Quad Cup was a magical and unique experience for many reasons. We got to travel to sunny Santa Ana. It was the biggest competition in recent years for roller skaters and moreover you could literally absorb the energy and feel how empowering, strong and supportive our community is. But as we grow so do our challenges. While overall this event was great on many levels there are some lessons to be learned.
Meeting young brands and fan-girling at Quad Cup
Blading Cup 2022 (April 28th – May 1st) was a vibe and definitely one for the books. Thanks to power couple Miguel Ramos and Michelle Steilen the Blading Cup makers decided to include a quad competition. Letting some young roller skate businesses and skaters profit from the 10-plus-years of an established event helped attract many people and brands. It was worth the trip to see how the first Quad Cup 2022 got people from all over the US, but also from Australia, NZ, Europe and South America to pack their bags and hop on a plane.
A stroll around the parking lot of the Yost Theater amongst the vendors had it all: Young brands such as Fantom, Huck Trucks, Chuffed and Brunny Hardcore (Australia), Last Supper, Barbara Patin (Argentina), established players like Moxi, Chaya (Germany) and Bont (Australia). You would meet (almost) any online skater crush who you’ve been following on the socials and seeing them shred live is a whole nother story. I hugged everyone who would not hide away in time, from Duke Rennie, Ivey, Sam (Chuffed boss lady) to Shove, Rebel and the talented Birdy, and so many more. And it was rad to see a roller skater’s edit, namely Megan Shaffer’s “Dog Water” screened among sick blading videos.
The level of the competitions was mind-blowing. The under 17, intermediate and advanced groups threw some gnarly and jaw-dropping lines. Miguel was the most entertaining commentator one might have wished for. Yes, he used all the trick names from blading and if not … it might have been an “Extendo”! But roller skating has one big issue to solve: We still do not have trick names of our own, especially not for the crazy switch ups and grind combos some skaters are bringing to the coping these days. Yes, many of our tricks are heavily inspired by blading. But we need to name them ourselves because they do differ. And roller skaters add their own steez. We need to be more self-confident and braver to step out of the shadow of blading. Right now, no one dares to take the lead. The fear of being grilled by the web is… well…valid.
Speaking of blading, there are the bladers who discovered their love for roller skating and with some 20-plus-years of inline-skating experience, managed to seamlessly transfer their skills to roller skates. Often outperforming many of the new-generation roller skaters. Seeing them sign up for the competition made some people uncomfortable. But this community is widely admired for its diversity. We cheer for and encourage each other. But here’s the thing: If we claim to be inclusive and welcoming, that means we cannot exclude anyone. Will bladers with many years of experience skating put on quads and take medals? Probably! Whether someone is taking up space is a question every person has to answer for themselves. What makes you a roller skater? Your intention or are you a roller skater the moment you put on quads? In any case, instead of being upset we have to focus on keeping toxicity and exclusivity out of our community.
“Make it clear and fair so everyone can be part of these events”
Or as Caro Hernandez put it: “Gatekeeping is not cool. These skaters are also giving to the community and enjoy skating. We welcome them and acknowledge their level, but as soon as there’s competition they don’t feel accepted because they are at another level in contrast of the newer generation of quad skaters. I believe there’s room for everyone and what they give with love to quad skating, there’s the chance to reach that level, to learn from their experience and take the good that they bring to the sport. We are tough and capable of doing what we want on skates, we have built up a strong community based on support and joy and we lived that on this event! There’s just a need to make it clear and fair so everyone can be part of these events and be welcomed with open arms.”
Unclear guidelines and judging criteria upset contestants and fans. But honestly: better this happens in the first event so we can move on and do it better in the second and the many more that hopefully will follow, ……..and we need this event to not only watch high level roller skating but also to have an excuse to meet up in sunny California.
In the end, the feedback did not go unacknowledged. A few days after the event Michelle wrote on their Instagram: “Next time, how contests are played will be more transparent so that expectations are managed & better for all. Judges will apply. Skaters will be able to read guidelines in advance. Though these are not expectations that our sibling-community of blading require, it’s important to acknowledge that we do, since we are new to this and it would be impossible to continue to stoke the fire without those not-so-simple considerations.”
Decades ago, many action sports were at the same place where roller skating is now. whether it be BMX, skateboarding or blading, they all established unwritten rules and guidelines for their competitions that are generally accepted. But this took time. And we are just starting out.
17 & Under
Street: 1ST PLACE: Angus Smith – 2ND PLACE: Mia Peterson – 3RD PLACE: Silvia Kambouridis
Mini Ramp: 1ST PLACE: Mei Callaham – 2ND PLACE: Angus Smith – 3RD PLACE: Silvia Kambouridis
Street: 1ST PLACE: Alexis Hersey – 2ND PLACE: KV – 3RD PLACE: Stephanie Ng
Mini Ramp: 1ST PLACE: Mia Peterson – 2ND PLACE: Abrianna Bulgarin – 3RD PLACE: Maybe Littlefield
Street: 1ST PLACE: Barbara Luciana – 2ND PLACE: Montre Livingston – 3RD PLACE: Ivey Wohl
Mini Ramp: 1ST PLACE: Terron Frank – 2ND PLACE: Silvia Kambouridis – 3RD PLACE: Ivey Wohl