Text by Maria Arndt / Photos by Maria Arndt and some Unicorns – 4th of November 2016 – 13:00
After the most recent Women’s Longboard Camp (WLC) Freeride held in France, in August, all of the girls that attended were still pretty much high on stoke. We didn’t like the idea that the season was almost over. With that, Annie [from London] shared an upcoming UK event to our Facebook group, Hogtoberfest.
All of the girls liked the idea of a get together so soon after the WLC camp, so that we could skate and push our limits together again, just like we experienced at Women’s Longboard Camp. As yet, there was no upcoming camp planned, so the girls decided to make their own reunion!
Everyone was excited for a new adventure. Annie took responsibility for finding a place to stay. In the beginning it was looking like around 4 girls joining, however, before we knew it we turned out to be eight to nine people. We managed to fit everybody in the apartment, somehow.
Some girls arrived early thursday morning and up until early Saturday. Some travelled by plane, while some survived a pretty long bus journey just to be part of this exciting reunion in London.
The thursday started when Marthe from Frankfurt, Germany, arrived in the early morning by bus and Annie and her friend Mark picked her up, followed by Kristina from Vienna, (Austria) and Julia from Mainz (Germany) – who both came by plane and had already met at the gate.
I arrived in the early afternoon by bus, pretty exhausted from the bus journey and met the girls at Crystal Palace Park, where they were already skating! It was so awesome to feel the energy to meet all these girls again in a different place and all because we love to skate so much and do it together. Some locals from London also joined our little skate session.
In the evening we went out for dinner in our neighbourhood with Annie and her friends Mark and Michal, when Eeva from Finland arrived perfectly for dinner followed by Rebecca from Stuttgart, Germany!
The friday, we went back to Crystal Palace Park again, where Mist from the Stuttgart Camp, who’s from London/Iceland, also joined, and we also met Katya – who lives and studies in London, and is originally from Israel/Russia.
The skate spot is a really nice one, each of us could push our limits and comfort zones, step-by-step. It was really beautiful to see all of the progress of the girls. In the beginning most of us were a little scared to start from the very top of the hill, but in the end most of us went higher and higher and by the end some felt comfortable enough doing some pack runs and speed tucking – It was a really cool experience! It was beautiful to see us together and growing and believing in one another. It was also super nice to grow with the locals, Mark offered to do a little slide workshop. Me, for my part, since I started with the heels side slides I always had some problems with some of my calf muscles that caused a lot of pain and he showed me how to relieve that muscle. With the constant feedback in our little group, we all progressed so fast and it was so super nice to share the stoke!
Rebecca tried out her brand new downhill deck, unfortunately she fell inconveniently on her hip and head, luckily she had her helmet! She didn’t feel well afterwards and decided to stay at the apartment for the rest of the weekend suffering from a mild concussion. Such a bummer!
The next day was the first day of the Hogtoberfest, in Essex. We did some car-sharing with Annie’s friends Mark, Michal and Simon. At the event we met Mist, Katya, Lorna, who also attended the Stuttgart camp and originally comes from the UK. We also met Christine, one of the Women’s Longboard Camp instructors, who lives in London, so it was a BIG reunion!
Kristina sewed some Unicorn horns for everyone from our group, it was quite funny to see us unicorns everywhere at the event and it made it so much easier to find each other. The track was at the Redbridge Cycling Centre, a track for bike training.
It was a quite chilled Freeride, we were able to start wherever we wanted to. We all welcomed that pretty much, because the first part was super steep. For the first run we went together and checked out the two different tracks with Mark and Christine. The racing track for sunday, was the most fun, as it has a chicane. It was a little challenge but also a lot of fun to skate and perfect to learn how to shift the weight. For me personally, I was always a little scared to get low on my board, but after the little class with Mark, the day before I felt well prepared and had soooo much fun in the chicane, like all the other girls! Such a shame the Saturday at Hogtoberfest is so short!
Saturday evening we went out again for a beer or two, or so we thought… Some went to sleep a little earlier, while for others a couple more drinks turned into a hunt for a location that was still open and serving last beers. Pretty tired, the little party group crawled into their sleeping bags at 4am and obviously had problems waking up. The others were already awake and thinking about whether to go to Hog hill again or not, because of the rain and unstable weather forecast and additionally the way to Hog hill took an hour and more… everything seemed a little in chaotic.
No one seemed to know anything, going or staying, rainy or dry weather, skating or sleeping and sightseeing in London, car sharing or if the cars already left for Hoghill and the need of public transportation… then everything went super quickly and Mist, Julia and me, who were still stoked to skate, even a little in the rain and were awake, and Mist wanted to attend the race, rushed to the Crystal palace to jump in the cars, that hadn’t left already! Hoghill was still wet, but drying. Most of the skaters were already preparing for racing, like Mist. I still don’t know how she did it exactly, 3 to 4h sleep, hungover and ready for the startline!
Even if it was just a little race, it was pretty interesting to see, because I’ve never been to any races before. Because it was still wet and I also wanted to take some pics of the women heats, I decided not to skate in between the heats and took it easy in a the chicane taking some pics and being stoked to see the girls skating!
As I walked down the hill I saw Kellesse Thomas going to the start line for the race… I already saw her when we arrived, a little girl with a pink sweater that said »be like you« on the chest and »like a girl« at the back, with a pair of leggings and a skirt and her huuuge full face helmet, 9 years old. You can’t imagine how stoked I was when I saw her at the start line!? I celebrated her excessively, like so many others around me. I am active in the women’s support for two and a half years already and never saw something like this beautiful, inspiring motivation! When I start thinking probably the youngest active skater I know, regardless of gender. A nine-year-old girl racing with adults! She seemed pretty shy, when I talked to her, later on I talked awhile with her mom Trinity and she told me about Kellesse’s company Like a Girl and that the does skate workshops! I felt so proud of her!
When I found my spot to take pics I was also so proud to see my friend Mist in first position in the last women’s heat! I went uphill to meet the girls and share the stoke with them and being happy with Mist, who won the women’s class! While we got back to the top, I could feel all their stoke and emotions. The girls were still full of stoke and told me how much they progressed since the last Hogtoberfest. They told me how much they enjoy to skate together, how tight they shredded through the chicane and how they also felt about how they turned more and more competitive in time, something they never experienced that intense before and how everything relaxed again!
I was so impressed by Mist, she barely slept 4h and took first, she was stoked but also still hungover and told me, that she was thinking not to attend in the open class. I really wanted to see her skating the open class because she was the only women that signed up for it and I believed in her, like so many other locals! So I persuade her a little and she said yes! She also made it into the next couple of heats!
When it was all dry and I had the pictures I wanted and I also really wanted to skate again, but after only 4 runs it started to rain heavily. In one moment, everything was wet and everyone hurried to get back to the top. In the end there was still a little dance and freestyle contest held in the rain, before the podium finish. Unfortunately, I missed the Slalom Competition. Due to the rain, the event came pretty quickly to an end and we left for some food and then our accommodation. Julia left straight from the event to catch her flight back, because she needed to work early on monday, like Marthe. The ones that stayed until monday afternoon, gathered at Victoria Station with Annie, where we left our luggage and headed out for a little London tour, first to Camden and then onto Hyde Park, where the last unicorns had some english tea and a super delicious goodbye carrot cake!
Michaela from Vienna: „It feels like we’ve know each other much longer… but I’ve really just met most of the girls at a longboarding camp in France a few months ago. So when I heard about a possible reunion in London, I didn’t have to think about it twice. There was no way that I’m gonna miss this… and oh boy am I happy that I went! WLC unicorn squad… do I have to say any more?! Hanging out with the girls, meeting Annie’s super helpful and supporting skate crew, cruising around Hog Hill and already making plans for our next trips together… this really was the perfect weekend getaway!“
Julia from Mainz: Our trip to London was something really special. It began with Mist and me planning to meet at the Hogtoberfest after we‘ve met at the WLC in Stuttgart. Some weeks later at the Camp in France I joked a little bit that they should join us, but never believed that they would really come, especially because so many girls just started freeriding.
Suddenly we were eight girls plus three from London and not just the two days at Hogtoberfest, also, two more days of skating the local spot, Crystal Palace Park. It was so great to meet all the girls again, see their progress since WLC and get to know the locals. I felt the meetup was not only special for us who’ve been on „holiday“, but also for the local girls we met.
For some of the girls, it was their first freeride event and I was so proud to see them going down Hog Hill and progressing with every run, feeling more and more confident and smiling always a little bit wider. I never would have believed that WLC brings such a community of girls that lives on even after the camps. Maybe this is the experience I share with WLC that makes me the happiest.
Annie from London: I was sooo happy to see everyone again and it was an absolute pleasure to skate with everyone in my local park and then again at Hog Hill.
I met all of these amazing women at the WLC Freeride camp, and this experience completely blew my mind. Their moto is: women supporting women/we love what we do and we do it together, and this is really very true. I cannot express how amazing the camp was, to skate with a group of open-minded people, without ego, only stoke for one another. We have become more than skate mates, but friends. The level of positive energy in the group is high and the fact we all made an effort to see eachother again in London, so soon after France, proves it! I look forward to more skating, travelling and happiness with my shred sisters. Thank’s WLC!
Sonja from Vienna: I participated at this year’s Hogtoberfest because I knew this awesome group of girls would be there, and it just feels so much better to skate with likeminded people! I haven’t been to a lot of freerides before, and it’s great to get some support from other women. That way I don’t feel intimidated by the tough guys. Plus we just had so much fun hanging out together! Hope to repeat this next year!!
Eeve from Finland: As I live in far north and do not have many friends who longboard there, I am happy for having met these wonderful girls with whom I can share this passion. It has been fantastic to feel the love, care and power of the group, the will to teach each other, the encouraging atmosphere, the joy of learning new skills and the confidence which comes by overcoming fears.
Kristina from Vienna: We had such an awesome time together at the WLC Freeride camp in France, so we started to make plans about which future events we could attend together. Most of us had no previous experience in attending any freerides and so it was a nice idea to share this experience together… skate and have loads of fun.
Mist from London: This year was my third time attending the event and it was a very special one. It combined for the first time two different skate scenes I am part of; UKDH and WLC. There was a much higher attendance of female riders than usual due to the WLC reunion, it was positively noticed and this was amazing to be part of. To be surrounded by so many friends, new and old, shot the level of stoke through the roof. Not even typical rainy British weather could dampen the spirits.
I could feel the progress I had made over a summer of pushing my skating and I had more confidence riding this track compared to previous years. I raced in open for the first time and this was a new challenge to push myself, I didn’t qualify but it felt like a victory to overtake a few of the guys! And the cherry on top was my first ever win in the Womens Downhill Race at the event which began it all for me! An amazing end to the season, one I will never forget!
The long weekend with the girls was a lot of fun and it was beautiful to share all of our progress together and to push each other once more! I am super curious for our next adventures, some are already planned, maybe they will take part in London, Vienna, Bielefeld, Stuttgart, Belgium, Spain or somewhere in Poland!
Written by xx
Maria is a graphic designer and photographer and started the photo project Girls in Longboarding 2014 and S*pin 2015, she’s also co-founded GRRRLS* can skate, organizes with her crew the GRRRLS* Skate Fest in Bielefeld and is a part of the Women’s Longboard Camp.
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Maria's Freeride Setup
Deck Loaded Tesseract
Trucks 180mm Caliber 44°
Bushings Blood Orange and Sabre
Wheels Landyachtz Fatty Hawgs 70mm 78a
Pucks Ojoom Pucks
Helmet TSG Pass
Maria's Dance Setup
Deck Custom made by TD Longboards
Trucks 180mm Cast Precision .V2 Kahalani 50°
Bushings board side Riptide WFB 83a Barrels
Bushings road side 90a Venom Barrels
Wheels Mini Ozone 65mm 80a