The nineteen-year-long tradition only depicts the bright future of the Pannonian Challenge.
Certainly, some twenty years ago, nobody expected that Osijek, although widely known as a city of sport and good entertainment, would become the regional centre of urban culture. Simple idea of a few enthusiasts, which began to be born in mid ‘90s, soon woke up the hope of many extreme sports fans. In other words, this was the idea of a unique festival that would combine BMX, INLINE and SKATE competitions in a relaxed and chill atmosphere topped off with an evening of energetic parties and concerts. That idea has become the recipe for success of Pannonian Challenge, now globally known festival of extreme sports, which celebrates its 20 th birthday this year. It is always good to remember the modest beginnings, which ultimately led to Pannonian Challenge being one of the largest Osijek brands.
– It should be emphasized that the BMX and SKATE scenes in Osijek have a long tradition, they have been present since the mid-1980s, and were created by individuals who launched the Pannonian Challenge itself. The first informal BMX competition was held back in 1989 on the area of the rowing club Iktus, but then, unfortunately, there was a great silence during the difficult period of the Homeland War. But even after all the difficulties, extreme sports still managed to survive in Osijek, as a kind rebellion of youth through a specific subculture. In the mid-90s, the athletes continued to gather in the main square, today’s Ante Starcevic Square, until they discovered the space of Iktus, which in 1997 served as the first proper SKATE competition. Samir Kurtagić, Robert Janz, Slaven Getoš and Daniel Martin Kukučka, with me, were the main organizers of these first competitions, so they can be considered as the founders of the Pannonian Challenge. – explains Zdenko Liška, one of the first Osijek’s extreme sports enthusiasts and today’s Pannonian association president.
The first more formal competition was held under the name “Tko prvi govno mrvi” (i.e. he who comes in first doesn’t get anything). It is considered to be “zero” edition of Pannonian Challenge, after which the first contours of the extensive skate park began to appear at the Osijek high school playground. A year later, in 1999, the first official Pannonian Challenge was held, which immediately attracted a considerable number of spectators, while on the fourth edition the entire story came together with the performances of well-known local urban bands Debeli predcjednik and Gužva u 16-ercu, as well as DJs – like Sly and Omer, who were in charge of making a good atmosphere.
Modern and well engineered skate park, with an excellent organization of the competition itself, then began to attract an increasing number of athletes to the next Pannonian Challenge edition, which is why the capacities of the high school playground soon became too small. The biggest turning point happened in 2013, when the entire skate park, and thus the festival, moved to a much larger area on the left bank of the river Drava, near the popular Copacabana beach. Numerous sponsors then began to recognize the significance of Pannonian Challenge for the whole region, but also for the very development of extreme sports, which is why the festival began to grow unstoppably. That reputation has attracted the best athletes and numerous visitors in recent years.
– – I think we’ve created a brand with our friends and fellow citizens, a fascinating event that everyone likes to put down in their calendars, as it does not leave indifferent even the world’s biggest names in sports, music or business world. We organized Pannonian Challenge, and to this day we still do today it primarily for the young, because of the city because of the message that is important: “It can be done, we must try, we shouldn’t give up!” – says Jurica Barać, project manager of the Pannonian Challenge, pointing out that extreme or urban sport belongs to a group of “lifestyle” sports, precisely because it is lived all year round, through collaboration, support and socializing with other enthusiasts.
This unique lifestyle story will be presented on this year’s jubille 20th edition of Pannonian Challenge, which will bring a ton of adrenaline filled entertainment to Osijek. How far the festival came from its beginnings can be seen in the fact that world’s top BMX, skate and inline athletes are regular competitors every year. Also, compared to the local bands’ first performances fifteen years ago, this year’s edition will host the best names of regional music scene. Thanks to this renowned adrenaline festival, Osijek has started to live the urban story all year long, as the modern skate park has become a training camp for many extreme athletes preparing for the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.