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Oakley Grom Games: Full Report

Grom Games 369

Words: Ed
Photos: Vanessa Webb

Last Saturday saw a brand new event, the ‘Oakley Grom Games’, hit Manchester’s Chill Factore. Initially inspired by the kind donation of a 50” plasma screen TV for a prize (organizer Pat Sharples needed an excuse to give it away!) the idea soon grew to become one of the most ambitious events of the season.

Arriving at the slope, the bannered-up park was looking fantastic. Local rider and park shaper Colum Mytton had put together possibly the best set-up ever seen in Manchester, with a flat-down box, gas pipe-gap and giant kicker forming the main line, and a ton of other options either side. Meanwhile Red Bull had pulled up at the base of the dome in their mobile chemical weapons unit/speaker system, which would be providing a banging selection of tunes.

MC's Scott McMorris and Jay Stephenson get things underway.
MC's Scott McMorris and Jay Stephenson get things underway.

Stage set, the competition itself consisted of an open jam session with four different age categories. The best shredders in the jam would then be asked to join a group of invited riders for a two-run final, followed by a one-run super final for the top four guys. With names like Scott McMorris and Jamie Nicholls in the mix – alongside a crew of hungry locals – the standard was set to go off. Meanwhile, lending a hand in the judging panel was none other than Oakley’s triple X-Games gold medalist Jenny Jones:

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Despite the summery weather outside and no one quite knowing what to expect from this new comp, word had clearly spread throughout the northern shred scene and the Chill Factore was fully sold out. Watching a constant stream of riders of every age and sex heading up the button lift (while the skiing punters were restricted to the other side of the dome) was a great sight to behold! With so many competitors, the two hour jam session was fast-paced and frenetic. Standouts in the under 12 groms included the super steezy Rowan Coultas, Sam McGrath, pint sized Chill Factore regular Tomski Robinson and Burton’s protégée Katie Omerod, whose smooth 360s and technical ability over the rails belied her age and really impressed the watching Jenny Jones. Amongst the older guys, Tom Hunt consistently laid down smooth run after smooth run while Danny McCormick raised the judges’ eyebrows thanks to some tight-ass tartan pants and a huge bag of rail tricks. Other stand-outs included DC duo Simon Cudlip and Sam Turnbull, who joined forces to make the park their bitch, and the stylish youngster Jordy Gee (more on him later).

At 9pm the two-run finals kicked off, and the standard of riding did not disappoint. There are some seriously talented freestyle kids coming through the ranks at the UK’s snowdomes and it was awesome to see the cream of the crop throw down. Colum Mytton got one of the biggest cheers of the night with a lofted cab underflip over the big kicker, while the highest single score went to Jamie Nicholls’ qualifying run, which combined super technical rail combinations with a perfectly stomped 720 on the jump.

Sparrow Knox stalls for time.
Sparrow Knox stalls for time.
Jo Howard with a laid out backflip.
Jo Howard with a laid out backflip.
Jamie Nicholls casually jibs one of the bottom obstacles.
Jamie Nicholls casually jibs one of the bottom obstacles.

With so many riders laying down solid tricks it was hard to separate the top four, but when the scores emerged from the judges’ enclosure it was Jamie, Colum, Simon Cudlip and Jordy Gee who got the nod. As their names were read out by MC Jay the guys wasted no time getting back to the top for a nerve-shredding, make-or-break, one-run superfinal. Dropping in switch, Col Mytton made a strong case for victory with a faultless combination through the rails and another of those crowd-pleasing cab underflips – only to (how can I put this?) cock it all up on the final jib, where he flew over the side face-first. Simon Cudlip continued the form that had got him to the superfinal with yet more rail sick-ness and a nicely rescued 720, but again the last obstacle proved a stumbling block as he caught his edge on landing. Having posted such a massive score in the first round, surely it was now Jamie Nicholls’ to lose? Well, in the end Jamie did come through with the win – but only just: a sketched landing on his own 720 proved that he’s human after all. Nevertheless, his stong run through the rails and a sweet Miller Flip over the barrel to end his run was enough to pip Cudlip to first.

Jamie shows the style that bagged him victory in the final.
Jamie shows the style that bagged him victory in the final.
Jenny Jones awards the men's trophy to Jamie Nicholls
Jenny Jones awards the men's trophy to Jamie Nicholls

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Sophie makes it a double for the Nicholls family with first place in the women's final.
Sophie makes it a double for the Nicholls family with first place in the women's final.

Shredding over, it was up to Chilli’s Bar for the award ceremony and afterparty, which is where things got really interesting… Remember that massive 50” plasma screen TV? The gift from a parent which had inspired this whole competition? Having awarded various trophies, laptops and Oakley goggles to the podium finishers, this biggest of prizes – in keeping with the ‘Grom’ theme – was to be awarded to a worthy youngster under 18 years old. Specifically, the plan was to give it to the young skier OR snowboarder who had entered at the jam session stage and finished highest in their respective competitions. Problem was, there were two guys who couldn’t be separated: both the snowboarder Jordy Gee and the skier Josh Fawcett ended up qualifying for the superfinals in third and finishing fourth. Everyone agreed that it was impossible to compare exact scores across different disciplines, so there was only one thing for it:

Sciccors, Paper, Stone!

If you’ve never seen two kids play off for a flat screen telly worth about a thousand pounds then let me paint a picture of the atmosphere: it was like a scene from one of those kickboxing movies where Jean Claude Van Damme goes to an underground tournament in Hong Kong and the ring is surrounded by hundreds of scary spectators clutching betting slips and bellowing encouragement. In a word: intense.

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Round one: Scissors cuts paper. One nil to skier Josh

Round two: Paper wraps stone. One all

Then what seemed like about half a dozen rounds where the two sweating lads kept throwing the same thing. Jenny Jones could barely watch from between her hands…

Finally stone blunts scissors – Jordy Gee had won! A victory for him and all snowboard-kind!! The crowd erupted and his mum even began welling up.

It was an outrageous, raucous end to a fantastic competition. As the drinks began to flow and people debated the runs, everyone was in agreement on one thing: The Oakley Grom Games should definitely return next year.

Check out the video highlights here.

RESULTS

Jam Session

Under 12s

Boys
1. Rowan Coultas
2. Sam McGrath
3. Tomski Robinson

Girls
1. Katie Omerod
2. Becky Menday
3. Lucy Prior

13 – 17

Boys
1. Tom Hunt
2. Danny McCormick
3. Jordy Gee

Girls
1. Sophie Nicholls
2. Faye Young
3. Natalie Silkstone

18 – 24

Men
1. Simon Cudlip
2. Jamie Keeble
3. Sam Turnbull

Women
1. Gemma Marshall
2. Becky Cullum
3. Christina Tambaros

25 and over

Men
1. Rob Harding
2. James Thorne
3. Fraser Rennie

Women
1. Lucy Butler
2. Sam Pinder
3. Rebecca Lees

Final

Men
1. Jamie Nicholls
2. Simon Cudlip
3. Colum Mytton
4. Jordy Gee

Women
1. Sophie Nicholls
2. Katie Omerod
3. Lucy Butler

Best Trick
Lon Canu: 50-50 to frontlflip on the canon-gap.

Scissors-Papers-Stone 50”TV Mega Grom Award
Jordy Gee

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