Words by Alexa Hohenberg
One thousand and nine days is a long time. Two years, nine months and five days exactly – but nonetheless, a damn long time! So finally, I returned with my Gnar Chicken female-focused project. I wanted to see where we women were with our riding here in the UK. I write this review astounded, delighted and still in shock at the show you ladies put on this past weekend. Officially the sickest riding seen by women in the UK… no doubt!
I knew the buzz surrounding the event reached a pinnacle when my German, non-snowboard, non-sport, sexy-shoe-wearing colleague, suggested I go to a female snowboarding event going on in Birmingham this weekend. Que? … that’s nuts!
With the biggest attendance the Snowdome has seen in a long time, the 100 plus girls and guys didn’t disappoint the crowd of supporters gathered on the balcony. After premiering Euan Southcott’s movie ‘Freezing Level’ to a room full of appreciative and newly educated snow-worshippers, everyone took to the slope ready to rumble.
Hungry and motivated, we bonded over the great love we all share when sliding sideways (or forwards!). As the boxes got a beating in the warm-up, all eyes were on two very tiny rippers that led the way for the standard of the evening. Katie Ormerod aged 10 and Sophie Nicholls aged 13 put down boardslides, nose-presses and spins on to the vermin box with such style and consistency that guys twice their age quivered like dribbling babies! Jade Walshy was the youngster rider at 6 years of age. Having obviously inherited the jibbing skills of her father (MK local Walshy!), it was great to see her make it confidently to the end of the box – I hope you like your Blue Skin goodies little lady!
Invited to high-five MC Southcott at the top of the quarter-pipe, the first challenge of the night sparked the imagination of the riders (and some less-dressed party people!). Although the temperature of the snow prevented an excess of gnarly airs, it was good to see fine efforts rewarded. Harriet Skinner we salute your bum grab!
With everyone now getting the feel for the slope, the A-frame and the big gas-pipe seemed like the run of choice. Sarah Morgan led the way with the nicest frontside-boardslides seen in a long while (sick enough to eventually win her the over-all title of Gnarliest Chicken!). A special mention must go out to a girl named Niki who was doing back and front-flips off the Grad Prix kicker. After landing several to a big cheer from the crowd, she landed on her back and was taken to hospital with a suspected breakage. We wish you all the best Niki, swift recovery.
Helen Fox also sustained a massive black-eye when ‘bonjour-ing’ the big gas-pipe. When the stars cleared and she regained knowledge of her whereabouts, it wasn’t long before she was getting her sweet revenge, schooling that gas pipe with some super smooth backside-boards. With riders like Jules Chapell and Lindsay Ashdown leading the way for the less experienced chickens to attempt the challenging obstacles, we can safely say the progression, inspiration and fun-enticing missions of the Gnar event were now in full swing.
Followed by a whift of Les Ettes perfume, the ladies descended onto the newly groomed slope for the final hour and a half of Gnar Shred Action. Jaws dropped when the riders saw the boxes of prizes we had to give away. Laden with product, we began dishing out the challenges. First up, the girls must rugby tackle Euan for all the kit in his hands… although worryingly the guys were more attracted to the prospect of lying on top Euan! Harriet Skinner left with the glory, Euan evidently, with the bruises!
Emily Park then picked up a nice Nikita hoodie for her nose-slide across the A-frame. Skier Amber Conners proceeded to hit that rail with such speed she made boys amongst us whimper! That chick’s got style. Lindsay Ashdown rose to the next challenge of boardsliding the A-frame, winning herself a pair of Oakley goggles, while Anna Barlett rocked the rail so hard she was awarded a nice Vans wallet for her efforts. Moving down to the gas pipe, Martin Hennesy launched off the kicker with a front-flip worthy of some Oakley kit, whilst Helen Fox was awarded a Ruroc helmet to protect her new shining black eye from another gas pipe encounter. George Wolly won himself a pair of Vans snow-boots for his consistent styleee spins across the gas pipe whilst Joe Sandy was awarded the Avalaan style award for setting the benchmark for what great style is all about. Vicky Pullen and Becca Richardson dug deep in their bag of tricks throwing down consistent moves all night and Kirsty Smith left with a Nikita top for her mad jibbing skills. With all the progression going on around me, a slight touch of jealousy plucked my heart-strings… I was especially inspired by Lindsay Ashdown’s 270 off the gas pipe… that is my kind of riding!
Moving on to the kicker, the longest air comp began, followed by the best method pulling-contest. Happy to not be giving my knees a beating I watched as the girls and guys jumped a good 5 metres (to flat!). For everyone that says us Brits can’t hit kickers, it was great to see 3s from the ladies and 5s from the guys. The future is definitely bright for the pool of talent that attended this Gnar Event.
Overall, judging the event was really hard. Our objective was not to award the best tricks but more the girls having the most fun and showing constant progression. With massive smiles on everyone’s faces, it appeared that a fun time was had all round. Having such great sponsors allowed us to give away category prizes to the girls and guys that stood out the most, although they were by no means the only stars on the night.
Overall Gnarliest Chicken: Sarah Morgan
Run her Up Chicken: Katie Ormarod (aged 10!)
Vans Rock and Roll Award: Faye Mailing
Oakley, this girl’s got vision: Becca Richardson
Nikita, This girl loves to ride: Helen Fox
Blue Skin, Most colourful rider: Amber Conners
Concrete Lawn Rail Slayer: Jules Chappell
Avalaan, best style and creativity: Sophie Nicholls (aged 13!)
Inch by Inch progression: Anna Barlett
Les Ettes, look great,smell great: Lucy Butler
Ruroc Best Slam: Helen Fox
A special mention must go to Lindsey Ashdown who cleaned up so many spot prizes that she couldn’t be awarded a category prize too!
Overall Gnarliest Hen: George Wooley
Run him up Chicken: Matt Higson
Vans Rock and Roll Award: Tom Hawkes
Avalaan, best style and creativity: Joe Sandy
Oakley, this guy’s got vision: Ross Needham
A massive thank you must go out to everyone that came down to the Gnar Chicken event. Never has such a high standard of female snowboarding been seen on UK soil and I am honoured that I got to witness it. This event would not have been possible without the help from all the staff at the Tamworth Snowdome who never let any logistical problem hamper the fun of the evening. Tamworth is the spiritual home of Gnar Chicken and you don’t need to question why it has the best UK scene as this event definitely proved it!
A massive thanks goes to filmmaker and verbal diahorrea-sufferer Euan Southcott, DJs (Will and Kev), the photographers (Danny, James, Ben and Andy), the filmers (Nick and Matt), my helpers in judging (Tim Sandy and Laura Hill) and all the supporters on the balcony.
This event would not have been possible without the sponsors who have their heart set on ensuring woman can progress and flourish in both skiing and snowboarding. Their support and the great products that they make helps us to see, keep dry, smell great, stay safe, stand on our boards and have serious style points while we do it. Make sure you say thanks when you see them, we love Nikita, Vans, Avalaan, Blue Skin, Ruroc, Oakley, Inch Clothing, SCUK, Concrete Lawn and Les Ettes!
Look out for more Gnar Chicken events moving across to skiing, wakeboarding, skating and other actions sports that get our heart rate up. With the mission of making the website a location for girls to get together and get inspired, expect more events, movies, parties and get-togethers from us in the future. Keep checking in and do not be afraid to get involved, this is your project and we are all in this together. Keep up the good shred and thanks for coming to my event!