Saturday 20th October saw the culmination of the season’s inaugural Westbeach Snowflex Freestyle Championships at the Loisinard Stadt de Glisse, in Noeux Les Mines, France. The series has been the brain-child of AKA Snowskate’s Wayne Taylor & Gary Pickburn and sprung out of the successful Cock of the North comp that Wayne’s been putting on over the last few years.
Having passed through Halifax, Warmwell and Bearsden earlier this year there were a number of riders who had pre-qualified for the Grand Final, however, that other great sporting event, the Rugby World Cup threw a slight spanner in the works and meant that a number of people who’d left it to the last minute couldn’t get on a ferry or train and had to forgo what has to have been one of the funnest comps of the year. Add to that the value for money aspect (up to 4 days riding for £20) and you can’t deny it was worth attending if you could.
The comp day dawned with a slight autumn chill in the air but a bluebird sky on the horizon, on arrival at the slope at 9am we found DJ Tony unloading his decks and judging stalwart Steve Shea also in attendance.
As you pull into the car park you’re greeted by the awesome sight of 330m of slope including a half pipe, moguls, 3 permanent boxes and 3 kickers (the biggest of which is 2.5m high!). Nothing you’ve ever seen in the UK can prepare you for this, it simply takes your breath away and makes you wish you were a local.
Warm up kicked off and it was good to see that the slope was running well, the Snowflex surface is supplemented by a good supply of water sprinklers and meant that for this comp the dry slope standbys of furniture polish or silicon weren’t needed. With skiers and snowboarders from Scotland, England, France, Spain, Holland & Japan you’d have thought it would have been a bit hectic but a polite-ish queuing system for the kickers soon developed and all 3 sizes were being hit as everyone got their legs warmed up.
The comp itself comprised of Big Air qualification jam, Final Jam and 2 run Super Final Slopestyle with a fun “throw down your best trick” rail jam in the middle of the day just to mix things up a bit and give MC James Thorne and the judges the chance to empty a giant cardboard box of sponsor’s goodies.
It was great to see everyone really throwing things down and getting behind each other, although everyone was pushing their personal limits to try and win their category there was a really supportive atmosphere as well, with riders being encouraged to step it up and try new tricks rather than holding back for safety. This was never more apparent than in the over 16’s women’s when Kara Anderson from Scotland was coaxed into attempting a back-flip off the mid kicker by her fellow competitors.
I have to admit that I was too busy riding to be able to list all the tricks that were being pulled off but my favourite trick of the day had to be two of the riders from “Team True” (one goofy, one regular) hitting the mid-size kicker while holding hands as part of the team competition. It was certainly an exciting day for spectators though and I defy anyone that was watching to say that they weren’t a) impressed by what they saw and b) just a tiny bit jealous that they weren’t able to ride as well as the finalists!
Personally I can’t wait for next year’s series, especially if it also includes the new Snowflex slope that’s currently being built in Valladolid, Spain!
TEAM SLOPESTYLE Team Downy - James Webb, Josh Fawcett, James Woods, Chris Mavin, Teri Spencer, Josh Birch
RAIL JAM (best 3 tricks) Ski - James Webb - 270 on revert 270 off Snowboard - Big Will Smith - Back 180 gap Best line - Andy Nudds
BIG AIR Snowboard Mens 1st Matthew Gibson 2nd Andy Nudds 3rd Big Will Smith
Ski Mens 1st James Webb 2nd James Woods 3rd Javi Vega
16 & under boys snowboard 1st Daniel McCormac 2nd lil Will Smith 3rd Ollie Jackson
16 & under boys Ski 1st Josh Fawcett 2nd Josh Birch 3rd Joe Hides
Womens snowboard 1st Linsey Ashdown 2nd Kara Anderson 3rd Kat Miller
Womens Ski 1st Teri Spencer 2nd Sandra van Dommelen
16 & under girls snowboard 1st Gemma Marshall
16 & under girls ski 1st Charlotte Prince 2nd Ellie Birch 3rd Chelsea Prince
Option best unsponsored - Matthew Gibson
movement best unsponsored - Teri Spencer
overall best male - James Webb
overall best female - Teri Spencer