UK Round Up 2021

As the first physical freestyle competition of 2021 (and the first officially UKFSA-sanctioned event), the UK Round Up finds itself in the unusual position of being a very non-serious competition in a very serious role.

For those who haven’t attended, witnessed, or heard about the UK Round Up, it came about originally in 2015 as a reaction/response to overly-serious and overly-earnest competitions held elsewhere. Held as part of a larger longboard and slalom meeting/event/festival in East London, it’s provided an annual way for British freestylers to get together, hang out, and have a little taste of what a freestyle “competition” is like in a laid-back and farcical fashion – at least until a certain global pandemic got in the way, cancelling the 2020 event.

As such, this year’s event is looking to be a glorious return to form for the UK freestyle scene, and if you’re one of the many people who picked up freestyle over the last two years, head over to East London and get involved – just make sure you sign up in advance on the Skate Hog Hill website.

Event: Competition
Format: Mixed Pro/Am, with each skater receiving four separate 60 second runs, performed and scored in pairs – otherwise known as the The Overkill Deathmatch Format. If you’re confused, take solace in knowing that’s exactly what’s intended.
What to expect: Absolute nonsense.

An Introduction to the UKFSA

I started freestyling in 2001. Back then, finding other freestylers was nigh-impossible – and getting proper freestyle product was even harder. When the first British “new era” (read: post-90s) freestyle competition was held in 2003, there was only something like seven people there. Hell, the event was so small, it didn’t even make it into LateTricks’ contest database.

Honestly, at points it felt like freestylers were fighting a losing battle. I remember literally walking into shops and emailing company owners throughout the 2000s and early 2010s and asking for some support for freestyle only to be told, over and over again, that freestyle was “dead”. That no one was interested in it. Or, worse still, that they “liked freestyle, but we don’t want to scare away our market by being associated with it.” This was the way freestyle was treated. The way it was talked about.

If you’re only coming into freestyle now, this might sound strange – but you have to understand the context. Freestyle was last seen by most skateboarders in the mass cull of the early 90s, when anything which wasn’t street skateboarding was taken out back and summarily executed. The re-emerging freestyle scene in the early 2000s consisted of two groups: former pros and sponsored ams from the late 80s who were dusting off old boards and relearning old tricks, and young kids like me who were largely having to reinvent the wheel in isolation. The skill level of most freestylers back then was low, and if we’re honest, consistency and style was rare. Freestyle wasn’t in a good place.

But one country really bucked the trend. The Fujii brothers had managed to keep freestyle alive in Japan, and the skating in Japan was above and beyond anything else happening worldwide at the time as a result. By the time they hit the mid 2010s, they not only had an established contest circuit, but they had managed to nurture up-and-coming skaters and create some of the best freestylers in the world. They showed what could be done with proper organisation and scene-building.

You might have heard of this Japanese prodigy: Isamu Yamamoto.

Meanwhile, here in the UK, my generation was finally finding its feet. Alex Foster had started a website called LateTricks and, along with Matthew Smithies, was arranging UK meets, sessions and demos to bring the few British freestylers together, documenting it all on his YouTube channel. Denham Hill started travelling around the country, teaching the first fully-accredited skateboard coaches before finally settling in at LS-TEN skatepark in Leeds, spreading freestyle everywhere he went. Moonshine Skateboards, a US/UK vert company, started producing freestyle boards, bringing freestyle product into the UK and making it accessible for the first time since the 80s. And I, for my part, was working for a couple of American skateboard companies, co-hosting a podcast and building up a library of trick tips and other freestyle info. And all of this was working. Slowly, but surely, attendance levels at sessions were rising. The UK scene was growing; the old joke of “there used to be five of us. Now there’s six!” was rapidly becoming outdated (if still referenced heavily between Alex and myself).

One of the earlier LateTricks jams: Southbank, 2014

By the end of 2019, it was rapidly becoming obvious that something more coherent needed to happen to pull the UK scene together – especially as organisations like Skateboard GB and the UKSSA had no point of contact for freestyle in this country, and we had no way to formally interact with other national and international freestyle organisations like the JFSA, GFSA and the WFSA (those are the Japanese, German, and Worldwide freestyle associations, respectively). And so a freestyler in London named Aaron Watts hatched a plan, we met at the start of 2020 to fill in the paperwork, and the UKFSA was born.

And then a pandemic appeared.

Immediately, all our best laid plans went awry. The contest location scouting stopped, the UK Round Up for the summer went straight out the window, and the first AGM went from an in-person meeting to a hastily organised Zoom call. Everyone hid in their back gardens and garages and did their best to keep their railflips on lock, and we agreed to reconvene when things were safe.

Well, at the time of writing, things are finally starting to look up. Vaccines are being rolled out (at least 50% of the UKFSA Management Committee is now fully vax’d up), lockdown restrictions are being rolled back, and case numbers are down. Obviously we still need to be hesitant, but if 2020 has shown me one thing, it’s that interest in freestyle in this country has never been higher; freestyle board sales at Offset Skate Supply have absolutely exploded, and Instagram feeds are filling up with fingerflips, Caspers and pogos (but mostly railflips) as people across the UK figure out what to do on their new boards.

As such, let me introduce you to the UKFSA.

You can read more about the UKFSA, who we are, and our goals here, but in short, we aim to not only help freestyle in the UK continue to grow, but to provide a way for freestylers on this island to connect with each other and improve as the years go on. Japan has shown what can be done when the current professionals and leading amateurs in a nation put the time in to raise the next generation, and historically, the UK has had a great tradition in freestyle; some of the all-time best freestylers hail from Britain, and we’re hoping that the UKFSA will help to create and support many more.

Pandemics, Brexit and rain aside, there’s never been a better time to be a British freestyler, and I’m excited to see what comes next.

Tony Gale
Chair, UKFSA

Ben Carter Interview

Ben Carter, Carousel
Ben Carter, Carousel

When you think of ‘kids that skate good’ in freestyle, you probably first think of places like Japan and Romania. Well, the UK is now also harbouring young talent – and I thought it important to first of all give recognition to their achievements and ability, and second to try to get an idea of what might make freestyle hit a bit more with the younger generation.
Ben Carter, 14, from Bristol is a newcomer to freestyle, and the rate of his progression has been hard to ignore. The types of tricks he’s landing and sequencing together are no small feat given his short time on the board so far. Ben gave up some of his skating time to talk to us, so we could try to get an idea of why, and how he is doing it…

UKFSA: How long have you been freestyling, Ben?
Ben Carter: I have been specifically freestyle skateboarding for one year but skating for a total of two years.

UKFSA: You have progressed fast for one year. Not only are you doing some difficult tricks but you’re also learning them fast. Recently you’ve mastered carousels, broken fingers, and a myriad of fingerflips. Where are you learning your tricks from?
Ben: I’ve learnt a few from Mike Osterman’s and Tony Gale’s trick tips, but I get most of my inspiration for learning new tricks from just watching skate videos – Marvelous 2 is for sure my favourite to watch!

UKFSA: Oh yeah, Toshiaki and Masahiro might be my two favourite skaters to watch, I watch that DVD all time! Please tell us about the moment when you became aware of freestyle, how did you find out about it?
Ben: Well when I started skateboarding I had no idea that freestyle even existed until I saw one of Mike’s YouTube videos, I was completely blown away. After that I was just trying a few freestyle tricks here and there until I really got into it.

Ben Carter, fs varial finger flip
Ben Carter, fs varial finger flip

UKFSA: A lot of people, myself included, start out freestyling on street setups. They tend to find out about, and make the jump to, freestyle boards later. Was that the case for you also?
Ben: It definitely was. I was freestyle skateboarding on my street setup for a few months before I got my first freestyle board, it was very expensive but it completely changed my skating. I remember my first one was the Moonshine Tony Gale board, it was great!

UKFSA: Purpose built freestyle boards can make a lot of difference. What setup are you riding now? And do you mod your boards, like bushings, extra washers, wood screws etc?
Ben: I’m currently riding the new Never Enough Zappy Concave with Independent 109s and some 95a Seismic wheels. I’ve finally got round to getting some harder bushings and I’m riding with riser pads. I really can’t ride without riser pads anymore. I really need to get some wood screws for my board though, I do so many caspers.

UKFSA: Yeah, caspers will eat through your board. I really like frontside caspers at the moment and they even chew up the wood screws in no time! How are you finding the harder bushings?
Ben: Really strange right now coming from riding some much softer ones.

UKFSA: You get used to them, I fear for my ankle ligaments skating freestyle on soft bushings nowadays. One thing that surprised me when I switched to freestyle boards was the number of different shapes of the decks. Have you found that perfect shape yet?
Ben: I don’t know, I’ve loved all the boards I’ve had so far. If I had to pick one I would say my favourite one so far is the one I’m riding right now (the Never Enough Zappy Concave). But to be honest I don’t really think about what I ride, just as long as its built for freestyle I’ll have a great time on it.

Ben Carter, Broken Fingers
Ben Carter, Broken Fingers

UKFSA: Do any of your friends skate, and do they freestyle?
Ben: I’m trying to teach a few of them and they seem to enjoy it but I think if I were to quit (which I’m in no way planning to) they would quit as well. I did teach one of my friends to do a tail stop fingerflip the other day though. I mostly skate on my own which I don’t mind.

UKFSA: Is there anything that you feel that freestyle, particularly in the UK, needs in order to appeal to a younger audience such as yourself?
Ben: I think that we just need to show more people freestyle skating (through demos or other means) because I feel that a lot more people would start doing it because not everyone can go to a skate park every day or has access to a good skate spot. You can do freestyle skateboarding anywhere, you only need a skateboard and some flatground.

UKFSA: Favourite skaters?
Ben: Oh I’ve got so many! I’ll only name a few. Masahiro Fujii, Toshiaki Fujii, Reece Archibald, Tony Gale, Denham Hill, Mike Osterman and Yuta Fujii.

UKFSA: Tips for sticking a carousel? (For a friend, haha)
Ben: Haha, I just held onto a wall to start with and then just slowly let go until I finally did it. I would also recommend wearing a knee pad because my knees had completely turned purple by the time I landed it! I’m pretty sure Mike did a good trick tip on them.

UKFSA: Will we see you in the Am’s at any competitions in the future?
Ben: Hopefully, I’m probably going to try to go to any competitions that I can, they look like so much fun. I might be able to go to one in Germany at some point, I go there every year.

Reece Archibald takes Gold in Euro Freestyle

Reece Archibald at Euro Freestyle contest in Germany
Reece Archibald at European Championships (Photos courtesy of Euro Freestyle)

September saw the second Euro Freestyle contest in the picturesque town of Brandeberg an der Havel, Germany. Christian Heise and co have been hard at work prepping for this years contest since 2019’s European Freestyle Championship, and in a year that has had not much else going on, we can’t understate our gratitude for their efforts.

Two UK competitors made it out of Manchester ahead of tightened covid restrictions to make the trip over – Never Enough rider Reece Archibald and Alex Foster of Late Tricks. If you’ve been watching the contest runs on YouTube, then you have Alex to thank for that (more on Alex and Late Tricks in a future post).

Reece could not make it to 2019’s Euro’s due to ongoing illness, and was sorely missed by all. Reece is an absolute blast to skate with and always brings the stoke, that’s why we couldn’t have been more pleased to find out that he had placed first in the Pro Division. Were I talented in the art of writing I would tell you the story of Reece’s triumphant return to the contest circuit, to take gold in the European Freestyle Championships! But alas, I am not. Instead I caught up with Reece after he took some well deserved time off, and this is what he had to say…

Reece Archibald Ollie Airwalk at Euro Freestyle
Reece Archibald, Pro Division, Ollie Airwalk

“Incredible contest with incredible skaters. Thank you to everyone in the community who reached out from last year to this year to get me rolling back. What I’m most thankful for is that not only my normal body was back but skateboarding was too. Regardless of placement I knew skateboarding would be with me before and afterwards.

The true free beings of the style please just keep doing what your doing, but push harder. There may be a point you’ll be unable to do it physically and you’ll honestly miss it crazy.

In short I was off the board for 6 months due to undiscovered diabetes type 1. For around 3 months I was almost entirely immobilised and required family and friends to do a bunch of stuff for me.

From October I had a stabbing pain in my abdomen and a range of problems with my organs. Which was eventually confirmed diabetic nerve pain from high blood sugars.

Frequent hospital visits, scans, operations, medications I grew used to. Just getting up and sitting for half the day was progress. I was drowning in a world of pain and misery on so many levels that my body and soul felt constantly under distress. Skateboarding felt impossible.

On regular nerve and bowel medication I was phasing back into work. I had lost about 15kg of weight and my concentration was wack. When it came to skating with the pain my muscles were so wasted that things didn’t spin, and everything hurt afterwards.

I didn’t know I was diabetic until mid may. For a couple of weeks I had been vomiting, having ice cold showers, getting lost and couldn’t quench my first. I ordered up a glucose machine and found my readings were through the roof. I was placed in a resus bed for a DKA. A DKA happens when your blood sugar is very high and acidic substances called ketones build up to dangerous levels in your body

I was hospitalised for 3 days. I kind of know the checkpoints to get out early. The whole experience was awful but incredible. I’m continually learning about the condition and lifestyle. A lot of mixed emotions and time thinking about it all but making steady progress.”

The Return of Terror-Firma

4 minute Read
Terror Firma Logo
Even for the Pro’s, freestyle is a passion far more than it is a living. All too often in life, reality rears it’s ugly fins, and the joy of the concrete surf quickly becomes awash under the torrent of life. It’s in those situations, the premise of dry land and some solid ground can make a huge difference for anybody feeling a little lost at sea. That’s why we were delighted to hear about the return of Terror-Firma, a project run by the UKFSA’s own Denham Hill. We caught up with Denwad to find out a bit more about where Terror-Firma has been, where it is, and where it’s going..

“Terror-Firma went dormant in July 2019, but production stopped on any clothing a bit before that. Cash flow was an issue, I’d lost a few jobs and had to gain a few more, and survival was more important for a time.

We’re currently only selling through Social Media channels, but there was an Etsy store set up for a while. However, this all went through a print on demand service which left us with no profit whatsoever, let alone any to donate! Head to our Facebook and Instagram pages to keep up to date, once more product is in there’ll be a more digestible shop format on the way:

Click here to visit Terror Firma on Facebook

Click here to check out the Terror Firma Instagram

Through previous clothing lines we managed to donate to Marius Constantin and Turi Zoltan, I also set up a funding page for Ethan Young to get him out to the Round Up but unfortunately he wasn’t able to make it. Still, I hope he’s been able to use the cash for decks and other gear he needs. The donation pot has started to build again thanks to a kind clothing donation from Burns out in Germany, and currently stands at £70 so that will be donated as soon as the next run of product comes in.

Terror-Firma was born of a few things; bitter resentment, a need to support freestyle and a desire to destroy some of the outdated stereotypes surrounding freestyle. The whole idea is to re-invest profit from our products to freestylers worldwide or causes that support freestyle. It strives to promote the more aggressive, high octane freestyle that exists and aims to generally take freestyle out back and rough it up a bit. That’s not to say we won’t support more “floaty” freestylers, I just feel that there’s another take on freestyle that has yet to be explored.

The whole point of Terror-Firma though as mentioned, is to support freestyle by giving back to the scene. The industry doesn’t support us financially and most likely never will, and I was frustrated with the fact that some of the best freestylers I know had to put themselves out of pocket to get to contests and skip out on essentials just to skate. I think that’s bullshit, and I also think that the fact no one has made an effort to do anything about it sooner is also bullshit. It’s not just about contests though, it’s about helping dudes out with gear or other projects that support the growth of freestyle. We hope to work with as many freestyle factions as possible.

Moving forward, the aim is to grow Terror-Firma to a point whereby we can sponsor and fund freestylers on a long term basis. However, there’s a huge amount of work to do and I’m thankful to everyone who has offered help in one way or another.

It’ll probably not change the way freestyle is viewed by the industry, but when the industry turns it’s back on you, you should smash it on the head very hard with a brick while it’s not looking.”

The UKFSA’s Stance on Current COVID-19 Restrictions

At the start of the week, England officially moved from a “stay at home” to a “stay alert” plan, with restrictions on outdoor activities being eased. Note that this does not apply to the other nations which form Great Britain; Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are still following the “Stay at Home” policy.

As of today, Wednesday 13th May 2020, English citizens are no longer restricted to just one hour of outdoor exercise. This, obviously, includes skateboarding, and we expect to see outdoor council-run skateparks to open up in the coming days and weeks; indoor commercial skateparks may take more time.

Skateboard England have released a statement clarifying their position and recommendations for skateboarders in England. We at the UKFSA suggest you follow their core recommendations; stay at least two meters away from other skateboarders (and people in general!), and limit sessions to members of your household (if you are lucky enough to live with other skaters) or one other person you don’t live with.

Skateboard England also recommend you try to avoid touching any surfaces – so no gymnast plants for the time being.

Remember: while we all want to be skateboarding, it’s important you don’t put yourself at extra risk purely for the sake of freestyle. Germany has already seen a rise in COVID-19 cases since they lessened their restrictions at the end of April, so don’t think that this means the pandemic is going away and you can return to business freestyle as normal. The confirmed death toll in the UK is currently at 33,186 at the time of writing, and everyone here at the UKFSA wants to make sure all freestylers stay as safe as possible in this frankly horrific situation.

Obviously, all events we had on the calendar prior to this lockdown are either confirmed to be cancelled or can be considered as such until we get official word. This is a sad start to what is normally the most exciting time of the year for freestyle, but rest assured that we’ll do our best to arrange a UK-based event the second we believe it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, stay at home if you can, continue working on your stationary combos in your back yards and basements, and do all you can to minimise risk both to yourself and others. Hopefully we can all get through this together and freestyle will continue to thrive.


The UKFSA has Arrived

The UKFSA General Meeting, originally planned to be held at LS-Ten Skatepark, Leeds on Sunday, 26th April, 2020, was instead held via video conference. The meeting was a great success, and within it, the aims and working practises of the UKFSA were fleshed out and refined by democratic process. An Official Management Committee was inducted, and the following roles were established by vote:

  • Chair: Tony Gale
  • Secretary: Aaron Watts
  • Treasurer: Alex Foster
  • Officer: Reece Archibald

We also welcome Matthew Smithies, Michael Erskine and Denham Hill to the Committee. The UKFSA will now set out to meet its goals by promoting the growth and development of Freestyle Skateboarding as a discipline within the UK. You can learn more about the organisation on the UKFSA About Page.

A Bump in the Road

With the current global crisis that is the COVID-19 coronavirus, we have decided to delay the next General Meeting until the situation is under control. The Spring Sessions Event in Darlington is also cancelled. Hang in there, chaps.
Stay healthy, and wash your hands.. a lot.

Euro Freestyle 2020

After the unbelievable success of last year’s European Championship, Christian Heise is doing it all again for 2020.

Christian, the founder/boss at Never Enough, really knows how to put on a great event, and this year promises to be even bigger than before. The few issues that were present in 2019 are being dealt with – and considering 2019’s Euro Freestyle was one of the best competitions of all time, that means 2020 should be an amazing event.

Event: Competition
Format: Pro, Am and Masters divisions, two minute runs, two runs per skater. Special beginner/rookie division with two shorter runs, and a female division with runs of unannounced length.
What to expect: A freestyle event run by freestylers, for freestylers. Solid organisation in an amazing space followed by a proper party for all the riders.

Paderborn BBQ Contest 2020 CANCELLED

It’s officially been announced that Paderborn 2020 has been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. Here’s what you could have won.


As the longest-running freestyle contest in the World, the annual Paderborn BBQ contest has become a staple part of the freestyle competition circuit, with a large UK contingent driving across the continent to attend every year. This definitely isn’t one to be missed.

Free camping is available on-site for international visitors – you can bring your own tent and camping gear or just bring a sleeping bag and stay in the giant communal tent.

If you want to get involved, get in touch with everyone in the British Freestyle Skateboarding group on Facebook and join the road trip!

(note: finding the skatepark can be a nightmarish experience the first time you go. While the address below is correct, it’s highly recommended you come along with people who’ve been before to make sure you can find the place okay.)

Event: Competition
Format: Pro, Am, and Masters divisions; two minute runs, two runs per skater
What to expect: A grassroots event run with German efficiency under the baking sun. Anything goes here – it’s far from family friendly. Expect huge crowds and lots of alcohol!