Flatmattersonline - The Faces behind the 2021 Ruhr Games: Andy Zeiss & Frank Lukas Interview

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URL of the article: http://www.flatmattersonline.com/the-faces-behind-the-2021-ruhr-games-andy-zeiss-frank-lukas-interview
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Intro/Interview: Effraim.
Photos: Andy Zeiss and Ingmar Sprenger.

It’s been a few years since I was at the Ruhr Games, and this year’s event is just a few weeks away. The first big live flatland event on the calendar since Covid 19 began to my knowledge, so there are of course a lot of questions during these uncertain times. Today I catch up Andy Zeiss and Frank Lukas who are working on the event together, it’s time to meet the faces behind the 2021 Ruhr Games flatland organisation!!!

Hey guys, lot of history with you guys working together on events together? When did you get involved with Ruhr Games?
Andy: Frank and my friendship goes way back to the mid 90s. And then of course I involved him whenever I had the chance to work on Flatland events. His expertise and input are second-to-none and super valuable for the projects. No matter if for COB’s, Flow Combo, rebeljams, Ruhr Games, or now the UEC Euro Champs under the Ruhr Games umbrella. Frank was part of Ruhr Games a little earlier than myself actually, I believe as a judge. I joined their team in 2019.

What’s the deal with the Ruhr Games? It doesn’t happen every year right?
Andy: They started in 2013 and take place every 2 years, in the odd years. 2019 being the most successful year yet.

What are Frank’s responsibilities with the event? I presume running the flatland side of things?
Frank: I ended up being their cover boy. When they asked me to do the photo shoot, I was like: ok let’s do it. But I am 40 and not the kind of juvenile looking dude any more so I tried hard to cover my grey beard by looking downward towards the concrete in a steamroller position.
I’ll be the head judge of the contest and I will take care that decisions will be made even in difficult moments.

Andy: 100%. There’s a lot of things to discuss and evaluate, but Frank is my counterpart for the Flatland sports side. While I have all conversations with the project team, federation, production team, etc., he covers the judges, athlete concerns, scoring, floor needs, etc.

With Covid 19, it’s really tough to host an event right now. Give us an idea of how much more work you have to do than you normally would?
Andy: Well, where do I start, lol. I mean, we’re still dealing with the pandemic on the daily. It’s dominating and dictating everything these days. To make a very long story short, in a very uncertain time, the Ruhr Games team decided to hold this years event non-public and digitally only. That said, the health and safety precautions that were put in place for all sports and athletes are as best possible with an amazing concept. Our main priority is everyone’s wellbeing and to ensure that, the extra effort and work load is tremendous.

Frank: I was also asked a couple of times by other riders what’s the covid situation, and how we gonna handle it. But things are changing so fast and what’s a rule today can be totally different tomorrow. It’s a totally new situation for everybody. But I can say one thing. I am really stoked to be at a contest soon. So stoked about it.

When is the Ruhr Games happening? And where?
Andy: This years event will be June 3-6, but with the Flatland events taking place on the 3rd and 4th – also to make sure Athletes can still attend the World Champs in France from June 6 on. Hosting city will be Bochum, welcoming the event and its athletes in the VfL Bochum Vonovia Stadium.

The event is also hosting the euro championships. Is the event open to anyone to enter, I imagine there isn’t ranking yet right?
Andy: Yes, in fact all Flatland events in Women’s and Mens class, will be the very first and official UEC Bmx Flatland European Championship title events. Very proud about that. That said, they’re fully sanctioned and recognized by the UCI and Nations and Athletes can score points for their rankings. You’re right, since there wasn’t any UCI points ranking event in 2020, it seemed not right only taking the 2019 events into consideration. Also, since there wasn’t any qualification process in place for the Euro Champs. So the UEC made the fair decision to offer two spots per gender to all European Nations. We believe it’s a fair call and solid start.

What’s the format for flatland?
Andy: It’s under the official UCI format regulations.
All rules come from the UCI rule book. 3 Minutes runs (Qualification and Final) and the last Trick has to be in time otherwise the combo won’t count.
It will be judged on overall impression, including but not limited to:
Difficulty, Flow/Style, Originality, Consistency, Variety, Execution
Riders have to have a license that must be shown at the riders confirmation.

RIDERS CONFIRMATION: WEDNESDAY 2 JUNE 5.00 PM – 6.30 PM AT THE CENTER COURT P1,

VONOVIA RUHRSTADION, CASTROPER STR. 135, 44791 BOCHUM, GERMANY.

During Riders’ Confirmation each rider or their representative must attend to verify their intention to start in the competition.

Who’s judging the event?
Andy: Stoked to have an elite judging panel in place, including Mike Steingräber, Alexis Desolneux, yourself (Effraim Catlow) and Frank will be overseeing it as a head judge.

Besides flatland, what else is happening at the Ruhr Games?
Andy: A lot actually. It’s a very inclusive multi sport event platform with 16 different sporting events. Next to Bmx Flatland, there is a Bmx Spine comp, a Skate miniramp comp (both held as an invitational) and FMX demos in the Action Sports department. On top there are sports as Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Archery, Boxing, Judo, Table Tennis, Speed Climbing, just to mention a few.

Sounds great! Thanks a lot guys, see you in a few weeks! It will be great to be back judging a live event….

Information on the Ruhr Games / UEC Euro Champs:

http://www.uec.ch/resources/2021%20Events/bmx%20flatland/2021_UEC_BMX_Freestyle_Flatland_European_Championships_Bochum_GER.pdf

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