Following several successful incarnations across the pond, the Ride Shakedown took its European bow last weekend with the UK's Jamie Nicholls bagging his first major career win. Read the full report of what went down.
The Ride Shakedown rolled into Garmisch-Partenkirchen over two spring-like days last weekend, attracting some of Europe's finest up-an-comers to thrown down in the Olympic Stadium. While kicker-to-rail sections are not uncommon, the Shakedown shook things up with its unique judging format – following the lead from the original across the pond, rather than a head-to-head or best of 3 runs riders would take part in an hour and a half-long jam session in which they could take as many runs as they wanted. Points were split equally between the kicker and rail section meaning if you wanted to be in the game you'd need to put the hammers down on both. It's not any old jam session though: before dropping riders had to call whether they wanted the run judged or not. They were allowed 3 judged runs, and even more interesting was that riders had to not only call which tricks they'd do, they were not allowed to repeat any of the tricks they'd called to be judged. The result was that you had to show you could be both consistent and had a diverse set of shred skills if you wanted to place well here.
Friday was reserved for the Planet Sports am qualifiers and the nighttime rail session. The ams kicked off knowing the top 3 would bag themselves a spot in the semi finals against the invited riders. Under bluebird skies, it seemed the spring conditions combined with gusting wind was wreaking havoc with the speed for the kicker. 80% of the guys seemed to get it windy and encounters with the knuckle were common, whereas the other 20% found themselves sending it deep. To be fair it was kind of a lottery what conditions you got, and the guys who dealt best were Stephan Wimmer, Patrick Cinca and Roger Schuler.
It got cold quick as the sun disappeared behind the hill meaning speed issues were pretty much resolved for the rail jam. If you've seen the Shakedown editions across the pond you'll know this crew take their jibs seriously and while the setup wasn't quite up to the Canadian editions it was still pretty solid, with a donkey dicked down bar on some sketchy stairs and a long flat bar with options to pop over or send to the end to get jiggy with. After a couple of beatdowns on the stair set things started hotting up with plenty of fancy dancing going down in the down rail, but it looked like if you wanted to set yourself apart you had to take it to the flat bar and pop in with some Wu-Tang. We thought British rippersnapper Jamie Nicholls was in for the cash when he front boarded the entire length and then sucked up the short tranny at the end, but we'd not figured on local German Basti Rittig's tech on the same bar. After riding super hard all evening he fully deserved the wedge of cash and the props of the crowd.
Saturday was even warmer but any concerns about speed were dismissed when the guys started sessioning. The wind had calmed and most everyone was making it to the sweetspot. We were chilling at the bottom when Jamie Nicholls popped off his first judged run - back 10 double and 5050-front 270 off the flat bar. He nailed it, clean as a whistle, and decided that was enough to take him to the finals. It was - he qualified first. Others decided to use the full length of the session to enjoy the atmosphere and get their tricks dialled, with Nuutti Niemelä, Andre Kuhlmann, Matts Kusilek and Luka Jeromel standing out. In total 12 guys went through and after a break it was game on to see who'd take home the first ever Ride Shakedown Europe.
There was a slight change of format for the finals as now the top scoring 2 of 3 runs would be scored. Andre Kuhlmann sent a back 7 so deep we thought he'd have to be scraped off the flat, but he stomped and killed the down rail with a smooth front board too, while Nuutti looked to be having fun putting down some neat double 9s and 10s. Luka Jeromel was looking consistently good, as was Matts Kusilek who showed why he won last season's Shakedown by riding consistently solid.
But our boy from Bradford was not to be denied. Jamie Nicholls was by far the most consistently tech shredder in the event and despite feeling some nerves as the final approached he put down his 'safety' back 10 and 5050 front 270 out, before calling a cab 10 on the kicker to cab 180 5050 270 out on the rail section and knocking the back out of that, too, to post the highest judged score of the day.
It was Jamie's first major win after knocking at the door with several podium finishes already this winter, and he was understandably pumped. "The jump was nice, the rails were good and I really enjoyed the format of the event. You had to be consistent as it was 2 runs counted out of 3, so I'm really happy."
And with that the first ever Ride Shakedown Europe was done and, despite colliding with the US Open and having to deal with tricky conditions, it went off. With any luck they'll be able to bring it bigger and better next year and with a couple of subtle tweaks to the setup and schedule we're claiming it could rock the socks off Garmisch next spring.
1 Jamie Nicholls (UK)
2 Matts Kuli (CAN)
3 Luka Jeromel (SI)
4 Simen Neraker
5 Havard Bergheim
6 Andre Kuhlmann (DE)
7 Nuutti Niemelä
8 Hubert Fill (AT)
9 Reto Kestenholz (CH)
10 Niklas Mattsson
11 Roger Schuler (CH)
12 Florian Corzelius (AT)