Last year we received this e-mail: “We are moving to Calgary this summer from Denmark, in our family of 4 we have a very keen 11 year old vert and bowl shredder, that want to focus on his vert skills. We have found a few bowl facilities and that looks awesome however we have not been able to find any vert ramp facilities, are we missing something or is there no vert ramps in Calgary?”
It was from Oliver Holm and his dad, Soren. We replied with some information and didn’t think much more of it. That is, until we saw Instagram user @sk8bossollie blasting on the vert ramp at 403 Eastside.
We caught up with Oliver and Soren for a quick chat to learn more about them.
What’s your story? Where are you from? How long have you lived in Calgary and what brought you here?
We are from Denmark, but Oliver was actually born in London, UK. When Oliver was two years old we moved to Barbados for a period of 4 years, when we got back to Denmark Oliver turned six and got his first skateboard for his birthday. In 2019 we got the opportunity to move to Calgary and as we all love skiing and snowboarding, We jumped at this adventure and moved here in July 2019.
Did you have any pre-conceived notions of Calgary before you moved here? Did anything surprise you?
Only that it had great skiing, it is super beautiful and very cold and snowy during winter. We’re surprised to see how hot and sunny the summer is, that’s just awesome.
Where are your favorite places to skate?
In Calgary it is New Brighton skatepark, 403 Eastside project vert ramp and Huntington Hills skatepark.
Who do you skate with?
Here in Calgary it’s Anton at the 403 Eastside vert ramp, Lakin at New Brighton and sometimes Gio at Huntington Hills. Sometimes we get lucky enough that Roger from ToplessPizza makes a real long drive to skate with me.
Who are your sponsors?
Big Thanks to these guys: Toplesspizza (Roger) my very first sponsor and such a great guy to skate with. The Red Dragons – I am so stoked that I got to meet them this summer and to be accepted on to and riding for the Red Dragon team, just made my entire year.
How old are you? How did you get into skating?
I just turned 13 this past September.
When I turned six, I wished for a skateboard, as during a holiday in Maryland, USA I had seen two older guys coming down the street doing kickflips and it looked so fun and cool. I got the board, and my dad took me to the local skatepark and later to a skateboarding school on Saturdays. I was too small to do any real tricks, so I quickly understood that the fun part was to drop into the big bowls and get lots of speed. I still get a big kick out of that
Any favourite skaters? Favourite tricks?
Clay Kreiner, Ishod Wair and Elliot Sloan(and many more) are some of the greatest.I have been lucky enough to skate with two of them.
My favorite trick is a McTwist, which I landed for the first time in February 2020
What are your plans for the future?
Travelling the world skateboarding, hopefully I can take my skateboardingto the next level and participate in in some of the great competitions aroundthe world. My mega dream would be the Olympics, Dew Tour, and X-games.
Calgary has a long and often topsy-turvy history with skateboarding. We have seen many indoor skateparks come and go. The opening of numerous outdoor parks is building a buzz of excitement, talent, and increased participation. With so many new skaters we need people like Brent King to dig up the past and tell us the stories that make the Calgary skateboarding community so great.
I had a chance to interview Brent recently and if you would like to learn more be sure to check out his Instagram @skatopia1 and on his Facebook page at Skatopia Park.
How did you get involved?
BK – A couple years ago I was picking up an order of parts from a business in NE Calgary. While waiting out back I had a memory of my older brother with me (12 yrs old) in tow descending the grass hill behind the building to go to a skatepark circa 1978. That Skatepark was Skatopia1 and I had forgotten all about it until that moment. Further research indicated that the park had indeed been in that group of building (actually next door) but there was very little information beyond an address and a few black and white photos on line. That began my journey to uncover as much information about the park as possible. It’s become a bit of an obsession. The park pre-dates home computers the internet and digital camera technology. Photos, were a not convenient back then. Cameras were large and relatively expensive, developing took a long time, and the quality was generally poor especially for a kid taking action shots. Non the less there are shoe boxes full of dark, low res pictures of the park, stored in basements around the city, and thats what we are trying to find. There has been a tremendous amount of support from the contributors to both of the social media pages. The stories alone are priceless and we offer a retro sticker pack to anyone who contributes photos, stories of knowledge to the pages.
What was your interest in digging up the past?
My recollection of the park is from a 12yr old kids point of view and was very patchy. My initial desire was to rebuild my own memory. Our goal now is to archive this knowledge so that it can be shared with others of the era as well as future generations. I hope this interview helps to create a lasting record.
Did you skate there?
I only visited the park once, I lived on the opposite corner of the city and it required multiple bus transfers to get there. My parents were not supportive of the sport (beyond an after school distraction) and my brother wasn’t going to make a habit of dragging me along. I remember the experience being overwhelming. Some of the images are burned powerfully in my mind, like the large snake run, the freestyle area and the fenced off keyhole.
The original wall art still exists!
How long was it open?
The business license indicates that they incorporated on May 15, 1978. Newspaper articles from the same time put opening day that same week. The closing date is a little more fuzzy, We have photos of membership cards issued as late as May 13, 1980 and reports that it was open until early 1981. After the business closed, a number of the older “regulars” of Skatopia1 would sneak in to the park and ride the abandoned bowls. The building’s owners would fill the bowls with gravel and debris to stop them but they would persist in cleaning parts of the park and riding anyway. One story involved one of the guys riding his motorbike through the abandoned park. It all came to an end when the owners pushed all the above grade features into the bowls, then filled the bowls with gravel, and capped the park with a concrete slab entombing it for the last 40 years. My recent visit into Bay 4 of Skatopia1 shows evidence of 8” of additional concrete added on top of the previous grade that was the park. This would indicate that all bowls, coping and grade features are still intact under the 8” slab.
Where was it?
The building is located on 30 st NE, Behind Marlborough Mall. It spanned 4 huge bays of an 8 bay building. The tenants of bay 4 were recently very kind and allowed us to do a tour of their facility which still has the original art on the walls. We were able to confirm the addition of 8” of concrete by comparing old photos of the art to current day. Five cinder blocks are visible below the art in ’79, only 4 blocks are now, indicating that one full block (8 inches) is buried in a new slab.
Who skated there? Anyone famous?
The park held a contest in 1978 or 79 where they attracted some big names of the time. Lonny Toft, Russ Howell (the 360 king), Jerry Valdez, Bob Mohr, Steve Rocco, Ellen Barryman and Vicki Vicker. These names were huge in the exploding California Skate scene. It was a pretty ambitious move to have them up to Calgary for a contest, not surprizing considering how ambitious the design of the park was in the first place. We have a copy of Russ Howell’s membership card, its classic.
Who built it?
The park was owned and built by a Real Estate business man and at least 3 partners. We have their names and have been searching for them without success for a few months now. The 70s was a paper based time and tracking them down has proven difficult. We really want to talk to them about the motivation to build, details of the operation and ultimately the reasons for failure of the park. To date we have had no luck in tracking them down. I estimate that they would each be in their late 70s by now if indeed they are still alive. As you can imagine, most 70 year olds don’t have a rich online presence. We have had to resort to some old school detective work to find them but we won’t give up. Stay tuned to the IG and FB site for updates as we find out more.
Who operated it?
Skatopia Management Company ran the park originally until Late ’79 when the operation was handed off to a local sporting goods shop (Sunbum Sports) that operated it until its closure. Sunbum sports used to have a shop in south Calgary (Canyon Meadows Mall) that sold some skateboard gear. The details of the switch in management are fuzzy, remember all of our information sources were 12-17 yrs old at the time. They weren’t interested or privy in the business aspects of the operation, which is why we want to find the original owners so badly. There is a wealth of knowledge that will be lost if we don’t interview the “Adults” that were involved.
How much did it cost to skate?
Memberships cost $10 and it was reported to cost $2 for 2hours and $7 for the full day. In today’s dollars that is: $34 for a membership, $7 for 2hrs and $24 for the day
Was there always supposed to be a Skatopia 2? As implied.
The original brochure that we obtained indicated plans to open a Skatopia2 and possibly a Skatopia3, both in Edmonton
Do you think Calgary is ready to sustain such a venue now?
I have had this conversation with a number business and real-estate associates of mine. Sadly, I don’t see how it is possible as a conventional profit based business. There is certainly a need but I can’t see it happening without help from the City. We have seen a lot of private indoor facilities come and go in Calgary over the last 40 year. Each of them were critical to our skateboarding history, but all of them ultimately, often quickly, failed to turn a profit or even break even. That being said, we salute those who have had the passion and the stamina to create these indoor parks, old and new. My youth and indeed my adulthood was shaped by these individuals who dared to dream about the business of Vert. Myself and many others dream about excavating Skatopia1 and restoring it to a usable indoor attraction but for now it will have to remain a ghost park safely entombed in concrete.
Any last thoughts or comments?
Much thanks and all credit goes to the contributors of @skatopia1 on Instagram and “Skatopia Park” on Facebook. Without them this is just a 12yr old kid trying to remember something from 40 years ago.
Some of you remember Tamara Jones (nee Drybrough). Maybe you’ve seen her recently skating at one of our local parks or seen her clips online. I definitely remember when she showed up at Millz one day and switch frontside flipped into Millz Mountain. Or backside flipped a decent-sized trash can at one of the mobile skateparks. She was this “random ripper” from somewhere in BC. Then it seemed like all of a sudden she vanished. No one saw her skating and a lot of people wondered, “What happened?”. Turns out she got married and became a mom, twice over. Tamara is back and ripping harder than ever. Her goal is to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and skate for Team Canada in 2020. She’s on her way to Montreal for Am Getting Paid (an Olympic qualifying event) this weekend so cheer her on. Follow her progress through her Facebook page: Tamara’s Road to the Olympics. This is a quick conversation I had with her.
–Zev Klymochko, CASE Co-chair
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Port Coquitlam but moved around between BC and Alberta.
How did you get into skating?
Some kids on my street were skating and I decided to give it a shot. I found my first board at a garage sale– it was a plastic banana board.
How long have you been skating for? Eight years total. I skated from 13-20 then started again at 27.
I’m pretty sure you aren’t from Calgary, so what brought you here?
A change of scenery, the Vancouver rain got depressing. I also had family out here and met my husband so it was hard to leave.
Did you have any sponsors?
Yes, I did as a teenager. Etnies, Momentum wheels, Underworld Skateshop, and Red Bull.
Did you stop skating for a while? How long?
I stopped for about eight years. I got married to the love of my life and we have two awesome boys!
What brought you back into skating?
My homie, Rose. She made me realize how much i was missing out with skateboarding. My kids were getting a bit older so I felt it was time to focus on myself as well.
Do you have sponsors now?
i ride for Vans – Thanks Dan!!
When did you decide you wanted to go to the 2020 Olympics
After a few conversations with Rose and a few sessions back on my board, I fell in love with skateboarding again and I’ve always wanted to compete in the biggest and the best contests out there. Nothing’s changed– the drive is still in me.
Who do you skate with?
Local Calgary homies , my husband, my brother, and my kids.
Where are your favourite places to skate?
Memorial banks downtown Calgary, Southwood Skatepark, and Encinitas Skatepark in California.
What’s next for you?
I’m headed to Montreal on September 27th for a contest called Am Getting Paid. This is the first Olympic qualifier for womens street.
Any shout outs?
Shout out to all my supports. My mom for being the biggest help with my kids. My husband and the rest of my family for the continuous support. For people like Zev, for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to get my name out in the skate world again. My old skate homies who constantly check in on me and continue to support me. My mom’s friends, the Town of Strathmore, and Daniel Kneeshaw at Vans for having my back!
Where did you grow up? I was born and raised in Calgary. I grew up in the NW.
How long have you been skating?
I’ve been skating since about grade 8. Roughly 14 years.
Who do you skate with? I’ll skate with whoever is willing. Brian Heinrich, Ian Lemke, Jeff Raimondi, Sam Stuart, Kevin and Vlad Correa are my usual homies to go skate with.
Where are your favourite places to skate (spots/parks, etc)? If I’m not out filming, usually I skate parks. My go-tos are: CKE, Southwood, and Millz. Spots I’ve skated regularly are the Fonda slab, downtown planters, the manny pad by Millz, the bridge DIY, and wherever someone wants to go film.
What do you do for work? I’m currently a full-time student at ACAD studying graphic design, and I also work part time with The City of Calgary at a Recreation Centre.
How did you get into art? I’ve been creating art for as long as I can remember. I was fortunate enough to go to Sunnyside elementary school which focused on the arts and promoted creative environments. A lot of my friends at the time were doodling in sketchbooks and it was a great way to spend time. I just caught the bug, similar to skating, and can’t stop.
What’s your favourite medium? Throughout my childhood I would always play with clay and plastacine creating stop motion animation scenes. I was really influenced by Aardman animations (creators of Wallace and Gromit). Currently I enjoy pen and ink drawing, and in the past few years I’ve primarily used a tablet to create my art digitally.
How do you develop a concept? And is most of your work skate-related? My concept development depends on the project. With my personal work, I create things that I’m inspired by, and what I love. Skateboarding is something I value, and naturally much of my art revolves around that. The stuff I post on Instagram (@fartrock) is somewhat centered around the theme of the legendary Sony VX1000 video camera. Since I started skating, I always enjoyed documenting my friends and making videos. I eventually got my own VX and I love the way that camera looks, so I make art of it. With my posts, I just think of things that rhyme or relate to the camera and culture.
What do you do with your pieces? A lot of my work is done digitally so they just collect dust on a hard drive. Works I’ve done in physical form also collect dust in my closet.
Have you had any shows/any coming up? I’ve never really had a show before, but I’m open to the idea. It was really outside of my comfort zone to start posting my work online, and the whole process has inspired me to create more and to also continue pushing myself. I enjoy seeing how my work is received and connecting with the skate community through illustration. If a show comes up, I’ll spread the word.
What piece are you most proud of? It was a goal of mine to create a skateboard graphic at some point in my life. Through my VX related social media, I was approached by some people in the US to make some board graphics. I’d say, to date, that is probably what I’m most proud of. I’m hoping to do more.
What’s next for your life? Graduate. Get a creative job. Skate. Make art.
Liam Glass’ video, BeerStorm 3, is online for your viewing pleasure. Click below to watch.
Also, Liam and Rob Thorpe answered some questions about the video below.
What is Beerstorm? [Liam] I don’t really know I probably won’t hit the mark on any of these questions. I never know what to write for this sort of stuff there’s always so much too say haha. BeerStorm is the best group of friends I could ever ask for just trying to skate everyday, drinking beers in random parking lots, losing your mind and getting super hyped when anyone lands a trick. BeerStorm is just the homies having fun and not taking things too seriously.
[Rob] Liam would have to explain the origin of the term but these days it’s a crew, a video series, a lifestyle really. Maybe an apparel brand one day? Who knows? Sky’s the limit right?
Tell me about the guys in the video. [Liam] They’re all my best friends that I pretty much do everything with. This Steve Graham, Ryan Spate, Chad Baker, Riley Sykes were all on a mission and super motivated not to say anyone else wasn’t. We fixed a lot of spots and tried to get out filming everyday possible.
There was a lot of people I wish I could’ve filmed with more (Derrick Timoshenko, Dillz).
Rob Thorpe is the man! He will usually film and I shoot photos. I was super stoked when he started filming with us. The first skate video I ever bought was four down.
[Rob] An extremely tight knit crew. Maybe a little intimidating sometimes to the outsider, usually due to the large posse and constant beverage consumption. But no attitudes or egos, just a bunch of bozos out trying to have fun.
What’s the Calgary skateboard scene like right now? [Liam] I think it’s super good right now and getting better with all the new parks we are getting. There’s been a lot of new young kids who kill popping up like crazy. We’ve also have the 403 east side project which basically a little skatetopia. Everyone is friendly and gets along for the most part.
[Rob] It seems like the new batch of skateparks has just fired it up. Not that it ever slowed down but there’s a whole new crop of young kids absolutely killing it. Old guys coming out of the woodwork. Lots of local videos coming out all the time. DIY spots poping up. New street spots keep getting built. We got a vert ramp. I’d say it’s as strong as ever.
Who took the worst slam while filming? [Liam] Oh man, there were a few. Steve Graham’s slams on 28 were fucked. That’s the gnarliest thing I’ve ever seen. He got going so fast on it that you could smell the metal of his trucks melting.
Chad Baker probably took the most slams and Ryan had that sack at the start of his part.
No serious injuries that took anyone out for too long though thankfully!
[Rob] Spate straight to the nuts. Or Chad, also to the nuts. Or Adrian, again, to the nuts. Or Steve by sheer volume, don’t think he sacked this year though.
Any strange encounters with non-skaters while filming? [Liam] We were at this wall ride spot in the industrial area and this dude who could’ve been straight off Hastings showed up. He was super high on something, wearing a winter jacket and it was plus thirty, he could barely talked because he was so dehydrated. Lane gave him some water which seemed to semi bring him back to life. The dude was mumble rapping to himself and you couldn’t understand any of the words he was saying. He kept walking in front of the camera all hunchbacked and taking stuff out his pockets and leaving it on the back of our cars. He kept trying to touch my fisheye while talking gibberish. After like two hours of that he eventually stumbled off to who knows where. I don’t know how he could’ve gotten there on foot in the first place. Probably should’ve called 911 for him in hindsight.
[Rob] Nothing too dramatic but my favourite had to be old Jim at Masters Academy. Homie got so bent out of shape from the boys hitting the rail he called the cops. They show up and wonder what tricks we’ve gotten that day and who’s trying what.
“Oh, Chad needs a few more tries for his popshuv? No problem! Let’s see it!”
Jim looked like he was gonna blow his top!
We’re fortunate to have a Skateboard Amenities Strategy that has been guiding our development of a skatepark network. Since 2015 we’ve had six outdoor concrete skateparks built in Calgary. One of the most common questions we get is, “How do I get a skatepark in my neighbourhood?” The simple answer is this: get a lot of people in your community interested in getting a skatepark built and then go to city staff with a plan. That’s what the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association (TGCA) did. They were one of the neighbourhoods selected for a new concrete skatepark in 2014. They had a supportive community. We spoke with Marvin Quashnick from TGCA about their Huntington Hills skatepark.
Who are you & what do you do?:
Marvin Quashnick, VP for Public Service for Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association (TGCA). This is a volunteer position that relates to planning development, transportation, and parks within the community and advocates to government for community issues & its residents.
Photo by Robert Bishop
Were you involved with Huntington Hills Skatepark?:
Yes. The TGCA board had been discussing/debating the possibility of a skatepark for Thorncliffe for as long as I can remember. Nothing ever went further than casual talk until 2012. We were encouraged by a letter sent to then Councillor Gael Mcleod by a 12 year old Thorncliffe resident about the need for a skatepark in Thorncliffe. This coincided with a tragic skateboarding incident in the city, highlighting the need for safer places. Finally compelled into action, we pursued parks about a possible location for a skatepark near the TGCA facility. Again coincidentally the city’s skatepark strategy had just been released and parks indicated that they were considering a site in Huntington Hills. They asked if we would consider supporting this location instead. Even though this was outside of our community boundaries it was obviously the right choice to make as ironically the Huntington Hills was closer to more Thorncliffe residents than the site we were initially interested in. Furthermore it satisfied more criteria to create a larger more regional skatepark. The Huntington Hills Community Association were gracious enough to allow us to continue our advocacy in their community and were subsequently very supportive of the project. TGCA continued to be part of the process until the grand opening last year and we hope we can continue to support it into the future.
Why was there a need for a skatepark in Huntington Hills?
There was a need in Huntington Hills because there was (and continues to be) a tremendous need for skateparks in the entire city. The lack of this type of infrastructure in this city has until recently been appalling. Although Millennium Park was something to be celebrated, it was one facility in a city of a million plus. The shortest of excursions to the smallest of towns would demonstrate clearly how far behind this city was. The location of the Huntington Hills park serves a region, not only a community. Its placement in that community, however, is close to schools and other well-used recreational facilities and I’m very pleased the skatepark is the proverbial crown jewel amongst them.
Photo by John Rajic
What’s been the reaction from the community since the skatepark was built two years ago?
The key word in the question is community.
The reflexive answer is to describe resident response. That has been for the most part tolerant to supportive.
When we talk of community response it is also important to talk of the community that belongs to the facility but not necessarily resides within the area. This community’s reaction has been fabulous not only to use and enjoy the facility but to care for and maintain it as well.
This secondary community has consequently created a tertiary community which is the more amorphous essence of rejuvenation itself.
Photo by John Rajic – edited by Jaron Whelan
What would say about communities who are unsure about getting a skatepark in their area?
Short answer: Do it!
Long answer: Skateboarders still retain fragments of outlaw or laggard. This is demonstrably false. The activity is at its height the epitome of precise athleticism yet can be entered into economically by almost everyone. All the more so with the right infrastructure. What is often not as obvious is the tremendous “community building” potential a skatepark can bring.
On a visit to the Airdrie Skatepark when TGCA was still considering whether to advocate for the Huntington Hills park or not, I was struck by the utter vitality of the place. All the more obvious when juxtaposed to the totally vacant tennis/basketball courts adjacent. Not only were there a multitude of skaters & BMXers of a wide age range but families picnicking next to the bowl and elderly people enjoying the vibrancy. “This is the essence of community”, I thought. How could TGCA not advocate for this, for this is who we claim to be.