The Champ Is Here – Oskar Rozenberg Hallberg

Frontside tailslide nosegrab, Krakow. All photos by Kuba Bączkowski unless stated.

Oski the student

I sometimes get asked if I am proud of my students. I can’t say that I am. Don’t get me wrong, it is not like they do bad stuff. As you may, or may not know, some of them do really great things. If I was proud I would also be responsible and that is one bullet I’ll try to dodge for as long as I can.
Maybe grateful or jealous are more fitting descriptions. I often drop my jaw when I observe some of these people. When it comes to someone like Oski all I can take credit for is, at best, that I gave a forum where he and his classmates could meet and go wild. It was there the creative minds of Ville Wester, Tao, Oski and the rest of that crew came together for the first time. The rest is history, but it was great to see the first steps of building the nuclear power plant that Oski’s career turned into. Their classes were wild, creative and hopefully they learnt a thing or two along the way.
How do you get that good you may ask? I know the answer: you just keep going. One thing that set Oski apart from most is that he never stopped. Curiosity, stubbornness and stoke just kept winding him up. And with his classmates on the platform it became a three-year session. When things got too crazy we always made sure to grant his applications for absence by sending him to Dubai, Barcelona, LA or any other place that could harbour his energy. School was just not big enough. The big contradiction is that school is supposed to teach you to plan, be responsible and take care of your stuff, just not on school time. Oski learnt his stuff early on and we just tried to support and let life be as important as school.
On point with classes, on point on the board… He left Bryggeriets Gymnasium with a solid foundation: a few good tricks, a good head on his shoulder, a high school diploma with really good grades and plenty of friends. I got to tell Colin Kennedy, Danijel Stankovic, Pontus Alv and the rest: I did all I could; now he is your problem! What a great feeling.
In the end I stand in awe of what became of that short ripper with the kindest smile. Proud, no. Happy, yes. I hope I had an impact, but all the wins, shoes, boards and nominations… They are all his fault. Not mine.

John Dahlquist, Vice Principal at Bryggeriets Gymnasium

Alley-oop Indy over the channel, Czestochowa.

Oski getting discovered

I first saw Oski at Bryggeriets… This was when he was a little kid, before he went to high school there. I think he was there rollerskating or rollerblading, you know, just what kids do. Then at some point he picked up a skateboard. He was this tiny, mini kid… We all kind of slowly followed his progression and then I remember one winter thinking, ‘oh shit he fucking rips!’ That’s when I started to enjoy skating and jamming with him… The energy and hype he’d bring to the session was amazing. I remember very early on he was doing backside nosebluntslides on this China bank-like hip at the skatepark and that’s quite an advanced trick. I could never do them! But he was just sliding them over the hip… For some reason, even when he was a kid, that trick has always been really natural for him. Now he can do them first try in contests and on anything.
Anyway, around that time (winter 2010) David (Stenström) came to town from Stockholm and he and Oski were the first two little kids that I put on the team. I asked them when I first started Polar. I said: ‘I want you guys to be a part of this thing I’m trying to create.’ And they were down, but obviously Oski was on the Sweet flow program back then. It’s funny because he was on Sweet and getting products and I kind of said, ‘well I don’t have any products. I’m designing them… I don’t have a name either… but trust me it’s gonna be dope!’ And this now is a classic story: I remember Oski called me and said, ‘I’m quitting. I don’t want to be a part of it.’ And I said, ‘well OK, but we haven’t even got the boards yet.’ He said, ‘well I know, but I got the latest Sweet catalogue and there is a jacket that I really want so… I‘m just gonna stick around and get that. I want these Sweet products.’ And so when he was a kid he called me and quit. Then some time went by, the Polar products came, the boards came and he was so bummed when he saw people in the city (Malmö) riding them. He was like, ‘oh shit uhh…’ And I was like, ‘hey Oski it’s OK, just come skate with us. So what’s up you want to still be on?’ ‘Yeah I wanna be on. I wanna be back on.’ And so he was.

Pontus Alv, founder & owner of Polar Skateboards

Ollie, CPH. Photo: Marcel Veldman.

Oski growing up

Oski’s mother and father have always been very protective. They really care about him and make sure he’s in good hands. I remember in the early stages when Oski was getting on the team I kind of had to have like an interview with his mom basically. She wanted to check up on who I was… ‘Who is this dude?’ And she really put me up against the wall like an investigation: ‘What are your plans with Oski?’ But of course I fully understood her, because if Oski is going to travel with us to Berlin, going on road trips in a van with a bunch of guys, travelling to the UK, etc. of course she has to feel comfortable with me. She’d ask: ‘Where are you going to stay? In hotel rooms?’ Uh no actually we’re going to be squatting and sleeping on floors in the UK. Oh shit great, he’s a kid… So of course I didn’t tell her that. I didn’t want his mom to be worried… And it all worked out in the end.
Seeing Oski grow up it definitely feels like I’ve been a mentor of sorts, but not only me, Hjalte (Halberg) as well. We’ve guided them (Oski and David) and told them when to behave, how to behave, told them ‘that’s super wack and that’s lame’ and try to be nice, be cool, have a good attitude and spread the good vibes. And that’s the energy as well that you see in Oski, that happiness; when he skates it looks like he’s having fun. When he skates he’s smiling and it’s enjoyable to watch him because he’s spreading these good vibes around him… He’s always been like that naturally, but I also think that we made sure he maintained that spirit.

Klez, naked guy with a gas mask

Frontside ollie, Krakow.

Oski the professional

I’m super proud… It doesn’t matter that I am his sponsor, whatever, even as a friend or as a person who is from Malmö, watching this kid from the age of 13 or 14 to what he is today… And I’ve seen him winning all these huge competitions and coming from Malmö, he’s made it all over the world. He’s made noise all over and of course Polar and Nike have been a part of it, but he himself made all that happen. And that’s because he has a huge focus. He really wants to be one of the best skaters in the world. He wants to be like Grant Taylor; he wants to be among the best and skate with the best. He’s been determined to get to that point and here he is, doing it. It’s been amazing to watch that whole journey unfold.
It was crazy when he won the world championships, because it was exactly at the same time as his board came out with this kind of winning graphic. That graphic was already made and shipped out to stores but they actually ended up hitting shops right after he won the VPS championships. So when he came home from Shanghai I just had his pro model there waiting for him. We had a welcome home party and a pro party! The timing was just meant to be.

Ollie one-foot, Krakow.

At contests Oski handles it. He’s like, ‘OK I’m gonna go to this competition and kick ass,’ and boom he pulls it off. I mean sometimes he doesn’t but when he’s in that right mode and the whole Oski magic happens, it’s amazing to watch. I mean he actually makes those competitions fun. He brings this spontaneous skating and everything feels a bit random like ‘oh shit I’m kind of landing switch here… oh well fuck it, I’m just going switch on this one’ and then he just pulls it off. Then he gets fired up, more spontaneous and just jams. People are going crazy like, ‘what the hell is happening!?’ and he’s just creating magic. You feel the hair rising on your neck like, ‘holy shit! What the hell is happening? What am I witnessing!?’ and it’s an experience being there watching it with all the other people live. It’s amazing! I think that’s one of his biggest contributions… The whole Olympic/competition thing that we are going into now: it’s so much better with Oski involved. I wish we had more guys like him.
Overall Oski’s journey has just been amazing, but of course I can see that sometimes it’s a lot for him. He has a crazy schedule with all this Olympic stuff and all these qualifiers. Things change… When it changes from just being a skater to someone with responsibilities, deadlines, tour schedules, contest schedules it affects a person. But Oski is totally fine and maybe that’s what I’m trying to get to: he’s handling it so well and that’s why he’s the champ.

The Alv

Tail drop, Warsaw.