Wham Bam, Yes Please, Jam

Kat on lift

After an early start of 5:30am on Saturday 22nd, we arrived in Castleford in plenty of time to grab a quick breakfast from McDonald’s before heading in to register for the Wham Bam Thank You Jam (AKA the British Indoor Snowboard Championships). The new format seemed to be eagerly anticipated by the riders & there were about 70 snowboarders taking part over the course of the day.

After registering I bumped into fellow SNO!zone team mates Jade Walsh & her dad and we headed out to the slope for Jade’s age category comp…..this year all the under 16s had the chance to fight it out amongst their own age groups with 2 judged runs, before joining the rest of us in the jam session. Jade rode really well and was stoked to find out at the end of the day that she had placed 3rd!

The main jam session kicked off at 10:30 and we all shredded the 4 zone course for 90 minutes, they then made the first cut. As there were less of us all the girls made it through to the first zone session, only 22 guys made the cut though. I was especially pleased that 9 year old SNO!zoner Will Gilmore made it through though as he’d been riding well above his age level!

We then had half an hour sessioning the top of the slope, typically this was my least favourite section and not having the guts to hit the gnarly side on rails I resorted to working through my trick list on the pyramid box. Not the easiest of boxes to really get styled out on as it has quite short sections but I was pleased to get some nice switch tricks laid down including a switch-frontside over it. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get me through to zone 2, but at least I know what I need to work on for future comps. If I can keep progressing on the side hits then I may stand a chance of holding my own against the youngsters.

The cuts kept coming with 50% of the riders being culled at each stage until only 4 remained in both the men’s and women’s category. In the end the style & experience of Becky Menday & Andy Nudds won out and they were crowned champions.

Kat Switch Nose Slide

It was a really fun day and I think it proved to be a winning format, the youngsters not only had the chance to face the pressure of 2 runs and beat their peers but everyone got to session a really good course in the jam section for at least 90 minutes (much longer if you we’re good enough to make the cuts). It was definitely the most riding I have done at any British Champs since my first one 9 years ago….in fact a couple of the youngsters were moaning about being tired they had ridden so much (of course this tiredness didn’t stop them beating me!).

So now it’s back to practicing, let’s see if I can build on my current skills and beat a couple of the kids in Tignes.

Results

Massive thanks has to go to VitaCoco UK who sponsored me with a months’ worth of coconut water….it really did help keep me hydrated throughout the comp and kept any major girly-leg moments at bay!

Autumn’s For Jam Making

 

Well the news is out and the British Indoor Championships this year sees the focus shift in the direction of the masses with the main comp being judged as a jam format.  It also sees the demise of the Masters comp due to lack of attendees in previous years, so I’m going to have to step things up in order to survive against the youngsters.

To spice things up the comp is working on an elimination basis with 50% of the field being ditched after the first round before getting sliced again as the jam moves through the 4 sections on the course until the winners are crowned.

Great news for the youngsters though, not only do they get the opportunity to whip the asses of us oldies in the jam session but they also get to do their own 2 run comp before the jam to get warmed up and secure an overall age group placing….how I wish I was under 16 again!

So it looks as though the organisers have gone all out to make as many people happy as possible this year, the youngsters get more riding time than ever before and the jam lovers get to throw down without the pressure of having to do it in 2 runs with everyone watching….let’s see whether the comp attracts more new faces than the usual suspects or whether those that have been vocal in the past that it’s the format that puts them off entering will find another excuse to stay at home!

Thankfully the Masters will be an age category at the Brits in Tignes, so those of you that were thinking that it wouldn’t be worth going can pop the dates back in your diary as we will be able to compete against fellow oldies in March if we want to.

I’ll update again after the Wham Bam Thank You Jam to let you know my thoughts on how the comp worked and who turned up.

Rant: I demand better organisation in snowboarding

Dr Pepper can

Dr Pepper can

Some people may feel that I moan quite a bit about the state of UK snowboarding, its competitions and its “scene”, a lot of people tell me I should just ignore the “mainstream” stuff run by Soulsports, ignore the British Championships, “stick it to the man and stop putting cash in Brassy’s pocket” and so it goes on.

So why do I care? Why do I keep moaning and keep doing the comps?

I care because I love snowboarding, I like competing and to me it’s important to be involved in “proper” competitions as well as the (apparently) more friendly jam sessions where you rock up to be told there are nappies at the bottom of the slope for anyone who is too scared to straight line the run into the kicker.

It seems to me that snowboarding tries to be everything to everybody, and probably due to its relatively young age as a sport, it hasn’t managed to sufficiently organise itself into factions in the same way as skiing, gymnastics, ice skating, boxing (and pretty much every other mainstream sport in the world) have. There’s no national grading system that allows people to compete against people of a similar skill level, there are no widely available schemes that direct people towards the same goal (remember your BAGA badges at school?), and there’s the constant fight going on between riders about whether the Olympics are good or bad, is snowboarding a sport or a lifestyle? How can we stop it being taken over by corporations? And so it goes on!

Folks, snowboarding is both a sport and a lifestyle, it’s time to live and let live and understand that each of us as individuals wants something different from the time we spend on snow. Some of us want to train, use sports psychology to make us better and enter (fairly & transparently judged competitions) to prove we are either better than someone else, or better than we were last year)

This brings me on to what triggered this post. As someone who views snowboarding as a sport I want to be able to plan my training, plan my goals and act as a mentor to younger riders who are just starting out. In order to do this I need to know more than 3 weeks before a competition what the format is and what disciplines are included, this is especially true of the British Indoor Championships. This competition should be the pinnacle of UK competition for the season, it should also (in my opinion) be a key day for the GB coaches to take a look at the up-coming talent, and give them a chance to find out more about being on the GB team.

In order to perform to the best of your ability in a competition you need to be able to train for it. That means it is helpful for you know how you will be judged, what on, any additional factors involved in scoring etc. Knowing this means you can prepare your 2 (or 3) comp runs in advance, or know that it’s a jam format so you need to cram in as many good tricks as you can in a certain time period. Do you go for an easy trick on a harder rail, or an uber-tech trick on an easier box? Without knowledge up front you can’t train to be the best.

Throw into the mix that for parents it’s handy to know days, timings and locations well in advance to plan around other family commitments, kids that need ferrying around.  It shocks me that on the morning of 6th September I am writing this because I’m awaiting some fancy poster & website about the British Indoor Championships taking place on 22nd September.

I don’t care about a fancy poster, I just want info! Fine, posters are useful for those people new on the scene, who may not be tapped in to the fact that the comp should be happening soon. For someone like me though, who did their first British champs in 2003, I would just like an email saying “hey, you’ve done this before, here’s all the info, stick it in your diary and guess what we took on board feedback from last year and have decided to do x, y & z to make things better.”  I also don’t expect to be told something will be annouced on a certain day and then have it constantly pushed back. Yes I understand sometimes delays occur, but it seems that the same thing happens year in and year out.

I don’t think this is too much to ask. Yes, I may be a bit anal about organisation and planning but my day job is project management, it runs through my veins and I refuse to fight it. If snowboarding in the UK wants to breed snowboarders who can compete on an international level and impress at the Olympics then it needs to start by improving how it hooks people in to the competitive scene and then keeps them there. Wherever you go people always comment on customer service, how they were treated by Brand X or they won’t buy from Store Y because of bad service, so why does the UK snowboarding scene put up with such shoddy service?

Come on British Snow Tour, Soulsports, BSS…..step up to the plate, start to treat snowboarding as a business and win more customers, we deserve better! In fact, we demand better!

 

Snow Tour | New BST Park Shaper

New BST Park Shaper

Damo’s onboard! – In additional to the mass of improvements that the British Snow Tour is unleashing this year, things have been taken one step further as the freestyle-shaping prowess of UK’s best-loved snow-sculpted expert, Damian Doyle is brought onboard. Damo and crew will be creating and shaping every British Indoor Championship course from the Trespass Snowboardcross/Skiercross course and Rail Jam set-up at Glasgow, to the Giro Big Air booter at MK, and finally at Protest Slopestyle course at Castleford. Save the dates folks… it’s gonna go off!

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via britishsnowtour.com

This is great news, as Rider Rep for the BST I’ve had a lot of feedback about the standard of the big air kickers (and had my own slamtastic issues with them) over the last few years so it’s good to see some changes to the park building crew. I’m looking forward to seeing what Damo puts together for us

Posted via email from IAmKat’s posterous

Prepping for the Brits

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post, but all the snow shredding that friends have been getting up to has been making me exceedingly jealous.  It’s always a bit depressing posting about indoor snow while everyone else is in the mountains but after having to cancel my month away in January due to work commitments I’m a week away from heading out to Laax, Switzerland for a two week trip.

I can’t wait to get back out to what is probably my favourite resort (followed closely by Mammoth) for a week of coaching followed by the British Snowboard Championships.  I’ll be competing in all 4 disciplines, boardercross, big air, half pipe and slopestyle and I’m looking forward to giving my Plastictastic 156 a proper testing as so far it’s only been used on a 135m slope and that’s really not enough distance to allow it to really get up to full speed!  I’m hoping it will help me quickly get used to the difference in speed required for the larger kickers I’ll be faced with (the Brits course is based on the course used for the Burton European Open).

I’ve had 3 excellent practice sessions recently, I’ve been lucky enough to have some more coaching from the crew at Maverix and it’s been good to get back on a board after a 12 week break.  I’m looking forward to trying to convert what I’ve learnt indoors to the bigger park in Laax.  If you want to read a bit more about the Maverix courses then take a look at this article from Cooler magazine.

I’ll do my best to keep you all updated on how I get on while I’m out there.