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.

All hail the kickertastic park crew

Just a quick shout out to the park crew at SNO!zone MK for Friday night’s set up. With 2 really good kickers and a mix of boxes and rails that meant the intermediates & experts could both get 4 hits a run if they wanted it was a really good night.

The Boyf, who is normally in photography mode, was especially stoked to be riding with a double-kicker line out as he’s not really a fan of rails at the moment….he has especially asked that the kickers can be out again soon some doesn’t have to wait until the end of the winter season before he can continue to get his kicker legs back!

I was enjoying hitting the Nike box at the top, once I got my head round the kicker on (the angles all looked a bit weird to me), I settled into it and got some smooth tricks laid down. I’m looking forward to this Friday’s Park Strife so I can keep the progression going. With the British Indoor Championships in 20 days, and with 2 work trips scheduled to Munich & Madrid I need to make the most of my snow time.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of the kickers as I was using a rubbish phone camera and couldn’t get the button to press at the right point on the lift, but they were big, smooth & fun! Can’t wait for the next double-kicker line 🙂

 

Event: Who’s Afraid of the Park?

Come to SNO!zone MK this Friday for the latest in the Who’s Afraid of the Park event series that launched last year….this event gives you the opportunity to get some coaching from the slope’s qualified instructors as well as support and demos from the team of sponsored riders.  That means you can ride with me, and laugh when I demonstrate the wrong way to do things (following the old addage of if I fall over, don’t do what I did….if I’m still upright, then so what I did!)

Details can be found on the SNO!zone MK website.  Hopefully I’ll see some of you there.

To Liberty & beyond

Kickers
On 26th August I arrived at the Liberty University Snowflex Mountain having been up for 44 hours (I had to do a full day of work on the 25th before starting my journey) and travelled from Chelmsford to Lynchburg, VA via Hemel Hempstead, Manchester, Paris & Washington. As part of what has been referred to by the media “a group of UK Pro riders” we travelled out for the Grand Opening of the new Snowflex slope, the first full size outdoor slope of it’s kind in the USA, and I have to say a huge thank you to Brian & Terry of Snowflex and Wayne Taylor (AKA Snowskate) for inviting me along on what I can only describe as my best snowboarding trip ever! Not only did I meet a great bunch of new friends but I got to introduce Snowflex to people who’ve either never ridden it or have only just started. I also met a bunch of my Humanity team mates and collected my new snowboards so it made for a great week.

I admit to totally wussing out of riding on the day we got there, both Katie Summerhayes and I decided to leave the guys to it, 44 hours with hardly any sleep screamed “accident waiting to happen to me” so I just walked around the slope watching and just chatting to the people who had come up to either watch their friends or just see what was going on at this new slope. The slope is amazing and currently consists of 3 kickers (a knuckle, a 3 foot and a 6 foot kicker) all of which can give you massive air. It was great to see that the locals were already getting the hang of it, with a young lad (the size that Jamie Nicholls used to be) of 9 year old giving 360s a try off the knuckle. There are also 2 boxes, a straight box & a down flat down kink which are placed on the intermediate slope. The slope is also going to be expanded as part of Phase 2 and so the riding area is going to pretty much double and they’re bound to add more jibs to the collection over time. There’s also a nursery slope for beginners to make their first turns on or to tube on.

After a late start on the Thursday we spent the afternoon playing ball and sunning ourselves in the uni pool (after a drive around town to find the outdoor pool with waterslides was closed as school had started) before heading to the slope to ride. I picked up my 150 Humanity Plastictastic, got my bindings screwed in and hit the slopes. After a couple of runs down the main slope to get the feel of the Snowflex and the new snowboard I was ready to start pushing it.

My first reaction to the new snowboard was that it perfect, it’s got plenty of spring and pop for ollies and is a lot flexier than I’m used to but without feeling soggy. I headed up to the kicker drop in and had a chat with Wayne Taylor about drop in speeds for the big kicker. I’d decided to go all out and hit the big one first off because I knew if I hit the 3 footer I’d be too scared to step it up, especially if I stacked it.   So after a couple of ride -throughs over the knuckle to get the hang f the drop in and feel the gradient of the run out I went for it. Dropped in, quick speed check and straightened up for the main 6 footer….up the kicker, in the air and I landed! I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised that the 150 handled the landing without any problem at all, and even more importantly there wasn’t any chatter on the run in either. I spent the rest of the evening working on various grabs and just trying to go bigger each time.

Friday saw us riding again and I was even brave enough to give a FS180 a try on the 6 foot kicker. I landed cleanly, but girly legs took over half way down the landing and I sat down. That was my only spin off the big kicker of the trip (it just felt a little on the large side for me to keep spinning on it) but I did get some good spins off the 3 footer while I was there.

Saturday was the big opening ceremony and it was seriously hot out there! So hot in fact that I put my riding shirt in the bucket of ice with the water in it to cool it down before we hit the slopes in the early afternoon sun. After the sky-diver had landed on the slopes and skiied down the hill I was the first over the kicker….it seemed like a good idea to volunteer to go first initially as it meant that when we started doing named tricks I’d be at the front to do a straight air (rather than being at the back and getting stuck with a 1080!), but as I was waiting to drop in it dawned on me that I was going to be the first person that the waiting crowds (of around 3,200 people) would see. All went well though and although I had a hand down on landing I managed to stay upright and not stack in front of everyone watching or get squashed by the riders who were following me in in quick succession.

After some “Trickology” to show the various tricks possible on skis and snowboards we had a quick team comp. I was part of UK 2, consisting of myself, Will Smith, Matt Macwhirter and Wayne Taylor. Unfortunately UK1 (Jamie Nicholls, Andy Nudds, Woodsy & Katie Summerhayes beat us in the crowd vote and went through to the final against on of the US teams. UK 1 were amazing and won the crowd vote overall. Their run can be seen in this video shown on the local news (in which I also feature!).  It was also great to have Dragon Goggles Team Manager, Sam Nelson, acting as half of the MC crew, it meant that there was someone there who knew our names and what we were doing and made sure we got plenty of shout outs and support from the crowd.  Russ Shea from Dopeshots was also on hand with his trusty camera so hopefully there’ll be some shots from him of us doing our thing.

We rode again on Sunday and as it was after the opening I think everyone was pushing it a little bit more, the pressure was off and people were less worried about hurting themselves. I used the time to keep working on big hits and grab variations and I had a great time. Katie stepped it up to throw down some massive 720s on skis and all the guys were putting in some huge spins. Everyone who hit it agreed that it’s the best kicker we’ve all hit and certainly the best kicker on Snowflex.

Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end, and  so we left Lynchburg on Monday morning and headed to the airport following a quick tourist stop off in Washington, where we saw the White House and the Washington Memorial. Arriving back in the UK yesterday it was great to log in to Facebook and Twitter and catch up on the buzz of the opening and the excitement of all our new friends. It was great to meet everyone from Liberty, the US Team and my boys from Humanity! We were all made to feel so welcome and I can’t wait to see how everyone progresses over the coming months.

Thanks again to Brian, Terry & Wayne for making this trip possible and for taking an old girl like me along with the kids. It meant a lot to be included and I hope I did you proud!

Here’s another movie from the team at Liberty University, great work from Hannah & Ena, I can’t wait to see what else you come up with.

And here’s my Flickr set of the trip