When: April 4, 2008
Where: Laax, Switzerland
Nate Kern. All photos: Andrew Hingston.
The level of shreddery was proper today as the 2008 British Champs came to a close in Laax.
Sorry for the lack of update yesterday, but the weather was shitty and the contest was cancelled. When I say shitty, I mean we had a frickin’ epic powder day but I won’t rub it in too much. Well, apart from telling you this morning was even better. There’s more than a few Cheshire cat powder grins being flashed around the media centre, that’s for sure.
So, to today’s action. Ok, after the decrepit desk jockey’s body that my consciousness inhabits could take no more leg burning, it was happily time to witness the sickness in the Animal slopestyle. The course was a similar affair to what Laax had put on for the European Open, what with a selection of rails, wallrides and boxes up top leading the riders into three successive kickers that to be in with a chance of doing well you’d have to land well off the first to keep your speed for the entirety of the course.
As ever the riders who struggled to put down a clean run were penalised, but guys like Jack Shackleton (who’s got a mean cab 7 on him), Mike Austin and Dom Harington were mixing up the 5s and 7s to great effect and made the finals one of the techest in recent years. Shackleton was solid throughout the whole event and his run that included a frontside tailslide 270, blunt tail stall on the wall ride, noseslide and big frontside 360, 540 and cab 540 over the kickers saw him into third.
The prodigious Halifax boy Jamie Nichols had, as last year, qualified in first place putting many of his older peers to shame but as happened last year he couldn’t quite pull together his run as well in the finals. When he beefs up and can hold speed for all the bigger booters he will win this gig. Fact. The boy’s got skills, style and stompage and teched it up on the rails while sending it off the booters. Try these on for jib fluency: switch backside to frontside boardslide to backside boardslide, 270 out on the top box, frontside 540 on the wall ride and switch boardslide on the kinked rail. His kicker line included a backside 720, 540 and a cab 540 and that was good enough for second.
But first went to Nate Kern, who is showing that he’s got a bag of tricks deep enough that he can more than hold his own on a European stage. His run of 50-50 round to switch 50-50 180 off, bs disaster 180 out, fs 7 (that looked like he may have overcooked it but the landing gear went down solid as you like), bs 9, cab 7. From our vantage point at the top it was hard to see if someone had landed clean, you’d have to judge it by whether they came out like they’d been fired out a cannon. Nate did on all his hits and deservedly took his second Brit slopestyle title.
In the women’s section there was a refreshing field of fresh faces looking like they’ll be hustling the likes of Jenny Jones in years to come. Top of the pile was Claire Frost who styled her way down the course and even wanged in a bs 5 – no revert either – to claim her first Brits slopestyle title, and her second Brits title of the week.
Now, I’m sure all who watched or entered will agree, the Redbull Home run was perhaps the highlight of the week. A Le Mans style start saw scenes of carnage erupt as 300 or so skiers and snowboarders legged it to strap in fist and gain advantage. The madness that unfolded as everyone hooned their way down was hard to grasp, but watching from the bottom there was a sense of anticipation as to when the first guys would come down. The skiers came in first, but behind them by a mere 30 seconds or so screamed Ben Kilner. Talking with a visibly shaken but stoked Kilner he said ‘I don’t think I ever been so fast on my snowboard.’ The likes of Elliot Neave were also similarly mindblown ‘I was just trying to keep Ben in my sights but we were going so fast I was proper scared. The flat light didn’t help, you couldn’t see shit in parts!’
So on that bombshell, yet another British champs was done. This has been going for like 18 years now and there’s no doubt it will continue as a killer example of what a national champs should be: good riding, good bro-ing down and more than a couple of good parties. Two foot of fresh also helps.