Nestled in the northernmost region of Continental Europe lies Estonia. With a meager population of 1.3 million people, and the farthest distance across being less than Andrew Andras’s 24-hour Ultra-skate world record, this country seems quite small and pretty insignificant for the longboarding scene. However, when countries of this size are exposed to new ideas (or, in this case, longboarding), these ideas spread like a disease.
History of Estonian Skateboarding
Estonian skateboarding was born in 1980, when Estonia (then part of the USSR) was hosting the summer Olympics. As more western influence spread to the area right before the fall of the Soviet Union, underground punk and skateboarding shared the common cause of going against the norm. The birthplace of this movement started in the small beachside city of Pärnu, located in the south. A furniture factory based in Pärnu began experimenting with new board designs as seen in the western movies at the time. These boards, equipped with roller skate wheels, became the new underground craze. Given that there were no parks in Estonia to street skate, the early days of skateboarding were focused on the skateboard high jump, slalom and skate hokey (aka Standup Skateboard Paddling).
Early days of skate hokey / Photo Credit: Olavi OllinoSkateboard High Jump / Photo Credit: Olavi Ollino
The Longboarding Scene Today
The Estonian longboarding scene barely existed three years ago. Maybe you’d have a friend who ordered one off the internet, but probably not. Although Estonia has had quite a mature street skating scene for the last two decades and is home to Simple Session (one of the largest street skating festivals in Europe for the last 15 years), the last two years have seen an insane growth in longboard culture. Now, nearly every city in the country has a longboard crew, and a plethora of independent skate shops, local brands, and event organizers have cropped up to help develop a strong and ever-growing longboard community. So whether you are into the push, free-riding, cruising or downhill, every corner of this country now has something to offer.
Tallinn: Capital of Skate
Estonia’s capital city of Tallinn, where over 30% of the country’s population lives, is unsurprisingly the main arena for longboarding. Whether you like to distance push along the gulf of Tallinn between the Old Town and Viimsi, or visit your local Surfhouse or Surf Garden skate shop, there is plenty this place has to offer. The community is strong here. During the summer months, there are a number of cruising events and longboard clinics set up by the local skate shops and a ton of free-riding activities. More daring adventurers hit the hill on Highway 2 straight into the heart of the city at night.
Pärnu: Beachside Cruising Town
Pärnu is the birthplace of Estonian skateboarding. It is home to Estonia’s first and oldest skateboarding competition, KuldRula (golden skate). If you visit Pärnu, especially in the summer time, the entire city is skateboard-friendly and cruising is the best way to get around, whether you want to grab coffee at a local café or head on over to the beach to skate on the boardwalk area.
Joulumäe (Christmas Hill): Shred Central
If you head out a few km’s just east of Pärnu on Highway 4, you’ll find a sweet little shred spot called Joulumäe (Christmas Hill), which is a cross-country skiing track in the winter. In the summer, it’s a running track with smooth asphalt and nice hills that make for perfect slide and downhill sessions.
Otepää: Downhill Turf
Otepää is Estonia’s winter capital and has the highest points in the entire country, which means only one thing: HILLS. While the tallest mountain in Estonia is just shy of 300 meters, there are tons of places to bomb, carve, and cut. Otepää is one of Estonia’s less-skated regions, but that is already changing.
Valga: The New Frontier
Valga is one of the smallest and southernmost cities in Estonia. Despite its lack of population, it is home to the biggest longboard maker in the country, Beercan Boards, which opened up its Baltic headquarters just last year. Since this region is among the hilliest in all of Estonia, it is becoming a major hub of longboarding in the region, especially with its shared neighbor city Valka, to the south in Latvia, where the downhill scene is already well-established. Longboarding has increased dramatically in popularity here and is gaining even more strength over the course of the 2015 skate season.
Tartu: Pusher’s Haven
Tartu is in the heart of Estonia and with a population just over 100,000. With a ton of flat land to skate, it has become a major area for cruising. It boasts massive potential with new bike paths to push yourself with distance skateboarding. As it’s a university town, youth culture is vibrant here. This becomes obvious when you’re skating through downtown. Last year, the first longboard cruises were hosted here.
Longboarding has clearly been spreading over the last 2-3 years, Estonia included. If you ever find yourself here and are itching to skate, no matter where you go, there is a little something for everyone and you’re guaranteed to find a fellow skater. The community is close-knit here; it’s like a family and everybody knows everybody. And it’s a growing family, with more and more people looking to spread the stoke, bomb some hills, and shred some thane — and we welcome anyone to join us.
We spent 4 days at the Guajataca Downhill in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico. It was an amazing event with hundreds of riders, great parties, killer food, wicked slide jam and a ton of stoked islanders. Normally February in Estonia really sucks – so once we flew in to paradise in the Carribbean – it was totally worth it.
The event Organizer, Hector Valle (aka birdman) hosted us by hooking us up with a killer location by the sea. Our homies from Third Kind Beyond and Hi5ber were there to share in the fun.
This was our very first International Longboard Race we got to partake in as a sponsor. I have never seen so many janked up bearings in my life – but some of the kids out here were super stoked they didn’t have to buy a new set after hitting us up.
This trip we met some really great skaters, and made some new friends and got some of our very first riders.
To name a few of the wicked riders, they include Emily Pross (who won women’s division), Hector Chino and his Bro Gabriel Reyes. They were super supportive and really stoked to chill with us and show us around. Of course, legendary Kevin Reimer was there and he won men’s and open divisions. Our homeboy, Brandon Yarbrough dominated the Pool Session and everybody had a rockin’ good time.
The parties were dope, and the vibe was legit.
So, instead of boring you with my banter, check out some of these vids from the event.
Vid by Third Kind Beyond:
Vid by Raw Thane Media:
This is Chris again from Ionic Flux. It has been a few long and grueling months since we last posted in the blog
We started our summer off with a nice ride from the guys at SurfiAed from Tallinn (www.surfiaed.ee). Enjoy this little edit.
In August we sponsored our first event in St Petersburg Russia. The Kavgolovo Slide Jam, Hosted by Nevsky Surf (www.nevskysurf.ru) and a few other local notable sponsors. It had a great turnout and a number of riders got free skate lube! 🙂 Here is a recap of the fun that played out with our homies across the border.
September was another blasting month
We kicked off the month with sponsoring an event in our hometown of Tartu Estonia. In cooperation with ET Longboards (https://www.facebook.com/etlongboards) who provided a first place prize board and Tartu RulaKool (https://www.facebook.com/groups/598183783627148/) who helped organize the event we had a nice little turnout and the event was a blast. Here is a recap of this gig.
After a hefty re-branding phase we began becoming engaged with the U.S. and Canada. We traveled across the Atlantic and participated in SurfExpo in Orlando Florida. . (www.surfexpo.com) and demoed Ionic Flux with Beercan boards (www.beercanboards.com). We had an amazing trip and experience.
After Surf Expo, things began to fall into place ever so slightly more. We met a ton of people, and found a new shop to carry some of our stuff. Got another sponsorhip opportunity with our good friend and partner Jake the snake at Sidewalk Surfshop (www.sidewalksurfshop.com) in Groveland Florida. We became a sponsor of the Poage Landing Days ConeFest slalom skateboarding event in Kentucky. Competitors got lubed up before the races. 😀
We became acquainted with Michael Brooke, boss man of Concrete Wave Magazine (concretewavemagazine.com) and founder the worldwide movement of longboarding for peace. http://www.longboardingforpeace.org/. It has been a rewarding experience, and also one which we wish to share in the baltic sea region, as this is where we are at, and we look forward to helping promote longboarding not only as a sport, but a way to bridge gaps in communities, and doing good for those in need.
October, back in Estonia, it was back to the crunch and daily grind of getting Ionic Flux packages ready to go and stocked up for the upcoming season. We finally released our first batch of stock and are ready to go all over the place. We were finally able to bring our entire product that we have been working hard on for many months into a final and complete piece of beauty. It really brings me great joy to know that the hard work of our great team and the support of our marketing partners has culminated into a unique opportunity to us to have come as far as we have come to this point.
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Ionic Flux Black Steel is in stock and ready to ship. Get some at www.ionicflux.com. we are looking for distribution and dealers too! Hit us up at email@example.com #bearinglube #longboarding #ionicflux #blacksteel #skatelube And keep an eye out for us in the November issue of concrete wave magazine 😉 page 82 Happy skating 🙂
It’s now November, the month has been long, and the experiences have been extremely awesome. We finally have made our first ad in Concrete Wave magazine, in the noteworthy product secution. This has made us super stoked! And we are really excited in what the future has in store for us!
Here is our ad on page 82 of the concrete wave mag late fall 2014!
This is only the beginning. 🙂 We have a lot to do, and a long way to go. But when I think back and recall the last few months of our development, it has been a great journey. We plan on kicking off 2015 with a bang! 🙂
Have a great skate everyone!