[All photos: Daniel Tengs.]
Check the gallery and read what went down as the first leg of burn's King of the North went pop in Trysil.
After a couple of days of relaxed shredding, it was business time in Norway last night – well, if your business is throwing chilled jams that evoke the kind of day-to-day sessions these riders will regularly partake in, with the added impetus of a crowd, cash and thumping hip-hop booming 'Shabba, Shabba Ranks', that is.
The contest format was geared towards giving the riders the opportunity to thrive without the added pressure or confusion of anything like 'three runs and you're done', head-to-head battles of peril, or a scoring system that Einstein would find hard to solve. In short, it was a case of 'jam on, fellas'. Practically, this meant there was a qualification session where all the invited dudes tore apart the setup – a step-down rail, an elevated barrel, a down-flat-down, a wallride and a mini funbox – with the judges scribbling impressions of who they thought should be on the 15-rider shortlist for the final session.
The finals was to be where the judges – Hoppipolla honcho Petter Foshaug, ex-pro Torgeir Berre, burn boss Manu and Onboard's own Sam Oetiker – would become the riders' own personal ATM machines, dispensing cash with the one stipulation that they made a sufficient deposit of hammers. From the first runs it was clear the riders heeded the call and responded in kind, as it looked like they'd break the bank such was the succession of heavy tricks stomped off the bat. Despite the urging of the burn guys to take it a little easier with their cash thumbs, it was impossible in that first five-minute spell as every other trick seemed to be a genuine WTF moment.
With riders blowing up all over the setup it was sometimes a challenge to keep up with the action, but there were certainly some standouts making themselves known. The LA River duo of Simon Houdin and Jessi Blackwell turned heads with their unique styles, multiple combos, steezed out wallride bluntslides and a propensity for laybacks, while Sven Thorgren and Ståle Sandbech were notable for easily holding their own in what many might think would be an unfamiliar environment. Brage Richenberg was riding like a man possessed, making short work of gapping on to 50-50 with a back 3, and later adding a back 1 off, while fellow Norseman Ulrik Badertscher seemed to have the audience slackjawed whenever he dropped in. Young Finn Joel Ahola was one of the few who bucked the gapping trend and back 180'd on and through the lengthy double down with flawless style, while back on the gap tip it was hard not to lap up Jonas Steen's gap 270 tuckknee onto the stepdown rail.
As well as cash for tricks, there were a couple of main prizes up for grabs: best trick – going to Ulrik for his gap 450 onto the stepdown kink, and best overall – aka King of the Rails – which was bagged by Brage, who edged out Jessi thanks to his bossing of every single damn hit. It was also cool that for this final award, after a bunch of internal chat between the judges, they then consulted the other riders for their consensus. It was pretty unanimous.
So with the hip-hop still thumping, we bounced back to the cabin while others with less commitments and more cash hit the party. Today attention switches to the kicker, where they'll look to carry over the same jam format to crown the King of the North. Make sure you tune in to the live stream.