Simple Session 2020

Tallinn, Estonia

Simen Haegelan - fs feeble grind

For the past couple of years early February has been a time when I pack my bags for the first time of the year. It’s the time when Simple Session – one of the biggest annual action sports contests in Europe - is right around the corner and you are about to spend a top notch weekend in Estonia’s capital. 

This year it was special – a 20th anniversary of Simple Session. It was about to be epic celebration. It was a bit different as well. Probably because of untypical weather conditions for this season. There was no snow (except Friday night), some rain and rarely below zero degrees. While mostly before it was full of snow and cold enough to be willing to stay in the arena the whole time. It was even dry outside for the first day or two, so couple of guys managed to hit the streets. 

Danny Leon showing off his knee features after torn ligaments on our way to hotel.

Me and my friends from Bulgaria, who I invited to come and take a part of this adventure, came in advance on Wednesday evening. Thursday was already first day of practice and usually it’s skateboarders early in the morning. Half full shuttle bus was on its way to Saku Suurhall arena, where surprisingly an unfinished course awaited us. It was quite a bummer, but it did not hold anybody off from getting the practice in after a couple of stretches and walks throughout the park. It did not take long until Cody Lockwood, David Gravette, Liam Pace and other top guns were flying full speed all over the place missing no transition or transfer. Pure speed and loud screams of warning once somebody is on their way. The course overall was quite insane, everything so huge and the speed is there for you. I feel like Simple Session’s course is the one that you would say “It cannot be wilder” every year.

When we came back the next day, crew had made their little miracles happen overnight. The course was finished and had more pleasing look. Now everyone could enjoy the course to the fullest and reach its limits. It was ready for full annihilation. This year it was 2 one minute run format, instead of usual jam, which probably puts a little bit more pressure on each rider, therefore guys started putting their lines together. At first in their minds like Cody – sitting in tribunes, looking at the course, visualizing before skating. And then going for it like Danny Leon – riding round and round, working on separate segments of his lines. He kept going after the practice was over and then jumped on a last shuttle bus to hotel in a last minute.

For the guys, who made it to Sunday’s finals, Saturday was a qualification day or qualifiers. For the ones, who did not make the cut, we called it disqualifiers. Legend himself Dave Duncan was on the mic as usual and we had it all started. Everyone tried their best. A lot of good tricks, different style and good vibes only. Qualifiers was already a must-watch. At the end it all came down to powerful final with the best dudes going for broke. Solid variety of countries was represented. Last year’s champ Liam qualified in first. His second run was perfect right until that massive kickflip indy grab over the big channel, which got away, leaving Danny’s great post-bail run in the top spot. A brand new champion has been crowned. Danny shared a podium with Ke’Chaud Johnson and Tayler Edtmayer. And Liam landed his banger for the crowd. 

Adrien Bulard came to the course couple minutes before his run and stated off with a 360 flip over one of the biggest gaps right away.

David started his runs with some creative spinning. Crowd entertainer, most likely crowd favorite. 

Jaakko Ojanen with a mandatory flatground. Performing effortless nollie frontside 360 flip on the last seconds. 

This frontside flip got Ke’chaud an extra trip to Estonia.

Jaime Mateu’s both runs were perfect but frontside 360 indy grab over the volcano did not work out to finish them. 

Liam was doing this one both ways like it is nothing.

Of course, what is Simple Session without any side events?! First was held on Thursday in a hall of a train station. Some creative obstacles put down on clear marble floor for the Game of SKATE, but in this case they called it Game of EESTI, as well as the 30-minute-long best trick jam. Ke’chaud crushed it throughout the whole jam going both directions on a downrail. He should have taken that rail with him, since he basically owned it. However, the best trick went to Douwe Macare for either front blunt flip out or flip to front blunt. He did both variation to be safe. And Madars Apse probably won the unofficial post-best trick by putting down a pole jam late showit to backside lipslide on a downrail. The crowd went nuts for that one for sure. 

On Friday we had an evening in cinema. They premiered a movie about the Simple Session called “Life is just a ride” with Madars representing skateboarding part in it, sharing his experience and thoughts on this long time happening venue. Overall an inspiring movie on how life changing can action sports and such events really be.  

At some point there was a feeling that the contest was not the main part of the whole event. Organisers pushed it on the afterparties quite much, haha. And during the contest MCs loved to say “Remember, if you do not win here, you can definitely win at the afterparty later on tonight”. But sure it was a lot of fun and that is what many people came there for. Have you been to any other event which has a proper party every day in a proper nightclub. Probably not. But if you have been a regular Simple Session enthusiast, then you are already used to two pre-parties and grand afterparty and closing party throughout the weekend. On Thursdays skateboarders seem to be partying more, since they have late practice next day and on Friday it is vice versa. However, Saturday’s party is a heavy fun generator for everybody who did not make it to the finals. Sundays are for the champs. You could join some house parties as well. 

Otherwise it was an absolutely amazing gathering with all the homies – the ones you already new but have not seen for a while and the new ones you got to meet because of this contest. Everyone had a blast! Thank you, Tallinn! Until next time! 

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