This weekend saw pretty much the best British comp of the season go down on Cairngorm mountain. The Vans Dawn of the Shred got the UK's finest hitting the biggest kicker this country has ever seen! With the sun blazing down on the course, Yorkshire wunderkind Jamie Nicholls took the top prize in the men's comp. Northern Ireland's finest Aimee Fuller claimed the women's top spot.
The contest, a now-legendary gathering of locals, pros and enthusiastic ams from across the country, attracted no less than 52 entrants, with shredders of all ages signing up and getting involved. The high number of entries might have had something to do with the incredible weather - Aviemore was officially the hottest place in the UK on Saturday. It might also have had something to do with the awesome park set-up created by the boys at Cairngorm.
Using the record-breaking amount of snow that's fallen in Scotland this season, the park shapers had made a masterpiece. As well as the enormous main booter, locals Angus, Rod, Mikey and friends had also built a big old hip and a series of sweet rails and jibs - including a tyre-bonk, a nice down rail and a big-old flat down beast. Apparently they'd been up the hill at all hours in the days before the comp. Kids of all ages were chipping in with the ball-breakingly hard shovelling and shaping needed to get the course ready. But damn was that hard work worth it when comp day dawned - the course was so sick!
With the sun blazing down on the park, the riders started practising with a will. Local hero Angus Leith guinea-pigged the massive kicker he'd helped to create to kick-start an epic session. Gus, Jamie Nicholls, Scott McMorris, Ian "Thrashmore" Ashmore and Martin Robertson were throwing down all manner of sickness over the 20-plus-metre table top. Scott's massive shiftys, Angus' 7s and Jamie Nicholls' back 7 double grab were standout moments - as was the sight of Thrashmore (a man who's weeks away from qualifying to be a doctor of physics) defying gravity by lofting huge backside 180s over the heads of the spectators stood on the knuckle.
These five were joined Aviemore resident Ed and Lecht local Nick. Ed (does anyone know this kid's surname?) who, without even taking a practice run to check the speed, launched into a series of insanely big backside rodeo 5s! Eventually, Ed unfortunately ate shit on one of these, coming down hard on the landing. But while it might have put a stop to his kicker session, he still managed to turn up at the award ceremony unscathed to claim his prize for best slam.
Meanwhile, Aimee Fuller was destroying the medium-sized kicker. She landed a sweet backside 3, a laid-out backflip and came very close to stomping a rodeo 5 of her own.
Becky Cullum was also going big, and local legend Lesley McKenna stepped up with some nice straight airs. Jenny Jones, who unfortunately can't ride at the minute because of a bruised foot, still turned up for shits and giggles. She made herself comfortable in a deck chair on the knuckle of the kicker. Jenny wasn't the only who turned up in spite of an injury - MK's Chris Chatt, who was roped in to judge the contest, was also seen limping around on his crutches - but still smiling 'cos of the sun. Here's hoping both of them get better soon.
By the time the riders had moved on to the rails for the second section of the comp, the crowd had gathered round, and were lapping up the sunshine along with the shred. Nike 6.0's Sam Nelson was cranking out sweet front 3 nose-bonks on the tyre. While Rod got on the mic and cranked out some comedy commentary (anyone want to guess what a frontside shifty snorkel to badger is?) Jamie Nicholls and Angus Leith got busy destroying the rails. Angus' handspring front-flip over the tyre won him a well-deserved best trick prize.
Standing around at the Ski-Doo bar for the prize-giving at the end of the day, there were a lot of sun-burned faces and more than a few massive grins. The day had been incredible - with an all-time park setup, epic weather and some of the best riding ever seen in Britain.
All that was left to do to make the perfect shred-session complete was retire to the Dalikfodda party in the ominously named Vault club for a bit of light hair metal from Jett Black, and a few too many pints of Tennents... but that's another story.
Big-ups go out to Vans, TSA, Pro-Tec, Monster and Dalikfodda for stumping up the cash to make the event happen, and a massive, massive shout out to Rod and the Cairngorm Snowboard Club for putting on such a sick comp. Here's to another belter next year!
1st Jamie Nichols
2nd Jesse Smith
3rd Nick Mclutosh
1st Aimee Fuller
2nd Becca Cullum
3rd Kerry Dickson
1st Danny McCormick
2ns Craig Hastie
3rd Tom Hunt
1st Faye young
1st Jordan Gee
2nd Gregor Samuels
3rd Jamie Trinder
1st Katie Omerod
2nd Sophie Nichols
3rd Shannon Roy