WE COULD'VE GONE TO COLLEGE
A one-week skatetrip through Switzerland
Photography & words by Arturs "Mr.Boga" Bogdanovics
I was on another skate journey in August and had to figure out what to do between contests in Vigo and Basel. I asked Jan if I could come to Switzerland in advance, crash at his place and skate around with him and his friends before ESC in Basel. He was down and even suggested that we should make a small tour out of it. Jan doesn’t fuck around, so a couple of DMs and phone calls later he had managed to organize a minivan (thanks to Jan’s girlfriend’s dad!), build an extra makeshift car seat and filled up the minivan with an international group of skateboarders: a few Bernese locals joined by a young German shredder, Belgium’s transition enthusiast, two Swiss filmers and me - a fellow skateboarder and photographer from Latvia. His plan was for us to skate some well-known and lesser-known spots in different cities of Switzerland before heading to ESC weekend.
The terms and conditions of the tour turned out to be pretty simple - the amount of beers you get to drink during the day must match the amount of clips you filmed. This strategy significantly pushed us to stack as much as possible. And we kept the level legit - warm-up tricks deserve no beer; and a line only counts as one clip, thus only one beer. Not sure if Noel followed these terms, yet the good clips he got let us turn a blind eye on the count. Jan on the other hand, must’ve drank way less than he deserved, since judging by the rate he was stacking clips, he should’ve been absolutely hammered by the early afternoon (and because he was the driver and drinks/drives responsibly, of course).
One of the spots on one of the first days was a perfect steel hubba at the entrance of a factory in Fribourg. Getting inside was a matter of fence-hopping skills. The Bernese trio (Jan, Ramon, Noel) already knew this spot. Moreover, they knew what tricks they wanted to battle. This awareness was what caused a feeling of regret in Ramon once the others started going for it. On the fifth terrifying attempt of a Bennet grind we heard him say "I should've gone to college". But a couple tries later he was rolling away and the name for this tour was pretty much clear.
The weather treated us just right. It was a perfect part of summer where you didn’t feel like dying whenever you’re in the sun. Fortunately, Switzerland has water as clean as in a medical lab and as blue as Listerine mouthwash. You could swim in every river or lake and, if there wasn’t one around, a fountain could work just fine – you can ask Ramon.
Most days it was curb spots for breakfast to please the technical guys and warm up those who were down to go all in on the heavy lunch spots; something mellow for dinner in case you still felt like skating and/or didn't get smoked earlier. We were glad to produce quality skateboarding, witness a couple of body slams and come close to losing our mind on manual combos.
Speaking of slams – Mika took one for the whole team. After a first try FS Lipslide on an infamous 18 stair handrail going into an underpass in Zurich, the rail showed no mercy on his next trick attempt. A little rough spot on the landing sent Mika straight to the ground chest first and took his breath away (ours as well, but he literally couldn’t breathe for a scary amount of time). That evening we pushed him around on an old computer-desk chair, getting questioning looks from everyone we passed. The fact that one of the chair-wheels kept falling off didn’t help either.
Our fun raiser for sure was Pieter. He impressed us with his transition skating spiced up with crazy lifestyle stories from his hometown Mechelen, Belgium. Pieter also hates wax. He was having some hard times BS Smith grinding a DIY quarter-pipe channel in Zürich. Jan told me “I bet he would do it in a try or two if he waxes the top”. I offered to distract Pieter with some meaningless talk so he could sneakily wax the top unbeknownst by Pieter. It was easy to do! Next thing you know - Pieter landed his trick. After we exposed our little secret Pieter didn’t believe us; he licked the kingpin of his back truck and remained confident that there was no wax involved.
To spice up the spot selection and have a quick break from the usual street spots, we searched out a rocky, dusty, dirt bike track. Ramon had a cruiser with 72mm OJ's ready to go off-road. After eating some dirt, the Bernese trio once again handled business with class. Some sketchy maneuvers of different type went down across the whole track.
On the first Sunday, while others had a shawarma (bought in a random food shop near the Fribourg DIY park that also sold shishas, suitcases and Polar boards), I went to see my other options that would suit my allergies. Shops being closed outside train stations, kebab places not accepting cash and Chinese places not serving food before 6 PM pissed me off enough to steel some sushi from a grocery store. The guys laughed at me, but confirmed that sometimes they do that as well, since Switzerland is expensive even for locals. So we kept our trip low budget, but were able to avoid dumpster diving behind large grocery stores (keep this in mind as an option, if you’re ever broke and desperately hungry in Switzerland). A culinary highlight was a great BBQ session by Bernside DIY after a swim in the river Aare.
So we had it all. It was pretty intense (in the good way) and a total success. It's hard to believe that half of us then went to the contest in Basel, and still had enough energy to compete and do fairly well.
And now you must be ready to revisit all the story and moments in the video format.
A brilliant 10 minute edit will get you hyped to go skate street.
Filmed and edited by Nick Heuberger, with additional filming by Ludovic Pugin.