Words: Rhys Crilley
Photos: Steve McKenna, Ross Henreys and Richard Bennet
The Oxford Cambridge boat race is probably the most prestigious and well know inter-university sporting event in the world. It’s the ultimate test of strength, stamina and skill for the rowers taking part. And maybe watching the offspring of Citibank CEO’s with names like Rupert and Tarquin swan about on the Thames is your cup of tea, but I’m going to take a shot in the dark here and presume that it’s not.
I reckon that because you’re reading Whitelines you’re more into powder slashing, rail slaying and freestyle snowboarding, right? Good. Well forget about the Oxbridge boat race. There’s a much more exciting student event in town, and it involves a shitload of snowboarding.
The British Universities Dry Slope (BUDS) Championship is the highlight of student snowboarding in the UK. Over 2000 students from across the UK descended on Edinburgh to snowboard, party and hopefully end up in their hostel with a member of the opposite sex. This year BUDS took place on the 11th-12th of November at Hillend dryslope and the standard of snowboarding on display was better than ever before.
Things kicked off on Friday with a bit of old school slalom action. No baggy pants, gangster steeze or gnarly rails, just good ol’ fashioned turns, slalom poles and lycra cat suits. Birmingham’s Andrew Logsdail soul surfed his way to victory claiming the title of best-student-snowboarder-at-turning-around-poles-real-fast-on-dryslope. Although the slalom was good fun, most people were at BUDS to enjoy the slopestyle competition, and this year no one was disappointed.
The course consisted of Hillends famous snowflex kicker, an A frame battleship rail and then a 20 foot S box which even the likes of Jed Anderson would find tricky to nail on dendex. During the qualifying heats it was obvious that the standard was higher than ever before. Backside 720s, corked fives, huge backflips and backside rodes were a common occurrence. If riders had any hope of getting into the final they had to stomp their kicker trick super clean and get gnarly on the boxes at the bottom.
As the Red Bull DJ’s got the crowd dancing, the riders in the final were throwing some insane shapes of their own. Andy Flynn threw down a backside 540 stalefish and hit the A frame box with a switch nose switch up front board and rode off into the distance with a bronze medal. Edinburgh local Kyle Wise went all kinds of upside down with a massive corked backside 540 mute and stomped a switch tail to 270 out on the A frame, then hitting the S rail switch. Despite stiff competition, it was up and coming UK shredstar Danny McCormick who stole the show and was crowned BUDS Syndicate Slopestyle champion 2011. Danny went into outer space with an absolutely massive, uber corked backside 720 stalefish to a super stylish switch run on the boxes. In the ladies category, Clare Bevis just slid out on a 360 and had to settle for third. Breezy White took second after going for a huge frontflip and not quite sticking it. It turns out that she broke her wrist in the process but that didn’t stop her from front boarding the A frame and S box! First place went to Anne Beswick from Bradford who stomped a backside 360 super clean on the jump and shredded the rails better than the boys.
With the riding over for the first day, everyone headed out to party. Record amounts of Jager, Tenants and cheap wine were drunk and needless to say on Saturday everybody was feeling a little worse for wear.
That didn’t stop the boarder-cross racing from being as epic as ever. Bails, riders pushing each other over and some super speedy riding entertained the crowd of hung over spectators as Glaswegian local Andy Flynn held on to his title for the second year in a row. The racing didn’t end there though and as the day went on the dual slalom got underway. Teams of 4 raced each other down the dendex slopes and after months of serious training regimes, early morning jogging, board waxing and edge sharpening, Birmingham stormed to victory.
The Rome Big Air is the highlight of BUDS for obvious reasons. Everyone loves watching people throw themselves around in the air and even the most die hard of lycra clad ski racers (yes, they have events for skiers at BUDS too!) can appreciate a good bail or backflip. For the first time in history the weather stayed nice for the Big Air final and the riding was taken to a whole new level by the riders who qualified.
Anne Beswick won gold by raising the bar for the ladies after stomping a no grabbed backside 5 with more style than you’ll ever have. In the Mens category Benn Venn took bronze with an impressive back 7, but Matt Simpson went bigger and snatched silver with a back 7 mute. Once again Danny McCormick was on fire and had the crowd going mental for an insane array of tricks which included a cab underfilp 720. Rightly so, he walked away with the gold and the glory.
With the snowboarding over, everybody headed to the BUDS ball where Scotland’s biggest sound system kept everyone dancing into the early hours. Another year, another epic BUDS where the standard of snowboarding has been pushed to dizzy new heights. Who knows what we’ll see in 2012, double corks perhaps?!
As the government takes access to affordable education away, I’m sure that those snowboarders who do pay the nine grand to go to university will still rock up at BUDS and throw down. If Braveheart was around nowadays I’m sure he’d be screaming “you can take away our education, but you can never take our freedom to shred and party hard!” All whilst downing a pint and stomping a seven on the snowflex kicker at Hillend. Or something like that.
If you’re a snowboarder and a student make sure you go to BUSC Main Event in Saalbach-Hinterglemm this March. If you’re not a student then check out the video from BUDS 2011. I promise you, it’s way more exciting than watching Tarquin, Rupert and Harry row around on the Thames.