This past Friday, our Whitelines November Knockout rail jam series came to a close at Sno!zone Milton Keynes. Over the past month we've witnessed some stoopidly impressive riding (case in point: Gaz Andrews winning trick from the Hemel leg or Si Foster's massive frontside 270 at Cas), a whole host of tightly fought battles and some of the most progressive indoor park setups ever. Thanks to another banging park pulled together by Thom and the MK shaping crew and a turnout that had the two poma lifts straining under their collective weight, the MK leg closed out our most extensive Rail jam tour to date with a bang. The Shred Collective wally down-flat-down rail was once again put to heavy use, producing it's fair share of both champions and casualties and towered intimidatingly next to a particularly crisp plaza style closeout-rail section, complete with jump over and pole jam options. The street style rails at the top of the course, and gas pipe down-flat-down elbow feature gave the park great flow and provided enough variety to keep riders of all abilities challenged.
The strong turnout once again ensured that the level of riding was as high as it comes. Just like the Hemel leg before it, heavy hitters such as Cody Hierons, Sparrow Knox, Will Radula-Scott and Rowan Biddescombe failed to make the knockout stages despite riding well all evening. By the way of a rider's meeting it was decided that riders would be able to hit either the wally down flat down or the closeout feature in the knockout stages, a decision that encouraged creative riding but also made head judge Mike Austin's life a little trickier in the process! There were once again many familiar faces in the ladies field with Orla Doolin, Becky Menday, Cerys Allen and Alise Balode all making it into the final four. After some solid hits from all of the girls it was Cerys who had to face off with the formidable Orla Doolin in the women's final. Cerys put down a solid hit over the closeout feature but couldn't quite stay on the down flat down, allowing Orla to claim her third win of the series with a staple frontside lipslide. She walked away £100 richer but not without a couple of solid bruises to show for it - a front board that didn't quite go to plan saw her chin connect with cold, hard steel. Ouch!
The men's knockout stages were once again a tightly fought affair, with many big guns like Andy Nudds and Castleford winner John Weatherley not making it past the quarter final stage. In the end it came down to a pair of showdowns between Reece Gould vs. Si Foster and Ollie Dutton vs. Tom Guilmard for a spot in the final. Despite some tech switch up's from Reece, he wasn't able to better Si Foster's unquestionable steez and control but did manage to pip Tom Guilmard's backside and frontside 360's off the closeout rail with a tech frontside 180 to cab 270 switch-up to regular to claim third place. Ollie Dutton was busting out the same bolts front boards and switch blunts that we've seen at many of the previous stops but in the end couldn't better an on-point Si Foster, who pulled a huge 50-50, frontside 180 switch-up, switch backside 360 out of the bag to take the £300 first place prize.
In a similar vein to the wildcard invitation to the Head Jib factory offered up by Alex Tank at the Hemel leg of our tour, Monster Energy had an invitation to the Protest Rock a Rail event in the Hague up for grabs. With no pro to pick a rider this time, democracy was the order of the day, with the chosen one being decided by a rider vote open to those in the knockout stages. And the winner? None other than a stoked out Si Foster who deservedly walked away £300 richer and with an invitation to a world-class rail-jam. It was great to see the judges decision being validated by the riders themselves.
After a final round of applause to all of the riders, park shapers and sponsors for making the whole tour happen, the crowd slowly shuffled back to their cars. There were stiff legs, a couple of knocks and the odd intoxicated soul making the most of their Friday and the overwhelming majority of people walked away with smiles on their faces. The setup had been great to ride, the people were great to ride with and you couldn't have asked for a better atmosphere all-round. It was a great way to end what has been a banging rail jam tour and one that we look forward to making bigger and better in the coming years. Keep your eyes peeled for the iON action cam edit from the night dropping real soon.
A big thank you to the Sno!zone MK crew for putting us up and another big thank you to our title sponsors iON action cameras and our other sponsors, Monster, Dragon, Stance, Head, Mons Royale, FBBB and SSX for helping us to make the tour possible.
WHITELINES NOVEMBER KNOCKOUT CASTLEFORD RESULTS
1st: Si Foster: £300 and an iON Air Pro Plus and board kit
2nd: Ollie Dutton: £200 and an iON Air Pro Plus
3rd: Reece Gould: £100 and an iON Air Pro
1st: Orla Doolin: £100 and an iON Air Pro
BEST UNSPONSORED RIDER:
Paul Edwards: Head Snowboard
iON CHALLENGE WINNER (MOST PROGRESSIVE):
Will Gilmore: iON Air Pro