What is it about the British Champs and good weather? We reckon organizers Stu Brass and Spencer Claridge must have signed some kind of deal with the devil, because for yet another year we were treated to bluebird skies and perfect snow conditions for the Dare2B halfpipe event. After seven years of hosting the comp in Laax, the image of riders boosting out of an icy 22 foot wall with that round restaurant in the backdrop has become a familiar one, but there's a reason they keep coming back: this is basically the best pipe in Europe, crafted with the kind of precision only the Swiss can muster (OK we're sterotyping here, but c'mon it's a positive one - not like those lazy, Gauloise-smoking French park shapers...)
Anyhoo, the finals kicked off with the women, and it soon turned into a battle of youth vs experience. Up-and-coming ripper Becky Menday followed up her strong showing in the Whitelines Rail Jam with a solid performance on the transitions, throwing down back-to-back 360s to claim third. Meanwhile fellow grom Katie Omerod – still just fourteen but already the talk of the British Snowboard Team as a potentially world class rider - grabbed silver with a run which included both regular and switch 3's. But it was veteran Kate Foster who proved the halfpipe is only truly mastered with years of practice, topping the podium for the third year in a row thanks to her superior amplitude.
In the men's event, there were some big names missing. Multiple Brits champion Dom Harington is currently spending the season in the States, while Vancouver Olympian Ben Kilner injured his shoulder earlier this week. Plymouth's finest and fellow Olympian Dan Wakeham therefore looked a shoe-in for his first Brits title, but as is the tradition here in Laax, things didn't go quite to script. While Dan's qualifying run – which included a massive backside air on the first hit and some huge inverts - would have been enough to blow the competition away, he chose to mix it up in the final but couldn't quite put down a clean run. James Foster therefore pipped him to second place thanks to some stylish grabs and good old fashioned airtime, while first place went to 18-year-old Henry Shackleton. Henry has been on our radar for a couple of years now and this victory really announced his arrival on the big stage, with a run that included back-to back 5's, a frontside 720 and a massive frontside 900. Wakeham was typically gracious in defeat, giving Henry (his prodigy on the Head Team) some good-natured banter as he climbed onto the podium. Henry wasn't phased of course, for as Darth Vader once said: "When I left you I was but the learner; now I am the master."
British Snowboard Championships 2012 - Dare2B Halfpipe Results
1. Henry Shackleton
2. James Foster
3. Dan Wakeham
1. Kate Foster
2. Katie Omerod
3. Becky Menday