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What went down at Sosh Highlight


Last week, if you entered the doors of Generator Paris you would have noticed something peculiar.

In every direction people with skateboards tucked under their arms were milling about, as if a skateboard convention had rolled into town. Which is not far from the truth.

That’s because we partnered with Sosh Highlight, a skate and video competition that gave non-professional skaters the chance to battle six pro-riders. Generator became their official HQ, and each day riders, videographers and photographers, armed only with smartphones, ventured into the city to film footage for their final edits. To win the contest, they had to assemble the most creative, stylish and original film. Then, on Saturday, the teams’ efforts would beam on the big screen in Le Club. 

Arriving in Paris the day before the main event, I joined Sam Partaix, Bastien Duverdier, Robin Bolian and their crew down in Voltaire. There was a chunky ledge there, which Bolian was leaping off to a boardslide on a rail. After a few attempts he nailed it. Another trick in the can. Later in the afternoon the clock was ticking. In 24 hours they would be preparing to screen their edits to the judges. But the mood wasn’t one of panic or tension. This was their last day of filming and they were enjoying every minute of it. 

Once the spot in Voltaire had been sufficiently destroyed, we crammed into the back of an old VW banger. It was bright blue, with ‘Sosh Highlight’ emblazoned on its side, and it was incredibly uncomfortable, though not without its charm. The van, which you could spot from two blocks away, zoomed across town to the next spot. It was just in front of Generator, as it happens. 

The place (pictured below) was like a high-security space station. Behind a high fence, which you had to hop, was a giant white mound, as if a huge golf ball had been chopped in half and placed in front of a municipal building. To drop in on this beast would be impressive, and surely the jewel in the crown of a final edit. 28-year-old skater Sam Partaix had it squarely in his sights. 

But the thing about this spot, as the skaters knew all too well, is that it’s a bust; the eagle-eyed security guards don’t mess about. Which meant Sam would have to dash up there, do his kickflip and – fingers crossed – roll down that thing without flying off his board. And sure thing, within minutes of arriving, the quick-footed security guard hobbled over, wagging his finger at the Sam and the cameras. But it didn’t stop Sam giving it a go. He got his kick-flip, rolled down the giant white mound, and almost – almost – rode away without a hitch. The bail, which resulted in an almighty red scrape on Sam’s hip, was gnarly enough to make it into the edit, needless to say.

Despite getting kicked out, and despite Sam’s slam, spirits remained high. The sun was still shining and spots remained to be slayed. Next up: a potentially ball-breaking rail around the corner from Generator. 17-year-old Robin Bolian, whose sponsors include Element and ABS Skateshop, was up for the challenge. After a few warm-up ollies over it, Robin began to try a trick that would elicit some of the biggest applause the following night: a huge boneless to frontside tailslide. He landed it, twice, the second one just to polish it off for the video. And then the day was done.

The next day, after a best trick contest in front of Generator where Charles Collett popped a ginormous frontside flip, the main event finally rolled around. Blood, sweat (and possibly tears) had clearly gone into the week’s work. But judging by the riotous applause that greeted one particular part, there was a clear winner: 23-year-old Nike SB rider Jarne Verbruggen (filmer credit: Phil Zwijsen). The playful premise of his film was simple enough: he’s a single man in the City of Love who has trouble with the ladies, but then realises that his true love is his skateboard. In this loveletter to Paris and skateboarding, Verbruggen’s smooth skills on the plank are put centre stage as he attacks the curbs outside Palais de Tokyo and makes leaping down giant sets of stairs look like child’s play. Watching his part was like watching a spectacular firework display, all oohs and ahhs and cheers from the crowd. Everyone loved it.  

Ben Botta and Benjamin Ortega, a Wildcard team, bagged second place, while third place went to a noteworthy part by Bastien Duverdier and Jérémy Hugues, in which Bastien pushes a baby in a pram around Paris as he does crazy stunts. It had everyone gasping and guffawing as he set the streets on fire with his effortless ability on the board. 

After the screening, the winners were invited up to hoist their giant checks. First place winners Jarne Verbruggen and Phil Zwijsen won €3000, plus one night in a twin room at Generator Copenhagen, Venice or Amsterdam; second place winners Ben Botta and Benjamin Ortega won €2000, plus one night in a twin room at Generator; and third place winners Bastien Duverdier and Jérémy Hugues won €1000. All the teams received an iPhone 6, a SOSH welcome bag with a skateboard, a T-shirt and smartphone accessories. Then it was done. Glasses were clinked. DJ’s spun records. The night went on.