For the eighteenth year in a row, Croatian town of Osijek was European capital of extreme sports, at least for the duration of the Pannonian Challenge Extreme Sports and Music Festival. Year after year, this event brings together some of the best BMX riders, inline bladers, and skateboarders, while offering a variety of concerts and parties.
The first day, as usual, was reserved for a welcoming party with performances from local DJ's Omer and Umbo, along with the opening of the photo exhibition at the old town fortress. However, it was day two where the real thing started. The inline contest was filled with massive tricks and some amazing runs, but the winner could be only one, and this time, it was the current world champion Roman Abrate. The second place went to Dutch rider Sven Boekhorst, while French legend Stephane Alfano took the third. The British rider, and ex-winner, Joe Atkinson came in fourth, while another ex-Pannonian Challenge champion and crowd-favorite Tin Hadžiomerspahić took the sixth place. My attention was also caught by French rider Mathieu Heinemann and his unique parkour-influenced style. In the amateur contest, the first three places went to Romanian riders Valentin Moise, Alex Gheorfi, and Sorin Coseraru.
Day three was reserved for skateboarders, and like usual, it was the amateur contest that opened the day. All three first places in this category went to Croatian riders - Antonio Horvat was third, Marin Srzentić second, while local rider Toni Despot took the first place. Pro category brought some heavy runs, with Brazilian rider Lucas Alves being the best. The second place went to Croatian rider Bruno Vranić, while 2015' winner Antonio Peković took the third. Unfortunately, we couldn't see the best out of one more ex-champion, Slovenian rider Timotej Lampe Ignjić, who took the hard slam in his first run and had to call it for the day. We wish him the speedy recovery!
The last, fourth day, was all about BMX. Although the dates collided with X Games qualification event and some of the top riders, there was still enough firepower to keep every BMX fans on the edge of his seat. But let's start with the amateurs. The first place was taken by 12-year old Slovenian prodigy Jaka Remec, with French rider Jessie Ortega following in second, and Kornél Ficsór from Hungary in third place. Like the previous days, all three riders automatically advanced to pro finals, where Remec also impressed in pro finals, taking thirteenth place among 19 riders and throwing a massive double tailwhip in the last trick section.
In the pro category, we didn't see as much competition as some previous years, as the difference in skill level from different rides was maybe a bit too obvious. The contest was dominated by two superstars - last years winner and current world champion Logan Martin who regain the title, and Croatian rider Marin Ranteš who came in second. The third place, with a solid gap between him and the first two riders, went to Czech rider Erik Figar. To me, personally, a joy to watch was run from Austrian rider Senad Grošić, veteran, legend, and the long-time ambassador of the event, who came in sixth. Czech killer Michael Beran was also present, but due to injury, he didn't ride but instead took the mentor duties to a few of his countrymen who did.
Along with the contests and the photo exhibition, Pannonian Challenge offers so much more. During three competitive days, the skatepark also hosted a skills challenge, breakdance contest, flatland BMX demo, while a group of street artists got the chance to showcase their work and paint on the site. Every day ended with concerts from some of the leading local and regional acts, providing visitors a memorable experience and showcasing all aspects of the urban culture. No wonder it lasts for so long.