Spotlight: Garthdee

Matt Gibson sends one deep at Garthdee. Photo: Sam Longmire
Since opening in 2004, Garthdee has gone from the brink of closure to one of the UK’s most active dry slope scenes. Local shredder turned Team GB Junior Coach (and now the UK’s first Specialist Freestyle Development Coach) Ben Kinnear has seen it all – who better to tell us what’s what?

This article originally appeared in WL issue 113.

Matt Gibson plants a squeaky clean hand on that dirty pipe. Photo: Sam Longmire

Snowboarding in Aberdeen has a healthy history. The city has churned out more than its fair share of riders, some of whom must rank amongst the most dedicated in the country. I say this with a very biased hat on, but even based on the sheer amount of driving (or cadging lifts) the crew up here put in to ride dome, plastic or snow, then I think we definitely play a part in what David Benedek once said of UK snowboarding, “the coolest scene I’ve ever witnessed.”

Still crystal clear in my memory is Ryan Shiach going so large in the quarterpipe that he ended up over the backboards onto the grass…

The slope is visible immediately as you enter Aberdeen from the south. It’s also right under a flight path – see Stevie McKenna’s cover shot of Mark McClement on the cover of Whitelines issue 96 for the evidence! When I first came up to shred the mat not long after it opened, a solid crew of local riders had already established a strong scene. Barry Marcella had started working and riding at Garthdee, and he definitely helped get things going. Kev Cowie, Frazer Rennie, Duncan Ross (when he was in the country), Sam Longmire and Andy Laird were all killing it. Mark Watson would turn up occasionally, which would always make for a memorable session. Groms like John Barnes and Kris Bell were coming up too. Still crystal clear in my memory is Ryan Shiach going so large in the quarterpipe that he ended up over the backboards onto the grass…

Jon Adisson impresses. Photo: Sam Longmire

The kicker, quarterpipe and two permanent rails would get sessioned on a regular basis. Steve Cass hit the flatbar (with its 2 metre drop-off next to the moguls, and very little margin for error) with backside boardslide 270s off at crazy speed that still allowed him to send it high on the quarterpipe. The Addison family representatives, Jon and Sophie, both brought rail-riding tech with them, in and around the city. This is continuing through to a new generation, notably Stu Innes and Dan Leggett who only last week provided a fun session with their interpretation of an elbow rail…

The kicker at Garthdee has a great shape and has what I think is the longest landing in the UK

The kicker at Garthdee has a great shape and has what I think is the longest landing in the UK, which has been put to good use over the years. The new management and club partnership (no more sneaking over the fence to ride in the dark) has led to a huge growth in access to snowboarding for the local groms. Nicol Paton, Barry Parker, Matt Gibson and now Kris Bell have played no small part in creating an infectious environment. The results are kids like Fin Bremner, who’s starting to take dry slope riding up another notch. Fin’s not only technically pushing it, but also growing into his snowboarding and developing some really solid style too. Keep an eye out for him, if you’re not already.

Nathan Sim. Photo: Sam Longmire

He’s not the only one though; you’ve only got to turn up on a Wednesday night to see how many kids are learning quicker than you can say ‘she’s only 9’. Nathan Sim is another young gun coming through, and the atmosphere is further stoked when Marc McClement, the Trinders and the McCormicks make a trip to the Deen.

The broader snowboard community is really strong up here, with regular comps and trips to either the dome or the real stuff. Lots of partnerships are helping to push the scene and secure better quality features for everyone. The Scottish Park Shaping Forum is a good example, as is Garthdee’s shared investment in rails and boxes with Glenshee.

Thanks to all those working hard behind the scenes keeping it all going. Watch this space for another generation of dedicated and talented snowboarders…

Matt Gibson again, on the infamous Garthdee booter. Photo: Sam Longmire


Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.