The Traveller Returns
Fritz Peitzner reflects on his lengthy journey with close friend Josh Glowicki and discusses his plans to resume globetrotting as soon as possible.
Fritz Peitzner is back in his home state of Texas after a nine month sabbatical from the USA with blade buddy Josh Glowicki. The childhood friends pooled all of the money they were planning on using as a deposit for an apartment and their respective life savings in order to fund the journey of a lifetime. What originally started as a plan to move to Berlin for several months soon turned into a seemingly-endless country-hopping adventure after the pair met some knowledgeable locals at Winterclash that advised there are better European cities for blading during the harsh winter months. “The plan was to move to Berlin for three months after Winterclash, but as soon as we met up with everyone they told us that Barcelona would be cheaper and better around that time so we ended up there.”
Once in Barcelona, the pair began documenting their journey with regular online podcasts for boot sponsor Razors. The first edit featured fellow teammate, and former Wheel Scene alumni Tyron Ballantine, and became an instant online hit. After that, the man behind Razors gave them a list of must attend events and supplied the plane tickets to get there. He was also kind enough to provide a little bit of spending money for daily essentials like accommodation and food. Although, from the looks of their videos, it seems highly plausible that a lot of this money was spent on funding late night, post-skating activities.
“When we got to Barcelona we made our first edit and informed Andy from Razors about our plans to travel around and film while we were out there. He hooked us up with a list of events and dates and we just went to everything – nine months in total.”
From there, the duo travelled across Europe and made appearances at some of the continent’s biggest blading competitions, capturing everything that they witnessed in various online edits, aptly titled Fritz and Glow Invade Europe. They even ventured to Russia for a brief period to see what the Soviet Union had to offer in terms of skate spots and partying. Their antics have become infamous throughout the blading world and it is highly unlikely that anyone with an internet connection has not witnessed one of their highly entertaining video diaries.
Throughout their journey, the pair travelled to many countries including Holland, Germany, Italy and Poland, but it was a certain fateful night in France that sticks out in Peitzner’s mind when reflecting on some of the crazy events that took place during their travels.
“I had a pretty scary moment on tour in France while visiting Maxime Kind and Freddy White,” he begins. “I was in party mode one night and no one wanted to go out so I went alone to the bars that were only a 15-minute walk away. I already had two maximators in my system and was feeling pretty good so I started mingling with a group of people who got me totally wasted. At around three in the morning I started walking towards the house but got completely lost and ended up at the same cathedral like five times. I had no phone or address and I was worried that if I didn’t find the house I would have to sleep at the cathedral and possibly wait there for them to come find me. Luckily, I kept walking in circles for two hours until I finally found the place.”
When most Americans come to Europe, they are quick to notice many cultural and visual differences between their host country and their homeland. After all, the dichotomy between the EU and the US is glaringly obvious from the moment one steps off the plane. From an aesthetic perspective, the roads are distinctly narrower on this side of the Atlantic, the buildings are older, the food is considered to be a little more obscure and the weather shifts dramatically from country to country. However, it was the bathroom facilities that provided the biggest surprise for the travelling Texan. “I guess the only odd thing that I found was that some places didn’t have seats on the toilet and I hated it,” says Peitzner. “Oh, and sometimes the showers and toilets had no separation so you had to be extra careful not to get the place all wet.”
During their journey, Peitzner and Glowicki spent quite a lot of time in Poland and enjoyed the hospitality of the Hedonskate crew, fronted by shop owner Mirek Ragan. In one of their final edits, they give an insight into what life is like living and travelling with the bedrock of the country’s rollerblading scene. Being in the spiritual homeland of vodka, the pair decided to consume as much of the ethanol-based substance as their bodies could handle. This did not always produce the best outcomes. “Oh God, there were many good and bad effects from the vodka – it’s a good thing we were with professionals. Josh went to jail in Poland and threw up on a girl – those were pretty bad times.”
It would seem that one night, after a few too many shots of Poland’s most popular export, Josh Glowicki became a little mischievous and, alongside Latvian blading poster boy Nils Jansons, the pair decided to have a race over various cars parked along the side of the street in their drunken haze. What they thought was simply some harmless, if not destructive, fun was not the opinion shared by the local police and the pair found themselves on the receiving end of some standard-issue batons and a night spend in a cell to sleep it off. “I could not believe it when I saw the cops give them the beat down and cuff them but we could not do anything to stop them,” recounts Peitzner.
Since returning to Texas, Peitzner has been helping his father doing stone work and trying to fit in as much skating as possible around his other commitments. Although he admits that nine months of fun has taken its toll on his finances and he is now struggling to regain enough funds to pay for more plane tickets. “I have been saving to get back out there hopefully for summer but since we came home I’m super broke,” he says. “It’s been tough getting back to normal.”
Now safely secure in the bosom of his family home and after a few months spent regaining some kind of routine that does not involve waking up on a strange floor uncertain of which country it may be in, Peitzner has had time to consider his future and put together a blueprint of goals that he would like to achieve in the foreseeable future. These plans involve work, further educations and, of course, rollerblading. Although he is not quite sure which one is going to take priority for the time being. “I’m going to be busy juggling everything I want this year between skating, going to school, working with my dad and getting back to Europe. I’m kind of just going with what comes first.”
He may not be entirely certain what he is going to do next, but being back in the Lone Star State has offered Peitzner the opportunity to get some more filming done. He has a full-length section in the upcoming Texas video Dag Days, which was put together by close friend Anthony Medina and will feature profiles on Josh Glowicki and Mason Richard.
The hawk-eyed amongst you will notice that some of the photos in this feature was taken at Eisenbergs Skatepark in Plano while the ramps were being deconstructed. The park is now closed after more than 15 years as a home for skaters and the venue for the infamous annual Hoedown. When talking about the skatepark that kick-started so many love affairs with blading, Peitzner is the first to admit that it was pivotal in his passion for the sport. “Eisenbergs was a huge part of the Texas scene. If it wasn’t for them a lot of people wouldn’t have ever even touched skates. I grew up skating there and so did most of my friends. They are currently still looking for a place and have plans to make it more of a camp.”
Like many people that have a strong interest in the culture of blading, Peitzner is concerned about what lies ahead and believe that one of the main reasons that it is struggling to regain any kind of recognition, both from mainstream media and other extreme sports, is due to the fact that there is so much negativity and internalised hatred within the sport. “I think people voice their opinion way too much about the state of our sport and what others are doing for it,” he says. “Our sport is supposed to be fun and an outlet for people to be themselves. The cool thing about it is I can be friends with all sorts of people. Rollerblading is going as far as we let it go and all we need is to let it happen.”
While it is important for each individual to voice their opinion in order to improve products, brand image and even an individual skater’s development in order to strive towards a greater good, Peitzner is of the belief that many people simply use online forums and websites as an excuse fuel harmful rumours and gossip without any consideration for the feelings of the people involved or the effect that is has on other people’s perception of what we do.
“I hate to see these comments and hear people speak in person about shit they have no idea about. Some of these fuckers have only been skating for a short amount of time and they’re already repeating shit they hear.”
However, when it comes to the sport, he is pleased to see that, for the most part, skaters have stepped back from trying to kill themselves for the sake of creating a spectacle. Gone are the days of people doing sketchy front flips at X Games simply to incite hysteria from the crowd. Many individuals within the sport have worked hard over the past ten years to establish the fundamentals and more young skaters are taking the time to learn the basics properly before going for the big stunts, although Peitzner believes there is still a long way to go.
“I think that some people are slowing down and actually learning tricks and not going out and looking like an idiot in front of spectators when they skate, but I think some kids got the wrong idea and are confused with the whole style thing. Regardless, there aren’t so many people going out to kill themselves and that’s good (laughs). It makes rollerblading look fun and easy when people look like they know how to skate. I think Europe is the place to be because of the variety of skaters and events”
Words: David McNamara Photos: Jaysin Williams
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