High-flying Jackalope catches Hawk

Jamie O'Meara

There may be no guarantees in life, but Jackalope, Canada’s largest action sports festival, can always be relied upon to raise the bar, getting bigger, broader and badder with every successive edition. This year is no exception as the fest welcomes “The Birdman,” skateboard legend Tony Hawk, and Québec homegrown pro skater PLG as part of the exceptional action madness.

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Jack-a-whaaat?

Named for the fabled and fearsome part jackrabbit/part antelope creature of lore, Montréal’s Jackalope action sports fest, now in its sixth year, is fierce in its own right. Over the course of three days (August 18-20) on the Esplanade of the Olympic Stadium, the festival will be satiating adrenaline junkies with competitions in several sports including World Cup Skateboarding, base jumping, rock climbing, fixed gear cycling, freestyle motocross and slackline. Also taking place are numerous demos in a variety of disciplines and a head-spinning array of participatory sports and other activities designed to keep both athletes and attendees active and entertained.

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Cuckoo for Loko

Helping kickstart Jackalope on Friday, August 18 is the new “Four Loko Challenge,” which comes wrapped in its very own shroud of mystery. “We can’t really talk about it much, but I can say there will be $1,500 in cash prizes,” says Micah Desforges, president of Tribu Expérientiel, which produces Jackalope. “There are basically going to be funky/funny challenges that will be unveiled one after the other. We’re going to keep it as a surprise, but it’s going to be an interesting, high energy show with good performances that are more about the crazy stuff.”

Jackalope soars with Hawk and PLG

Jackalope seriously steps up its game this year with the addition of skateboarding titan Tony Hawk, and Québec competition skateboarding phenomenon Pierre-Luc Gagnon, a.k.a. PLG. Taking place on the Saturday night (with a rain date on Sunday if the weather isn’t as stoked about this as everyone else), Hawk and PLG will execute on a custom made vert ramp. “It’s a 45-minute demo,” explains Desforges, “and we’re building a half-pipe just for them. It’s a 14-foot half-pipe, which we’ll be bringing back year after year.” This will be, in a word, unforgettable.

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The stars align for World Cup

The action fest is also rife with established and up-and-coming stars of skateboarding, many of whom are likely to be at the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020 when skateboarding makes its debut. They’ll be competing over three days in World Cup Skateboarding 2017, which feature’s both men’s and women’s divisions with a total purse of $10,000. “Everyone who’s coming is interesting in some regard,” says Desforges. “Especially underdogs, like a guy from Morocco called Nassim Lachhab. This guy’s been under the radar for a couple of years, and he’s one to watch for sure.” Desforges also cites veterans like Greg Lutzka and Dave Bachinsky, as well as Cody McEntire, Lizzie Armanto and Elliot Sloan among the many to watch out for.

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Something nuts for everyone

Jackalope is way more than just skateboarding though: rock climbing competitions, the Milot Land Tour (the largest freestyle motocross tour in the country), fixed gear bicycle racing and, back for the second year in a row, the “Jump Off” base jump competition. “Basically, it’s 10 guys jumping from the top of the Olympic Tower with a parachute, and they have to land on a target bullseye on the Esplanade inside the festival. It’s pretty stressful to watch them jump because of the cables, the roof and everything. They have to open the parachute right away, but it’s really about precision.”

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“Participaction” is the name of these games

In addition to advancing action sports, Jackalope’s stated mission is to inspire people to participate in sports and stay active. And they’re not short of ideas. Also on tap are almost innumerable free activities, including bubble soccer, axe throwing, slacklining, balance board yoga, an obstacle course, a one-wheel race, a water gun fight, and a special rock climbing wall and skate park for beginners. And important to note: kids 10 years and under get in to Jackalope for free. “When you come to Jackalope you can experience world-class athletes,” says Desforges, “but we’re also really trying to get more and more activities so that people will come and do crazy stuff that they wouldn’t normally do.”

Jamie O’Meara

Jamie O’Meara, blogger

Jamie O’Meara is a writer for The Montreal Gazette, C2 Montréal, Moment Factory and more. He also manages the PR Team at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.

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