Category Archives: snowboarding

It’snowheaven – Jibbing in the streets of London – By Jess Softley

Last week, London really showed how great snowboarders can be born without snow covered mountains as O’Neil’s Shoreditch jam session got underway.

This jibbing-focused, rail event took place in the streets of London, as 50 tonnes of snow was shipped and compacted in a street themed set up.

Riders had the chance to show off their skills on features such as, a double decker bus, phone box, bus stop and a post box, to name but a few.

The event kicked off with an open jam session as all 24 riders threw down some skill on the park with spot prizes awarded for stand-out performances.

Andy Nudds killed his runs in the jam session, gaining £100 cash prize before the real competition had even begun.

It was a tough event as the final four competitors from both disciplines lined up for their head to head battle to make the top three podium positions.

It was in the final where skier and Halifax native, Tyler Harding came into his own impressing the judges all the way into first place, claiming his well-earned cash prize of £500.  Following Tyler is second place was Ross Welch, with George Walton just snatching 3rd place from Micheal Rowlands.

The snowboarding final saw some insane tricks as Sparrow Knox stole first place with a stylish frontside 270 to switch boardside on the rail, finishing it off with a tap on the post box, to claim his cash prize as well as £200 from the best trick award. John Weatherly also pulled off some killer runs to secure himself a place on the podium, slotting in behind Knox with 2nd place, with Ollie Dutton just clinching 3rd ahead of Andy Nudds.

After a crazy day, an event like this would not be complete without an equally crazy after party as the riders gathered once again to party just as hard as they ride.

And if this event is anything to go by, then we should certainly expect to see more quality riding from Britain.

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It’snowheaven – World Snowboard Day – By Jess Softley

Do you love snowboarding or just fancy trying your hand at a new and exciting sport?

Then the 22nd December is definitely a day for your diary! The World Snowboard Day this year hits 15 different countries across the globe bringing snowboarding to those who had never considered it before, and celebrating with those who love it.

This one day, annual event brings every aspect of snowboarding as key riders throw down some pinpoint techniques to help even the most amateur of riders get ahead in the game. Major labels will also be bringing their best and latest gear and tech for anyone to try out for free!

Those who feel their shredding techniques can rival most will have the chance to compete in a World Snowboard Day contest, and on this season’s snowboards.

However, this celebratory day is not only to promote the ethos and fun factor of snowboarding, but also has a serious note to it.

Organisations set up to help protect the environment will also be there to help spread awareness of the importance the environment has on sports such as snowboarding.

This year, Word Snowboard Day has gone one better to bring in none other than boarding great, Xavier De Le Rue, as the ambassador for their 8th edition. Xavier will help bring back the importance of pure snowboarding and riding for the love of it.

If you would like to find out more information about the World Snowboarding Day, and how you too can enjoy the spoils of snowboarding, please visit the WSD website on

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It’snowheaven – Shredding Indoor Style! – By Jess Softley

With the winter Olympics right around the corner, GB athletes will be on a non-stop schedule of constant training and competitions leading up to 2014, and the 19th October will definitely be on their calendar for one reason only. The British Indoor Championships!

However, the great thing about this event is that you don’t have to be a pro to compete, as this event will offer something for everyone.

This year, the competition will be taking place at Manchester’s Chill Factore which holds the longest indoor slope in the UK. Not to mention the incredible set up they are creating especially for the indoor championships, building individual zones, honing in on different skills in each section.

As the final National Championships before heading to Sochi, the bar will surely be set high in the 90 minute open jam session hosting and array of riders, from Olympic hopefuls, to amateur shredders.

These 90 minutes of shredding fun are aimed at encouraging all riders to bring their all, resulting in a final ‘shred off’ at the end, with the best riders taking home the podium prizes.

Also, to allow young riders a fair chance, there will be a separate challenge for them to show their talent on a killer set up in front of the media and spectators. The youth’s category will be judged on both their runs, with the best one counting, in order to determine who will make it into the final 3 podium positions to claim their prizes.


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It’snowheaven – The Age of the Dryslope – By Jess Softley

Despite the growing decline in UK dryslopes and lack of membership, these once thriving places appear to be primarily responsible for the growth of slopestyle riders all across the UK.

For many British riders, the only way they could seriously pursue their hobbies was to practise on their local dryslope, such as Halifax, Sheffield, Rossendale and Kendal to name but a few.

From these dryslopes has arisen some of the biggest names in British snowboarding, as each generation inspired the next as they pushed their own personal limits to represent their country in European and World competitions.

For each of our current GB Slopestyle riders, their roots as snowboarders and skiers have been an incredible part of making it as a professional. All those ‘one more run’ and weekend dedications have helped them make it to where they are now, and to see these dry slopes in such rough shape really questions whether we are headed into a new era, one dominated by indoor snow domes.

There is no dispute that these snow domes can provide riders with a real experience of what it’s like to ride on snow and help build their confidence before hitting the mountings.

However, those who learnt on a dryslope would argue that by riding on ‘dendex’ and ‘snoflex’ they have actually become better riders, technically. Allowing them to master the art of riding on such difficult foundations before trying their tricks and skills on the real stuff.

The social aspect and camaraderie of a dry slope is what makes riders and builds their confidence as they get to see older and more technical riders and how they approach a slopestyle course. The tight-knit community allows them to learn from others and build on their own skills.

This is something which these large commercial snowdomes may lack, with such a huge volume of riders with lots of smaller individual groups attending at different time. This makes it difficult for a new rider to break into the snowboarding scene.

Olympic hopeful Jamie Nicholls stated he wouldn’t be where he is today without his local dryslope at Halifax and sites one of the older riders, Wayne Taylor as one of his main inspiration to achieve success.

Others such as Katie Ormerod and Em Lonsdale have similar stories of these small, close-knit ‘scenes’ at the local dryslopes, which helped to nurture their talents and maintain their interest.

It’s not to say that the large indoor snow domes don’t or won’t foster similar ‘scenes’ but it may be difficult to see how a young seven year old such as Jamie Nicholls, just starting out in snowboarding maybe afforded the time from the older riders when slope time at the Domes comes at such a premium.

Let’s hope they do and with the increase in these indoor snow domes we can hopefully expect a new breed of boarders and skiers.

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It’snowheaven – Know Your Lingo – By Jess Softley

With the popularity of snowboarding growing every season, more and more people are hitting the slopes with the latest gear for the very first time.

Whilst many will hit the pistes, not as many would be found riding the park and the terminology and technicalities of the latest tricks still remain a mystery to a number of snowboarders.

However, with the emergence of slopestyle and half pipe events in the Winter Olympics, let me fill you in with some of the basics.

Those wanting to learn even the most basics of tricks will first start with an Ollie. This originates (like many) from skateboarding, and was founded by an American skateboarder called Alan ‘Ollie’ Gelfard.

The aim of the Ollie is to get maximum elevation off the ground and often on the ‘take off’ for a jump. It is effectively shifting your weight onto your back foot whilst pulling your front foot in air, then using the flex of the board to pop your back foot into the air, gaining as much height or “Air” as possible. After successfully landing this trick, you can then move on to rotations.

The easiest rotation is a 180, this is effectively half a turn whilst in the air. A 360 is turning your board all the way around, landing in exactly the same direction as you set off (1 complete rotation). A 720 is two turns, 1080 is three turns and 1440 is four turns.

The first one to try is called a Frontside 180. This trick is basically combining what you’ve learnt so far, starting off by popping yourself into an Ollie, and whilst in the air, rotating your body so you are facing the landing as you rotate before completing half of a turn.

A Backside 180 is exactly the same except you rotate your body so you are facing away from the landing as you turn.

Whilst these may seem basic, they can score highly when performed with style.

Next step is to throw a grab in. Some of the basic grabs to master are Nose, Tail, Stalefish, Melon, Mute and Indy.

A nose grab is basically just grabbing the front of your board with your leading hand. A tail grab is the opposite, grabbing the tail of your board with your trailing hand.

A melon is grabbing the middle of your board behind you with your leading hand, and as you can imagine, a stalefish is the same except you use your trailing hand to grab your board.

A mute and indy grab is the opposite to a melon and stalefish. For this grab you grab the front of your board instead of the back. If you use your leading hand, it is a mute grab, use your trailing hand and it becomes an indy.

These grabs can become even more stylish by combining them with a rotation. The bigger the rotation, the more points they are worth! Combining grabs and “tweaking” the board will also improve the scores.

And there you have it! You’ve now learnt the basic tricks of snowboarding. There are more complex combinations involving front, back flips, corks etc and these will be explored further on the approach to the Olympics.

It’snowheaven – High Fives in New Zealand – By Jess Softley

Returning for the second annual event, the Burton High Fives competition dominated Kiwi territory on and off the slope, as 60 insanely talented snowboarders took on more than just a sweet powder run.

However, rallying in a MINI 4×4 and trying your hand at herding sheep won’t get you 1st place in slopestyle or halfpipe.

Despite having a blast in the off-slope team challenges, these specially invited ‘60’ knew how to raise the bar when it came to the showing their tricks on the piste.

Up first were the women, who more than nailed the halfpipe, pushing each other’s limits from the very first run. Unfortunately, the conditions were a little overcast, but this did not detract from the talent on show, especially from 13 year old USA rider, Chloe Kim, who proved age is just a number, scoring 85.80 points from her very first run.

It was a close fought final, and with the bar already set by Chloe Kim, some serious tricks were pulled out the bag in order to secure 1st place. However, it was fellow USA rider Kelly Clark who nailed her second run, earning 89.60 points with a frontside air with huge amplitude, followed by a backside 540, frontside 1080, Cab 720, and a frontside inverted 720 to collect 1st place and the $10,000 prize money.

After her impressive first run, Chloe Kim was able to secure 2nd place, taking home $5,000, followed by Gretchen Bleiler in 3rd, who left with $2,500.

With such incredible talent showcased, the men’s halfpipe was sure to bring as much competition, as Greg Bretz took an early lead with his first run, scoring 89.40.

However, Japanese rider Taku Hiraoka blew the other riders out of the water after nailing a near perfect second run with a backside 540, frontside 1260, backside 900, 1080 double cork and Cab 1080, taking first place with a whopping 94.80.

Slopestyle competitors were met by high winds during the day of the final, challenging even the most comfortable of riders. However, many quickly found their feet after their first run, with USA’s Jamie Anderson edging ahead of the others with her winning run, consisting off a backside taillslide, 50/50 on the closeout rail, 50/50 on the rainbow, backside 180 mute, Cab 540 melon, and backside 540 indy.

Enni Rukajärvi from Finland slid into 2nd place with 79.20 points after just missing out on 1st as Jamie pulled out a storming run to beat her to the 1st place podium position. Norway’s Silje Norendal scored 69.20 to follow in behind Enni, with 3rd.

Stale Sandbech, a rider whose reputation is rapidly preceding him, was back to beat last year’s placement with some inspiring tricks, scoring 94.60 with his second run, coming out on top to take 1st place.

With such amazing riders, USA dominated this year’s Burton High Fives, as Kyle Mack secured 2nd place with his final run, scoring him 92.40. Following Kyle was Yuki Kadono in 3rd with 91.20.

The way these events are going, by the time we reach Sochi the level of technical ability will be beyond what any of us could have expected.

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It’snowheaven – The Big Move – By Jess Softley

It’s that time of the year again! And as the new season starts, Britain prepares itself for the biggest snowboarding event on the UK calendar.

However this year the Freeze festival moves from its famous home of the Battersea Power station to Clapham Common, after 5 years of snowboarding history.

This coveted event has been known for many years for its iconic backdrop and insane talent.

And this was no better shown than by Billy Morgan’s technically inspiring run last year, securing 1st place in the international event, whilst at the same time, making history as the first British rider to win the international side of the Freeze festival.

The Freeze festival has been somewhat seen as a rite of passage for up and coming UK riders to demonstrate their talent, especially in the Battle of Britain event which sees Brits go head to head to claim the all-important first place.

Unfortunately for Freeze organisers, Battersea power station was sold, leaving the well-known UK event without a home and its reputation at stake.

So the pressure was on to find a suitable venue to hold this prestigious UK event. And it wasn’t long before they announced their new resting place along with a few other changes.

This year, taking centre stage will be a whole new event, the international rail jam, hoping to bring the competition from far and wide to compete against the best British Jibbers.

However, this great event has not come without a cost, as Freeze organisers decided to scrap the popular Big Air event, and whilst some may be disappointed, I’m sure the talent on the rails will more than make up for it.

So if you’re around on the 27th November- 1st December, get yourself to London to watch some of the best Riders around, as well as live bands and you could bag yourself some of the hottest snow sports gear this season has to offer.


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It’snowheaven – Brits invade Kiwi Slopes – By Jess Softley

With the Winter Olympics right around corner, the GB Slopestyle team are doing everything they can to secure their place at Sochi next year, with each qualification event having a huge impact on their chances.

Therefore the stakes were just as high, as athletes from all over the world came flooding in to compete at the FIS Snowboard Slopestyle World Cup in New Zealand.

Kicking off the first FIS Snowboard World Cup of this season, our GB athletes would be coming up against some tough competition.

However, this was not their biggest obstacle, as poor visibility and high winds forced FIS officials to postpone the Men’s slopestyle qualifiers for several days, resulting in only two out of four, actually taking place.

Despite the issues with the weather, the remaining men’s qualifiers and women’s slopestyle qualifiers went ahead the day after to decide who would be competing in the finals.

Amongst those who qualified for the men’s final, was Britain’s very own Billy Morgan who came a respected fourth place in the second heat, to join Maxence Parrot, Roope Tonteri, Peetu Piironinen, Gjermund Bratten and Eric Willet.

Also, on the women’s side, Brit Jenny Jones made it through the qualifiers, to not only boss her run, scoring a whopping 87 points, but taking home the silver medal. Jenny was extremely relived to have landed her run, with memories of previous missed chances lurking behind her.

Sadly, Aimee Fuller and Katie Ormerod didn’t quite make it to the podium spots in the qualifiers, placing 9th and 10th.

Unfortunately for Billy, his final was cancelled due to ‘unrideable’ conditions; however he remains in second place in the Overall Men’s Slopestyle World Ranking list, leading up to the next qualifier at Copper Mountain, Colorado in December.

So far the GB Slopestyle team are becoming an even bigger threat at each and every event as the Olympics creep that bit closer.

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It’snowheaven – There is no rest for the wicked – By Jess Softley

When it comes to being  the best, you have to beat the best. And on the 8th September, you’ll find them hitting the slopes of New Zealand as Burton holds their second annual High Fives snowboarding competition.

This six day event combines the conventional aspects of a snowboarding as well as other ‘off-snow’ challenges to test teamwork, style and technicality.

The Cardrona Alpine resort will welcome 60 of the best male and female snowboarders around to compete in the, invite-only, Slopestyle and Halfpipe events where each athlete will be awarded on their individuals performances, as well as having the chance to be a part of a team in the range of ‘off-snow’ competitions.

Burton have decided to bring a little of New Zealand to the event, hosting some of those thrill-seeking, adrenaline pumping sports the Kiwi’s love so much.

Co-sponsor of the event, Mini; have provided their Countryman 4×4 cars which the competitors will all drive in an event to test their skills behind the wheel in just one of the ‘off-snow’ challenges.

This event not only holds the prestige of a 5*TTR ranking, but is also a major event for those Olympic hopefuls on their route to Sochi next year.

With some of the biggest names in snowboarding history, there’s no doubt that this event will be even bigger than last year, as 2012’s podium placers will be back to defend or improve their score.

Last year, many riders pushed their own personal boundaries to pull off a triple cork and land it successfully.

However, the trick that so many riders won their titles with has now become the stock trick of many events. So where does this leave this year’s competitors? How will they reach the high scores this time?

Tune in to The Sporting Week to find out.

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It’snowheaven – What Katie Did Next – By Jess Softley

With a dry slope right on her doorstep and Jamie Nicholls for a cousin, Katie Ormerod was destined to be an insanely talented snowboarder.

Katie was first thrown into the world of winter sports when on a family holiday in Austria at the age of four, hitting the slopes with the tiniest of skis.

Shortly after Katie was given her first snowboard, a Burton Chopper 101 where she then competed in her first competition in 2005, the Kids women slopestyle in the Aim Series Bracknell, placing 2nd.

Whilst Katie was growing up, Halifax ski slope had a pretty hard core snowboard scene with the likes of Jamie Nicholls, Wayne Taylor and Sam Turnbull, creating a perfect breeding ground for any budding snowboard enthusiast.

With such positive role models, Katie had the best of chances to make it as a pro and reach the dizzy heights of the Winter Olympics.

Her crazy skills were quickly picked up by her local indoor slope, Castleford’s Sno!Zone who offered her a sponsorship deal which still stands to this day.

Over the years, Katie has made quite a name for herself taking several gold medals in various competitions all over the world, including this year’s British Championships in Tignes, taking gold in the women’s halfpipe event.

After gaining sponsorship from Roxy last year, joining Aimee Fuller and Jenny Jones, Katie has progressed massively as she and the rest of the Roxy team headed to the back country to ride the mountains.

As a result of this emerging talent she then joined the official GB Team to take on the rest of the world in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. After taking part in the British Championships, she joined the rest of the GB Freestyle team in Mayrhofen, Austria, Katie said “It was a really productive week as I landed my first ever double backflip! I was so stoked!”

For years Katie has lived under the shadow of her famous cousin Jamie Nicholls, but now she casts her own shadow and has gained the respect in her own right.

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