Words: Duthie / Photos: Ed
The lines of what constitutes ‘British’ snowboarding have been getting blurry for some time. Some of the UK’s best riders spend next to no time in their native land, and the British Championships haven’t taken place on home soil for years. While this is understandable, there’s still a feeling that the UK scene could be making more use of our real mountains. After all, it was not so long ago that the Brits would be held up at the Cairngorms. While that event is now firmly settled in Laax, one comp up there is still all about homegrown talent riding homemade kickers: the Vans Dawn Of The Shred.
After the success story of last year’s event, coupled with a favourable weather report, expectations were running high. Things were looking good in the morning as Cairngorm was graced with another perfectly sunny day and, while the snow levels weren’t comparable to last April, there was more than enough on the course thanks to the fine efforts of the park crew. One thing that caused a bit of concern up top was the strong wind but, as it was all blowing downhill, many of the riders welcomed it for the extra speed it could provide into the jumps.
Speed was definitely something any rider hitting the big booter would need. The course was getting softer by the minute, so melting it down from the very top of the T-bar at full tilt was really the only option. The jump itself was well built with a long, steep landing, so it was only a matter of time before the hammers got thrown.
The comp got started in the afternoon, and somehow things became a little unstuck here; the riders were dropping from out of sight of the crowd, and due to the nature of the format there were often long periods of time where no-one was coming down the course, leaving the spectators a bit confused. But despite the hold-ups the riding was spectacular, and the judges had their work cut out.
For his efforts (not least of which was travelling all the way up from Yorkshire), Sam Turnbull took the top spot in the men’s open category, pocketing a tidy cash prize. Emilia Vanni did the same for the women’s, improving on her 2nd place finish in the Highlander comp the previous weekend. Angus Malloch, who had been killing it all day, walked away with a custom-made Vans guitar for best trick.
While the drinks started flowing in Aviemore, there was time for reflection on what was another cracking event up at Cairngorm. TSA head honcho Jeremy Sladen, who has been to a fair few contests in his time, remarked that Dawn Of The Shred is now the most important date in the British snowboarding calendar. He might have a point: folk from as far away as London drove all the way to Aviemore for it, when it would have been potentially cheaper and a whole lot easier to get to the Alps! It seems there’s still a real desire for grassroots events like this, and a certain appeal attached to something run by Brits, for Brits, on British mountains. Glencoe and Glenshee are among the other Scottish resorts who have been stepping up their involvement in snowboard contests this season; maybe the golden age of UK comps is still to come?