words and photos: Aaron Blatt

The massive scaffolding, wild crowds, and stadium settings that comprise Air & Style have lent themselves to iconic photographs for as long as I can remember. As a photographer, I've always wanted to go. The thought of cruising to Asia to shoot the Beijing leg of the Air & Style tour came together while talking to my pal, Preston G. Strout, who was heading over to announce the event. In the final hour, I picked up tickets, lined up a Visa (delivered by DHL hours before my flight, yikes) and hopped a 747 (the one with the upper deck!) to China. Once there, I cruised the city with Eric Willett and Sage Kotsenburg. We took some snapshots with the locals, drank a grip of Tsing Tao's, and ate scorpions. The city and architecture were amazing, and the people were excited to meet us despite a heavy language barrier.

The contest itself was split into two days with a head-to-head format throughout, narrowing down the pack to a four rider superfinal on Saturday night. There were a million triple corks and a few stylish airs, too. The tightest thing I saw was Niklas Mattsson hold out a shifty at the end of a back three. Good grief, it looked so good. The superfinal finished dramatically with Emil Ulsletten, the last man to drop, taking the win with a switch backside triple cork 1440. He was followed up on the podium by Stale Sandbech, and Torgier Bergrem.