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Snark Free Zone


Red Bull team rider Jean Marc Johannes (we daren’t call him a pro) has been on the road for the past month, skating with the locals at each of the Red Bull Manny Mania qualifiers. He’s been hanging out with whoever is fortunate enough to be able to spend a weekday pushing around a board instead of sitting in a classroom, a lecture or at their desk while they surf the net looking for SFW sfumato to forward to a mailing list of people equally unhappy with their day jobs.

Sam Khumalo was available to act as guide and took JM to a few spots with photographer Tyrone Bradley in tow and they sent Mahala photos from the mission. The Manny Mania circus arrived in Gauteng to wrap up the series weekend with a fourth qualifying round on Saturday and a final on Sunday. The 12 best manual skaters in the country will compete for a ticket to New York, and the winner will take on guys from 34 other countries. The winner of that event will get a slot at the invite-only pro event and go up against the world’s best. If he wins, he’ll get major kudos, $10 000 and will probably come home with a bunch of new sponsorship opportunities and an ego that will need to be checked at the ticket counter because it will be far too large for carry on.

Sam Khumalo with a massive front side at Ellis Park

Some skaters are cut from resentful cloth, and have very specific ideas of what is acceptable when it comes to a brand using their holiest of grails as a vehicle for promotion. The rider for consent is a long and tricky one, filled with seemingly contradicting clauses and qualifications demanding contortion from the sponsor worthy of the Twister world champion. It remains to be seen whether the cynical will begrudge Manny Mania some respect and condone it to grow year on year as the sponsor intends. Or will they drown it in vitriol and bitter, bitter snark?

Manual skating is about as contrary to flashy extreme sports demos as you can get. The success to bail ratio is brutal, the finer details almost unnoticeable to the uninitiated and Manny Mania founder Joey Brezinski has talked about trying a single trick up to 2000 times before riding away from it. This is a sport for those with OCD not ADD, if you can dig my psycho-babble comparison. That being said, the top end stuff is pretty impressive. If you’re up for it, and reside in Gauteng, head to Festival Mall to watch the qualifier on today and the final on Sunday at the [R]evolution skate park.

Sam Khumalo ridiculous pop

Jean Marc backside lip in a skeleton

*All images © Tyrone Bradley.

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