Arriving in London after a year and half of happy-go-lucky mountain life in Innsbruck is like being a rabbit trapped in the headlights of the 21st century. Everyone here is in way more of a hurry than you, is doing something way more important than you and is wearing a way better pair of shoes than you, so it's lucky that there happens to be a snowboarding event going down this weekend to keep country bumpkins like me from adopting the fetal position on the tube and crying like a child all over my beat up skate shoes.
This weekend sees the Freesports on 4 LG Freeze come to the big city and (hopefully) marks the return of prominent snowboarding events in the UK. It's been a while since London has seen anything on this scale and with a full weekend line-up of contest riding and a very credible band line-up expectations are high. The LG Freeze is a FIS Olympic qualifying event that has enlisted the use of the 17m real snow big air kicker from Freestyle.ch in Zurich a couple of weeks ago, a glittering roster of some of the world's best riders and of course the one and only Cypress Hill. Did you hear that? Cypress mother-fuckin' Hill. There's a total prize purse of $25,000 up for grabs for both skiers and snowboarders and it's the first time the UK has ever hosted a leg of the LG World Cup. So that's the stats, time to get to the riding.
Against a typically grey London sky, riders like Danny Kass, Scotty Lago, Peetu Piroinen and Stefan Gimpl were going head to head in the final setting the scene for some fierce competition, and with the UK public so starved of events like these over the last 10 years, the crowd here today was just as fierce in their appreciation (it was a bit of a panto-style appreciation with lots of oooh's and ahhh's, but at least they were making some noise for the riders.) The competition format was simple, 3 rounds, with the best 2 rounds being judged but the last run always being counted. For those that are unfamiliar with the FIS judging system (like myself) points are awarded for "skill and style" and it was pretty surprising (and refreshing) to see that riders were being rewarded for style rather than degrees in their rotations.
Martin Raper was the first to drop in the Finals and nearly sailed right off the top of the 30m high construction currently residing in front of London landmark Battersea Powerstation, much to the delight of the panto-loving UK crowd, but after a bit of baiting from Tim Warwood on the mic, he walked away and lived to ride another day. Benedicte Nadig stomped a nice fs 9 tailgrab, but generally it seemed that the riders were washing out rather than stomping the shit out of it.
Round 2 saw things hot up with riders stomping more and more of their tricks. Petja Piiroinen stuck a nice solid bs 9, Gimpl displayed his usual awesome style (arms always right where they should be a super stomped landings) with a super stylish bs 7 with a nice late 180 at the end and Scotty Lago tried his gosh-darndest to get the maximum ooooh-age out of the crowd with a double backflip with a late 180 on the end but didn't quite stomp it.
Round 3 and things got really serious with Peetu Piiroinen and Stefan Gimpl being very close in the points standings. Gimpl continued to show off his prowess, clearly feeling right at home on the kicker that had scored him a 1st at the Freestyle.ch a few weeks back with a super clean fs 9 that got him into 1st place, only to have it snatched away moments later by Super-Finn Peetu for a switch 9 that was, in the words of our MC, so perfect it would make your Grandmother look ugly. It has to be said, there's not many things I miss about the UK, but the sense of humour is definitely one of them. Campbell's Chicken Soup might be another one, but anyway, good work Warwood.
So, that was it. Peetu came in a solid first, with Gimpl close behind and Nadig in third. I'm off to spark up a fatty and get blazed in the company of good friends and Cypress Hill. Maybe London's not so bad after all...