We are fresh back from Austria and the seventh annual Roxy Chicken Jam, which to the uninitiated is the all-girls slopestyle contest to end all slopestyle contests.
Words by Sam Haddad
Held for the first time in Saalbach-Hinterglemm the course was shorter than in past years, which made for perfect spectator conditions as you could clearly see each of the obstacles from the base. And this year the standard was higher than ever as second-place ripper, former Cooler cover star and twice winner of the event, Cheryl Maas said, “The level of riding went up a lot. A lot of the girls were doing 720s already in the qualifications, which we didn’t see any of the other years. In the finals we also saw a lot of switch riding, like cab 540s and switch backside spins, and that’s good to see.”
Cheryl whose knee was the size of a house before the contest even started, when we saw her on the Thursday night, also had two bad shoulders, so lordy knows how she managed to pull off such epic crowd-pleasing runs and nail the JBL Progressive Award for best trick of the contest, a backside 720 Tailgrab, which fetched her a tidy 15,000 USD on top of her 15,000 USD for finishing second.
Third-ranked Kjersti Buaas from Norway, also a former Cooler cover star, put in the kind of smooth, stylish runs for which she is renowned. She had this to say. “The park is really good, they really did a good job with this. And the town is so cosy, it’s amazing, we only had to walk five minutes from the hotel to get to the park. There were a lot of people watching and that’s entertaining and pushing me to do better.”
But it was Finnish rider Enni Rukajärvi who won over the jury with her huge, clean and notably effortless jumps, giving her the lion’s share of the mammoth 50,000 USD prize fund. On her winning run, she did a 50/50 at the down box, a frontside 360 tail grab, a backside 540 indy and a cab 540 at the kickers as well as a 50/50 nosepress at the Roxy up-down box. Her stunned response was, “I’m very surprised I won here. I enjoyed the contest, it was really high-level. So many good riders, I haven’t seen that before!“
The event was carbon neutral for the first time ever, with proper recycling facilities and deposits on drinks beakers to minimise wastage. Plus the produced emissions were offset in cooperation with the Suddenrush Atlantic Rainforest Institution (SRAFRI) saving 1,500 square metres of rain forest in Brazil.
Other noteworthy performances included Sarka Pancochova, who stormed the qualifying day but in spite of her sick style and at times amazing retro manoeuvres couldn’t quite stick her landings on the final day, and young Brit and Cooler favourite Aimee Fuller who finished 11th, her highest ever 6* TTR finish, after pulling a backflip and nollie frontflip.
Later we all donned hats of varying comedic proportions for the prize giving, followed by a concert with crazy Austro-electro band Bunny Lake, and then headed to make party with the riders, press and organisers until our legs, lungs and livers ached at the rammed but super-fun London Pub.
Thanks to Roxy for hosting and organizing this epic comp and well done to all the riders. Squawk, see you next year.