Words: Tom Thrilly
Photos: Martin Pique
In a county far far away, lies a large plastic doormat with curious bumps and shapes poking through its surface. Situated perfectly among the more familiar but just as spectacular surroundings of hills and woodland, whilst a neighbouring housing estate looks on in confusion. As much as the concept of a dryslope is unusual, this is one doormat that is welcoming to everyone.
K-Jam's location often creates a reaction different to that of other snowboard events around the UK. It's held in the Cumbrian market town of Kendal on the edge of the Lake District — a wonderous land where squirrels live in harmony with rock climbers, and birds of prey fly high over the fells from which Wordsworth once found his inspiration. So of course this land of green ought to be treated with a touch of National Trust-style respect. But what happens when a bunch of snow lovers want a big fat doormat on their doorstep? Invite the good people of Snowflex® down and get out the dark green paint, obviously. That was what happened back in 1997 anyway, when Kendal Ski Club was the first ever slope to install the most revolutionary surface used in artificial snow sports while keeping its 'green' credentials.
Fast forward to 2006 when the inaugural K-Jam was held at the slope and enjoyed an amazing first turn out. This May, the fourth edition of the event went down under blue skies and for the first time it was accompanied by an army of skiers, creating a vibrant atmosphere. Local DJ Single Point was on the decks, hammering out his tunes to the assembled crowd and keeping the riders amped throughout the day.
The excitable crowds and judges witnessed sick plastic-gliding all day long on the slope's features including; kickers, quarter pipes, rails, boxes and even included an airbag for extra shits and giggles.
The abundance of local and up and coming talent did not disappoint with the hot topics being Lewis Ashworth for his oh-so-stylish front 5's in the Big Air Jam, as well as Rhys Cope for his lofty Cab 3's and Ben Chetwood's super steezy switch back 1's.
The Rail Jam also received good treatment, with some smooth and technical skills from Andy Pickering, Stuart Sirey, Jason Rickwood, Kev Mason and little Tomski Robinson.
The ladies event was slim in terms of the amount of competitors but the two Sarah's of Fish and Newton battled it out for top honours for the overall Big Air and Rail title, with the Fish grabbing K-Jam headlines after a bit of whiplash only to get straight back up and claim it with an array of stylish moves and grabs. Sarah Newton just wasn't quite able to hold her good looking back 3's that she managed to stick earlier in practice.
Among all that, it was another rider that cooked up a Kendal storm. Jordan Gee fully laid it down in both the Big Air and Rails, leaving the judges with no hesitation in awarding him with first place in both Under 16s categories. Jordy boosted out of the kicker with an awesome underflip 7 which pretty much won it there and then. He then took it to the rails and didn't disappoint. The kid is a machine!
The day eventually wound down with the prize giving for the top 3 riders and skiers in each category with the people of K-Jam 2010 dispersing from the big doormat into the evening sun, happy with all the goodies they received from the rad event sponsors.
It must be said, this year's event came at a strange and sad time for the people of the local area and Cumbria in general. While K-Jam was there for fun and laughter, just up the road, either side of the weekend of the event, two separate tragedies happened. The first involved a hugely unfortunate school bus crash that killed 3 people.
K-Jam went on, as people do. Then only 3 days after the successful snowboard event, another extremely desperate event took place which many people in the UK and beyond will be aware of: the killings of 12 Cumbrian residents by taxi driver and gunman Derrick Bird.
This is obviously not the best way to end an article of a subject that brings joy to so many people. However, while snowboarding offers us so many fun moments, we can also reflect on the moments that don't. All those involved with K-Jam offer their condolences to theK people directly affected.
Go shred and keep your local scene strong! Thanks to all the generous K-Jam 2010 sponsors and those who helped and attended. See you next year
K-Jam 2010 Results
Womens (Combined Big Air and Rails)
1. Sarah Fish
2. Sarah Newton
3. Laura Rathtone
Boys Under 16s Big Air
1. Jordan Gee
2. Jordan Vance
3. Andy Pickering
Boys Under 16s Rail Jam
1. Jordan Gee
2. Andy Pickering
3. Tomski Robinson
Mens Big Air
1. Lewis Ashworth
2. Ben Chetwood
3. Rhys Cope
Mens Rail Jam
1. Stuart Sirey
2. Jason Rickwood
3. Kev Mason