Words by SFN Photos by James North
The Vans Dawn of the Shred series originated at the Cairngorm resort in Scotland three years ago. Having taken sponsorship of the Terrain Park in 2007, Vans were keen to increase Scotland’s snowboarding opportunities. The idea was to bring some attention back to the British mountains and help support the growing UK snow scene by hosting one of the only open contests left on real snow.
Thanks to the organizational efforts of Vans rider and Aviemore local Johnny Barr, the event at Cairngorm has been growing year on year, with just over 50 entrants taking part at the latest comp back in March. Due to its success, Vans decided to extend the opportunity south of the border, employing another of their team riders, Chris Chatt, to take up the reins at his local slope of Milton Keynes.
Under the guidance of Chatt and his fellow MK rider Steve Revill, SNO!Zone Milton Keynes put together one of the most creative set-ups ever seen indoors. Utilizing the full slope, the park consisted of a gas-pipe/down rail option, leading into a kicker, then onto the Dalikfodda shed-cum-wall ride (complete with toilet), then over/through a sizeable wooden mini ramp before finishing with on a stally-buttery can jib at the bottom of the slope. It’s fair to say this was one of the most eagerly awaited events in the UK calendar, and the turnout reflected this, with 100 or so riders registering for the chance to get their dirty grabbers on cash and other prizes. At times, the slope looked dangerously busy - as shredders mowed down the features and, in true UK fashion, the level was pushed by one or two nutters desperate to prove their worth.
The nature of the set-up meant you had to ride fast and continue your line rather than dally about at the top of each obstacle. Throw in the truly unique features on offer and you had a set-up that was a) damn technical to ride and b) pretty unforgiving if you got it wrong - as demonstrated by the likes of Andy Webb, who misjudged the gap onto the top deck of the mini-ramp and ended up underneath it instead, and Jono Wood, who despite officially ‘retiring’ this year looked as energetic as a new born puppy before knocking himself out on the Relentless can. “It’s alright, I've done this before," he assured us all, which begs the question: if you’re knocked out how would you know? Despite this setback Jono paved the way for some of the gnarliest tricks of the night, as he was the first rider to utilize the coping on the mini-ramp with a sick, full speed lipslide 270 out.
After chain-ganging it for a few runs, Ryan Evans and I decided to get out of the way and watch the carnage unfold from the safety of the bar. With birthday boy Henry Jackson on the mic (and getting progressively merrier by the minute) it was always gonna be a quick four hours. An open riding session - in which most riders dialled in their runs and generally felt the course out – was followed by a best trick contest in which each obstacle in turn was put under the spotlight. Under the instruction of Henry, riders congregated at the designated place and stepped up their tricks, vying for a place in the final slope-style run as well as cold hard cash. The mini-ramp session was a highlight of the night as riders tackled it in all manner of ways, from pressing the top deck to making full use of the coping. Tom Honey even found a way to get onto the top wooden rail - a good 2 foot above an already high mini-ramp – and his 50-50 FS180 off bagged him the best trick of the night. No one else even attempted it.
Following the best trick session, a handful of riders were chosen for the final slopestyle run. By now the course was even more difficult to ride, though the riding was stronger than ever. After two runs each (the best one counting) and some deliberation by the judges it was the Yorkshire lad Jamie Nicholls who once again took first place. His winning run consisted of a cab 5 on the jump, BS 180/half cab off on the wall ride, front flip off the mini-ramp and general wizardry on the rails. Chris Kroll, who’d come all the way from Mayrhofen, Austria, bagged second place - somehow managing a FS 720 off what was now more of a big lump of snow than a legitimate jump – while Tom Hunt followed him in third. Special mention goes to David Zyg, who won the coveted ‘Most Rancid Rider’ award and a year’s sponsorship from Dalikfodda thanks to his full speed, balls out approach.
Riding over, and it was time for the bands to take over up in the Sno Bar. Yours truly and Henry Jackson got thrown out for being too 'happy' so by this point your guess is as good as mine as to how it all went down. Still, it can be guaranteed that Jett Black (now pretty much synonymous with the UK snow scene) put on a loud, metallic flavoured show for all.
Vans would like to say thank you to everyone involved: all the sponsors - Relentless, Ride & Slide, TSA, Dalikfodda - the team at SNO!Zone for accommodating the event, Chris Chatt and his crew for working through the night designing and shaping the park, the bands Jett Black, Failsafe, Turbowolf and First Signs of Frost for rocking the after party, and to all those who competed or watched - making the event a great success.
Here are a couple more images from the day: