When: 1-2 April 2009
Where: Laax, Switzerland
The 20th edition of the British Snowboard Championships has wrapped up in Laax with Ben Kilner taking his first Brits pipe title, and young buck Jamie Nicholls fulfilling his potential by winning the senior slopestyle as a Youth.
What a way to wrap up the double decade celebrations of Europe's largest national shred champs. Bluebird skies and slush spring conditions prevailed, the parties were as debauched as ever, and there was also some killer riding that saw two guys who've been threatening to dominate this contest for the last few editions finally come good and take the top honours.
Following Tuesday's Big Air action, Wednesday saw attention switch over to the Laax superpipe which, due to the warm temperatures, was sadly not up to its usual high standards. Come the time of the finals, the heat had taken its toll on the walls and riders had to deal with slush on the bottom and rutted walls but nevertheless a few guys and girls have spent so long in the U-Jump that they can cope with whatever conditions and duly threw down in the difficult conditions.
In the men's it was time for Scottish samurai Ben Kilner to disrupt the Dan Wakeham vs Dom Harington tete-a-tete that has been a fixture of the Brits pipe for the last 3 years, and deservedly so. Ben has been one of Britain's foremost pipe riders for years, with an effortless style to boot, but injuries and sketch-outs have deprived him of the result he's capable of. Not this year, though. Sat in a good position to represent Queen and country in next winter's Olympics, Ben finally put down the run, with the height and style, that everyone knew he had in him to take first spot. Kicking off with a huge backside air, he followed up with big back to back inverted 7s, a Lein and backside 7 to finish, it was more than enough to see off the challenge of Harington and Wakeham who both looked to be struggling with keeping the speed throughout the pipe's length.
Come the women's final and after aspirant Kate Foster had landed a bit flat there was only really one lass who was going to nab first, and that was Scottish veteran Leslie McKenna making it a clean sweep for the Jocks. Lesley was head and shoulders above the rest and this win gave her what seems like her 821st Brits pipe crown.
With the business done and dusted on the hill, the crowd thronged outside the Crap Bar for the Nike 6.0 'Who's Got Pop' highest ollie challenge. A super fun session went down with the bar getting higher as the contestants were whittled down until it was Angus Leith and Ben Kilner who were left at something like the 92cm mark. Angus hit the bar but somehow it managed not to fall off, whereas Ben cleared it but Frosby flopped it and landed on his side. Though some thought otherwise, Angus was adamant that Ben should win so the young Scot took his second win of the day
As in the pipe, the slopestyle contest also saw potential fulfilled. For the last two years, the now 15-year-old Halifax prodigy Jamie Nicholls had qualified for the seniors slopestyle in first place, only to lack that last bit of mettle to carry over the performance into the finals and having to settle for second. This time round, there was no stopping him, even though from our vantage point it looked like Ben Kilner had edged it with a phenomenal performance on the upper section that saw him pull a beefcake frontside 9 to air-to-fakie on the pipe feature and then take it tech on the kickers. We couldn't, however, see the landings and while Ben managed to keep the speed for the three kickers and throw down on all of them, there must have been some hand drags, butt checks or reverts as he ended up third. Second place went to the super smooth Jack Shackleton who, though keeping it simple with 5s and 7s on the kickers, absolutely sent every one of them. But cometh the hour, cometh the boy as Nicholls put down a run as good as his qualifying, with good jibs, Cab 7 to alley-oop backside rodeo in the pipe, and Cab 9, backside 7 and frontside 7 on the kickers.
Having jetted in from her second place finish at the Roxy Chicken Jam in the States, it was all about HRH Jenny Jones in the women's slopestyle. Jenny, Britain's most successful competitive rider regardless of gender, showed why she won the X-Games, finished runner up in the Global Open Series last year and, basically, is hands down one of the top 5 women's slopestyle riders on the planet by steezing out the jibs and dominating the big kicker line with back 3s, front 3s and front 5s. Laura Berry and Claire Frost were left to pick up the pieces in second and third, and we were left to bow down to Ms Jones.
And with that the 20 year anniversary edition of the Brits was wrapped up. The stellar weather meant everything was done on time leaving today a free day to recover from hangovers and then try to maim oneself on the RedBull Home Run Chinese downhill thing this arvo. Always a pleasure to visit the Brits, so we'll see you in Laax next year for their 21st.