Words by Peter Wilson
Photos by Peter Wilson, Nicko Brooko & Ryan Newton
The London Freeze went off this weekend, which of course meant the usual mix of unpredictable weather, an eclectic crowd and England’s first ever avalanche! There were crazy fairground rides, stalls with food from around the world, a retail village with all of next year’s clothing and two large music areas with a joint capacity of 10,000 people.
The crowd, many of whom had come for the music, were suitably impressed by the level of riding at the competition, showing that European Big Air city events are one of the greatest ways to showcase freestyle skiing. The event was dwarfed by the huge derelict power station at Battersea as the riders hit a ramp, which was marginally bigger than 2008.
15 of the UK’s up and coming riders competed in the Battle of Britain and were the first skiers to hit the jump. In the first round of qualifications Jules Ball was knocked out by James Machon in a controversial decision after stomping a cork 9 tail leaving the judges to differentiate the two riders with the same score.
Other notable points within the qualifications were an attempt at a double front flip from James Webb, a double flatspin/lincoln from James ‘Woodsy’ Woods and a stomped double cork 10 with a high mute from Paddy Graham.
So four skiers went into the finals where they went head-to-head with two runs to prove themselves worthy of being crowned as the best British skier.
James Woods - a clean double lincoln vs Jamie Matthew - a 9 with a quick revert on the landing
James 'Woodsy' Woods, on the second rotation of his double rodeo
James Webb - slightly off axis switch 9 vs Paddy Graham - double 10 mute
In run two Woods threw the same double while James Webb threw a super tweaked switch rodeo 9. Knowing that he had won, Paddy Graham threw a celebratory off axis backflip to please the crowd.
James Webb claimed the jump was ‘freaking awesome’ and another rider was heard to say that it was the ‘best thing since Yorkshire pudding’!
Paddy won a brand new LG phone, while Woodsy and Webbo won a crate of Desperados beer each.
Battle of Britain Results
1) Paddy Graham
2) James ‘Woodsy’ Woods
3) James Webb
4) Jamie Matthew
James Webb (3rd), Paddy Graham (1st), James Woods (2nd)
During the day CorerUPT skiers TJ Schiller, Gus Kenworthy, Colby West and Richard Permin turned up at the CorerUPT booth for signings and product toss.
...and product toss.
The next event was called the Style Mix, in which skiers and snowboarders competed to throw down the most stylish trick.
Notable jumps in the first qualifying round were TJ Schiller’s Cork 9 double grab, up against Phil ‘B-Dog’ Casabon’s massive truck 9. Bobby Brown threw a well-crafted and quite frankly immaculate double cork 12 with a high mute, swiftly claiming it upon landing.
In the second qualifying round Matt Margetts and TJ could not put down their double cork 12’s and Shinji Osada attempted a switch 14 much to the excitement of the crowd. Oscar Harlaut in the absence of his brother showed that it was possible to double flip with your ‘arse on show’.
In the Semis it was a two run head-to-head format:
Paddy Graham – 1) 720 mute grab, 2) Laid back backflip vs Phil Casabon – 1) True nose 720, 2) 900 tail
Bobby Brown – 1) Double cork 1080, 2) Double cork 1260 vs Oscar Harlaut – 1) Kangaroo flip, 2) Kangaroo flip
Onto the finals:
Phil Casabon – 1) Cork 9 double grab, 2) Cork 9 double grab vs Bobby Brown – 1) Double cork 1080 high mute (completely stomped), 2) Attempted double cork 1080 mute.
Style Mix Results
1) Bobby Brown
2) Phil Casabon
3) Oscar Harlaut
4) Paddy Graham
Saturday was the day for the snowboarders, the FIS snowboarding took place and lots of cool tricks were thrown down throughout the day.
After the snowboarders had finished using the jump the Burton rail was opened up for rail skiers to compete on. The landing zone became the in run for the rail and the session began with riders hiking back up for their next hit.
The rail comp was a 45-minute session in which time people who showed themselves to be worthy were picked for the finals. During this session much fun was had by all the riders including some showboating from Colby West and a front flip over the rail from Tom Wallisch.
The announcers were left over from the snowboarding competition and as such had no idea what the tricks were so I am sorry if I have got tricks wrong below!
The six skiers who made it to the finals: Phil Casabon, Matt Margetts, Corey Vanular, Tom Wallisch, Matt Walker and Gus Kenworthy.
Each rider was given two runs:
Phil Casabon – 1) 270 on 450 off, 2) 270 on lipslide 270 off
Matt Margetts – 1) 270 on 450 off, 2) 270 on *fell*
Corey Vanular – 1) 450 on 270 off, 2) 630 on 270 off
Tom Wallisch – 1) 270 on pretzel 270 off, 2) 270 on pretzel 450 off
Matt Walker – 1) 450 on 450 bonk off, 2) 450 on stopped rotation then 270 off
Gus Kenworthy – 1) Switch up to 270 off, 2) 450 on 270 off.
Colby James West & Gus Kenworthy
Colby concluded the even by coming down the in-run on a sled to the deafening roar of the crowd who took a liking to him throughout the weekend. The results were as follows:
Rail Jam Results
1) Corey Vanular
2) Gus Kenworthy
3) Matt Walker
4) Phil Casabon, Matt Margetts, Tom Wallisch
Matt Walker (3rd), Corey Vanular (1st), Gus Kenworthy (2nd)
Corey got a LG phone and Gus and Matt received a crate of beer for their efforts, which were kindly shared among their fellow competitors to show there were no hard feelings.
London weather showed its traditional spontaneity after two days of sunshine, as strong winds and torrential rain battered the jump late on the Saturday night and well into Sunday morning. This exposure to the vicious London elements caused a 25 tonne snow avalanche on the in-run causing the night diggers to stay out all day, eventually creating a mix of snow and fake snow surface for the jump.
London's first ever avalanche delays the proceedings
Luckily no one was injured in the slide, but the persistent rainfall, which continued well after the scheduled start time, meant that there was no chance of making more snow at the top of the in run.
Getting snow back onto the ramp
Fixing the ramp post-avalanche
The night crew stayed all day having been up all night and shaped the entire landing through the morning rain. As the blue sky began to poke through the clouds and the rain let up in the early afternoon a second wave of energy came through the shapers as the jump began to look more and more ready.
The mess to fix
Diggers rebuilding the landing
Rebuilding the jump with carpet
3pm was the magic time being given out in the media room and sure enough at about 3 James Woods and a couple of other riders made there way to the top of the in-run. After much cheering from the crowd as the technicians affixed a fake ski surface to the top of the in-run James finally dropped in and every person on site held his breath. Needless to so James threw a massive 360 truck driver and stomped it hard!
Woodsy's first hit
Every other rider decided that they couldn’t be shown up and despite rumours early on in the day that since no one could possibly hit a half snow/half carpet in-run perhaps all the prize fund should be put behind the bar, every rider stepped up and hit the jump. James Woods was the first to do a double, while slowly switch 5’s and 7’s began to be thrown. The event happened four hours late and so the head-to-head format for the finals was cancelled and instead, after a long practice, there were two rounds of qualifications and eight people went through to the finals.
Bobby Brown threw a double cork 10 and received the highest score of 90 for first round qualifications.
Andreas stomped the crap out of his double cork 10.
Russ Henshaw threw a double cork 10 while attempting a double grab.
Szczepan Karpiel getting it done before hurting his neck.
Gus Kenworthy threw some sick double grabs.
Mike Riddle threw a super stylish double 12 but failed to stomp it.
John Spriggs threw a laid out back flip grabbing both tails.
Eight riders then moved on to the finals:
1) Russ Henshaw
2) Bobby Brown
3) Elias Ambuhl
4) Jacob Wester
5) Andreas Håtveit
6) Corey Vanular
7) Roy Kittler
8) Benedict Mayr
The runs thrown in the final were as follows:
Russ Henshaw – 1) Double cork 12 to double high mute, 2) Double cork 12 double grab with poke (winning jump with 99).
Bobby Brown – 1) Really sick tweak on a double cork 10 high mute, 2) Double cork 12 high mute tweak.
Elias Ambuhl – 1) Double cork 12 mute to nose *fell*, 2) Double cork 12 mute to nose. *sketchy landing*
Jacob Wester – 1) Stomped double grab double cork 10, 2) Double cork 12. *fell*
Andreas Hatveit – 1) Double grab double cork 10, 2) Double grab double cork 10.
Corey Vanular – 1) Nose butter 9 tail, 2) Switch butter 7 tail.
Roy Kittler – 1) Switch double Cork 9, 2) Switch double cork 9.
Benedict Mayr – 1) Double cork 12 *fell*, 2) Double cork 12 mute stomped.
London Freeze Big Air Final Results
1) Russ Henshaw - 99
2) Bobby Brown - 98
3) Andreas Håtveit - 96
4) Benedict Mayr - 94
4) Jacob Wester - 94
6) Corey Vanular - 90
7) Roy Kittler - 89
8) Elias Ambuhl - 92
9) Fridtjof Fredricsson - 85
10) Phil Casabon - 84
11) Matt Walker - 83
11) Paddy Graham - 83
13) Tom Wallisch - 82
13) Alexis Godbout - 82
15) TJ Schiller - 81
16) Oscar Harlaut - 80
16) Colby West - 80
18) Oscar Scherlin - 79
19) James Woods - 78
19) Gus Kenworthy - 78
21) Steffan Karpiel - 77
22) Shinji Osada - 75
23) PC Fosse - 70
24) Justin Dorey - 64
25) John Spriggs - 63
26) Fabio Studer - 61
27) Matti Raty - 60
28) Andri Ambuhl - 55
29) Mike Hauser - 51
30) Matt Margetts - 25
31) Mike Riddle - 20
32) Pekka Hyysalo - 15
33) Richard Permin - 10
That’s all from the London Freeze this year. Next year will be even bigger and better!