Words by Billy Bones
When I find myself in situations like this, I can’t help but laugh.
I mean, why not fly across the world to skate the bombed-out ruins of the 1984 Winter Olympics?
It may sound ignorant that I didn’t know how close Bosnia was to Yugoslavia, but to be honest, I knew very little about Eastern Europe until traveling there earlier this summer. Like most uninformed travelers, I sat down and watched a documentary on YouTube to learn more about the area I’d be flying to, with the intention of skating down an abandoned bobsled track. I quickly realized that this area went through a serious military conflict (within my lifetime) that had left its mark on the region. Occasionally I’d forget about the war and start to enjoy life in Sarajevo. The locals were friendly, food was good, and the coffee was hot. Only when I glanced up at bullet-riddled buildings was I reminded of what happened not so long ago.
It wasn’t a long drive from downtown Sarajevo into the hills, to get to the war-torn bobsled track. In America, this is the kind of place that would be fenced off to prevent people from hurting themselves on it. The track is .8 miles of rough, winding, partially blown up concrete covered in a thick layer of graffiti. Despite the condition it was in (and the fact that there were still land mines in the area), it was in good enough condition to skate. Still, after scoping the track I realized I was not prepared to ride down this beast. One of the things I love the most about skateboarding is that it is a form of self-expression, but when it comes to skating down a bobsled track, there is no room for expression. You don’t have time to get creative. This steep, twisting tube of downhill concrete picks your path for you, and you’re forced to just hold on for the ride. So I tightened my trucks, blocked out mental images of a brutal slam, and thought about how good the Turkish coffee would taste once I finished the run.
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