Year 2000, when studded belts, frosted tips, and nu-metal were a thing. Some would say “good riddance”, the Simple Session team would say “history was made.” 🐣⠀
A group of friends (brothers Mario Kalmre, Risto Kalmre, Piret Kull, Pent Talvet, and Timo Toots and friends) decided to organize a street culture festival in Tartu, Estonia – the Pepsi Street Challenge, to celebrate the freshly opened Simple Skatepark. Guess where the competition later got its name from and you might win a follow from us!⠀
It was an exceptionally warm and sunny 27th of September and the competition was wild and already an international one – Finnish skaters, Latvian BMX legends that left a remarkable impression on the local scene. Besides the now typical BMX and skateboarding disciplines, there were also inline skating, BMX Vert and Dirt. Crazy afterparty went down in TsinkPlekkPang. Memories were made and the Estonian scene forever changed.
Check more photos and videos from the ‘Simple Session Time Machine Series #1! www.instagram.com/p/B7btkfrnNXU
The first-ever Simple Session, then known as SIMPEL Session because of the main sponsor Simpel, was born in 2001 after the success of Pepsi Street Challenge the previous year. This time around, the competition was a 2-day event and things got loose – the riding was on another level thanks to fresh obstacles, the parties were poppin’ and the Latvians went all Mortal Combat in the streets. So don’t let the name fool you, it’s never been a dull, simple competition.
Thanks to the Finnish pros, BMX Flatland was introduced to the already packed line-up of BMX Dirt, BMX Street/Park, Inline Park, Inline Vert, Skateboarding Street/park. Can you name another contest these days that is as varied? It was a hectic, adrenaline-filled weekend celebrating action sports in its absolute best form.
Even more international pros showed up for the competition: flatlander Kimmo Haakana from Finland, skateboarders Jussi Korhonen, Timo Kuulusa, Tero Malinen, Juoni Leino, Vesa Ritola, Jussi Tuominen and many more from Finland, park & vert rider Jonas Malmberg and park & ramp rider Mikael Malmberg from Sweden as well as vert rider Alex Reinke from Germany. All accompanied by many more riders and skaters from all these countries. As well as crazy Latvian dirt and park riders.
The afterparty was held at the most legendary nightclub in Tartu – Club Atlantis. This marked the beginning of a wild action sports and party festival we’ve all grown to love so much. The competition
and its tiny country were put on the map for its crazy antics on and off the course. Joe Rogan knows what we’re talking about.
The second official Simple Session was held in the sunny August of 2002 and hosted a variety of disciplines once again, this year the Skateboarding Juniors class was added for the young rippers to showcase their talent. Playing a footbag was a thing. The BMX Dirt was a true battle of gladiators – the landing was a loose pile of dirt but the dudes still kept hucking ridiculous tricks and literally eating dirt. Somebody got the bright idea to roll a car between the jumps, but who are we to judge, the spectators loved it!
In order to please the riders and make the competition more exciting, new obstacles were introduced to the skatepark. A bunch of those remained at the Tähtvere skatepark until 2017 revamp, the fresh corner pipe is, in fact, being shredded to this day. Some good quality workmanship over there for sure!
As the theme of Simple Session is riding, hanging out with friends and having one hell of a good time, music has always been a big part of the festival. Not only were the DJs dropping wicked 2step and hip-hop tunes, but this year a live band’s stage was introduced for the first time for fans of heavy music. Should we bring some Rock n Roll back to Simple Session?
2003, the year @apple launched iTunes and riders all the way from Denmark and Germany showed up for the last ever Simple Session main event held in its hometown, Tartu. Foreigners came and dominated in every discipline except for Aggressive Inline – not a well-known fact, but Estonians were and still are the kings of rollerblading, which you can obviously tell when walking on the Pirita promenade on a beautiful summer evening. ☀️#themoreyouknow
BMX Dirt was upgraded from one jump to three jumps and a roll-in, so this time you not only didn’t have to pedal from across the skatepark, but you actually had to stay on the bike for a couple of jumps for your run to count. Latvians managed to figure out what the judges were looking for and stayed consistent at that snatching up all the podium spots.
Finnish skaters Jani Mäkelä(@maksyvsp), Harri Puupponen (@harripuupponen), Timo Kuulusa (@alikuumotus) and Jouni Salo (@jouni.salo) took the top honours in skateboarding. Flatland wizards Martti Kuoppa (@marttikuoppa) and Viki Gomez (@vikigomezbmx) came to demonstrate their skills and judge the contest. German BMX badasses Robert Krömig, Markus Wilke and Sascha Claussen showed what was possible at the skatepark on a bicycle. In fact, a vast amount of stunts they did back then were still being discussed at the spot almost 15 years later.
Rumour has it that @maksyvsp will be back at #simplesession20 to compete.
2004 marks the year Simple Session decided to jump out of its diapers and become the event we know it as today. Now titled Simpel Session 04: Winter Bash!, the competition moved to the capital city and a new indoor location at Saku Suurhall allowed the event to be a wintertime jam, which meant more pro riders and skaters could join the party instead of trying to fit it in their already busy summer schedules.
This turned out to be an amazingly wize move because bigger names such as Alistair Whitton, @SebastianKeep, @DaveOsato, @TobiasWicke, @Jocke_Olsson, @BarryKohne, Chris Aström and many more showed up to please the local crowds. Unfortunately, the time schedule got tighter, which meant having to cut out BMX flatland and inline skating. This was also the year Red Bull teamed up with Simple Session and a special competition course was built for the first time.
Special shout-out to FATBMX’s Bart De Jong, who announced the competition and has been a regular to the contest ever since. He’s been announcing, judging, doing coverage and has lately been in the role of the head judge.
The first legendary afterparty was held at @VonKrahlibaar and good times were had all around.
Another huge year for Simple Session: the event was getting more POPular and changed its name to Pop! Session Winter Bash due to a slight change in the sponsors, and fans were pleased with wonderful news – there was a live broadcast for the first time, so now you could be a part of the action straight from your home wherever in the world! 🌍
On the flip side, there was a huge storm in Estonia that caused some electricity problems. We think it may have had something to do with the fact that we had an EPIC line-up of some of the biggest American names such as Ryan Nyquist, Josh Harrington and Mike Vallely, who brought the thunderstorm straight to Saku Suurhall! ☇
The dudes were killing it and our party boy Nyquist took BMX Park gold medal, Achim Kujawski in BMX Vert and the Frenchman Bastien Salabanzi in Skateboarding. It’s worth mentioning that there were also a few female skateboarders ripping the park to pieces!
Times may have been a bit more EMOtional in the mid-00s, but that didn’t stop the event from growing in numbers and popularity. There were athletes from a record amount of countries – 23 compared to 17 the previous year. Even a few names from the land down under managed to make their way over to the darker side. People were beginning to pay attention to the small Northern European country and its contest, things were getting pretty serious!
For the first time, Simple Session had a Women’s Skateboarding competition class and its very first winner was Evelin Bouillart from Belgium. Men’s Skateboarding gold was taken by Czech Tomas Vintr. BMX Park gold went to the defending champion Ryan Nyquist and the style master Simon Tabron blessed the audience with his skills in BMX Vert.
Simple Session became more than just watching the insanity go down on the spot, now you could also enjoy the best skate & BMX action in the Nokia cinema hall, where some of the trendiest action sports movies were being screened. Alis “Who Cares?” and an Estonian skateboarding movie “Lõuend” were premiered in the Simple Session program.
2007 was one of the most important years in the history of Simple Session for many reasons:
Dave Mirra, a key person in the history of BMX, the man who shaped the sport into what it is today, paid a visit to Estonia and the Simple Session course. It’s obvious why that’s still a highlight of the event to this day. We miss you dearly, Miracle Boy.
The second huge milestone for the competition that year was the same course and its design that Mirra got to lay his wheels on. This was the first year another legend in the game, Nate Wessel designed the skatepark and came to build it himself. Nate’s own fast and gnarly riding style has given him the ability to see lines nobody else would see and it’s quite clear he’s putting that skill to use when designing some of the best skateparks in the world for Woodward, the X Games and so on. This year marks the 14th year in a row the skatepark Yoda’s been blessing us with his creativity at Simple Session. Also, for the first time, there was an Open Day for the local people to enjoy the high-level skatepark once the competition was done and dusted.
There was a high air competition on a massive quarter, where two speed-maniacs, Josh Harrington and Sebastian Keep tried to aim for the roof. Josh actually made an impressive appearance on the whole course with his signature fast-paced lines, blasting to the moon and back. Unfortunately, one of those landings wasn’t exactly the softest kind and made him take the top podium spot while having his face covered in bandages. A moment to remember for sure.
For cinema fans, there was a proper Simple Session Film Festival. During the three days of it, a wide selection skate and BMX movies were screened in two cinemas. The movie list included Men At Work (first Estonian skate movie, 1999), Flybikes “Dos” premiere, Mirraco short movie premiere, Fitbikes “Fitlife”, Volume Bikes “On the clock” European premiere, Hoffman Bikes “Broke off”, “A mul meeldõb” (Estonia 2006, premiere) and many more.
By 2008 Simple Session had become a world-famous event and many of the top athletes wanted to come and see what the competition had to offer. This meant an incredible line-up like never seen before: Garrett Reynolds, Daniel Dhers, Scotty Cranmer, the Napolitan brothers, Morgan Wade, Brad Simms, Gary Young, Dan Lacey, Colin Mackay, Mark Webb, Chase Hawk, Ty Morrow, Dave Freimuth, Ruben Alcantara, Cory Nastazio and others in BMX; Sierra Fellers, Chris Pfanner, Axel Cruysberghs, Chris Haslam, Georges Agonkouin, Tony Tave, Peter Ramondetta and many other well-known names in skateboarding. It was definitely one of the coolest years we’ve had. The crowd was crazy, the venue was all sold out, there was another Movie Festival and just a lot of other wonderful stuff going on.
We had a pre-event interviews video on the internet, which spread like wildfire and instantly turned everyone a fan of Chase Hawk and his… frontflip abilities. You know what we’re talking about. And if you don’t, go check it out from the link in our bio, it’s pure gold in two parts.
When it comes to the competition itself, a lot of epic stuff was going down. There was a savage 180 long jump competition on the rather slippery floor, but that didn’t hold the guys back one inch. Ty Morrow and Garret Reynolds ended up in a tie in the end.
08 Interviews: https://vimeo.com/2165975
This year, the MasterChef Nate Wessel cooked up a fine, more street flavored masterpiece of a skatepark. This brought in a wide selection of the best street riders that wanted to get a taste of it all, and as far as we know, a large majority of them were loving it. Even the undisputed STREET-weight champion of the world Garret Reynolds made his second appearance. Yes, he won again. Axel Cruysberghs the wonder kid from Belgium took home the gold medal in skateboarding while being only 14 at the time.
Red Bull BMX Best Trick award went to the man who can bunnyhop your neck, Ty Morrow, who busted out a massive bunnyhop 540 down the Red Bull gap over a handrail. Jeremy Rogers banged out an impressive switch fs tailslide 270 out in Snickers Skate Best Trick contest. Simple Session 09 got its own TV show – Simpel Session TV, which had 4 episodes that introduced the competition and its athletes to the wider public before the event. The competition was starting to show really great statistics – 10,000 spectators and 180,000 live viewers. The riders were enjoying how crazy into it the fans were and in turn, they had to offer them an even better show. Wherever you looked in the crowd, you could see fan-made flags with their favorite riders’ names on them.
There was another summertime event – Simpel Summer Session 09 at the Freedom Square in Tallinn, where Daniel Dhers managed to take the gold even after going through a nasty frontflip crash in his first run.
Simple Session celebrated its 10 year anniversary event!
To celebrate the anniversary, a DUK documentary about the early days of BMX in Tartu (1997-2000) was released along with a retrospective series on Vimeo that included all the Simple Session contests so far.
Skateboarding superstar Ryan Sheckler made it to Estonia, but due to a previous injury couldn’t compete. The crowd wasn’t let down though because Maxim Habanec(5rd), Kris Vile(4th), Sami Miettinen(3rd), Tim Zom(2nd), Adrien Bulard(1st) delivered a spectacular show for the skateboarding fans.
On the BMX side of things, newcomers Drew Bezanson(1st) and Brett Banasiewicz(2nd) made an impressive appearance – Brett spun around a huge 720 tailwhip and Drew did the most precise footjam on a railing right in front of the judges. Dan Lacey did a mind-melting 360 hangover toothpick on the a-frame rail during the Best trick competition.
Simpel Session 10 made it on Brazilian ESPN.
In the summer, Simple Session held its first contest out of the homeland – Stadi Summer Session in Helsinki, Finland. Bruno Hoffman(1st), Ben Hennon(2nd) and Sergio Layos(3rd) killed it.
The competition was getting very intense – Brett Banasiewicz was banging out World’s Firsts such as the Cash Roll Turndown and the Cash Roll Tuck No Hander, while the leading champion Drew Bezanson decided to take a different route to the course – he entered the arena with an enormous caveman drop-in from the judges’ tower railing and did a barspin to icepick on the lower part of the very same railing.
Red Bull Highest Bunnyhop was won by Ty Morrow, who managed to clear a whopping 117cm/46.1 inches.
Ryan Sheckler, the skateboarding superstar came back, this time all healed up and won both the street-park competition and Snickers Best Trick with a Frontside Bluntslide to Backside Flip out on the big flat rail.
Aaron Ross and Tom “Dang Dang” Dugan had to miss out on Simpel Session 11 because of the big snowstorm in the US and thousands of flights being canceled. They sent in a video greeting that was shown on the big screen and LIVE webcast.
Simple Dream movie with Kristjan Aasmäe:
Following the dream-come-true story of an aspiring local BMX-rider Kristjan Aasmäe. The film was selected for the program of the 2011 Bicycle Film Festival in 26 cities worldwide. The BFF 2011 events were attended by 225,000 bike lovers.
Simple Session was put in the Skateboarding World Cup series for the first time.
Tens of thousands of passing spectators on Helsinki main square witnessed the second Stadi Summer Session, summertime edition of Simple Session, going down in the history books as the biggest BMX contest ever thrown in Finland – Darryl Nau became an announcer and Tom Dugan decided it was too hot to ride with clothes on.
Magazine Sahtel Simpel Session special edition.
The competition changed its name to Simple Session and became the most popular action sports webcast with nearly 1 million unique viewers.
Women’s BMX class named “Sister Session” was added to the competition for two years and a movie named after it was played in Bicycle Film Festivals in 30 cities worldwide.
Drew Bezanson activated his psycho-mode and did a huge Cannonball Ninjadrop off the Nescafe scissor lift. Harry Main pulled a massive 1080, which was followed by the announcer repeating “Mida v&%/u?” (what the f &%/), which he had learned the night before at the club. Then, during the award ceremony, Harry asks one of the girls to kiss him on the cheek, but snatches a quick kiss from her instead.
Gabe Brooks stepped it up in the Highest bunnyhop competition and did a 124cm/49inch hop. / Rest in Peace champion!
By 2013, technology had evolved quite a bit from the days the first live broadcasts were done and people were looking for more. And a partnership with Microsoft on Xbox gaming consoles allowed just that and for the first time the broadcast was in full HD quality.
And it wasn’t just the technology at home, these days most people were carrying smartphones in their pockets and that also meant a rise in viral dance moves, dance moves didn’t belong only to the dancefloors of the clubs anymore. During Ben Snowden’s second run the “Harlem Shake” song came on and everybody went wild with it on the course!
Fortunately, not everybody had their eyes glued to the small screens of their fresh smartphones, so Simple Session decided there was still a reason to release its own newspaper. Also, people were still keen to see film premieres at the cinemas, so Subrosa’s “Get Used To It” was amongst the highlights of the festival.
It wasn’t just the technology that was getting more complicated, it was also the tricks because Michael Beran brought out the world’s first 360 bikeflip to tailwhip, Kevin Peraza pulled the first-ever Double Decade Air and not only did it blew everyone’s minds, but it also earned young Peraza a sweet gold medal.
Kyle Baldock, on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky. He nailed perfect runs in the qualifiers but got knocked out for a couple of seconds in his first finals run. Like a true warrior that he is, he gave his all in his second run as well but passed out at the end of it. To everybody’s surprise, he still made it back on the course for his final trick, a Double Flair attempt. The man is a beast.
Just like the previous year shone with world’s firsts at the contest, this time was no different – Nick Bruce pulled the first 360 double tailwhip to downside tailwhip. Unfortunately, 2013 champion Kevin Peraza didn’t do as well this time even after qualifying first. Kevin was doing one of the wildest frontflips down a crazy step-down, but overshot it in his first Finals run and went down hard. The concrete floor of Saku Arena wasn’t forgiving to the riders this year and the American Vinny Mannino got a lot to think about after jumping straight over the volcano and casing it, which resulted in a very serious accident proving helmets to be really important.
The course was a really memorable one and is said to be one of the favorites so far. It featured a huge see-through rainbow, a mini “pool” section, a volcano, two Shadow Conspiracy coffins and an Estonian flag ramp that found some pretty impressive uses.
Female skateboarding superstar Leticia Bufoni came to Estonia to compete along with the boys. It sparked a desire to try skating in many girls and definitely a rise in the market for bandanas as accessories.
Red Bull House Media became Simple Session’s live broadcast partner.
Simple Session celebrated its 15th anniversary with a big change, the contest moved to the freshly opened Tondiraba Arena. This turned out to be a great challenge because it meant a big change in the logistics and even the locals had a hard time finding the place or where to get food from. The small shops nearby were suddenly full of people buying chips.
Simple Session 15 featured an hour and a half long documentary on NBC channel in the Red Bull Signature Series that reached over 120 million homes in the USA. Hosted by Sal Masekela and commented by Chris Doyle and NBC’s Todd Harris.
Drew Bezanson secured his 5th win at Simple Session with a wild caveman to barspin drop-in. Mike Varga came second with a 900 barspin, Peraza third. In the skateboarding competition, the Frenchman Robin Bolian took home the gold, Danny Leon silver and Egor Kaldikov bronze.
In 2016, the contest moved back to the good old Saku Arena and was represented by XDubai for the first time. This made for some fun medals to give out to the best athletes. Speaking of the best athletes, an absolute legend in the world of BMX came to congratulate Simple Session on its Super Sweet 16 – Mat “the Condor” Hoffman visited Simple Session as a judge. This was also the year the very same scene lost another one of its legends, Dave Mirra. As Mirra was known for riding a gold-plated bike at X Games, riders began painting their pedals gold in remembrance of their hero, and this was a thing at Simple Session as well. #goldpedalsformirra
A wide range of skateboarding stars showed up as well: the super creative skate magician Richie Jackson blessed the country with his majestic whiskers; Greg Lutzka, Nitro Circus skater Beaver Fleming and many other top-level athletes including one of the best females Leticia Bufoni made their way back to Simple Session 2016.
In 2017 the competition was opened by the first female president of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, and Kelly Sildaru, multiple time X Games gold medalist in Freestyle skiing. You know you’ve done something right when the president wears your brand’s shirt!
This was also the year something else had to be done right – the judging and giving credit to those who deserve it. BMX was split into two separate disciplines for more fair judging as many of the street riders were feeling their technicality wasn’t rewarded as well as the speed of the park riders. Another excellent change was having the Estonian and Russian BMX qualifiers at the competition park a day before the official Practice days. This allowed another way for more fair judging and having the best-suited representatives at the main event.
While most were scared of the massive spine ramp right after the jump box, Larry Edgar shone brightly on it while aiming for the roof and taking the win in BMX Park. The Nitro Circus skater Beaver Fleming proved that skateboarders can also blast a jump box and go upside down. He also took the flip to that insane spine ramp.
Visit Estonia ice hockey SKATE vs BMX was introduced to the program as a side event and it became somewhat of a tradition for some of the athletes. The first year felt more like the guys were just learning to skate on the real ice, but that only meant a bunch of laughs for everyone involved! Another highlight of the SS17 side program was the We The People “Foundation” premiere.
For the first time, Simple Summer Session 17 took place in Riga, Latvia right in the heart of the city, on the Freedom Monument bridge, where Kostya Andreev and Alex Donnachie walked away with their first Simple Session gold medals.
2018 was the year Estonia celebrated its 100th birthday and newcomers came swinging. Jose Torres, at the time still quite an unknown rider, dominated it in the BMX Park with fast lines and high airs while Jagger Eaton, the youngest X Games competitor took the gold in skate contest. The street lord Garrett Reynolds didn’t let anybody in his way though, bagging his 4th gold.
Statistically speaking, the fresh adult Sister Session was still growing, reaching half a billion people through TV screens and the internet. The competition was represented by KellyBar, Estonia’s action sports star’s very own snack brand. Skate movie “The Flat Earth” was screened in a cinema and a couple of the key figures were also skating at the competition.
Simple Summer Session 18 was held in a freshly built concrete skatepark in Riga, Latvia. This time around, it was purely a street competition, where Travis Hughes and Simon Stricker walked away with the top spots.
Tony Hawk and Bam Margera came to Simple Session. Margera and Austin Augie got a bit more than just a taste of the local nightlife and ended up having to wear sunglasses for the rest of their stay in the country.
Women’s Skateboarding class was brought back and the supertalented young Wondergirl Sky Brown took the win. She and her brother were all over the Estonian media, maybe getting even more attention than the old legends, who had their own special skate jam. Skateboarding movie “Skate Kitchen” about American female skateboarders screened in Apollo cinema and in other cities around the country after the event.
Kenneth Tencio started his runs with one of the most insane flip drop-ins and for sure kept the crowd on their toes. The Australian rider Boyd Hilder really showcased his skills by not only competing in both Street and Park but also bagging the gold medal in the later. His one-handed superman seat grab became an instant favorite amongst the BMX riders and pretty much a highlight of the event. Tom van den Bogaard went all in during the Pumped BMX Best trick competition with 360 quadruple downside tailwhip attempts – he was so close to landing it, but eventually got quite a good idea of what the concrete floor tasted like and couldn’t ride in the finals.
The 20th anniversary of Simple Session was a wild one, focusing a lot on the history of the event and how it’s changed the action sports scene in Estonia and the lives of the athletes that have been a part of it throughout the years.
As the biggest throwback, a Simple Session documentary by Maria Reinup, titled “Life is just a ride”, was premiered in Apollo Cinema Solaris. The movie focused on three characters during the event – Reed Stark, Madars Apse and one of the main organizers, Risto Kalmre. The premiere was sold out.
Another big throwback was bringing back the Sister Session, the women’s BMX class that had been missing from the line-up and girls proved they are hardcore and deserve to be up there in the spotlight. An Estonian girl battled hard to pull a backflip before the event for an advertisement and Angie Marino went through the worst crash of the Simple Session week – a nasty collision during practice with the Latvian Davis Licitis right above Visit Estonia gap meant for a quick trip to the hospital to get stitched up and still ride the contest. Our new partner DJI was there to capture the crash from various angles. The Swiss-American Nikita Ducarroz took the top honors with big tricks and clean runs. Silver went to the Japanese Minato Oike and bronze to the fresh Red Bull team addition Lara Lessmann.
This year, the Visit Estonia Skate VS BMX hockey game was replaced by a Game of EESTI (Estonia) and a Best Trick competition for both skateboarders and riders inside the Baltic Train Station pavilion. The idea was to give more riding time to the riders and showcase the disciplines to the general public without having to pay for a ticket. Game of EESTI winners: Alex DeCunha & Broc Raiford. Best Trick winners: Douwe Macare & Alex Kennedy. Special award for landing more than 20 bangers up and down the rail: Ke’Chaud Johnson.
A totally fresh addition to the Simple Session, the Kendama stage proved to be a great success amongst the younger generations as the Saku Arena was filled with kids playing with the Japanese toy. Current and previous world champions including the mighty Bonz Atron were blowing minds on the spot and on Estonian TV. Simple Session released their own kendamas in collaboration with KROM and Sweets Kendamas, all the 3 special models were sold out. A Skate VS BMX kendama jam took place and was broadcast live.
The Japanese prodigy Rim Nakamura celebrated his 18th birthday with an absolute bang, winning the BMX Park contest. The second place went to the current world champion Brandon Loupos and 2019 winner Boyd Hilder came third while also getting the 10th place in BMX Street. In skateboarding, the Spaniard Danny Leon took home the gold, American Ke’Chaud Johnson the silver, and German Tyler Edtmayer the bronze.