../events/Redbull Circle Of Balance 2002

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Date: October 26, 2002.
Place: Gasometer, Oberhausen, Germany.
Paul de Jong, www.fatbmx.com:
INTRO: Circle of Balance is an idea of Oliver from Redbull Germany, Robert Moeller and Andy Zeiss from Teampromotion . At the 2000 Worlds they were talking of having a flatland only contest and that was in their minds for the last 2 years. Finding a location (Gasometer Oberhausen) was a tough job but on October 26th 2002 it was battle day. The Numbers:18 riders from 10 different countries battleling for Euro 20.000,- and judged by 5 qualified judges and 1 headjudge, 3000 ltr Diesel to warm the site, 100's of litre Redbull/wodka and beer to please the crowd that paid only 7 euros and had 1 winner in the end and 920 people go crazy after that.
LOCATION: It took a well written script by Redbulls Oli to convince the people of the Gasometer that Flatland is an art and not a sport. The Gasometer is located in Oberhausen Germany and was an old building to store gas for the factories in the neighbourhood, its 110m high and made out of 4mm thick steel. The contests name “Circle of Balance” came from the ring in second stock where they build a round wooden flatland floor. The stands were made of concrete and steel and there was a big steel circle with fences where the audience could stand on and watch the riders.
JUDGES and JUDGING SYSTEM: Five judges: Paul Osicka, Yaso Takeo, Harry Schmid, Klaus Dyba and Lionel Cardoso were coached by headjudge Bart de Jong to decide which rider would be the winner. It was not the usual format of giving points to the riders skills but more of a breakdance battle type of contest. Six groups of 3 riders started and from each group 2 riders advanced to the folowing round with 12 riders in 4 groups to 8 riders that competes directly to each other as a real head to head battle. From the 8 riders it went to 4 than you have a battle for 3rd and 4th place and the final with 2 riders who battle for the first and second place. The judges had to decide whitin a minute who advanced to the next group so it made it very difficult to pick the right rider but I guess they did a good job although I didn’t agree with all the results but that’s only me to blame.
ORGANISATION: “This is the best organised contest I’ve ever been to!“ says Nathan Ponanzek, “I feel important “ says Leonardo da silva Claro and more compliments were made by all the riders. Imagine this: you get a free plane ticket to Germany, free hotel, free towel, backpack and jacket with sewn in name and COB logo, free food, free drinks, free bowling evening, free transportation, and on top of that you could win a first price of Euro 5000,-!!!! No it’s not really for “free”, these riders are putting in hours and hours of time to be in this group of 18 best flatlanders in the world so they paid their dues and deserve these “free” things. Everything was running smooth, Andy, Robert, Oli and the rest of the crew worked their ass off to make it the riders, judges and press so comfortable as possible and they did a very good job.
BOWLING?: On Friday night they organised a bowling contest in Dortmund and rented 6 bowlinglanes for the riders and invited press. It is funny to see that the riders are so competitive and were trying to win that special painted bowlingpin that was for grabs as first price. Vicky and Nathan were not very serious to score points but they were VERY serious in breaking the bowlinglane and machine. Throwing balls from above the head and more than 4 at one time killed the machine and it was over for the last lane in the bowlingalley. Mike Mcqueen of Props won the first price and was very very happy with that coming over from the USA for the first time and winning a bowlingcontest in Germany will be in his memory forever. The food and drinks were provided by the organisation and everyone had enough except for a few that ended up in the hotelbar.
AUDIENCE: Since the building was 110m high it was not that big to get a lot of spectators in. They solved that with a cool selection through their website: www.redbullcircleofbalance.de so the people who wanted a ticket should say why they deserves to buy a 7 Euro ticket. These tickes were included food and drinks so 500 were sold in notime, no ticket no entrance was the rule but after some little problems everyone made it in. The upperring was crowded but the stairs were a bit overcrowded but nobody seems to care cause the action on the floor did everything else to make it worth to stay. Lars Dorsch was the speaker and did a good job to anounce the whole contest and get the crowd going together with the 2 topdj’s. Everyone had a good time and stayed till late and the circle of balance turned into a big circle of partypeople.
ROUND 1: These were the first groups:
A) Takashi Ito Japan, Alex Jumelin France, Phil Dolan GB (out with backproblems)
B) Matt Wilhelm USA, Michael Sommer Austria, Leonardo da Silva Claro Brazil (out)
C) Michael Steingraber Germany, Martti Kuopa Finland, Dan Rigby Canada (out)
D) Frank Lukas Germany, Matti Rose Germany, Kimmo Haakina Finland (out)
E) Simon O’Brien Australia, York Ono Japan, Jimmy Petitet (out)
F) Nathan Pononzek Canada, Vicky Gomez Spain, Marcus Paoulo de Jesus Brasil (out)
Phil Dolan had serious backproblems and went to a Giropractor but it wasn’t enough to enter the contest so Takashi and Alex rode just to entertain the crowd. Matt “spinning” Wilhelm and Michael Sommer won the battle against Leonardo, they were both pulling harder tricks and it was kinda easy for the judges.
Group C was a hard one, Martti didn’t pull everything but did some good stuff, Mike S. worked more on his battlestyle than on his riding and barely made the cut, Dan had no luck and it was the first time that the judges were in trouble cause they all could have made it to the next round.
Kimmo did really his best but the 2 Germans were to strong to win the battle, Frank “the Handlebar” Lukas pulled his shit and Matti Rose was on a mission for gold. E-group was strange, Simon O’brien is riding slower than York and Jimmy but his style was good for second round. I was sitting on the stairs and thought that Jimmy made the cut but it was York Ono with his fast style that did it, this was the first time I was wrong with my opinion so I quit being the “expert “ and left it to the judges and drunk a couple of beers. Nathan and Vicky are “CABRONS” and made it although Vicky had some problems, Marcus had a real “battlestyle” but not enough to impress the judges, the bad boy was out.
ROUND 2: Next Round was a tough one, 4 groups of 3 riders, this means that if you made a mistake it should kick you out and they only had 6 minutes per group so you had to do really good in the rest of the runs to keep you in the battle.
Vicky, Matti Rose, O’brien, Kuoppa, Mike S, Frank Lucas, Nathan and Willhelm made it through the cut and whipped out: Takahi, Alex Jumelin, Michael Sommer and Lowcash York Ono and they were thanked for their effort and had a well organised “vacation”. York Ono mayby had some luck in the first round but he ran out in this one, he can go back to Japan with a big smile on his face. As you see we only had 8 riders left for a head to head serie:
ROUND 3: One rider against another rider so 4 groups with 2 riders and this was where you couldn’t make ANY mistake. You couldn’t go for the easy tricks, not for the unconsistant tricks so it was hard for the riders to choose what they wanted to do in this round. Mike S. for instance is a world top 3 rider but is not a real “battle” rider, he takes some time to start his run and that isn’t possible in a battle where you have to start right away. He worked on his routines and style specially for this contest but it didn’t make him go to the finals, dissappointed or not it was time to leave the circle of balance. Nathan Pononzek was the next to leave the circle, his tricks weren’t good enough to stay in according to the 5 judges so he got kicked out and is off to Malaga Spain where he is gonna stay for this winter. Matt Wilhelm thought he could spin his way into the finals but that was wrong, he was not qualified to be with the last 4 riders this time.
ROUND 4: Four riders left: Simon O’Brien Australia, Matti Rose Germany, Martti Kuopa Finland and Vicky Gomez Spain. Martti and Simon got kicked out in their head to head battle with Vicky and Matti Rose so the #1 in the world was not able to win this event, “Cabron Zorro” had to go to fight for third place in a battle against Simon O’brien and won that one. Simon O’brien didn’t expect to do so well in this battle but good tricks and being consistant in the groups made him come so far and travell home with a fourth place and good cash to spent in sunny Australia.
FINALS: Vicky Gomez against Matti Rose are amongst the youngest riders in this pack but they were riding like bulls in a bullfight. Being from Spain it was Vicky Gomez who pulled the hardest tricks and won this “torro battle”. Matti Rose was riding better than I ever saw him ride but I have to say it was really Vicky that deserved to win. Vicky took home the 5000 Euros so he doesn’t have to clean the streets in Malaga for a while and train with Cabron Nathan for the upcoming season in 2003.
After the finals a big party was going on in the circle of balance and it was good to see the audience dance with all the riders and have a Redbull/wodka or beer at the bar. We stayed till 3:00 in the morning and we weren’t the last ones. James Alberto was drunk as hell for the first time I saw that happen and Hoite Polkamp was even worser walking into the bushes and fell asleep while it was almost freezing.
What happend later that night is not to say right now, we have to fix that first and you will hear that story later or mayby not at all.
THANKS: Thanks to Oli from Redbull, Robert, Andy, Peter and Daniel of Teampromotion, All 18 riders for the best flatland comp of all time, the judges and headjudge for doing a very difficult job whithout real screwups, Bartenders for the supply of Heineken and Redbulls, The audience for being the best crowd ever, Gasometer for the nice building, Lennhof hotel for the service, The bowlingalley for not kicking the cabrons out, Redbull landrover drivers for the rides, we hope to see you somewhere, sometime in a similar event, it RULED!!!!!!!!
1.Jorge ‘Viki’ Gomez (Spain)
2.Matti Röse (Germany)
3.Martti Kuoppa (Finnland)
4.Simon O´Brien (Australia)
www.theflatlander.com: OBERHAUSEN, 00:30 hours. Suddenly, everyone is silent ? for one short moment only, though. It's the calm before the storm. For, as the name "Jooorge Gomezzz" resounds through the Gasometer in Oberhausen, the whole place goes crazy. Just under 1,000 people jump up from their seats, throw their seat cushions in the air, and celebrate one man: Jorge Gomez. Champagne, beer, and other liquids rain down on the small Spaniard. "Darn, I don't believe it," a joyous Jorge stammers and then starts to scream while holding his trophy up in the air: "Now I'm damned rich." 5,000 euros the richer, at least. After all, he's the big winner of a wicked show: the Red Bull Circle of Balance. 18 of the best BMX Flatlanders in the world were invited, and all of them came ? to the Monster of Steel. From the outside, it looks like a giant rusted tin can. What's inside, however, is not food gone stale, but rather a true delight: [an error occurred while processing this directive] Real delicacies brought together from all over the world and united inside this one arena: Martti Kuoppa (World Champion from Finland), Frank Lukas (a top rider from Germany), Marco Paulo de Jesus (a pleasure to watch from Brasil), Matt Wilhelm (the BMX king from the U.S.), Yosuke Uno (the uncrowned emperor from Japan), as well as other international top-notch riders made the audience go crazy. While DJ Mad and his colleague Stylewarz rocked the turntables, the Flatlanders put on a stage show with their BMX bikes. Fat beats and fat tricks ? for four hours straight. And then, shortly before 21:00, it's showtime! Dozens of red and blue spotlights sweep through the 144-meter-tall and just under 50-meter-in-diameter Gasometer. A low bass rumbles and makes the 0.8-centimeter-thick walls of steel shake. All eyes are on stage, which suddenly lights up with bright spotlights. Shortly afterwards, the Flatlanders come on. Groups of three riders battle against each other in six-minute sets. Afterwards, the judges decide which two pros make it to the next round. Takashi Ito and Alex Jumelin benefit from the back injury of England's superstar Phil Dolan: He drops out, and his two opponents advance one round without a battle. Then, the German rider Michael Steingraeber shows what he's got. He prefers rolling and scuffing tricks. That means: He pulls off true balance acts with his bike. While rolling on only his front tire, he dances with the rest of his bike as if it were a woman. He turns it and winds it around, now and then tapping the tire with his foot to keep him from falling off ? in the process, he rocks the Gasometer. Caution, these are explosive acts! The crowd goes crazy, and Michael heats it up! But he has to admit defeat in round three. Now, it's only rider versus rider. Eight are left. Among them Matti Roese from Lauterbach. He dances real smooth and does wicked spins that take him to the final round. "No way!" he says, flabbergasted, and shakes the hand of World Champion Kuoppa, who ends the competition in third place. Matti needs to be satisfied with second place himself. The absolute rocker on two wheels is Jorge Gomez. "Viki" performs trick combinations so smooth that even Head Judge Bart de Jong's mouth hangs agape. "We had the best Flatlanders here today. But Viki was simply the best." This small Spaniard came out the big winner at the Red Bull Circle of Balance.
Génération BMX: Le samedi 26 octobre dernier s'est déroulé un événement BMX freestyle à Auberhaussen (Allemagne), qui a laissé pantois les adeptes et pratiquants de cette discipline. Effectivement, cette rencontre est une nouveauté puisque cette compétition fait penser plus à un tournoi d'arts martiaux comme on peut le voir dans les films avec Jean-Claude Vandamme qu'à un simple contest de BMX Freestyle. Le principe est très simple, les pilotes s'affrontent par poules de trois puis de deux en éliminant une personne à chaque fois, avec en ligne de mire les demi-finales et bien évidemment la finale.
Jusque cela, c'est classique mais l'énorme différence avec des rendez-vous comme les X-Games (USA) ou Palavas (France) est la situation, le cadre et l'ambiance générale. Tout d'abord, la rencontre se situait dans un grand château d'eau vide (heureusement), avec une arène à l'intérieur et une sélection des meilleurs pilotes de Flat (freestyle au sol), 18 au total. Un jury composé de six juges comptaient les points et départageaient les concurrents, le tout devant 500 spectateurs triés sur le volet puisqu'ils ont tous été sélectionnés sur internet (autant dire que les personnes présentes étaient de vrais chanceux), sans oublier un "price money" (primes pour les coureurs) de 20 000 euros !!!
D'après les propos recueillis, il a fallu deux années pour préparer ce "contest" (rencontre si vous préférez les termes bien français), et la réussite de cette compétition originale fut totale à tous les niveaux. Ce contest a été baptisé le Red Bull Circle of Balance et se déroulait donc le 26 octobre dernier de 21h00 à minuit. Chaque pilote avait 6 minutes à chaque représentation. Les meilleurs pilotes étaient au rendez-vous, on y retrouvait Alex Jumelin et Jimmy Petit (France), Phil Dolan (Grande-Bretagne), Takashi Ito, York Uno (Japon) et Kimmo Haakana (Japon), Marti Kuoppa (Finlande), Dan Rigby et Nathan Penonzek (Canada), Leonardo Da Silva (Brésil), Mickael Summer (Autriche), Simon O'Brien (Australie), Matti Rose (USA), Franck Lucas (Allemagne), Viki Gomez (Espagne), Marcos Jesus (Brésil) mais aussi Mike Steingrabber et Mat Wilhem.
Evidemment, comme les meilleurs "flatlanders" au monde étaient présents sur le sol allemand lors de ce contest, le niveau de pratique fut d'un niveau remarquable et le partage des points à chaque fois ne fut pas une partie de plaisir pour les juges (dont faisait partie Lionel Cardoso, une figure du BMX freestyle français). Après les poules de qualification, ce sont des quarts de finale qui se sont déroulés devant un public ravi et conquis par le spectacle. La première surprise eu lieu en demi-finale lorsque l'Américain Matti Rose élimina le Finlandais Martti Kuoppa, considéré comme le meilleur au monde actuellement sur le circuit. Mais les choses sont ainsi et les juges ont unanimement préféré les "tricks" (figures) du pilote d'outre-atlantique. Ceci dit, Martti terminera 3ème de ce contest, et la finale fut une rencontre entre Matti Rose et l'Espagnol Viki Gomez. Et finalement, Gomez va l'emporter devant un public connaisseur et déchainé, forcément lorsque l'on voit évolué toutes les stars de cette discipline dans un contexte de spectacle, on ne peut retenir ses émotions.
Le vainqueur espagnol a remporté la coquette somme de 5000 euros ! Une somme très importante et une initiative de la part de la société Team Promotion qui avait orchestré cette rencontre. Dans le domaine du Flat, c'est une première, un véritable événement mais nous ne savons pas encore si une deuxième édition se déroulera en 2003. Etant donné que le concept a énormément séduit les sponsors, concurrents, presse spécialisée et spectateurs, nul doute que nous retrouverons ce type d'événement l'année prochaine.