I’m feeling slightly odd at the moment. Why? You might ask. Well this Saturday as The Boyf and I drove home from the British Snow Tour Indoor Big Air competition (sponsored by Giro) we realised we actually weren’t moaning!
It’s been a good few years since I’ve been to any Snow Tour competition that I haven’t left feeling totally gutted either for myself or for friends, either due to apparent mis-judging or in the case of last year’s big air, injury from the overly large and mis-shaped kicker. It was this kicker that was on my list of things to raise even before I became the Tour’s rider rep, so many people had spent almost a year in fear of what would be put out this year that there was talk of boycotting the event in the name of safety (and not starting the new season with an injury).
Thankfully Spencer of Soulsports took this on board (“We never thought weâ€™d hear ourselves say it, but in retrospect, we are forced to recognise that last yearâ€™s kicker at the British Big Air Championships was simply too big, and subsequently elitist. And so, for the record, we would like to assure every aspiring UK skier and snowboarder out there that king-shaper Damian Doyle, is currently working alongside the MK park crew in the process of building what he claims will be the most beautifully sculpted and rider-friendly 10m kicker ever build indoors, WITH an equally considered 6m and 3m kicker option to cater for first-timers and the countryâ€™s leading pros â€“ something the British Snow Tour is all about! So, get yourself down to MK this weekend and ride the greatest kicker ever build indoors” Spencer Claridge – BST Director) and Damian Doyle was brought on to help work with each slope’s local team to help ensure that the set up was perfect at each venue. It certainly paid off for Saturday’s competition, with 3 well shaped kickers that actually matched the sizes pre-announced on the course plans. The only negative comment I heard all day was that it was a bit hard to judge the speed due to the changing conditions on the run in, something I think riders will admit to facing no matter what surface they are riding. On a positive note the body count for the snowboarders was zero (as opposed to a third of competitors last year), so well done to Damian and the local crew Thom, Jack & Neil! Now all we need to do is convince MK to do a kicker night once a month and we’ll see some real progression from the local riders on the kicker front.
The judging seemed pretty spot on too, there didn’t seem to be any stunned silences as the results were announced and I didn’t see any tears. Certainly I didn’t receive any upset Facebook messages as I’ve done in the past.
It was a shame that the Big Bang show was on at the same time in Tamworth, but having less riders did mean the competition ran to time (slightly early in fact) and we didn’t all freeze from hanging around for ages waiting for our runs. I also really liked the new format, a jam warm-up with throw down prizes and then 3 runs for the actual championships. I know some riders prefer the old 2 run format for qualifications followed by 2 more runs, and I have no doubt that not everyone will always be pleased but if you’re a rider who wouldn’t qualify for the final then you get more shredding done for your money.
All in all it was a good competition, I enjoyed it and I got the feeling that the other riders did too. I’m looking forward to doing the slope-style at Castleford in a couple of weeks now. The team at Cas always put on a good set-up and I’m looking forward to seeing the kids throw down up there. It’s a shame that the slope-style clashes with the Westbeach final in France but in the end I’ve decided to stick to the UK. This decision has already raised questions and raised eye-brows from people who think I should choose core over mainstream, think I’ve quit riding dry-slope or am siding with the evil money-making Brass. For those of you who are questioning my choices it’s as simple as this….it’s all down to personal choice and circumstances. Firstly, I do like doing the TTR ranked competitions, at 35 it’s nice to be able to brag that you are 150ish in the world ranking. Secondly, I’m a company director, a start-up, and this means I have to put work and finances first, being mid-way through 3 system implementations it means I may end up having to cancel my weekend plans at the last minute and it is much easier to do that without losing money if I only have travel bookings in England as opposed to Eurotunnel bookings to France. Snowboarding isn’t my reason for living, it’s not my job and so I choose to put my life and job first and if that means upsetting friends and acquaintances then I guess I have to live with that. The UK scene is too small, over crowded and has too many overlapping events for me to be able to please all of the comp organisers all of the time, so if I’m not at your event, it’s nothing personal against you, just me putting my personal needs first.
The same can be said about me becoming rider rep for the snow tour, it was a personal decision based on a sudden desire to stop being so “British” and actually complain for once. I haven’t done this to support Stu Brass and Soulsports, I’ve done it because I got sick of constantly moaning but never doing anything about it and to help other riders complain too, even if they wanted to do it anonymously. Those of you who have known me for a while or have read this blog will know that I’m the gobby one, the one who’ll review an event the way I saw it not the way people want the outcome to be perceived and it’s because of this that I am able to give the feedback to the Snow Tour without fearing for future comp positions, I’ve been mouthing off for ages and so we might as well all benefit as riders by providing feedback so something can be done to fix the things we perceive as broken. Others are making their feelings known by boycotting the Snow Tour, but whether that will make a difference or not I don’t know. All I know is that I am not going to stop being a rider rep purely under pressure from those who think I shouldn’t help Stu Brass improve his events (and therefore make money), nor will I bow to the warning that I might as well not bother going to any independent events this years I’ll be marked down for being a Snow Tour supporter. If that’s the case then I wouldn’t want to support an event that is not fairly judged anyway.
I love snowboarding and I love competition, all I want to do is enjoy it, at whatever comp I ride at, whoever is putting the event on. This weekend, the British Snow Tour ticked the right boxes for me and I had fun! Thanks to everyone I saw this Saturday, you all made it a great day for me.
oh and as a bonus I have finally managed to win myself a voucher for a new helmet, which considering mine is about 4 years old is probably a good thing.Â So now I just have to hope my midget head can find a lovely new Giro helmet that fits it (without me having to get a kiddy one).