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Snowboarding - 11. April 2008.

THE BRITS CHARGE THROUGH BRUTAL WEATHER IN LAAX

Laax, Switzerland –

Hundreds of British passport holders invaded the Swiss Alps last week for the Swatch TTR 3-Star British Snowboarding Championships. The weeklong event underwent dramatic changes in weather from sunny blue skies to daunting fog and wind, but that didn’t stop the best British riders from destroying the legendary Laax Halfpipe and Slopestyle course. On top of insane DJ’s wreaking havoc in the clubs, ‘The Brits’ was off-the-wall, showcasing sick riding in a multitude of formats.

As the Swatch TTR World Snowboard Tour accepts only two results from any one event, The Brits offered up 550 TTR from a Halfpipe result, as well as an overall combined result from Big Air and Slopestyle in both the men’s and women’s fields. Resulting from the triple whammy of TTR formats were big moves in the TTR Top 100 for riders like Lesley McKenna and Jamie Nicholls who increased their rank with excellent performances at The Brits.

First on the list for The Brits was the Quiksilver Big Air Championships. A traditional best of 2 hits formula was followed, resulting in Richard Hookes and Claire Frost stepping up to take top honours. Despite the flat light, the Big Air throw down hosted some of the most technical riding of the week. Hookes stomped his huge, perfect Cab 9 to take the Title followed by Ben Kilner in second and Nelson Pratt in third. In the women’s field, Lynsey Ashdown braved the Big Air taking third place. Samantha Rogers aroused the crowd with a sick Frontflip for second, but it was newcomer Clair Frost who would push through to the final, landing two clean BS 5s for first place.

With the Big Air setting the bar, riders shifted their attention to the monstrous Laax Halfpipe ready to be slain. The battle for the SNO!zone Halfpipe Title suddenly became rider vs rider vs mountain as howling winds, brutal fog and a vast accumulation of snow at the bottom of the pipe gave shredders a run for their money. Nevertheless, a sick line up of contenders put it all on the line with Dom Harington and Kate Foster emerging victorious.

Harington certainly deserved the Title throwing the cleanest run of the day that included a FS 7, a Haakon flip 7, a massive FS air, into a Mctwist and finishing with an Alley-oop 5. Ben Kilner claimed a consecutive second place with a textbook run as Sam Cullum rounded out the men’s Halfpipe podium. Kate Foster however put on clean display of Halfpipe proficiency in a solid run that included a BS melon, an alley-oop, a BS air, a FS 3 and ending with a cab 3. Lesley McKenna who had qualified for the finals in first had some trouble with her speed but held on for second place as Laura Hill managed to link her combos for the third podium spot.

The final format of competition, the Animal Slopestyle Championships, was pushed back a day due to increasingly tough conditions, with difficult visibility and snowfall that would not let up. Fortunately, the final competition day of The Brits saw the sun peek out as riders took it to the rails and kickers with the utmost style. The young guns were the ones to look out for as 14 year-old Jamie Nicholls and 16 year-old Aimee Fuller qualified in the top positions for the finals.

Speed would ultimately be the issue of the day as only the top riders were able to clear the knuckle and ride away cleanly. Nate Kern didn’t have any problems utilizing every nook and cranny of the Slopestyle course to walk away with first place. Kern’s winning run was solid throughout, starting with a FS Boardslide to 270 off on the top box, a BS Disaster on the wall ride and a 50-50 FS Noseslide on the second box. The 3 kickers were weighted with 60% more points and Kern charged forward with a BS 7 to 540 to Cab 5. Jamie Nicholls once again confirmed he’s the up and comer to beat claiming second place as Jack Shackleton quickly followed in third.

Claire Frost dominated the women’s field for a second time to bag first place in the Slopestlye with a run that began with a nose slide 270 out on the top box, a 360 Tailslide on the wallride and a 50-50 Noseslide on the kinked box. Her kicker line consisted of huge FS and BS 180s over the medium kickers, finishing off with a huge BS 5 off the final kicker. Second place went to Lucy Passmore with Laura Berry rounding out the women’s Slopestyle top 3.

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