Sports | Community and competition at the Poser Game

David Bouthillier talks to The Daily about the 16th annual skateboarding championship

The mood was laid-back at the 16th annual Montreal City Hall Poser Game Championship on September 17, as competitors successively landed elaborate skateboarding tricks in mounting difficulty.

Around fifty spectators mingled and took advantage of the free beer while the 12 skaters practiced tricks in the lead-up to the game. Poser is a popular skateboarding game, though usually not played in a competitive setting. Contestants attempt a series of skateboarding tricks; for each trick a person misses, they receive a letter of the word “poser.” Once they receive all five letters, they are disqualified. After a few quick words from the two judges and the organizer, David “Boots” Bouthillier, the game was on.

This year’s competition came down to Zander Mitchell and Will Marshall in the final round. Mitchell won last year’s competition convincingly, and, while Marshall gave him a run for his money, Mitchell returned to take out the 16th annual City Hall championship.

A grassroots skateboarding competition, The Poser Game Championship has maintained its chill feel year after year, despite an increasingly large following. Bernard Mailhot organized the competition in its first two years, and Bouthillier took over the competition in its third year and has been working to keep it going ever since.

Due to municipal government regulations, this hasn’t exactly been an easy task. Skateboarding is illegal in Montreal’s public parks, and there is a general consensus amongst local skaters that designated skate parks are subpar. This has forced the annual championship to shift its location several times in recent years (sometimes mid-game). In fact, in its first year the contestants had to move the event from its initial location at City Hall.

“The spirit of the game is from City Hall because City Hall is where we used to skateboard in the early nineties,” Bouthillier explained. “It was the place to meet up and skate, so that’s why it’s still called the Montreal City Hall Championship Poser Game. But we’re no longer doing the contest there, because we can’t get away with what we’re doing here now.

However, headway is being made. Bouthillier and the Société des Arts Technologiques recently led the charge in legalizing the sport at Peace Park, the popular skateboarding location. Montreal mayor Denis Coderre heard their call, backing a pilot project that led to the legalization of skateboarding at the Park.

Despite these outside tensions, events like The City Hall Poser Game exemplify the accessible nature of Montreal’s skateboarding community. Bouthillier highlighted how open the local scene is to newcomers and travellers: “It’s a tight-knit community, but it’s very accepting, so when people come to visit, we welcome them.” That sense of community was certainly present at this year’s competition, as some of the winners from the past 16 years returned to judge.

After 16 years of trial and persistence, the Montreal City Hall Poser Game is here to stay. Providing a low-pressure environment to compete, the City Hall Championship brings together the skating community in a city where it has often been a challenge for that community to even exist.