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15,000 Skaters Head to Eastbourne
Eastbourne became a haven for skaters, skateboarders and BMX riders this weekend, with 15,000 people attending the 7th year of the Eastbourne Skate Festival.
Eastbourne became a haven for skaters, skateboarders and BMX riders this weekend, with 15,000 people attending the 7th year of the Eastbourne Skate Festival.

Organisers Eastbourne Borough Council and sponsor McDonald’s brought together over 200 performers for the two day festival, from all over Europe and as far afield as the USA, Russia and Australia.

Hotels reported high levels of business too, Peter Hawley, Chairman of the Eastbourne Hotels Association said “We were delighted with the Skate Festival. It clearly attracts a younger market, with reports that there were no family rooms left in Eastbourne over the weekend.”

“The weather also continues to play an important part, and coupled with the Skate Festival, the town was virtually full. This is a younger market that we must continue to make inroads into, and this event is the perfect way to do so.”

A record number of skaters also joined in the Saturday Night Skate with 300 people skating the eight mile route at dusk, adorning coloured flashing lights on their skates to cheering crowds along the way.

The route finished with a final stretch along the seafront promenades, ending with a free roller disco in historic seafront open air venue, the Redoubt, a Napoleonic Fortress.

A range of performers impressed the crowds over the weekend in the arena, including Team Riedell from the USA, bringing their unique breakdance style of skating to the UK, while other new genre’s such as Roller Soccer also received recognition. In the Extreme Skate Park, local skaters performed their own displays on the ramps and grind rails to the sound of live bands playing on the East music stage.

In the competitions, the Slalom events saw a strong field with Eastbourne holding the UK qualifying stage for the International Championships. French skaters stormed the men’s events, winning all three top places, with current International Freestyle Slalom Champion, Sebastian Laffargue, taking first place in both Freestyle and Speed.

In the Ladies competition Lenka Buchcarova of Slovakia took first place in Freestyle, and France’s Chloe Seyres won the Speed event. The UK’s Naomi Grigg also gave British skating a firm boost, by taking third place in both Freestyle and Speed.

A new event for this year, the British Freestyle event, proved that London isn’t the only hotbed for skating talent. The Men’s Freestyle event won by Phillip Downer from Wales, also saw Eastbourne’s Nick Estave take third place, with Eastbourne’s Max Freeman taking third in the Speed event.

Naomi Grigg, who also took first place in the Ladies British Freestyle competition said “It’s been a fantastic weekend. I am delighted to see the Men’s podium including winners from Wales and Eastbourne, which is great for British skating, as it is so often seen as centred around London.”

Eastbourne Borough Council Spokesperson for Tourism, Councillor David Elkin said “The Eastbourne Skate Festival continues to go from strength to strength, placing Eastbourne firmly on the International skating map. I thank all those performers who have travelled from far away to perform or compete here. It certainly made for an entertaining and lively weekend for all visitors and ensured a busy weekend for the town.”

The Eastbourne Skate season continues with weekly skate evenings in the seafront Bandstand each Wednesday from 7.30pm. For more information visit
27 July, 2004

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