Fred drove us to Brussels, Belgium, where we met up with Jacques from Transind Distribution and checked into our hotel. We said goodbye to Fred and hoped he made it back to Holland without breaking down. For breakfast, we scarfed some Belgian waffles in the city center. Good stuff, those Belgian waffles. If you took a look around at that moment, you'd have seen a lot of skinny Euros eating ice cream and waffles filled with chocolate and strawberries. You'd also have seen Scuba returning to the table with one chocolate-filled waffle scooped with ice cream.
I asked Eric why he thought Euros stay so skinny even after eating a steady diet of bread, cheese and fatty foods all day. He replied, “Because they don't eat two.” Scuba, who had not heard our conversation, promptly got up to order another waffle. We cracked up and headed off to our second demo. This time, the demo went off. More than a thousand kids were packed into a smoke-filled, cramped street course. They had all been waiting outside the park, because we'd asked to be able to have the team warm up a little before the demo started. When it started to rain, we couldn't make the kids wait in the rain, so they were all let in.
Take one thousand wet heads of hair and put them in a sweaty room, and the humidity level goes way up. It was almost raining inside! Add the humidity factor to the cigarette smoke, throw in 1000-plus kids and you'll get an upset Koston. Not that it affected his skating, or anyone's, for that matter.
Rodrigo and Javier annihilated a Euro gap with switch flip manuals, backside flip switch manuals and other variation manual tricks. P.J. Ladd needed no warm-up tricks. He went straight for the glory, with Varial heelflip lip slides on the fun box flat bar, switch flip fakies, switch hard flips over the box and too many other tricks to count. Tom Penny showed his flawless nollie flip 270 over the hip. Bobby Worrest annihilated the handrail with kickflip front boards down an equivalent of a ten-stair rail. Bobby even shut down the demo with a nollie front nose slide on the big hubba ledge. Big ups to Bobby for stealing the show, and stealing all of our van's porno mags on the way back to the hotel. Bobby still hadn't gotten the girl, Scuba was still wearing the same pants, but he did finally change his shirt.
Monday, July 19—Today was a free day to skate Brussels. Jacques and our tour guides took us to some pretty cool spots, which varied from ledges and manual pads to hubbas and double sets. Tom, Javier and Bobby all got some tricks and lines at these spots, but you'll have to wait to read the Slap article to find out what exactly went down. I will tell you that Joe Brook, Scuba Steve and yours truly had a pretty fierce manual trick contest at one spot, which was judged by Koston, P.J. and Bobby.
Although no one really won in the end, I'm going to guess that Joe Brooks' run-up to nose manual was the best. Speaking of yours truly, I got a pretty gnarly sequence: a switch nose manual on a one-foot tall manny pad. It only took me 140 tries, but I prevailed in the end. Fat team managers sometimes take a bit longer to land tricks. You'll see what I'm talking about when you hit 30, kid. Until then, nevermind.
Tuesday, July 20—We were off to Switzerland. The city of Basel was our destination, where we had a signing and a demo / jam on Wednesday. We arrived, met up with éS' Euro squad, Oli Buergin and Ruedi Matter, and went to our hotel. Fortunately for Tom, there were nightclubs nearby, so his walk wasn't as far as it had been in the past two countries.
Wednesday, July 21—The signing and demo was the smoothest and probably the most relaxed one we've ever done. The demo was a free-skate jam format held in a square near a train station. It came complete with nice, concrete ledges and a few obstacles that Oli had built for us. We even had wieners! Well, a hot dog, that is. There were also a few hundred kids present who seemed more concerned about having fun than if we had free stuff to give them. Core kids who care more about skating themselves than watching pros skate? Who could ask for anything better, really? Props to Oli and Ruedi, as well as Roger and the crew from Kitchener, for making the Basel stop lots of fun. Bobby still hadn't scored a chick, and Scuba was still wearing the Carhartts.
Thursday, July 22—Off to Italy. We arrived and were greeted by Francesco, Luigi and Papic, our tour guides from Blue Distribution. These guys were the greatest, they took great care of us. Our hotel was a resort of some sort ten minutes outside of Rome, which is a phenomenal city. Its history dates back thousands of years, back to the year “0”—maybe even before—and there's evidence of that history everywhere you look.
Tom, Rodrigo and Javier went to the beach, while, Eric, P.J., Scuba, Bobby, Papi, Luigi and I played the tourist role. The ancient ruins of the Coliseum, the Forum and beauty of St. Peters cathedral in Vatican City were amazing sites to see, but Bobby didn't really notice. He was too busy checking out the hot Italian girls. So much history, so much marble, how could we not skate this place right now? But, just as a reminder, Italian police are everywhere that tourists are in Rome.
At the beach, Tom got sunburned, which is easy to do when you are as pale as he is. I'm surprised that all those months living in Buenos Aires, Argentina haven't improved his chances of getting tan. One day, Tom, you'll get tan. Now that I think of it, where the hell did Scuba get those large, red shorts he was wearing all of a sudden? When did he change clothes?
Friday, July 23—Today we had a demo and a press conference. Yes, I said press conference. It was a sight to see. Twenty chairs full of journalists facing toward eight chairs with the éS team! A literal press conference, which was a first for us. Check the photos in the Capitals Tour Gallery (link). From skate mags to fashion and urban mags, they were all there to ask our riders questions like, “How do you guys get along as a team?” “Is the pizza man a real trick?” and “What was it like winning Worst Trick at Tampa Pro, Eric?” There were good questions and bad, but the team—especially Eric—rolled through them with grace and style. Eric really seemed to be the main focal point of a majority of the questions, but then again, a spot on MTV's hottest show is going to do that for you. Eric's Cribs episode has been very good to him.
Later, the demo went off, and two hot, blonde English girls approached Bobby afterward. He got their number and the rest of the night was a struggle to meet them, because our hotel was 30 minutes away from where they were staying, and they had no ride into town to see him. Even after Bobby had offered to get them a taxi to our hotel, they couldn't make it. Bobby struck out again. So close, yet so far!
Scuba took off his shirt during the demo. If you've ever seen Scuba shirtless, it is quite a sight. His shaved chest was beginning to show stubble, which I think fit the macho Italian image of some of the dudes that surrounded us at the demo quite well. Scuba says his girl really enjoys his shaved chest. If only he had some gold chains to sport while filming, he would have fit into the crowd perfectly. Meanwhile, Fat Shack got told by the Sheriff to get to work. He did, but only for a price: Koston's back tail bigspin out up the Euro gap; Tx.'s huge hip work, Penny's 360 flip rewind up the Euro gap, and more.
Saturday, July 24—It was hard to leave Italy. The warm weather, the beaches, the tan girls, more tan girls and good marble to skate were enough to keep everyone there for at least another six months. But, we had to get going to England, our final destination. We eventually arrived, and were picked up by our distributors, A4. Darren and Anne hooked it up for us. With the exception that we were sitting on our luggage, we each received a care package enclosed with CDs (with a holder), candy, chips and water—all the good stuff you need after a three-hour flight with no food. Now that's hospitality. We were stoked. Eric was psyched, especially. After his last experience in England, this was a much better visit.
We arrived at our hotel, checked in, dropped the kids off at the pool and headed into London. Yo Sushi was calling us. This is a favorite restaurant of ours in London where we've eaten several times. We ate, walked around for a while and then headed back to the hotel. Eric got a great picture of a transvestite brigade marching down the street in front of the coffee shop we were in (link). Scuba got back into his Carhartts again.
Sunday, July 25—Today was an autograph signing at the Urban Games. More than six hundred kids were waiting to meet the éS team. The signing lasted three hours, the team riders' hands hurt afterward, and Bobby didn't talk to a single chick. After the signing, we were taken to a really good Moroccan restaurant. It featured a live DJ, really good appetizers and quite a few hot girls. Bobby, Joe, Scuba and Eric decided to eat next door at the BBQ ribs restaurant, a healthy reminder that they would be home in the States soon. Scuba was still wearing the good ol' Carhartts. I wondered if he was going to wear them on the flight home. I also wondered if I would be sitting next to him.
Monday, July 26—The journey was over and Bobby didn't score. He should have just manned-up with the girl who was hitting on him in Holland, but he didn't. Big thanks to Fred and Meisj and Heiko at Left Distribution; Jacques and the crew at Transind; Oli and Ruedi reppin' éS Europe; Roger and his boys at Kitchener; Luigi, Francesco and Papic at Blue Distribution in Rome; and of course, the lovely Anne Stringer, Darren and Alan at A4 in London. We had a great time with you all. Until next time…Ciao!