I woke up surprisingly clear eyed the morning of the Windy City Riot. I was out the night before, but I had looked forward to this day since I found out the official date. For those not familiar, which I am assuming is many of you, the Windy City Riot (WCR) is one of the longest running aggressive inline skating competition (rollerblading, but with tricks). One of the specific components of the WCR is that it takes place entirely guerrilla style in the streets of Chicago. No skateparks are involved.
By about 11am I was on my way to my meet up with Dave, he was the official host and organizer of the competition and I was one of the main co-collaborators. This year’s riot was supposed to start on the far southside and make its way back up north and the first spot was at a place called Big Marsh Park. It was pretty far on the southside, at about 103rd street, but this place is basically like a level in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game. We were some of the first people there, but there was already a decent crowd gathering. There were the homies from Detroit, the white rabbit skate crew from Iowa, other out-of-state shredders and plenty of skaters from Chicago, the Chicagoland area and Illinois in general. Even Nick LaBarre came out of hiding for the day to show out for a little bit. There were so many obstacles there, we could have held the entire competition right there, but the skaters naturally chose what would be sessioned. Everyone started skating this big gnarly kink rail and the crowd could already point out some of the stand out stars of the day. O.G. Detroit head, Don Bambrick was lacing some hammers, as was another Detroit talent, Luke Naylor. Some of the regulars from the Chicago scene like Steve Lerner, Paul John and Chicago-to-Cleveland transplant Brian Bruno were also killing shit. We also had a surprise guest in attendance that everyone was excited to see. Mr. Joe Dummit, from Zigtebra and Rip Rop episode 1, caught a break in his band’s big tour and he was able to make it back to Chicago just for a day to hang with the blade homies. After the big kink rail people started skating the storage containers that were set up next to some of the stairs as well.
After about two hours of tearing Big Marsh up we figured it was time to grab a bite to eat and head to the next spot, Sarah E. Goode High School. Dave and I grabbed milkshakes and chicago dogs at this little roadside joint on the way there. The main obstacle to skate at this school is a massive handrail down a stair set, but some of the competitors found some other unique ways to get buck here. One of them being Brian Weis when he grinded a flat rail then leaped over another guard rail to a huge drop into a skinny banked ledge, hard to explain so just watch the video and you’ll see. Similarly Paul John da Gawd just straight hopped the chest-high guard rail into the bank, which eventually won him best trick of the day. Chemi Simiyu from North Dakota and Ben Forsythe from Iowa were pulling floaty airs over the stair set while Julian Mire was hitting some of the steeziest tricks of the day on the down rail. One of my favorites from growing up as a skater in Wisconsin, Michael Froemling, landed a really sick tap to fishbrain on the rail as well. Zach Savage also showed up to this spot and while he did a handful of impressive maneuvers, his big highlight was a full-cab topside pornstar on the rail (which sounds like made-up terms to most of you, but I assure you it is an extremely difficult maneuver).
The last spot was the legendary Chicago skate spot, Roberto Clemente High School. This has been a Riot spot in past years, but this time around there were some new obstacles. What everyone ended up sessioning was a kicker up to about a 5-foot tall ledge that people were grinding. Everybody was going off at this spot, as what tends to happen at the last spot for these contests. Although Luke Naylor had been showing out all day, he really sealed the deal at this point in the day. It was basically a victory lap for the guy. Not only was he landing some huge, technical, difficult and scary tricks, but he was also skating some of the obstacles that nobody else was able to skate, like the rail to ledge to bench grind transfer which is the last trick from Tri Tri Rudolph’s video.
The official contest results were:
1st Place: Luke Naylor
2nd Place: Don Bambrick
3rd Place: Zach Savage
Best Trick: Paul John
Overall it was a really amazing day. With what we do being such a niche thing, it really feels great to come together as a community and share the activity you love with other individuals that also love it. Although, it is technically a competition, what it really is, is a big family reunion and I was so happy to hang with my family that day. Thank you to everyone that came out for it and we will see you next year!