Saturday 8th October saw the Westbeach Snowflex Freestyle Series 2011 roll into the relatively new Aberdeen Snow sports Centre, and with near perfect conditions for a snowflex competition, it was sure to be another un-missable event on the UK snowboard calendar. Despite being one of the newer snowflex dry slopes in the UK, the level of riding coming out of the almost perfectly sculpted slope is mind blowing. When you have a combination of good management, typically wet Scottish weather and a gang of dedicated snowboarders, the result is only going to be some of the best kicker riders in the UK.
With registration quickly over and done with, it was time for the Jam Session Qualifier to start and it wasn’t long until the slightly damp spectators were being treated to back rodeo 5’s, huge front 7’s and equally stylish 9’s. Again, living proof that a jam session format reduces the pressure and allows the riders to throw down their biggest tricks. As the 45 minutes came to an end it was a tightly contested competition with any one of the riders good enough to make it into the top 6 Under 16’s, and the top 8 men. But it was the style, technicality and amplitude that eventually separated the field. The standard of women snowboarders was also a positive sign for the British scene with Vaila Chapman, local Lara Wood, Bradford University student Anna Beswick and Salomon rider Sophie Addison all making it through to the jam session final.
Even with the closest indoor dome being over 100 miles away, a wide range of rails and boxes means the locals are not rail deprive. Not to neglect the rider’s who prefer rails it was time for the Stepchild sponsored rail jam. During the ‘Child Support’ rail jam the riders had a choice of a down bar or a box, and had 30 minutes to throw down.
The usual array of rail trickery was witnessed including front boardslide pretzel out, 270 on 270 out, there was some truly sick riding but it was Ben Parker a local unsponsored shredder who took away the Stepchild Jibstick.
Following a progressive rail jam it was time to step it up once again and see who could get the highest out of Aberdeen’s head on quarter pipe. It was obvious that the skiers in attendance would be able to gain more speed down the steep snowflex slope, but that wasn’t going to stop local Matt Gibson from trying to steal their thunder. Eventually the highest air did go to a skier with Matt walking away with some extra prizes for his efforts. With the quarter pipe session coming to an end, it was time for the qualifying riders to head back up to the run in for the jam session final. This time a 30 minute jam session with the top 3 going through.
In the Under16’s it was the same final as last year with Matt Corey, Fin Bremner and Matt McCormick all making it through to the final 3. The men’s category proved to be a hard decision for the judges with everything from cab underflip 7’s to switch backside rodeo 5’s being stomped but it was Westbeach rider Jesse Smith, Grenade rider Danny McCormick and surprisingly unsponsored Matt Gibson making it through to the super final.
With only two runs each in the super final the pressure is on to land the best trick. The rider’s have the decision as to whether they go down the safety run route or all out ‘im taking home a stack of prizes’ route. For the Under 16’s it was the stack of prizes which made their decision, as each of the groms threw down 7’s but with only Matt McCormick landing his, he had the upper hand. In their second run he once again landed bolts, this time a backside 9, with Matt Corey landing a front 5 and Fin Bremner just sneaking out a cab 7.
In the Mens category it was another case of winner takes all, with Matt Gibson and Jesse Smith landing almost identical tricks and Danny McCormick cleanly landing a back 9 nose grab. With the pressure piling on Matt and Jesse they both fell on their second runs, resulting in the judges asking them to return to the top to battle it out for 2nd and 3rd place. With Matt Gibson taking a slam in his run, it was down to Jesse Smith to land on his feet and take 2nd place.
As the second leg of the Westbeach Snowflex Series 2011 came to an exciting end, it was time for the winners to be announced and for the van load of prizes to be dished out. With the final leg being held at Bearsden, arguably, Europe’s best dryslope, and the home of the first double underflip on dryslope, there is no doubt that November 5th will be going off with a bang! We’ll see you there!
Words: James Box/Edited: Sue Garlick