The season may finally be over, but there are still plenty of opportunities to go snowboarding in the UK. We’ve taken a look at some of the country’s top artificial slopes, and spoken to the locals in the know.
First up is Burton rider and Grindhouse star Ollie Dutton talking us through his stomping ground, Milton Keynes.
This article first appeared in Whitelines Issue 111. All photos by Jools Smith.
Milton Keynes, the Grid City, or just simply MK as it’s known by most snowboarders, is the home of one of the best indoor slopes in the UK. There are plenty of factors that make Milton Keynes special, from the locals to the park staff, but for me what makes it special is the history.
The first ever snowboard movie I saw was called Bread & Butter, which is arguably one of the best movies to come out of the UK. On the DVD there’s an extra called ‘Sugar Smacks Part Deux’. This was a full indoor movie created by Tom Elliot, filmed mostly at MK (with a few shots from Tamworth and Castleford) in the 2006/07 season. It features killers such as Chris Chatt, Steve Revill, Tom Guilmard, and the whole of the ATV crew having the best time with their friends – which is essentially what snowboarding is all about. This indoor movie sold Milton Keynes to me, so check it out if you haven’t seen it.
For me, the thing that separates MK from most domes is how amazing they can make the park. Thom Boddington, Neil Campbell and the team are all snowboarders, which shows in the park plans. They think like snowboarders and understand what we want to shred on, with Neil always thinking of new, creative ideas to keep us on our toes. The setups are ‘iced in’ the night before, so the kickers stay consistent all night long. We easily have the best variation of rails, and most are at a decent height which is more daunting but way more legit. Still, the park staff also caters for all riding levels, so beginners can start off small and move onto bigger things once they have had a few beers of courage.
Although the scene has died down in the past few years, there are still quite a few locals destroying the park most Thursday and Friday nights. Gareth Andrews and the ‘Devil Dogs’ (Callum Waller, brothers Connor and Reece Gould and Rob Stronach) are there most weeks. Veterans Chris Chatt and Paul Rennie come for a couple of hours of showing you how it’s done, before they head home in time for The Simpsons. But it’s the slightly older generation that is the most inspiring to watch. Gary Walsh has been killing the dome since it opened way back, and has a mean back nosepress. Peter Spencer doesn’t watch edits, or really know any pro riders or trick names, but he sends it. One of his regular tricks, a noseslide switch-up to back tail 270 out, blows my mind. The gym looks out onto the slope allowing a nice, occasional look at girls in yoga pants, which is definitely a highlight.
I’m not too sure what the best thing I have ever seen at MK is, but for me just riding with and watching Gareth Andrews every week is amazing. Gazza has been coming to MK for about nine years and no one can ride it like him. We once played a game of S.K.A.T.E. on the down bar that lasted about three hours. He eventually beat me with them crazy hips that can somehow spin 540s off rails…
After riding we mainly have a car park chill, or skate around for a while. The slope’s bar attracts most of the locals who can watch the riders getting the last 15 minutes in as they sip their beers. If you’re interested in young girls with everything on show and fake ….ID’s, then you could check out the Moon Under Water for an after-shred pint and a perv, although I try to stay away!