Tag Archives: winter

Pit Stop – Moto Gp Test is Routine – By Lewis Brearley

Last week’s news was dominated by the first Formula One pre-season test and analysis of the varying fortunes of the teams’ new cars and revolutionary new engines.

Therefore, this week has seemed pretty quiet when compared to the flurry of news last week. This pretty much reflects the difference between Formula One and MotoGP’s approach to testing.

The teams of MotoGP had their first pre-season test at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia this week and the lack of rule changes in the sport resulted in a pretty quiet and undramatic three days.

However it would be greatly untrue to say there are no stories to report. Going in to the test it was unknown who would be fastest out of last year’s championship contenders – Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez.

But it was Marquez on his Honda who came out on top, the champion setting the fastest time on each of the three days. Yet it is too early to say the new season looks set to be dominated by Marquez.

Yamaha ended the test only two tenths behind, the fastest time set by Valentino Rossi who managed to outpace Lorenzo on each of the days.

Rossi has stated in the off-season that he will take a decision to continue beyond the 2014 season after the first six races providing his pace is improved from last year.

With this in mind, his pace at the test was very promising but with the obvious caveat that Lorenzo may have been pushing to a lesser degree than his team mate.

A second story to come out of the test was the promising pace of the “open-class” bikes, with the Forward Yamaha ridden by Aleix Espargaro managing to get within two tenths of Lorenzo’s works machine.

For those unaware of the biggest rule change in MotoGP this year, the open class is the replacement of the CRT category. In exchange for an increased fuel capacity of 24 litres as opposed to 20 litres teams have to use a standard ECU which will be controlled by the FIM.

The plan was that the new category would get closer to the factory bikes than the CRT bikes did and the performance of the bikes in the test seemed to confirm this.

In fact, the rumours that Ducati have opted to make their new bike conform to the open class rules shows how promising the class is.

However, the biggest mystery out of the test is why Ducati didn’t confirm which class their new bike was designed for.

For the first two days the Ducatis were grouped around 1.5-2.0 seconds off the lead pace and then on the final day Andrea Dovizioso managed to set a lap just 0.8 seconds behind Marquez.

This difference of lap times increased speculation that Ducati had been running both factory and open class bikes in the test to see which one was best. Yet which one of the two variations Dovizioso was running when he set his fastest time is still unknown.

Whichever version Ducati choose to compete with it’s unlikely that they will be racing the lead Yamahas and Hondas, who once again showed supreme pace. The only question remaining is whether Rossi and Dani Pedrosa can turn the championship battle from a duel into a four man competition.

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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 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 – Where it all started – By Jess Softley

Snowboarding is enjoyed by thousands of people recreationally and professionally and is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK, combining elements of surfing, skateboarding and skiing.

With such easy access to dry slopes and indoor snow domes, becoming a snowboarder has never been as easy. However, it wasn’t always this easy.

Before the 90s, snowboarding was a sport which had very limited access, as the only way to practice was to travel to places such as France, Switzerland, Canada and the USA. After the establishment of dry slopes, snowboarding thrived as a sport and continued to develop over the years.

For a country that lacks the snowboarding terrain to rival the likes of the Alps, the UK has produced some world class talent. Over the past decade, the popularity of the sport has almost quadrupled with the support of sixty dry slopes and six indoor real-snow centers in the UK.

Also, the number of Brits taking snowboarding holidays has increased from 187,000 in 2000 to 230,000 within a matter of seven years. 1998 was a huge year for snowboarding, not just in Britain but all over the world, as snowboarding was accepted as an Olympic sport in its own right at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

Here, men and women both competed in two events, the giant slalom and the halfpipe. A Giant Slalom is an alpine snowboarding discipline which involves snowboarding between sets of poles, spaced at a greater distance to each other than in an ordinary slalom slope.

A halfpipe is a structure used in gravity extreme sports such as snowboarding. It is essentially two concave ramps, where snowboarders aim to ride the pipe from right to left and visa-versa, whilst attempting to do tricks throughout their runs.

The giant slalom event took place at Shiga Kogen on Mt. Yakebitai, a ski resort which formally did not allow snowboarders, until the Olympics. However, this did cause some controversy and as a result of this, the International Snowboarding Federation was founded.

The British Ski and Snowboard (BSS) organisation was founded in 2010 to support British athletes get recognition from the FIS discipline and help them prepare and enter for the Winter Olympics. They aim to get British riders out on the podiums at world events and challenge other countries to achieve medal success at next year’s Olympics.

This then paved the way for today’s British riders to develop their skills and showcase their talents against some of the world’s best riders.

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It’snowheaven – Travis Rice – By Jess Softley

When people talk of Travis Rice, they speak of one of the most talented snowboarders ever to take to the mountains.

Some would say it’s because of his twelve years of elite competition experience, others would say it’s his numerous titles in global slopestyle, big air and backcountry events including two X Games gold medals.

Despite this, Rice never really wanted to become a pro, and after achieving a win in almost every event there is, related to snowboarding, has earned the right to take a step back and leave the formal competitive structure.

Not only was Travis born and bred in Wyoming, he is also the son of a ski patroller, so his life has always been surrounded by snow. Rice was just 18 years old when he drove to Mammoth Mountain, California to ride at Snowboarder magazine’s “Superpark”, launching a backside rodeo off a 110 ft gap jump.

Therefore it was no surprise when Absinthe Films’ producer Justin Hostynek immediately approached him to do some filming.

But his skills don’t just end with his ability to throw himself off the top of mountains in the most challenging terrain in the world. Rice is also known for his incredible knowledge of off-piste, mountain riding, with the ability to just look at a mountain and calculate the best and safest route to the bottom.

During the summer, he would climb the mountains and build a freestyle course, that when covered in snow, would challenge the most talented of riders.

With very few cross-overs in snowboarding, Travis decided he would create an event of his own called “Supernatural”. He did this by combining the aspects of freestyle riding, with the backcountry terrain, giving riders the chance to show their individuality, as no two riders would take the same line.

Launching the ‘Supernatural’ event, Rice told the eagerly awaiting snowboarding community: “I’ve been working on the ‘Supernatural’ for three years now, and it’s happening next winter. Essentially we have this place in interior British Columbia that is a 2,200 ft face. Up there the snow pillows so perfectly that we’re essentially going to have the craziest run in the world. I’m hoping this will be the future of snowboarding and competitive venues.”

Travis has a very unique view on the sport, believing less towards competitive recognition and more towards exploring the boundaries of snowboarding. Rice says: “I want to grow a beard and get weird in the woods” as opposed to other high profile riders who just want to be “Rockstars”.

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Bowled Over – England Take Series – By Luqman Liaqat

England batted out day five to secure a draw in Nagpur to beat India 2-1 and complete a first series triumph over India in 27 years.

It started poor for England as India made early in roads into there batting line up in quest to level the series after picking up five wickets on day one in Nagpur.

England batsmen struggled to adapt to the slow pitch, with only Kevin Pietersen chipping in with 73. Pietersen’s contribution brought about a recovery from 16-2, openers Alistair Cook and Nick Compton fell early to Ishant Sharma.

Pietersen shared an 86 run 3rd wicket partnership with Jonathan Trott bringing the tourists back on track. However, debutant Ravindra Jadeja bowled out Trott off a full delivery and Pietersen clipped the ball to Piyush Chawla at midwicket shortly after tea.

Ian Bell fell cheaply to Chawla, but England debutant Joe Root and wicketkeeper Matt Prior batted out the day with an unbroken stand of 60 to leave the score on 199-5.

Day two saw Root’s maiden test fifty which helped England post 330, while James Anderson struck three times to leave India on 87-4.

It was over for Root when Chawla caught and bowled him for a well played 73 to give England a competitive first innings score of 330.

Before the day was out, England struck with the ball, Anderson produced a cracking delivery removing Virender Sehwag for duck.

Swann had earlier hit a timely fifty, and he then accounted for Pujara’s dismissal with Ian Bell taking a superb one handed catch. Then Anderson bowled out Sachin Tendulkar for two runs and had Ghambhir caught behind by Prior for 37.

The third day of the test match saw India make a fight back with the bat as Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni put on a 198 run stand.

Kohli made 103 and with it became the highest run scorer of 2012, only to fall in Swann, pinned lbw.

Dhoni searching for his hundred on 99 but was run out from the second last ball of the day. Cook threw down the stumps with MS Dhoni fractionally short of his ground.

Jadega in between was dismissed from an in swinger by Anderson, as India  finished the day 297-8 trailing England by only 33 runs.

England were on the brink of a famous Test series victory in India, after reaching four at stumps on 161-3 in Nagpur giving them a lead of 165 runs.

India scored 29 runs in an hour, declaring on 326-9 still four runs adrift of England’s first innings total.

Ashwin finished on 29 not out, while Monty Panesar bowled out Ojha for three. With no rush England began increasing their advantage, as the openers started by sharing a 48 run partnership before both fell in the afternoon session.

For the second time in the match, Cook was left hard done by when he was given out caught behind, replays showed the ball had missed his bat.

Compton fell to spin off Ojha, after appearing to get an edge he was given lbw.

After the break Kevin Pietersen left a straight ball from Jadega which crashed into his off stump. However, the two Warwickshire batsmen Trott and Bell kept India at bay, as they steadied the ship sharing an unbroken 67 run partnership.

Trott survived a huge caught behind appeal by Sharma on 43, but he lived another day reaching 66 not out with Ian Bell on 24 at the close.

A draw was never in doubt on the final day, Trott and Bell both scored centuries before the players shook hands after tea with England finishing on 352-4.

Bell brought up his half century off 130 balls, the pair put on 208 for the fourth wicket. Trott finally found his feet at the centre of action after a tough fourth day, as he reached his century off 232 balls.

The afternoon session moved on smoothly, until Trott was out just before tea for 143 when he tickled Ashwin straight to Kohli at leg slip.

Root joined Bell before tea, and like the result,  Bell’s hundred was a formality as he reached it with a leg glance from 293 deliveries. Root remained 20 not out and with Bell unbeaten on 116, the players called it a day in the final session.

In the end it was a great series for England who came back from a crushing nine wicket first test defeat to take it 2-1. Alistair Cook was given man of the series, scoring well over 500 runs and Swann and Panesar took 37 wickets between them as the tourists left India in bullish mood.

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It’snowheaven (Big Freeze hits London) – By Jess Softley

For many people winter means cold dark nights, frozen windscreens and slippery paths, but for snowboard enthusiasts it’s time to head for the slopes.

Snowboarding is enjoyed by thousands of people recreationally and professionally and is one of the fastest growing sports.

For us Brits, this season kicked off with a bang as the best snowboarders competed at the Freeze Festival at Battersea, London. This festival is not only a sports competition, but also brings some of the best music acts to its stages and the latest tech and gear on sale.

The Big Air Competition attracted many of the biggest names in Snowboarding, but also allowed the top three Brits to progress from the Battle of Britain Competition.

“Veteran” Dom Harrington stunned London with his impressive backside 900 landing him 1st place, with 2nd and 3rd going to Cody Heirons and Scott Penman.

These three should have progressed to the illustrious line up of International Boarders in the main invitational Big Air event, but with Harrington and Penman pulling out, it left Nate Kem and Jamie Trinder to take their places alongside fellow “invited” Brits, Billy Morgan and Jamie Nicholls.

An injury to the Icelandic rider Eiki Helgasson also allowed Sean Tumilty to step up despite fishing 8th in the Battle of Britain.

After finishing 4th last year, Nicholls would probably be disappointed with his 8th place finish, exiting in the semis but Kem must be pleased with his 6th place finish, narrowly missing out on the finals.

As the night grew darker and the cold started to bite, the conditions were set for the five man final. With Billy Morgan as the only Brit representative, the crowd anxiously waited in the desperate hope of a first time Brit winner and Morgan obliged.

He took the title with his first two runs, laying down a huge, stylish backside rodeo followed by a backside 1260 leaving his third and final run a formality and he pleased the huge crowd stomping a sweet slow-mo back flip.

These last 12 months have been fantastic for Morgan. After winning Battle of Britain last year he then became the first rider in the world to land a triple backside rodeo, and now taking the coveted Freeze Big Air title, the future’s looking bright, and he must now have his sights on the Winter Olympics 2014.

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