Words Tristan, Photos Ed
The Brits kicked off yesterday with the Tresspass snowboardcross championships, bringing thrills, spills and drama to the slopes of Laax.
On a day that was blessed with bright sunshine, the riders ripped through the well-groomed course, with the large field pushing the level and leading to some impressively quick times.
The top honours were claimed by the Banks family, with the brother and sister team of Thomas and Charlotte winning the men's and women's overall categories. Is it just me, or do those two sound like those kids out of Mary Poppins? They pretty much flew down the course anyway...
The previous day's practice had seen some shredders struggling with the first feature on the track, with the whippy little quarter-pipe feature throwing a lot of people up and over the landing. However a re-shape in the evening ironed out the problem, meaning that by the time the comp started the course was in pretty prefect condition.
With riders being divided into five age group categories, there was plenty of silverware up for grabs, and everyone from the tiniest groms to the most seasoned of masters riders was getting stuck in. A sizeable crowd of families, friends and fellow-hangers on gathered to cheer on their mates bringing a nice atmosphere to proceedings.
In the kids category, Mezzie Potter beat the girls field, while Jonathan Chan finished out in front in the boys race, finishing ahead of Lewis Courtier-Jones and Max Fidlling. Max, by the way, wins extra props for having possibly the darkest goggle tan we've ever seen - seriously, it looks like he's got a beard on the bottom half of his face.
The girls youth comp was won by Sophie Nicholls, who finished just ahead of Faye Young, while Cody Heirons cleaned up for the guys, beating James Smith and Henry Shackleton in a close-fought race. James Barrow and Rowena Kelly won the junior level race, before the masters - the old men of the mountains - lined up to drop.
The masters category was always going to be exciting, with several riders having long-held scores to settle. The races were made more exciting by the addition of the Armed Forces teams. No-one was quite sure how fast these guys and girls could go, but they looked like they meant business. It was hard not to be intimidated by their matching jackets and their militant efficiency. They soon proved that it wasn't all military bluster either, with Katherine Mirror coming second in the women's category behind Suzanne Clark, and army-boy Dell Ellsmore claiming the win in the master's men, passing Nick Atkins just before the finish line.
But the biggest excitement of the day was saved for the overall category, with seasoned contenders like James Foster lining up in the starting gates. When the gun went though, it was the young and relatively unknown Thomas Banks who took the lead, running through almost the entire course in first place, and holding on for a well-earned victory at the end. Foster eventually had to settle for second, while Tim McGregor claimed the bronze.
The girls comp boasted an equally impressive rider list, with British halfpipe team rider Kate Foster going for glory. But even Kate couldn't hold Thomas' sister Charlotte, who finished way out ahead of the field, clocking a time that put many of the male competitors to shame! Charlotte was followed across the finish line by Ivy Taylor, who was riding stupidly quickly all day, with Kate Foster coming in third.
Once the dust had settled and the mountain had cleared, a slushy shred to the bottom was the order of the day. The crowds outside the classically-named Crap Bar were entertained by Joel Erith's acoustic cover set, while the medallists were showered with glory, beer and more than a few snowballs. A great start to a great week of competitions.
Keep an eye out on the site for the lowdown on the Big Air, Slopestyle and Halfpipe comps, which are coming later in the week...
Boys: 1st Jonathan Chan, 2nd Lewis Courtier-Jones, 3rd Max Fidling
Girls: 3rd Becky Menday, 2nd Aila Fidling, 1st Mezzie Potter
Boys: 1st Cody Heirons, 2nd James Smith, 3rd Henry Shackleton
Girls: 1st Sophie Nicholls, 2nd Faye Young
Boys: 1st James Barrow, 2nd Toby Smith, 3rd Dean Horsfield
Girls: 1st Rowena Keely
Boys: 1st Dell Ellsmore, 2nd Nick Atkins, 3rd Dale Taylor
Girls: 1st Suzanne Cook, 2nd Katherine Mirror
Boys: 1st Thomas Banks, 2nd James Foster, 3rd Tim McGregor
Girls: 1st Charlotte Banks, 2nd Ivy Taylor, 3rd Kate Foster