wednesday 7th September
Injury Season! In the last couple of weeks many of us have damaged ourselves, either on the slopes or off - some due to snow conditions, others just to poor luck. This time off has meant that I have got very good at waxing and reparing boards recently!
I nicked the cartilage meniscus in my right knee and possibly fractured my left heel, caused by sheer impact and compression forces going huge on a kicker with a hard landing at Cardrona. Seems to be getting better daily however...a lucky escape apparently!
Andy has fractured one of the "lamina" of a vertebrae, when he caught an edge on a step-up jump at Snowpark (where the landing is higher than the take-off). Flying like Superman, he tried to tuck in order to somersault, but hit the lip tucked-up.
He was taken down to Wanaka in an ambulance, but discharged - very stiff but mobile. Mobile enough to go out that night and win $300 (120 quid) in Shooters Bar pool comp....! Eh?!!
Our Australian friend Leon broke his collarbone in two places, when he rode his bike down the hill from his house and took a spill on a particularly muddy part at full hoon! Bad luck mate, 6 weeks in a sling...!
Soaring temperatures have widened our scope for activities recently - Farmer showed me some 4x4 spots he found close to Wanaka. An hour after taking this pic, I managed to get the 4x4 stuck in the middle of a silty river - only getting out by the skin of our teeth! ;o)
The flurries of snow we experienced a fortnight ago have gone and we have been experiencing rain in its place :o( This has had a negative effect on the snow conditions to the point where a couple of the mountains have closed for a day after rain, to stop wet snow being destroyed before it has had a chance to become stable again.
The pistes have become noticeably less deep, with mud patches appearing frequently. Many of the off-piste areas that had been opened up in the last month have vanished again, and the snow has none of the compression that it did have - hence the increase in recent injuries.
Filming has become more difficult as locations have dissappeared, and the conditions are not safe for going large. Focus is now on production, using footage we have managed to get, and opportunist shoots when we can...
On a brighter note, my visa extension has been granted! I am now legally entitled to stay until 06/01/2006 - although most likely hit UK shores about the end of November, dependant on bookable flight dates. More on this as I know it...
A trade-off from the spring conditions is a general increase in the amount of apres-ski activities - BBQs, parties and springtime afternoon chilling!
Parties of note have included the Pimps & Ho's party, held at the House of Hoff. Farmers firemaking skills, Andy's chained gimp costume, Gordo's Huggy Bear stylin' and CJ's exotic dancer persona contributed to one of the most flamboyant parties of the season!
Some enterprising residents organised a rail-jam party, constructing a custom wooden rail with drop-in - lined with snow nicked from Cardrona! (Don't tell them, they might come looking for it back at this rate!)
That hated time for all car owners has come around again - the WOF, or MOT in the UK. Here in NZ they have it every 6months rather than 12, and its just as strict... $700 (280 quid) to get it through! Hells Bells, its daylight robbery! The usual - stung on tyres etc... Still, legal again...
So, until I see you next, heads down until the bell goes...
friday 16th September
As the weather settles down into spring conditions, many people have started to leave as the season draws to a close. It is most noticeable in the dwindling crowds seen in town, but we have had a few close friends go.
Matt (kicker-boy) moved on towards London in order to fund the next season, and Farmer has returned to Canada, although he might be back on a work-sponsorship in October.
Scottish Sam and "Slave" Dave have both returned to the UK, although its probably not too long before they are back on snow I suspect! Kyle and Regina moved on with their trip, and will soon be returning to the US.
Good luck guys, wherever your travels take you, its been a pleasure riding with you - don't forget to keep in touch!
We have been trying to film during the last couple of weeks, but Andy is out of commission with his back injury, so Farmer and I have been getting out and about, trying to get some park footage down on film - mainly concentrating on uprails, gaps and whatever has been available in the ever-changing parks at TC and Snowpark.
In an unfortunate incident on our last day of filming, Greg broke his ankle on one of the kickers at Snowpark.
The image shown is a 720 he pulled on the jump before his accident...
Video production has started, but is a painful process, hampered by lack of compatible hardware, and transfer problems - perseverence will pay-off however, but it is frustrating.
With conditions poor, its a case of taking what you can get, when you can get it. With this mercenary state of mind I came across something I had not seen before at Cardrona, due to it being on the beginner slope.
The feature in question was a large rectangular rock about 7ft x 10ft just off the piste in a hollow. Some enterprising person had piled snow up the bottom, creating a quarterpipe up the bottom third, leaving the top part bare. Rock ride!
Spent an afternoon with two seasoneers from Lake Hawea, hitting the rock - riding up the bare face, rock-fakie back down or 180 back down. On one occasion I went completely over the top (saved from disaster by a convenient ledge on the otherside) and on another, the board stuck at the top, pitching me back down upside-down! No permanent damage to me, but accumulated a months rock-shots to the base in 3 hours!
Hopefully I will be able to locate the pictures and add them....
Our crew had the great fortune recently of seeing the Southern Lights - downunders equivalent of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights!
Everyone was at CJs birthday dinner when someone noticed a low green glow, a little like light pollution from a town. Someone turned off the lights, and as we watched, green "fingers" of light slowly rose into the sky and proceeded to slowly move from south to north over a few minutes. They would then dissappear, others coming through, with usually between 2-4 in the sky at any one time.
A thoroughly amazing sight - the only shame was that due to its' spontaneous nature and low light levels, no one had the equipment to get a good photo...
I returned to Queenstown again, this time with CJ - going via Arrowtown again.
The buildings in Arrowtown reflect its gold-mining roots - I suspect planning regs require buildings to keep the style, as they all look like wild-west movie sets!
We discovered a sadder side to this town when we came across the Chinese Village, a restored area where the original Chinese prospectors had lived hard lives seperated from their families back home, and ostracised by the local communities - although in retrospect they were remembered as "quiet, hard working and honest" people, once the racist backlashes were forgotten.
They often worked the seams for many years, relying solely on the other community members rather than government help to get through. When they did return to China, many found their families and friends dead or gone, and came back to live out their years in a country that didn't care for them. Very sad.
The walk took us through a beautiful cherry tree grove, to the old Chinese village where the huts had been restored to their original states, although some had been permanently lost.
Very small, with barely enough room to stand up in, they gave some indication as to the hardships these men put up with.
Flipside has been promoting & representing at WanakaFest 2005!
Drawing crowds of thousands from Wanaka, Queenstown and as far away as Auckland, WanakaFest is a 4-day festival celebrating local activities with competitions, displays and exhibitions.
Saturday 17th September saw the Cheapskates skate competition kick off at 11am with jams, Grommets Comp and Open Best Trick - pro skaters Greg Timms, Christian Pihoa, Shaun Duffel and pro snowboarder Tim Jackaways were present and judging.
Everyone was on form, from the grommets up, and the sun was shining - the perfect day for action with about 150-200 spectators!
During jams I rode hard and threw down tricks all over the park, demonstrating the versatility of the streetboard where possible, handing out leaflets to interested parties, and chucking Flipside stickers... did those stickers turn up everywhere!
There was a 30 minute warm-up before the Open Best Trick - everyone hit the park hard, either going big or technical.
I almost took out a kid who rode obliviously into the landing zone from the big quarterpipe - just missed him, he got hit in the chest from one of my arms, but was fine - not a good look if I had taken him out...!
The Best Trick started; my tricks of the day included FS/BS 540s, FS/BS Alley-Oop 360s, BS lipslides, smith-BS boardslides & BS boardslide-switch FS boardslide-90 out combos - stomping everything in without-doubt my best run ever in Wanaka!.
Andy, who turned up just to represent (with a fractured vertebrae!), dialled out 540s 720s and a Rodeo5 in the big quarterpipe! The crowd were loving it!
On learning Andy was the 2004 UK Champ, the MC started requesting more tricks - which Andy duly served up! I dropped out due to heatstroke, and Andy gave it all he had, stomping Rodeo5s and 7s out a small quarterpipe-to-flat. The crowd went wild!
In the end, Open Best Trick was won by a Cheapskates skater - most of the crowd thought Andy should have won, and that we was robbed! C'est la vie at a skateboard comp! ;o)
A great jam for the spectators with top quality riding by all the aforementioned riders and some of the local lads - only topped in terms of sheer excitement by the sheep-herding demonstration that followed it...
Sunday 18th September 6.00pm: the Cardrona and Treble Cone Streetstyle competition - a jibbing contest held in town centre over a custom-built rail.
The set-up: A purpose-built scaffold tower run-in (thin!) and kicker, sending the rider launching over a gap to a car-mounted flat-down kink rail, dropping onto the landing zone (read: snowpile).
Checked out the rail - big enough - done bigger at Snowpark many times, but that was on a clearly lit day, not under floodlighting with a car and tarmac under you if you fall...
The first 30 registrants only were allowed - I managed to get in with Tassie Ben and joined the other 28 competitors under the scaffold drop-in, and suddenly we were on!
At a signal we had to dash up the stairs, strap-in, shuffle forward, and then go at 5 second intervals. This meant that you had about 5 seconds to focus on the rail and your trick, then "Go!" - before you knew it, you were gone!
Sticky snow, lack of night vision and the cars suspension meant you had to go as fast down the drop-in as you could, but then clear the gap as flat as possible - the cars suspension meant the rail would move as much as a foot when you landed on it, bouncing many of the riders straight off...
With 30 riders, each rider got about 5-6 turns over the course of the comp, the winner being judged by the crowds applause - a prize for Best Trick, and a few smaller ones for notable tricks.
Not having any warm-up on it - I opted for BS boardslide combos, as these were the least likely to hang up when mounting the rail... After a straight BS boardslide down the rail, tried BS boardslide-switch FS boardslide over the kink, but the angle on the down was to shallow to get it over sucessfully.
Stuck a sweet BS boardslide-switch 5050, won a Treble Cone pass for my efforts, and got a quick interview on camera! Ben had been throwing out stylin' noseslides, leaning his body at crazy angles over the car and stomping his landings
Suddenly jam time was over, and the winner was announced: Jossi Wells with a FS180-180 spin on rail-180 off! Nice trick, considering the unsteadiness of the rail..
All the riders enjoyed themselves - Ben and I were stoked, and we slipped away into the crowd to celebrate with some pints...!
WanakaFest is now over, the streets cleaned and re-opened to the public. Although the events themselves have passed, people will remember what they have seen, and the crazy tricks thrown down!
Hopefully the promotion from this festival will increase exposure of the streetboard, open the eyes of the Antipodean snowboarding scene to its existance...
To sum up with the words of Gary Cole - Goodnight America, wherever you are...