The eighth-annual World Freestyle Round-Up will bring amateur, professional and legendary skateboarders from eight different countries to the Cloverdale Fairgrounds during the rodeo and country fair.
The annual Cloverdale competition is one of the biggest freestyle skateboarding contests in the world. As the other four global competitions happen in Germany, Japan, Brazil and the U.S., this competition provides a chance for locals and visitors alike to watch the best freestyle skateboarders in the world compete for $10,000 in prizes.
Among international freestyle competitions, the Round-Up is “in a league all by ourselves,” said organizer Monty Little.
That’s not to demean the other contests, he said. But Cloverdale’s competition is unique in that it has prize money all the way to 10th place, it’s an intensive, four-day event, and yet “it’s all about family.”
There are welcome and farewell parties, Little and fellow organizers pick up skaters from the airport and then, “if we’re not billeting them ourselves, we drop them off at the hotel.”
“This is a family gathering,” said Little. “It’s a competition, yes, but people are encouraging each other, showing their best tricks and helping each other learn.”
Freestyle skateboarding is the “grassroots” of the sport, he said.
“We all start by doing simple freestyle tricks when we’re learning how to skate,” he said. “These guys [at the competition] have taken it to the ultimate level.”
Each competitor at the Round-Up performs a 60 to 90 second routine, synchronized to music. “It’s very similar to figure skating,” said Little.
Four skaters will compete head-to-head in each heat. Each will get to perform their run twice, back-to-back, and the judges will only count the best score of the two runs.
“Some of these tricks take months and months to be able to perfect,” he said. “It takes a lot of time, and a lot of broken fingers and broken ankles because you’re falling. These guys have definitely paid their dues to be this good.”
Check out the competition inside the Cloverdale Curling Rink on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds from May 17 to 19, or come by on Monday, May 20 to watch specialty contests including 360 Spin Offs (last year’s winner hit 64.5 spins), best handstand tricks and longest coconut wheelie.
All told, $10,000 in prize money will be given out over the weekend: $9,000 for the top 10 performers in the professional division, and $1,000 during the specialty contests.
Although the amateurs don’t receive money for placing in the contest — doing so would disqualify their status as “amateur” — they do get some pretty sweet swag from donating partners, said Little.
As for the Round-Up itself, contest producer Kevin Harris expects that there will be more spectators than ever this year.
“Since the 2020 Tokyo announcement came out that skateboarding would be part of the Olympics, the interest in the sport of skateboarding has grown substantially. We always get a good crowd but believe this year’s event could grow in terms of attendance and most certainly in excitement,” said Harris in a press release.
“The calibre of these athletes is starting to be taken very seriously,” he said.
White Rock pro-skater and Olympic hopeful Andy Anderson has competed at the Round-Up in recent years, but will miss this year as he has embarked on an international tour that will take him to competitions in China and Australia.
There will be plenty of talent on display, however, including young professional skaters from Japan who impress year after year — 15-year-old Isamu Yamamoto won first place at the round-up in 2017 and 2018 — and local skaters such as Surrey’s Kristopher Abramovic and Delta’s Lúcio de Lima.
The age range is “one of the interesting thing about freestyle,” said Little.
“You can still do it well into your 50s and 60s,” he said, “and it’s neat to see those young pros coming up.”
There were 47 skaters registered for the competition as of early May, hailing from countries all over the globe. While there are certainly too many talents to highlight in one article, each has a biography posted to the event website at theworldroundup.com.
From 10-year-old Yuzuki Kawasaki, who placed first in the amateur category last year and is “becoming pro, it’s insane!” to China’s Shen Meng, who, when struggling to get a travel visa to come to the contest in 2014, wrote to prime minister Stephen Harper to get clearance, each of the contestants has an incredible story.
Admission to the Round-Up comes included with a $10 admission to the Cloverdale Country Fair. You can also watch live feed of the competition here.