Words by Ski Union.com
Photos by Pally Learmond
For those of you who weren’t there to witness it, Jiberish International atheletes Tom Wallisch, Matt Walker and Mike Clarke along with TJ Schiller have ‘Just Passed Thru’ the UK on a tour that has taken in the London Freeze, and then the more obscure locations (for them anyway) of the Chill Factore Indoor Snow Dome in Manchester and Bearsden dry ski slope in Glasgow. Led by Jiberish UK rep Neil MacGrain, this was a great opportunity for Mike Clarke to film and document proceedings for the Just Passing Thru film project (which is supported by Jiberish and Salomon), but was more importantly for UK rippers, a unique opportunity for them to meet and ride with their heroes.
Tourists...Wallisch and Walker hook up with Corey Vanular for a day checking out the city during London Freeze. photo Neil MacGrain
After a busy weekend at the London Freeze, everyone crammed into various vehicles and headed for the Manchester Chill Factore which is one of the UK’s newest Snow Domes. The park crew had worked tirelessly to get the park ready for the crew, who seemed eager to get out on the slope and tear it apart. But first there was the small business of signing autographs for the disbelieving group of fans who looked genuinely shocked to see their idols in the flesh.
Matt Walker is interviewed by local media at the Chill Factore in Manchester.
After signing posters, t-shirts and getting photos taken, the guys went for their first taste of shredding an indoor park set-up. photo: Neil MacGrain
Once on the slope the crew went about slaying the various obstacles with a lethal efficiency. 360 switch-ups over the kink box, 630's off the drop down box, flatspins, 9’s, backflips, and corks off the kicker, and Wallisch was attempting a ludicrous transfer from the high box to the street rail. All the while, the 80 odd UK riders who had joined the crew on the slope were also throwing down with a jedi-like concentration that was almost unnerving; as if the presence of the pros had stunned them into silence.
Wallisch-Flatspin-Manchester-UK...four words that you thought you wouldn't hear in the same sentence.
Matt Walker about to impress the locals with something ridiculous off the high box.
Walker again with a switch-up over the fat-down gap box.
After a few laps the crew stopped to watch the British youngsters, and throw out spot prizes to those who impressed. With this one act of generosity the level of riding in the dome rose a notch as the kids started trying to out do each other. In fact it occurred to us that if we just took these guys around the country for a couple of weeks, then the UK would probably have an X-Games gold medalist by the end of it. Unfortunately though they all had to be in Barcelona for the weekend, so after grabbing a burger everyone headed to bed.
TJ was still killling it despite a badly bruised hand from the London Freeze.
James Machon was one of the UK riders who turned up to meet the crew...
...as was Andy Longly, who went away with some prizes.
The Jiberish boys finished up with a half hour private session in order to get the shots they need for the upcoming episode.
The next morning we took the lads for a traditional English fry-up, possibly one of the unhealthiest meals on the planet, but as is the case with all things bad for you, ridiculously tasty! TJ was particularly enamoured with the HP sauce. Meanwhile, Tom and Matt were grappling with the English slang for a pound – a ’squid’ – and were desperately trying to work out how best to go about fishing for this tentacled beast in order to pay the bus fare home. It was time to head on to Glasgow.
This English breakfast cost TJ just under three 'squid'...thats a bargain innit!
With such a short time to travel between London, Manchester, Glasgow and back again, it would have been very easy for the crew to have only seen the M6 motorway and only sample the delights of the various service stations…so we took advantage of being in different vehicles and everyone ended up on their own mini adventure en route to Scotland.
Ullswater in the Cumbrian Lake District...shame it doesn't snow a lot here.
Mike Clarke takes it all in.
Ski Union editor Pally Learmond and Mike Clarke jetted in for a quick detour to the Lake District which is one of England’s most beautiful spots. If all the rain here fell as snow, then there’d be some killer ski hills, but sadly rain was mostly the order of the day. Wallisch, Walker and the rest of the crew ended up in more pouring rain in order to go and check out a a castle, but it was soon that everyone found themselves rushing to get to Glasgow on time.
When it does decide to stop raining in the North...
Onwards and upwards to Glasgow and Bearsden Ski centre, and it seemed that things could be scuppered by the weather as the words ‘torrential’ and ‘downpour’ were not sufficient enough to describe some of the storms that blew through. However, when we rocked up at Bearsden the skies cleared and after meeting and greeting a healthy crowd of fans, the boys headed out for their first taste of carpet skiing!
Signing at Bearsden.
Matt Walker made the comparison that it was like a football field having a baby with a ski slope...TJ wanted one in his backyard. As always though, the boys killed it! Again, everyone who had come to see them really stepped up their game, and fed off the vibe, with all sorts of lunacy being thrown down.
TJ warmed up with a few 180's, before busting out a sick cork 9.
Wallisch was loving the backflips, and the fact that snowflex seemed to be softer than real snow...
He was matched flip for flip by the likes of Scottish native Eugene Mackie.
Matt Walker was rocking the handplants (and funny facial expressions) in the quarterpipe at the bottom of the slope.
If Manchester had been more of a rail fest, then Glasgow was definately kicker night. It didn’t seem to take too long for for everyone to get used to the alien surface that is Snowflex, and soon the boys were stepping it up from 180’s and backflips to cork 9’s and anything inbetween, with the quarter pipe either providing handplant opportunities or serving as a useful stopping device at the bottom of the slope.
The UK's James Woods had come along for both stops of the tour, and was clearly loved being back at Bearsden and perfecting his octo grabs.
Scottish skier Andy Matthew was also on hand, and is definately proving to be one of the most stylish freestylers in the country.
Tom Wallisch rolls a last flatspin before the 'Just Passing Thru' boys took it all very literally and raced to get the overnight bus for London and then onwards to Barcelona.
Sadly though, all good things come to an end and the boys followed their 'Just Passing Thru' philosophy to the letter. Only a 10:30pm bus from Glasgow would see them economically and on-time down to London for their train connection across Europe to the Barcelona Snow Show. The Tour to the UK had been a massive success, and one greatly appreciated by everyone who came along to the sessions. We can’t wait to see the Mike’s edit from the trip, and hope that more events like this can happen in the UK.
Many Thanks to Neil MacGrain for organising the trip, and to everyone else involved. Stay tuned for the video which will be dropping shortly! In the meantime here’s a little teaser...