October is Kimberley Diamond Cup month.
You may remember I went to the Northern Cape last year for this event and the action was just as spectacular this time. It was great to meet up with guys I met last time and make new acquaintances too.
The vert is without a doubt still one of my favourite events to photograph but I have developed a new appreciation for the street skating event due mainly to the insight provided by Fagner Pereira while we shared a shaded spot during the qualification rounds on Friday afternoon. You might think it’s easy to be motivated when the prize money is almost R 1.4 million but Fagner wasn’t participating this time. He was just videoing his colleagues but the enthusiasm for the sport and the knowledge of tricks and what they like to see in the images of their sport helped me understand some of the technical aspects involved.
This year’s event attracted skaters from more than 40 countries all hoping to claim the huge first prize. Of course there can only be one winner and the final was a display of unreal skill. Nyjah Huston walked away with the big cheque but I was secretly rooting for Luan Oliveira. I was super impressed by the variety of the tricks he was able to perform but my understanding of the sport and what it takes to be a champion is obviously different from the requirements the judging panel adheres too.
During the vert practise I got chatting to the Asian champion Moto Shibata and was hoping to see him place in the top 3 of the event. Seems my support doesn’t help the competitors as he failed to make the finals but I got some sweet images of him performing a few tricks!
If there is one thing I was disappointed about it was the decision by organisers not to bring the Mini-Mega to KDC this time. One of the ladies who works tirelessly behind the scenes let me in on a little secret, the ramp for the Mini-Mega gets shipped in for the event, assembled and shipped out again after the KDC. Economics dictated that it was too costly to bring the ramps in 2015. The weak Rand is even affecting the otherwise deep pockets of the title sponsor Kumba Iron Ore.
Every traveler should plan a visit to the Northern Cape. The scenery is quite unique in this part of the world. The flamingos are a must see and if you’re visiting in September you can complement a visit to the Big Hole with an outing to the Green Kalahari Canoe Marathon. There are so many excursions just waiting for the willing tourist to explore from cultural experiences to nature outings, the Northern Cape has it all.
The evenings are warm and ideally suited to the party atmosphere created by the live music productions on stage in the skate park. Kimberley also puts on the most impressive and the biggest fireworks display I have ever witnessed. The pyrotechnics would rival any New Year’s display in any part of the world on noise, colour and splendor. Truly beautiful light show and worth waiting for after the skating.
The hosts, Northern Cape Tourism, put me in the Tsogo Sun Garden Court, which I would recommend for anyone travelling to Kimberley. The recently refurbished rooms are well equipped and the 350mb of free daily wi-fi come in handy for all those tasks we need to on the internet. The buffet breakfast suits my banting diet perfectly but continental sweet goods are also available in abundance, as are the traditional Kellogg’s options. The coffee was excellent which is almost more important than food when the day is long.
The pool was inviting with the mercury soaring to 37 on Saturday and Sunday. The gym, small but well equipped for a short stay, is air-conditioned and provides a welcome escape during the heat-wave currently sweeping the country.
I’m already looking forward to the 2016 event and hopefully I crack the nod again with an invite from the tourism board.