Words: Isabel Jones
Photos: Oakley/Grom Games
On May 21st 2011, we were told, the world was going to end. Evangelical Christians across the US were gathering their families and giving away their possessions, and unscrupulous aetheists took advantage by charging them ridiculous fees to look after their pets. Seriously, people really believed they were going to be swept up to heaven, leaving their poor pets behind! In the UK, no-one was too surprised when “The Rapture” didn’t actually happen. In fact, no-one noticed, cos everyone was focussed on what was going on the next weekend: the real main event – the all important Oakley Grom Games.
The now-annual competition is a chance for the UK’s best park riders to show off their skills indoors. With a massive mystery prize offered for the best rider overall (which last year turned out to be a plasma-screen TV!) and with the likes of Colum Mytton and Jamie Keeble on the judging panel we knew we were in for an epic display of riding.
With the skiers’ jam session complete and the rail-focussed park being reshaped, the snowboarders were getting excited in the Chill Factore changing rooms. Recently imposed restrictions on the slope meant that the kicker couldn’t be quite the size it was the previous year, but even so Chill Factore worked hard and the park was impressive nonetheless. With three full lines and around 15 features in total, including a shotgun rail, a gas pipe and a donkey dick the riders were able to create lines where they liked. The Red Bull van was blasting tunes the atmosphere on the slope was electrifying.
Well-known riders didn’t waste time, and headed straight for the big features, James Hull’s backside tailsides on the gaspipe were steezy as hell, and new unsponsored rider Sean Tummelty was displaying ridiculous skills. Jason Rickwood rode well throughout and managed to achieve first place for the over 25s. In the second round, MC Jay Stephenson was belting that Rickwood didn’t have enough speed to hit the T bar rail, but the Welsh rider didn’t let the pressure affect him, proving Stephenson wrong with a super clean backside 270 on, 270 off which he totally stomped. Colum Mytton, who rode for the invitational showdown once he’d finished judging, proved a crowd pleaser with his impressive switch backboard, 50-50 to front-flip 180 – although he failed to land it.
The girls – as always fewer in numbers, but never less in their efforts – were riding strongly. Westbeach rider Sarah Fish had a fluid style thoughout, her 50-50 back 180s off the Red Bull rail were tech-as-hell, and she managed to get a first place podium position in the over 25s. Most impressive of the girls was 13-year-old Katy Ormerod. Known for her incredibly smooth 50-50 to front flips, which she rides away from completely unphased, Katie was also throwing down 50-50 to front 360 off the donkey – one of the hardest rails of the day. These skills earned her first place overall for the girls.
Last year’s final, saw Jordy Gee and skier Josh Fawcett finished equal. To decide between them was impossible, so they embarked on an epic game of Rock, Paper, Scissors that lasted seven rounds! This year’s final took a slightly different format. The top four riders of the night were selected at random to ride head-to-head against one another. Last year’s winner Jordy performed switch back 3s off rails but they weren’t enough to get him third – and he was beaten this year by Cudlipp, who was consistent with solid 270s and even 450s on and off rails. Ross Needham took second place with a pretty sweet backside 50-50 followed by a back 3 out on the shotgun rail, but he was closely beaten in the final by Andy Nudds who stomped consistent switch front blunts to 450-out on the gas pipe.
At the final prize-giving Nuddsy stepped up to the podium to receive the promised massive mystery prize which turned out to be a cheque for the winner’s share of £1400! For an indoor comp, a prize purse that size is almost unheard of! The fun didn’t stop there though, once the finalists were out of their frozen clothes the partying could then begin. The DJ moved from the slope to the bar above and the sambucas and the jaegers started pouring… the rest, as they say, is best left to the imagination!
Thanks to Oakley, Salomon Freeski, Salomon Snowboard, Giro, Skullcandy, Subvert board stores, Snow & Rock, Freeze Pro Shop and (obviously!) Chill factorE for supporting such a quality event, and here’s to next years’s!
OAKLEY GROM GAMES MANCHESTER
1st – Katie Ormerod
2nd – Sophie Nicholls
3rd – Gemma Marshall
1st – Andy Nudds
2nd – Ross Needam
3rd – Simon Cudlip