Last weekend, British riders gathered from far and wide for the annual 2012 British Indoor Championships at Sno!zone Castleford. The ‘Wham Bam Thank You Jam’ featured a brand new zone-based format for everyone to get stuck into and the hugely capable shapers up at Cas Vegas had laid out a perfectly sculpted slopestyle course littered with rails and boxes for some of Britain’s best jibbers to prove their worth on.
The new format was nice and simple: after an hour and a half long open jam on the entire course the field would be cut in half. Competitors would then session each of the four distinct sections of the course in turn, with the field being cut in half after each, until only four finalists remained to battle it out for the top spot.
The open course jam kicked off with riders keen to find their legs, get used to all of the features and impress the judges right off the bat. The standard of riding was noticeably high from the word go, with more spins onto and off rails that you could keep track of and a host of other technical rail combinations being stomped across the board; guys, girls and young rippers were all smashing it. After an hour and a half lapping the park the judges had to put their heads together to make the first cut of the competition. Nine year old Will Gilmore who had narrowly missed out on a podium spot in the kid's runs prior to the main open comp was killing it the jam and deservedly survived the first cut, as did young guns Josh Ogden and Callum Waller . Commit these names to memory as these guys will no doubt be smashing it once they get a little more weight behind 'em. Many of the other Uk shred staples made it through the first cut and it was over the next four zone based jam sessions that the comp really clicked into fourth gear.
The first skate style session went down at the top of the course in the so-called ‘Brits Backyard’ section consisting of a box, a down rail and a gap to down rail to choose from. Riders were getting tech on all three features, making it tricky for the judges to whittle the field down to just 12 riders. Becky Menday, still on a roll after taking the top spot earlier in the youth competition was looking as strong as ever with stylish front board pretzels on the down rail.
As one of the most technically demanding sections of the course, the ‘Dare 2B Downtown’ zone included a down box, down rail and heavy down flat down kinked rail that definitely helped to separate the men from the boys, so to speak. Andy Nudds, John Weatherley, Gaz Andrews, Matt McCormick and few others were absolutely sending it, gapping to the down section of the rail. John was also whipping out steezy-ass front boards through the double kink.
After a further cut the men's field was reduced to just seven. The ‘Trespass District’ section was actually relatively mellow, with a lollipop bonk feature, cannon box and a gap to rainbow box. However, it did allow for some serious airtime. Jamie Trinder was pulling out more crowd pleasers than a circus trained chimpanzee, with mahoosive frontflips off the cannon box, while Nuddsy was doing rad frontside 360 hand drags on the bonk feature. At this stage in the comp, riders simply had to make sure they were better than at least three other riders to make it into the four man final – no easy task when the level of riding was as high as it was. In the end it was John Weatherley, Gaz Andrews and Guinness World Record holder Calum Paton who just missed out on making it through to the final, despite all three riding incredibly consistently all afternoon. It’s a dog eat dog world at the Brits you know. That left one Yorkshireman (Andy Nudds), and three young Scot’s (Matt McCormick, Jamie Trinder and Sam McGrath) to battle it out for a spot on the podium. On the women’s side of things it was Becky Menday, Vaila Chapman, Nathalie Silkstone and Cerys Allen who impressed the judges enough to make it all the way through to the final section of the course.
The final went down at the bottom of the course in the ‘Protest Plaza.’ The section was again conducive to going big with a double box combo, a down rail and a canon rail that had been setup to invite riders to transfer between the two. All four girls really picked up their game with Cerys chucking big 180’s over the box gap and Vaila and Nathalie looking smooth on the boxes and rails as well. But at the end of the day (well, afternoon actually) it was Becky Menday who did enough with her clean and consistent tricks (including a big frontside 180 to switch 50-50) to secure first place.
In the men’s final Matt and Jamie showed us that they both have a bit of a knack for going upside down and Jamie pulled a mind boggling cab one to nollie frontflip to backside 180 out on the double box feature. Sam was spinning clean 270’s onto the down rail while Matt was sticking super tech hardway frontside 270’s on as well. The riders were clearly feeding off each other, stepping up their own tricks in tune with their competitors. Competition was fierce, and a barrage of tricks was thrown but in the end, nobody could touch the Nuddsinator. Andy had been landing everything bolts all afternoon and was pulling out all sorts of technical tricks on the double rail feature: transfer to back blunt 270 out? Yep. Transfer to back lip? Chea. Frontside 270 between the two rails? Damn straight. Proper sick riding that's up there with some of the best in Europe without question.
After the comp had wrapped up we got chatting to some of the competitors. Almost everyone that we spoke to only had positive things to say about the new format, which, despite the relatively brutal cuts, maximised riding time and removed the stress associated with more traditional two run formats. It was proper rad to see that once peeps got knocked out, rather than taking off, most gathered at the bottom of the slope or hiked up by the side of the features to watch and cheer on their fellow riders. Overall the Wham Bam Thank You Jam acted as a stark reminder of just how much jib talent and we have bubbling up in the snowdomes and dryslopes up and down the country and it was great to see how keen our riders (both young and old) are to get involved and have a bloody good time shredding. Roll on The Brits proper!
BRITISH INDOOR SNOWBOARD CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS:
1st – Tomski Robinson
2nd – Leo Fordham
3rd – Jake Binnee
1st – Bradie Zimmer-Collins
2nd – Cerys Allen
3rd – Jade Walsh
1st – Matt McCormick
2nd – Billy Cockrell
3rd – Jack Taylor
1st – Becky Menday
2nd – Vaila Chapman
3rd – Amber Cordingley
1st – Andy Nudds
2nd – Jamie Trinder
3rd – Matt McCormick
1st – Becky Menday
2nd – Vaila Chapman
3rd – Nathalie Silkstone