Meet Tenzing Tsundu Bhutia who goes by @jack_juniors_world, President of @skate_konnect. Tenzing’s passion for skateboarding was flaring at a time when skateboarding was non-existent in Gangtok, but fighting through every hurdle, he succeeded in bringing it to the forefront as a community-based sport. In the following excerpts is the inspirational story behind it all.
“Skate Konnect was formed in 2016 with one skateboard and 5
skaters- Anish, Lobzang, Namgyal, Johanan, and I. We decided to skate together at
one chosen location so that people knew where to find us and we could over time
spread skateboarding as a community-based sport in Gangtok. So, our obvious
choice for the spot was the roof top of Kanchenjunga Shopping Complex.
Over time we were able to attract a lot of kids and
teenagers to take up skateboarding. We taught them to skate and slowly taught
them the technical aspects.
The first two years were very hard for the community to keep
up with consistency. There was a time when our one and only skateboard broke.
We had to stop for a while until the next one arrived. With other founding
members finishing their graduation, some of them left Gangtok and the scene
became dry. However, after some months of no
skateboarding, a new skateboard arrived which was brought by one of our
founding members Lobzang Gyamtso from Bangalore after he completed his
internship in Goa.
Skateboarding resumed on the Complex terrace. However, over
a span of two months, our skateboard broke again and we had to stop. It was a
very depressing moment for me personally. I then took a trip to Nepal along
with my bandmates for a concert and a sister of mine had sent money to buy her
a skateboard. I came back with 2 skateboards and 1 deck. This time things
started to fall into place.
In a months time I met Mohan who was here on his vacation.
He works in Hyderabad and is one of the best skaters I know with a lot of
passion and dedication for the sport. Skating with him was great fun and together
we managed to rejuvenate the scene again. This time the bar was raised and I
personally focused more on improving myself as a skateboarder.
The scene grew. A lot of kids wanted to learn skateboarding.
The number of skateboarders grew and I knew that in order to keep this alive,
we had to find a way to increase the number of skateboards we had. We had to
find a way to make skateboards available in Gangtok.
One day, I came across a new Skateboard brand of India that
was on the verge of launching their website as a company to the people of
India. I wrote to them and shared my love of skateboarding and all of the
efforts we were making to spread the sport here. After days of communicating,
finally PISO skateboards decided to make me the first distributor for their
skateboards! This meant the world to me because this would help create a huge
opportunity for the Skate Connect community to grow.
The first lot didn’t take much time to get sold out; the
second lot, likewise. I am so happy to see skateboarding grow as a sport here.
It helps engage kids in directing their energy towards skateboarding and away
Now we have a good number of skateboarders, around 30, from
Gangtok and Namchi altogether. We aim to spread skateboarding all across Sikkim,
and our main goal is to build skate parks across every district in Sikkim.
We recently organised a Skateboarding competition cum event
under the title ‘RISE OF SKATEBOARDING IN SIKKIM’ with the aim to introduce skateboarding
as a community-based sport to the general public of Sikkim at MG Marg, Gangtok.
Skaters from France, who were in Gangtok for a brother’s wedding, were
designated judges of the event. They also donated 4 skateboards to the
community and gave 1 deck to the winner. Also, PISO Skateboards sponsored decks
for the winners, which were given to 2nd and 3rd place winners.
Now, we have ramps and rails, which we built for the event
with sponsored money. This event has motivated all skateboarders and has
strengthened the community as a family as well. We are now moving to the next
level of skateboarding by using ramps and rails. We hope to work consistently
and achieve all of our goals. Hopefully, someday we will produce professional
skateboarders from Sikkim in the near future.”