Van Jam 3 has come and gone. For the 3rd year in a row, the lovely folks at Terra Kendama put on an amazing event with some amazing players that came in from all around the world.
This year, I had the opportunity to fly out to visit the Terra Kendama shop and meet the people behind it all. I began my Canadian adventure on a Tuesday afternoon, my plane landed and I caught a train to meet up with Alex Smith and Eric Martin. They picked me up from the station & took me back to Alex’s house to drop my things off before heading to the shop for the weekly jam. While walking into his house, I was greeted by Kristin Olinyk, part owner of Terra Kendama, she was working hard on some crazy new designs for new products and shirts. After they got some business done at their house we made our way to the shop.
If you ever visit Vancouver, just remember the only way to get around that city is to ride a bike. So we mounted up and began pedaling to the shop. Arriving at the shop was a real highlight moment of the trip, seeing the Kendama wall filled with every type of Kendama you can think of and just thinking about the history of some of the rare gems that were there was amazing. I then experienced one of their jams, which was super chill and relaxed. We hung out at the shop after the kids left to wait around for one special person to come in. I did not know who it was until they got there and it turned out to be a legendary member from WKT Zack Winters! When he got there we hung out and jammed for a bit more and headed back to the house for the night.
The next few days were pretty much the same routine but the exciting about it was that each day we got to explore the city little by little. Now I’m not what you call in shape but for this week I got the workout I’ve needed. Biking through the city was so amazing, we got to see the different cultures that make up this city while learning about its great history. The eating experience in Vancouver was amazing also. I got to try some the freshest fish I’ve had in years and I also got to visit the amazing local breweries that were everywhere.
After of a couple of days of hanging out, different Terra people started coming into town for the event and the house started to get pretty crowded. We had Rodney Ansell coming back from his long trip from japan, the whole COTK crew, Shimao Kamishima from Gloken and Chad Covington owner of SOL Kendamas all fly into town at the same time the day before the event. Also the entire Calgary crew containing Stephanie Lussier, Micha Logan, David Forrest, Jarrod Porter and Connor Aubrecht showed up with the last two players from San Francisco, Matt Rice and Mr. Sourmash.
This year VAN Jam was a 2-day event with mini games like lighthouse races, unicorn, spike offs and many more. Then they had unique events like the wall races on the famous dama wall with 98 different types of Kendamas ranging from metal to wood to plastic. Then you have the KEN tournaments, but in the eyes of the people at Terra KEN games are for children and DAMA games are for adults. So we prepared to play a large game of DAMA, and to be honest it really made the games more interesting to play. Yours truly did not make it past the first rounds in either amature or pro, but honestly I was just very happy to be able to go and compete. Also the players that competed were very good. For day 1 the Amateur players took the stage and competed hard with some awesome tricks thrown around. The winner of the round was Portland local Nick Edmonds. Congrats dude! The following day was for the PRO players and 26 players from around the world competed to win a hand turned Terra ken made by Alex himself. Some truly gnarly tricks were being thrown and the matches became real nail biters. At the end of it all
It came down to Connor Aubrecht & MR. USA aka Wyatt Bray for the finals. Both played amazing with different styles of play. They both were able to keep up with each other and the match went on for at least 45 min.
In the end, Wyatt Bray came out victorious, landing one of his famous forward moon combos with down spike whirlybirds.
After all the kids were gone, the adults made their way to the city to hang and try to get some filming done before the sun disappeared, but in true Kendama fam fashion we made one pit stop for some person to do something and turns out we stayed there until late in the night. We did get some filming done with some photoshoots on the side. Then we started making our way back to the shop for another couple of hours of playing some Super Smash Bros (COTK cough cough) and dama time while still stacking clips for some people.Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and around 3-4 in the morning is when we had to say good-bye to the Calgary fam and Chad Covington. He was leaving to make his flight back to Kentucky for school the next day. The next day the COTK crew left to make their way back to Portland. That morning the whole Terra crew, Mash, Shimao, Zack, Shawn (local shredder) and myself went up to north Vancouver to a shop called BC Playthings. Mr. Sourmash was doing a painting session for the store so we thought it would be a perfect time to explore parts of Vancouver that you couldn’t see in the city. The people who run BC were super nice and very grateful to all of us who went up there to hang out. It was great to see this shop that I remember sending products to right before coming to Vancouver. It’s a really cool feeling walking into a store that you packed for and seeing our product on the shelves when you get there. After the event at BC playthings we all headed back to Alex and Kristian’s place for a home cooked meal. Shimao brought some fresh wasabi root for Alex and Kristian as a thank you for letting him stay with them. The night was filled watching old skate videos and video games, while stories and jokes were being told through the whole night. The next morning came with sadness all around while we shared the last breakfast we were all having together. We had to say goodbye to Matt Rice and Mr. Sourmash as they make their trips back home. Not soon after they left we had to hop in Rodney’s van to drop Shimao off at the Airport so he could make his way home to his wife in Japan. After realizing that I was leaving in a couple short hours Rod, Eric, Kristian, Zack, and myself went for a bike ride through the city one last time to visit some really cool jam spots. After that we made our way to the last jam night for me until next year, but before we stopped at this food spot to pick up some authentic poutine. It tasted like it did when I was a kid and made it so worth the wait to have it at the end of this amazing trip. So jam night came and I got to see some local players that I’ve gotten to know over the past week and got to say my final goodbyes to them. Jam night ended and I had to rush to the airport luckily there’s a train stop right down the street from the shop so the terra crew walked me down to the stop so we could say our final goodbyes to each other. The experiences/ memories are going to be life lasting. I want to give a special thanks to Alex and Kristian for having spot for me to sleep while I was there and showing me these amazing spots around your beautiful city. Can’t wait to go back next year for VAN jam 4. Till Next year