The Burton AM tour kicked off this weekend (15th November) in Bispingen, a small farming village in the north of Germany. To the delight of the British Junior Snowboard Team the village defied all the laws of nature with its massive indoor slope containing 23,500 square meters of snow.
Eight British Junior Snowboard Team athletes, Lewis Courtier-Jones (13, Coventry), Tom Hunt (14, Leeds), Henry Shackleton (13, Newbury), Dean Horsfield (16,Accrington), Mark Raper (16, Doncaster), James Smith (15, Hook), Jesse Smith (16,Edinburgh) and Gareth Andrews (16, Ampthill), and one British Freestyle Team member, Jamie Nichols (15, Bradford) travelled to Germany for the first leg of the 12 stage tour.
The set-up made eyes pop and the Junior team were raring to get going. In true Burton AM form, everything started on time and ran like clockwork.
Lewis Courtier-Jones, Tom Hunt and Henry Shackleton were representing the team in the Youth Boys category (aged 8–14) which with 26 other international riders from eight nations – to do well in this category was not going to be an easy feat! The athletes had to
really impress the judges with their riding skills as well as demonstrate the Burton AM tour motto “Join, Create, Progress”.
All the Youth Boys surpassed themselves with Lewis and Tom making it to the finals. Tom seduced the judges with 7s and front flips off the log jib, and Lewis laid down some slick half cabs 50-50 on, 180 off - they couldn’t fail to impress! This was good enough to gain the boys a top ten placing, Tom finishing in 6th and Lewis finishing in 8th position in
their categories. Henry narrowly missed the top 10 finishing in 11th but, considering he had the ‘flu he deserves a massive pat on the back for even riding on the day.
The Junior Boys category (aged 15-19) was eagerly anticipated and the qualifying runs were nail bitingly exciting. Thirty riders from 5 countries were under pressure to match the standard set by the younger athletes in the Youth Boys category earlier in the day.
On hand and rearing to go were Dean Horsefield, Gareth Andrews, Jesse Smith, James Smith and Mark Raper.
The team couldn’t have been more supportive of each other and although in competition with each other they encouraged, “hooted” and threw out the high fives, egging each other on to do their best and that is exactly what they did.
Every one of the athletes rose to the challenge and three of the British Snowboard Team riders made it to the finals. Mark Raper shone with his switch pivots on the street rail to 7s on the kicker, only narrowly missing out on a podium position finishing 4th. Dean was hot on his heels riding a very impressive and inventive line not used by anyone else and was rewarded with 6th place. James, Gareth and Jesse also did well finishing in 14th, 15th and 18th respectively.
However, a special mention must go out to Jamie Nichols from the British Freestyle Team who brought back an incontestable 1st place in both the Junior Boys and Overall categories for the British Snowboard Team.
The British Snowboard Team had won the day overall and had all done it both with style and with humbleness – characteristics that are to their credit not only as athletes but also as individuals.
In an attempt to top the day, and to try get her own podium finish, British Junior Snowboard Team coach Sonia Shaw took the athletes to the Ralf Schumacher go- karting track but alas, her plans were thwarted by the team, all of them showing her how it should be done!
All the athletes are now ready for the next stage of the Burton AM tour when it hits British soil next weekend at Sno!zone, Castleford on the 22nd November - let’s get some results!