Over the past two days, Shanghaiist spent time exploring Shanghai’s New Jiangwan City SMP Skate Park. A two-day event hosted the world’s elite skateboarders, inline skaters, BMX freestyle and motocross riders (Shanghaiist is not one of the elite … yet). The SMP Gravity Games Showdown incorporated vertical ramp and street competitions — held on each day.
Unfortunately, we were unable to secure a press pass on Thursday, and spent half of the day convincing guards that Shanghaiist actually is an organization of professional skaters. This line worked until a Beijing Public Security Bureau official challenged us — many thanks to Dean Qi of Real One Sports for talking us out of this mess.
Today proved more fruitful. We were given all-access to the event, and exclusive use of all facilities. Taking advantage of this opportunity, we brought along a pair of Roces Aggressive Skates. Also, Shanghaiist spent time talking with the X-Games’ youngest medalist and 2002 Vert Champion, Takeshi Yasutoko (aka “The Japanese Bullet”). We also interviewed Brazil’s top skateboarder Lincoln Ueda. We will post these interviews over the next few days.
Highlights of today’s events included skating with Takeshi, witnessing the motocross jump events and watching many local spectators “strolling” inside the monstrous half pipe — that does indeed span 40 meters in length, reaching heights of 15 feet.
At the day’s end, we were informed the SMP skate park will not be open to the general public until the end of November. The good news is that admission over the first year of operation will be free of charge — Shanghaiist agrees that a 50 yuan taxi ride from downtown is a sufficient investment.
Overall, we are really impressed with the aesthetics of the facility, and more importantly, the design and function of the world-class ramps, street course and magnitude of enormous bowls. Many of the athletes present shared this view and found the bowls particularly challenging. Stated Ueda: “I saw the park plans on the internet. But being here personally, you can really appreciate the facility. The deepest bowl is so big, even bigger than the standard 13-14 foot (competition) high ramps.”
The real challenge will be encouraging local children to give action sports a shot. Hopefully, the park’s biggest asset (inherent bigness) will not become its telling shortcoming. At this point, it’s anybody’s guess.
Shanghaiist will try to be the first to keep you updated as results and other information are announced. Unfortunately, English-based resources still remain scarce.
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