If you didn’t know already, Montreal is home to one of the most iconic skate spots in the world: The Big O, which is celebrating its 10 years rebirth anniversary. For the occasion, we joined forces with the O’s community to throw a massive skate jam/party in honor of this important milestone.
Thank you to Mehrathon, Vans, Ace Trucks, Pizza Adamo, Dillon Ojo Lifeline foundation as well as Marc Tison, Barry Walsh and the Big-O Bastards for making this possible and for helping us highlight one of Montreal's most important piece of skate history.
Special thanks to Dan Mathieu, who photographed and filmed skateboarding at the Big-O before most of you were born and who graciously provided us with historic photos of the place. For a more in-depth look at the Big-O's history and move, we invite you to watch Dire Skates, a full lenght documentary directed by Dan for Red Bull TV in 2016! (9:30 - 14:22)
SEE YOU AT THE BIG-O ON JULY 1ST!
KNOW YOUR HISTORY
Originally built in 1976 for the Montreal Summer Olympics, the Big-O was the entrance for athletes to access the stadium where Athletics competitions were being held. At first, the O was also covered in rubber, but not long after the Olympics, skaters saw the potential and ripped all the rubber from the structure, revealing smooth concrete underneath.
The popularity of the spot didn’t only come from the fact that it was a perfectly smooth, natural concrete mini-ramp, but it was also one of the only places in the city where you could find real concrete transitions to skate on.
In Montreal, there was no cement park, so we used the Big-O - Marc Tison – Dire Skates, Red Bull TV, 2016
During the decades to come, this spot would become an emblem of the Montreal skate scene and people from all over the world traveled to the city to experience the pipe. In 2008, the spot even got featured in Thrasher Magazine’s book “Epic Spots: The place you must skate before you die”.
Your trucks Bark when you grind, the surface feels so good under your wheels. - Marc Tison, Dire Skates, Red Bull TV, 2016
THE BIG MOVE
Despite its popularity and importance in the skateboarding community, the Big-O has faced its fair share of challenges over the years, to the point of almost getting demolished in the early 2010s when the Montreal soccer team announced plans to expand their stadium.
When the news got out that the Big-O was in danger, skaters immediately fought back. The community rallied together and launched a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of preserving the skate spot for future generations. These efforts paid off as the soccer stadium owner Joey Saputo eventually started to work with the skateboarding community to find a solution that could potentially save the Big-O from being destroyed.
According to many who were involved, Mr. Saputo was a real gentlemen in this situation and his love for sports convinced him to try and help solve this issue. Only thing is saving the Big-O would not be easy... To avoid its demolition, they had to find a way to move it somewhere else.
How the hell do you move that thing? - Marc Tison, Dire Skates, Red Bull TV
Thanks to Joey Saputo, a moving company that could take on the mission was found. With some heavy machinery and meticulous work, they were able to move this insane piece of concrete to its new location, where it still lays today. Some even say that the angle of the pipe is the exact same as it was at its original location.
I remember when we did the reopening in 2013. We could feel that what we had done by keeping the Big-O meant a lot to a lot of people. - Joey Saputo, Dire Skates, Red Bull TV, 2016
It’s untouchable. It’s now protected and preserved as a heritage skateboarding spot - Barry Walsh, Dire Skates, Red Bull TV, 2016
The rebirth of the Big O is not just a victory for the skateboarding community, but it is also a testament to the power of grassroots activism. The skateboarding community was able to come together to save a spot that was important to them, and won. This is what we will be celebrating on July 1st.
JOIN US ON JULY FIRST AS WE CELEBRATE 10 YEARS OF THE BIG O REBIRTH!