Polar | Charge the Crust

SIDEWALK ISSUE 205 | OCTOBER 2013

As well as visitations from the likes of Huf and Vans, P-Man and a scaled-down platoon of his pan-European skateboard warriors, (along with UK distro main man Mike Halls) were also over on our island during the final dwindling moments of the British summer. The main difference between this jaunt and the afore-mentioned footwear outings was the almost complete lack of the luxuries generally assumed to be essential on a skateboard tour. No hotels, no hire vans, no demos in London, no fancy restaurants: in short, none of the things that tend to separate the travelling experiences of your average skateboarder from that of your common-or-garden skateboarding celebrity.

I’m resisting the temptation to make some half-arsed Viking analogy here, (mainly because I know Pontus will be too hyped if I call him a “marauder”), but the basic theme of this adventure was, to coin the oft-repeated catchphrase of the week, “Charging!”

Sleeping on the floor at Lomax’s house next to the bins/snail colony, or on a half-inflated air mattress under my dining room table was no big thing. Neither was cramming into Jerome’s dying automobile to chase around Yorkshire without a hint of an itinerary. They just turned up and got on with it and, by visiting various SOS skateshops along the way for a chat and the obligatory Instagram hype-up, got the opportunity to skate a bunch of the hidden gems residing in God’s county.

In amongst shooting a cover and a banging article, they also squeezed in a joint Hyde Park demo with partners-in-grime P-bomb skateboards, footage of which is currently bobbing around on the interpipes like a discarded beer can.

All that needs to be said really is that these knobheads are welcome to flood my bathroom again whenever they’re keen.

Still not sure about the fingerless leather gloves though, but there’s no accounting for taste.

An OG Sheff gem gets a rethink. David Stenström front rocks where others drop in. Photo: Sam Ashley

HJALTE HALBERG

So Hjalte – you’re a Dane riding for a company owned by a Swede – to most Brits you’re all just Vikings but presumably there are a lot of cultural differences between Sweden and Denmark – what are the major ones?

Well first of all, you can’t buy beer in the supermarkets in Sweden. And that actually says quite a lot, because I find Sweden to be a lot stricter than Denmark in many ways. It is hard to say really though, as I have mostly been to Malmø and that city feels a lot like a small city in Denmark. Also Denmark is completely flat, we don’t have any mountains. Sweden has crazy nature and some really nice mountains. That’s maybe why they are a bit more crazy and wild over there.

Is there any national beef between the two countries? 

No not really, we all know that Denmark is a lot more chill, (laughing).

By current standards you seemed to have turned pro and done the whole skateboarding for a living thing quite late – what were you doing in life before Pontus waved his magic wand and made your dreams come true? 

I was working and traveling with my skateboard: Pretty much the same as now to be honest.

You said in your Kingpin interview that be- fore you met Pontus you thought that he was a bit of scary nightmare – what exactly made you think that, and when did you realize that he was in fact, just a maniac in general?

He is a scary maniac. When he was younger he was a lot worse though. He was really crazy in the skateparks over here. Maybe it was just because I was a kid but I just remember him showing up in the skateparks alone, charging so hard, and if you were in his way he would go crazy. But he was just a confused young man that had to get rid of some thoughts in his head back then. He is getting easier and easier to be around, maybe because I know him now or because he grew up!!

You guys at Polar are part of a cultural shift that seems to be happening in skateboarding globally at the moment – on the one hand
you have new brands appearing, established companies losing big name riders to newer companies, more pros branching off to do their own things and then, on the other hand, you have the whole Street League, energy drink, megastar vibe. What’s your personal take on where skateboarding seems to be at right now? 

I think skateboarding is really cool now. Of course I wish I was pro in the hip- hop nineties, but I am really proud of being part of this “cultural shift” as you say, and I re- ally hope that I inspire some kids push through the city instead of practicing their next contest run. A noseslide in the streets will always look better than any skatepark trick.

So with that in mind – you just did a UK tour with no hotels, no hire vans and no celebrity lifestyle bullshit – do you prefer that kind of trip? If so, why? 

It depends. I’m not going to lie, I f*cking love hotels, but at the same time
it is always really funny to see all these rugged skate cribs. The only problem with the UK trip was that for the first 5 nights we slept with no mattresses, straight on the floor, so my fat ass was sorer when I woke up than when I went to bed. This trip was a perfect mix of everything though – we just freestyled it and it worked out.

Sam said that Pontus was sleeping next to the rubbish bins at Sean’s house in Manchester – hardly ‘Hollywood’ is it?

Yeah that first place in Manchester was heavy, really cold too. But the guys that lived there was super cool so all was good.

You’ve been over to the UK before I know – to Cornwall and London – but I’m guessing that you’ve got a bit more of a wider perspective on the country now after travelling through some of the North. Were there any places in particular that surprised you, and if so, what surprised you about them?

What surprised me was how ghetto some of the cities are up North. Rotherham was so crazy. We didn’t see one normal dude the whole day. Only gangsters, crackheads and freaks.

What stereotypes do Scandinavians have about British people, and which ones are true from your experience?

The classic Tenerife or Gran Canaria tourist stereotype: all red and fat, with a big pint, singing football songs. That is also how most of you are, (laughing)…

What was your view on the joint Polar/Palace demo that went on? 

I liked it; it was chill, no big deal. Just skating and drinking some beers…

What, if anything, would you say Palace and Polar have in common? 

Not really anything. We skate spicy, they look spicy: We get the real men whereas they get the girls and “the Supreme cap wearing young boys”.

You talked about a sailing trip that you took on your friend Magnus’ schooner in that KP interview – how was it being hundreds of miles from away from dry land for weeks on end? 

It was trippy. Maybe the craziest thing I have ever done, but also the best. I was thinking a lot during the days at sea. It was actually on that trip that I realised that it would be stupid not to give skateboarding a shot. So that’s what I did when I got back. And here I am on a new boat charging hard with one of the coolest crews out there.

Are you planning to do any more trips like that now that the winter is coming? 

No, the schooner is gone. I think it became a whale tourist boat in Greenland. As for what I’m going to do during the winter, that’s always the big question. Hopefully my sponsors are gonna send me somewhere warm. Otherwise I am gonna work, but one thing is for sure, I can’t spend a whole winter in an indoor skatepark.

Are you still doing substitute teaching part-time?

Yes, I still do it here and there. But it is mostly the smaller classes, so I just teach some math and Danish, but most of the time I come up with some alternative learning. Playing football or other outdoor things.

It seems like Sweden and Denmark in particular have really adopted skateboarding as part of the national culture – you

can study it in school, schoolyards have spots deliberately built in them etc, etc – why do you think this has happened there? – Denmark and Sweden really care about education, and if you combine learning with interests, you get more people into education. It makes sense to me, but I don’t know if it works though.

You’re working on another Polar video right? What’s the plan for that and is that where the footage from this trip will end up? – Yeah we’re gonna do a full video, and everything we film is going there. We have deadline in November. Pontus is gonna edit all winter and then hopefully it will drop sometime in spring… but you never know with THE ALV.

Pontus told me that the UK is one of the biggest markets for Polar in the world – why do you think people over here connect with it so much? - Simple: because we represent rugged spots, easy tricks and care about skateboarding.

Lets finish on the most important question – explain what ‘charge!’ means…. - I can’t, you’ve just gotta f*cking CHARGE!

Pontus kickflip wallrides behind a parking Dalek. Photo: Sam Ashley

DAVID STENSTRÖM

Right then Dave – tell us a little bit about yourself please – where are you from, how did you get into skating and how did you come to link up with Pontus and get on Polar? 

I’m from Stockholm Sweden and I got into to skating because of my dad. He never pushed me into to it though; he just kind of inspired me to do it because he skated too. We have this picture of my dad in the hall doing a fs air on a crusty vert ramp from the 70s: this image has been there since I can remember and when I was a little I always looked at it and wanted to do the same.

Is there beef between Stockholm skate scene and Malmo skate scene? Are you in compe- tition with Oski all the time? 

No one really skates the same terrain as me at the same age as me where I’m from so I always went to Malmö a lot and that’s how I met Pontus. There is beef or whatever you want to call it yeah, (laughing), we’re about to point fingers at them and they do the same but never anything too serious. Sometimes it’s a bit of a competition between Oski and me but I see it more like we hype each and other up to do our tricks like, ‘okay I’m gonna do it before you’, ‘I’m landing it this try’ kind of thing, which is good.

So where do you normally skate when you’re at home? I heard that you used to be one of those annoying skatepark rats when you were younger – is that right? 

I skate almost every day at the Bridge Park which is local to me in Stockholm and yeah I was for sure one of those annoying skatepark rat kids when I was younger, (laughs).

Why do Hjalte and Pontus call Oski ‘Prince Bruno’? Is he secretly the king of Sweden
or something? 

On the flight to UK Pontus started to call Oski “Prince Bruno” to f*ck with me I think, or something like that. Bruno is his middle name too, but it is a DOPE ass nickname.

Had you ever been to Britain before this trip? What did you expect the place to be like? 

No I’d never been to the UK before so I didn’t really know what to expect. I now know that everybody says “cheers” in every sentence and the country has rugged weather, loads of grass, loads of hills and nice people.

What surprised you about the UK?

All your candy! So many types of chocolate! Also one night we were out to get pizza and like 400 student girls came into town all dressed like strippers: shit was cray!

So a full tour in another country with only one hotel night and the rest of the time sleeping at people’s houses – what was the worst place you slept in during the trip?

I actually slept really during good the whole tour. I got to sleep on sofas and mattresses but Pontus and Hjalte probably had a more difficult time as they slept on the floor for a few days, (laughing). Unlucky old dogs!

What the best piece of advice that Pontus has ever given to you?

Pontus is a really wise man, I can’t really think about just one piece of advice though as he gives me good advice about everything all the time.

How was it doing the joint Polar/Palace demo in Leeds? Seems like you and Oski did the most skating for sure. How is it for a Swedish skater to roll up at a busy skate- park like that in another country and skate whilst loads of foreigners are watching you? Do you like it? 

It was fun to see the Palace boys again and the demo was really cool. Everybody skated – all the locals too, which was sick. Pontus was on fire! I’m kinda used to busy skateparks and as for ‘foreigners watching’ (laughing) yeah I guess it was a bit weird but people seems to be really stoked on Polar in UK so everybody was really friendly.

What about the places that sucked that you visited?

We never really went to any place that sucked but when we went to Rotherham it was so depressing: that is a really rugged city.

Who got the most new Instagram followers whilst you were here – you or Oski? Who got the most female followers?

Oski I think but I got the most female followers for sure so I win!

What else do you want to say to the people reading this? -

CHARGE!!!!!!!!!!!!
And thank you England.

JEROME CAMPBELL

Do you feel more pressure when the tour is in your country and everyone else is foreign?

Absolutely, it has to be fun for everyone, but trying to satisfy everyone’s taste is a hard task, especially with skate spots and places to eat, (laughing). Saying that though, everyone just seemed super keen no matter what we went to on this trip, it was a bit like if you were feeling it then charge it, if you weren’t then you’d just go chill and watch.

You were driving this time, and I’m only going
on personal impressions but it seems like as an ex-motorcyclist, driving a car full of people around isn’t something that you’re that into – be honest, is it easier when you’re being pampered, rather than driving?

Not going to beat around the bush here, I can safely say I will never EVER drive on a tour again. It was just gnarly, not just the constant driving but the little things like Oski and David leaving the door open or forgetting their board in the boot, or going
to the petrol station, not being able to have a drink, having a broken clutch, PARKING: that’s the short list of reasons not to drive again – it goes on and on, (laughing). – Please excuse my moaning.

Is Paget responsible for destroying your clutch? -

(Laughing), no – although now I’m thinking about it maybe he is. Cheers Paget, 365 quid please PAL.

Some of the Polar lot have been to the UK before, but with the exception of Pontus, nobody had witnessed the North of England before – do you think anyone was surprised by anywhere they went to or stuff they saw? 

I guess so, the majority of the boys have spent time in London but as we all know, London is NOWT like the rest of the UK, (laughing). I think everyone was into it. We kept it relatively mellow, visited smaller cities and towns like, Halifax, Wakefield and Sheffield; just places we felt weren’t as rinsed out. It was really good actually, it’s always dope watching people skate the spots you’re familiar with in a very different way, I was probably the most surprised of the bunch.

You’ve been on both sides of the touring equation – super plush footwear trips abroad with nice hotels and all that shit and here you are in 2013 trying to sleep next to the bins at Lomax’s house – still keen? 

MAD keen! I love it, don’t get me wrong, plush shit is dope but rugged stuff is even more rad. When you’re sleeping slightly more ghetto it’s like being a kid again, you just get to the point where you’re like “f*ck it” and that’s sick. You’re no longer bothered about where you’re sleeping or what you’re eating – you’re just charging it full speed – Pot Noodle style, (laughing).

Seems like a better way to do it though as you have more time in cities and access to more spots that your average bling-bling hotel situation, right?

For sure, you’re in the mix then I guess, it also means no driving and no time faffing with parking and getting dudes in and out of the cars. You can just go out of the door and you’re already skating, no need to warm up because by the time you have pushed to the first spot you’re boiling, it’s dope and by far the best way to do it.

Did you get to skate anything that was completely new to you on this? Or were you re-treading old ground?

For sure, we got to skate some crazy spots, the old fountain out in Halifax was a banger, along with the many banks of Wakefield, (laughing). We went to some spots I had already been to but not in years so that was all good, it’s always fun to go back to old spots and see if you can do something new.

For less than a week – this trip was insanely productive and lots of unseen spots got merked: is that standard pro- cedure for Polar? How much do you think linking with local SOS shops helped with the whole process? 

That helped massively, it allowed us to find some real hidden gems, stuff you just couldn’t and wouldn’t find if you tried to look for them on your own. As for ‘spot merking’ – I guess so: it just worked really well as there was a guy for every spot, (laughs). Everyone tried to skate almost every spot we went to though. I guess that’s the key to productivity: just Charge!!!

The combined Polar/Palace demo in Leeds was a new and novel idea. What are your thoughts on how it turned out and what did you particularly enjoy about it?

I think people were super into it: I really enjoyed it for sure. It was just rad to see people you don’t get to see that much, demos and jams are always really good for that, bringing people out of the wood work and having a dope session and a beer. It’s always fun to do stuff with Palace; it just spices it up a bit.

How much Swedish do you know these days Jerome? Come on, impress us… 

Literally nothing: not a single word. I’m actually writing this in Malmo right now so perhaps I can ask Pontus’ girlfriend Bella – “läget’brushen” mean (what’s up bro) that’s it – I’m sorry.

Skateboarding in general seems to branching off into different directions at the moment with a resurgence of smaller skater-run brands like Polar, 3D, FA, Magenta etc, etc whilst on the other hand you have Street League and that side of the coin: what’s your personal take on where skateboarding is at right now?

It’s a good thing; everyone likes their own vibe. It’s just like music, people like different genres and some people like certain tracks on specific albums – if that makes sense. It’s just about what gets you as an individual hyped, it’s about being able to re- late to the brand and that’s why I think some of the smaller skater-run stuff is doing so well at the moment because people can understand it, it means something to them and I guess it’s closer to home. It is great when people get really into a certain brand and rep it so hard too, it’s like they are part of the team and that’s amazing, people just get it.

You went to the Lebanon recently with Pontus – did skateboarding exist in Beirut? 

That was truly an incred- ible trip, super eye opening. It’s just the most insane place ever to go skating, strangely though skating does exist there and on a pretty large scale too. It’s odd because as you can imagine it’s not the most up to date of cities, and it’s crazy to think about how gnarly it was there back in the day and actually still is, but aside from all the grim shit that’s gone on over there, it’s an amazing place with the most brilliant and welcoming people I have ever met.

You were also on that recent Paris trip which ended up
as Trocadero Days – has that experience made you yearn for the days of what was, jokingly referred to up here as, “Sheffield’s Jump-ramp Olympics”? 

(Laughing), that trip was so fun – pushing a jump round around Paris was epic. It definitely has made me want to build one at home and go a bit mad, which was the whole idea I guess, bring back the fun!
BRING BACK THE SHEFFIELD JUMP-RAMP OLYMPICS!

Hjalte tells me that there’s a November deadline for the Polar video – what else do you have planned as far as filming goes and what should we expect from the P-Man when it comes to the editing and overall feel of it? 

Yeah man I believe so, we’re staying busy: a few of us are off to NYC in a week or so to skate, film and hang out with Aaron (Herrington), then back to Sheffield to film with James, so yeah – CHARGE!

Explain to me what ‘Charge!’ means please…. 

CHARGE! Put simply it means f*cking go for it or get out of the way: full power, 100%, no games, (laughs), that’s it. Get it or go home.

Anything else you want to say? 

Big thanks to the guys at the shops and everyone else for the help along the way – you guys smashed it!

Don't ask because you'll never find it. Big Dave launching frontside. Big up mashlife crew for the hook up. Photo: Sam Ashley

OSKAR FRITIOF BRUNO ROZENBERG HALLBERG

First of all – tell us a little bit about yourself please.

My name is Oskar Fritiof Bruno Rozenberg Hallberg, I’m 16 years old and go to the second class at Bryg- geriet skate – gymnasium. I have lived in Malmo, Sweden my whole life. I have skated for 7 years.

How did you first meet Pontus and how did getting on Polar happen? 

The first time I saw Pontus was at Bryggeriet skatepark in Malmo. (This was during winter four years ago). He was charging hard, full speed grinding and sliding all over the course! I had no idea who he was and I thought he was a little bit crazy to be honest. That winter he came to skate at Bryggeriet every now and then and after a few ses- sions he started saying ‘hi’ to me. At this point I still didn’t know too much about him and I was still a lit- tle bit afraid of being in his way when he was skating.

A year later was the first time I ever heard of Pontus starting a company. I was chilling in the cafeteria playing pinball and just when my last game ended and I didn’t have any money left, I saw Pontus. I asked if he had some money for one game and he answered, “yes but only if you will ride for my new company”.

I didn’t even think that he was going to start a new company but I said ‘yes’ and when he started Polar a few months later I was one of the riders.

What’s the best piece of advice that Alv has ever given to you? 

To start riding for Polar.

What about the weirdest thing he’s said to you
or done in your presence: any gas mask stories? 

(Laughing). He is a weird person and has done/said many weird things in my presence.

So was this your first time in the UK? 

My sister used to live and study in Glasgow when I was younger so I’ve been in the UK before.

Was it how you expected it to be or what? 

Pontus had told me about all the rugged brick bank spots so I kinda knew what it would look like and what type of spots we would skate. I also knew a few spots and the look of UK from Sam Ashley’s pictures. I like to skate some different type of spots. They’re more interesting to skate and it looks cool. Manchester was probably the gnarliest city we skated in. Crusty heaven, (laughs)!

Do you think that you got to experience a different UK from the average skate tourist? 

It was fun to stay in some different places and meet new homies like James. When it comes to where we where going to skate I just trust Alv and the spot guide.

Which places stick in your memory from the trip, for whatever reason? 

Sleeping at James and Paget’s place was fun! I think that’s where we stayed for the longest. That’s also where we had the best breakfast!

What was the worst place that you slept in whilst you were here? 

Probably the first one (in Manchester) but I didn’t think it was as bad as Hjalte probably says it was.

What about the best? 

At your place Ben, Thanks!

You did a Polar/Palace demo with both teams together in Leeds but I think you and David did the most skating – how do you think that worked out and did you like the idea of doing a demo together with those guys? 

The Polar/Palace demo was sick! The park was fun and it was cool hanging out with the Palace guys. The vibe was really good

What do you think Palace and Polar have in common as companies? 

Spice.

Who picked up the most new (female) Instagram follow- ers on this trip – you, or David? 

Probably Prince Bruno.

Explain what ‘Charge!’ means please…. 

“Just charge man” – Alv

What was your favourite bit of English slang that you learned over here? – 

“Lovely innit?”

So now you’ve been to the UK – what stereotypes about British people are true in your opinion? 

They are really friendly and polite.

Why do Hjalte and Pontus call you ‘Prince Bruno’? What’s the story behind that? 

My middle name is Bruno and they think that it’s really funny for some reason.

Anything else you want to say to the British people reading this?

I want to thank you and all the guys who let us sleep at their places and let us skate their spots!