This article is done together with Melu – Public Sport Magazine. Photography and words by talented Justus Hirvi and Vans Nordic Team Manager Nikolai Alin. All images are shot with iPhone 8 and Black Eye Pro lenses.
“HEY DUDE, WHERE’S YOUR REAL CAMERA? AND WHAT IS THAT LENS YOU ARE CARRYING ON YOUR PHONE ALL THE TIME?”
It was Aron Buzas, Swedish Vans-rider, who popped the question to Justus Hirvi, our photographer on our trip to Gran Canaria. Obviously, Aron has a point in there. Usually, Justus is carrying his Canon everywhere but this trip looks different; “real” camera has been hiding in the bottom of Justus’ backpack almost since day one.
Justus replies Aron with a grin in his face. “There’s no need for that one, man. This lens and my iPhone is a killer combo.”
It was early December when we decided to escape the harsh Scandinavian winter and flew to Las Palmas for a week-long skate trip. Islas Canarias is almost too easy skate-destination: the weather is perfect, the islands are relatively small to drive around and there are tons of skate spots.
Our home for the week, Las Palmas, has a great variety of skate spots. Banks, quarterpipes, smooth plazas and steep hills to bomb – all within few kilometers from each other and easy to get. We had a van, but if staying only in Las Palmas, the car is not necessary at all. Public transport works well and shorter distances can be ridden easily by skateboard.
When in the Canary Islands, there is a huge risk to take the easy road and stay on the beach taking sunbaths all week long. That wasn’t the case for us as we wanted to explore also the unseen parts of the island. The island offers many different layers. Gran Canaria has several different microclimates and a traveler can go from subtropical weather to continental in one day. The most interesting parts of the island are definitely outside the plastic smelling tourist areas – take the road less traveled, drive to the mountains and to the little villages and just keep your eyes wide open. Those places are the ones where you’ll see the real beauty of this amazing island.
Skateboarding is one of the easiest ways to get to unexpected places and situations. A regular staircase that leads to a regular dog-park can be an amazing adventure for a skateboarder. Danish ripper Bjørn Lillesøe found this long-ass hubba somewhere in the suburbs of Las Palmas and nailed this layback frontside boardslide within few tries. And dude is usually skating vert and bowl. Ripper!
Best thing in Vans Nordic-team is the fact that it gathers people from different countries together. It’s amazing to get these special individuals together and see how things work out. Petrus, Simon, Bjørn, and Aron took the night shifts pretty seriously. After a long day of skating and driving around the island, the guys usually disappeared to some local karaoke bar or billiard-club when the others went to bed. Early the next morning, after few hours of sleeping, the guys showed the footage from last nights adventures. Needs to be said that interesting stuff went down as a result of serious betting between a Dane, a Finn and a Swede. Can we publish the footage, Aron?
Petrus was the bad-luck-guy on this trip. Dude hit his hip pretty bad on the second day and couldn’t skate the rest of the trip. When people are really down their true colors can be seen. Petrus kept the good vibes the whole trip even though you could see him suffering for not being able to skate. Thanks for the good mood, Petrus!
The dual role of a skater and a team manager is hard and fun at the same time. It’s hard because you kind of wanted to just skate but at the same time, you are in charge of (almost) everything. You drive the car, get the groceries to the spot, check the spots, plan everything and pay the dinners. On the other hand, I am a person who likes to organize stuff, be around people, travel with my good friends and do things together. It’s just a mental limbo where I’m trying to decide if I’m a skateboarder or a manager. Maybe I can be both?
What is the best part in skateboard tours? Past ten years doing these trips with different lineups I’ve noticed one thing that unites these trips. Being on a skate trip is a complete getaway from everyday life. The tour sucks you inside the big bubble where time stops, the sun shines and you do things you love the most: skate with friends, explore new places, eat and sleep. Tour life is so simple that it is almost a spiritual retreat. Skate, eat, swim in the ocean, sleep – repeat. Thanks again for the trip guys, Gran Canaria, and Vans!