Presented by Never Summer Snowboards, The Reason, Blue Bird Wax and FBBB
Once upon a time all you needed to have a snowboard competition was a vaguely half pipe shaped ditch, a bunch of keen riders and a shitload of flouro one pieces. Nowadays, with events like London Freeze, the X games and the Olympics, snowboard competitions seem to have got serious. Rather than good times, friends and free beers, competitions seem to be more about TV rights, invited international riders and corporate sponsors.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; all the big events, marketing and seriousness means more people are exposed to snowboarding as well as more people being able to make a living out of something they love. But hey, snowboarding’s about more than big events, competitions and triple corks. It’s about shredding the living daylights out of some weird little feature with a bunch of other likeminded people, right?
This is exactly what was on the minds of a group of good-for-nothing UK snowboarding shrednecks. The combined brains of Never Summer Snowboards, The Reason, Blue Bird Wax and FBBB decided to say good bye to the serious side of competitions and say hello to the old school shred fests of yesteryear. Over a few beers and late night meetings in smokey, dim-lit cellars, The Shredneck Mini Ramp Jam was born.
The idea was simple, build a mini ramp with a spine in the middle out of snow, invite everyone who’s up for a laugh, and get rad in the sunshine. A mellow jam session all about fun, new features and perhaps the odd flip or two.
With all the snow in place, and after a brief period of shaping from the Never Summer and FBBB crews it became clear that due to the slushy conditions of Kaunertal in May, there wouldn’t be enough speed to make the mini ramp work properly. Whereas others might have given up and gone home, the shrednecks roped in former Olympian Dan Wakeham and metalhead Chris Chatt for a bit of consultation.
What was going to be a little mini ramp feature soon turned into a multi-hit mega feature with more possible lines than you could ever shake a true twin freestyle jib stick at. Riders had the choice of hitting a 10ft hip or a butterbox table top, with a spine and then a quarter pipe with bowled corners after it, both of which had multiple kickers and transitions into them.
Hand shaped with copious amounts of TLC by the shredneck crew, the â€œmini rampâ€ was less like a mini ramp and more like something straight out of the summer parks on Mt Hood. A truly original, fun feature that could be ridden by first time freestylers and seasoned pro’s alike. As riders gathered to session the shredneck beast, metal was blasted out of the stereo and photographers with more camera equipment than sense gathered to document the madness about to take place.
Things soon got underway and the feature ensured that riders could show their most original and creative side. Chris Chatt was taking it back to 1989 with handplant nose grabs over the hip, Tom Smithy Smith was stomping miller flips over the spine whilst Dan Wakeham was clearing the hip to the landing of the tabletop with huge backflips. There were tweaks a plenty over the hip, with Jonny Russell using his lobster claws to grab in ways previously thought only possible in the SSX snowboarding games. The girls were also getting creative with back 3s and steezed out slides on the spines coping from Kate Mccondichie and Helen Fox whilst Sophie Addison was throwing down double tail grabs all over the shop.
One of the shredneck shaper crew, Olly Jackson, was blasting all kinds of frontside and backside spins into the quarter pipe from the set back hip kicker, but came a cropper after slipping out on a backflip. Lil Will Smith went for style over technicality with a couple of super boned grabs that would make the likes of Terje jealous and an anonymous Atomic shredder was stomping lazy, laid out backflips over the hip.
As tricks went down, prizes were thrown out for creativity, spontaneity and general radness rather than technicality. There wasn’t a first, second and third place podium, just a crowd of shredneck riders with big grins and knackered legs from all the hiking and riding! The session began to wind down as the thought of ice cold beers became more and more attractive due to the spring sun taking its toll on the â€œmini rampâ€.
Tricks had been stomped, prizes had been thrown out and most importantly, heaps of fun had been had. From some of the top UK riders to first time freestyle rippers, everyone had been grinning from ear to ear all day long. The event had been a rocking success and there hadn’t been a double cork in sight. In a world where the international snowboard stage seems to obsessed with corporate sponsors, the Olympics and how many extra spins snowboarding robots can do in competitions, the shredneck mini ramp jam was a breath of fresh air.
Maybe the future of UK snowboarding lies with more events like it; events where the focus is on originality, creativity and fun rather than technicality, seriousness and sponsors. If there’s one thing the shredneck mini ramp jam highlighted it’s that uk rippers are original, creative and make the most out of what they have, and they definitely have a lot of fun doing it.
Massive props to Never Summer, FBBB, The Reason and Blue Bird Wax for making it happen!
Words by Rhys Crilley
Photos by Marcus Woodbridge