Shanghaiist wound the clock back a few years yesterday afternoon at the New Jiangwan City SMP Skate Park (the biggest in the world!) watching a scarily young posse of locals and laowai get around a massive series of concrete bowls and ramps on skateboards, inline skates, BMXs, motorbikes and scooters. There were plenty of t-shirts with statements, lots of spills, some impressive frontside-180-nosegrind-to-fakies, and far too many members of the local constabulary considering the modest size of the crowd.
The main event of the day was the Second Annual SMP Shanghai Showdown, a series of competitions (categories included “vert”, “jam” and “freestyle”) featuring international skateboarding stars. Last year’s champ Neal Hendrix was among the lineup of talent. Who won? Not really sure: the vibe was friendly rather than competitive, to the point where it was hard to work out when one contest ended and another started.
One thing we do know is that everyone was “stoked” to be taking part in the event. That is to say, everyone who got anywhere near the roving microphone made sure they used that particular word — especially the Aussie motorbike riders who managed to construct entire sentences using no other English language expression. One announcer even claimed — with an angry tone in his voice — that he was “stoked” to have lost his mobile phone, suggesting the word has now transgressed its original meaning.
Having dabbled in skateboarding as a teenager (enough to talk with some authority about “trucks“), Shanghaiist was also stoked to be at the SMP event — it was an action-packed afternoon.
If only the skate park were a little closer to the city centre … To get there we walked to the Jiangsu Lu metro, took the train to People’s Square, met a friend outside an office building, walked across to Line 1, travelled three stops to the Shanghai Railway Station, shuffled forever up a long underground tunnel to Line 3, took the elevated train right to the end of the line, walked half a kilometre to a waiting shuttle bus, waited for more people to get on the bus, drove for 20 minutes to the park, and finally took our seats.
It’s a great thing that locals now have somewhere to skate, but like Shanghai’s fancy new tennis centre, the Maglev stop, Pudong International Airport, and the city’s nearest hill, does it have to be quite so far away?
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