Photos: Ed Blomfield
Once again team WL has returned to Kaunertal for the annual UK Snowboard Test, aka Spring Break. It’s a chance to test next season’s kit and ride with some of Blighty’s best – with the added bonus in 2015 of missing the final build-up to the General Election...
Still, today’s vote would serve as the inspiration for this year’s Whitelines Rail Jam; instead of the usual judge’s verdict, the winners of the team battle would be decided by the assembled crowd at the ballot box.
Some threatening-looking clouds aside, conditions were much improved on the previous year, and the turnout was even better. Alongside UK rail royalty like Will Smith, Gaz Andrews and Andy Nudds, a strong contingent of riders from all over Europe had shown up. Dylan Norder and Lorenzo Peeters clearly had fun at last year’s event and were back for 2015 – joined by Spaniard Sarah Frutos and some of the Rusty Toothbrush crew among others – but with the Brit contingent stronger than ever, making the final wouldn’t be easy for any of them.
Mark McClement (aka Gladis) was one of the early standouts, nailing a hardway 270-on-270-off that was good enough to put MC Henry Jackson off his stream of political puns. Also impressive was Stuart ‘Monkey’ Horsham – back at Spring Break after absence – and Nuddsy, possibly the most successful rider in the history of the jam.
Team GB superstar Katie Ormerod showed her rail game’s just as tight as her double corks, and James Phillips proved that there was life in the old Honey Monster yet. Meanwhile Will was using the fat blue pipe at the top of the course as a launch, the highlight being a backside 360 off that sent him flying over the rest of the course. Clearly, everyone had brought their A-game, and the judges had their work cut out for them to narrow the field down.
Eventually the finalists were split into two teams, with snazzy red and blue rosettes differentiating the riders. From now on it was up to the assembled crowd to decide which team was to take home the cash, and both crews went hard at the course in search of votes.
The red team took an early lead thanks to Gaz’s front nose pretzel and Katie’s back blunt 270 out, but the blues fought back thanks to Jacob Robertson’s butter-smooth front 1 on half-cab off down the kinked rail. Matt Corry also made good use of that one, stomping a 5050 to gap front 3 that got one of the biggest cheers for the assembled crowd.
All that remained was for returning officer Jackson to announce the winner. Once all the votes were counted, the Red Team had earned a comfortable majority - which means we now need to do whatever those guys & gals tell us for the next five years.