This is actually what Snow looks like in the UK. This is what people do on that “snow”. This is perma snow, one of the new surfaces. Snowflex is probably still the premium, but both look way safer than Dendex. I still have a broken finger from 1997, which is thanks to that stuff.
Hopefully that backflip has caught your attention, so read on…..
Now dryslope snowboarding is something that is engrained in the British snowboard culture, and so being home this week, and an event going down at my old local, Chatham, I headed down there. From all the way back in 90s, when legends like Danny Wheeler, Steve Bailey, Chris Moran and Stu Brass first cut their teeth, Dryslope has been there as the launch pad. Whitelines somewhere have a sequence of Steve Bailey doing a backside 9 on dryslope over 10 years ago. Funny to think I couldnt manage a backside 7 on snow in all my time riding, shocking. Then the next generation came through with Ryan Davis and Josh Wolf, before Stu Edwards and Dom Harrington who wowed us with their huge range of tricks and then of course came through more recently Jamie Nicholls, Andy Nudds and whole legion of new riders.
They had quite the set up, including this rail, which I think is about 40 foot long, here someone gets a boardslide right down there end of.
Drylsope is a funny thing, it requires dedication, a lot of time, and an ability to bounce. If you look at the names of the riders who came from dryslope, they all have great board control and can ride kickers really well. Its strange because when you look at that first shot, you cant imagine how something resembling a tooth brush can actually help you become a good snowboarder. This is how many features they have on the hill, probably about 20-30 rails and jumps to choose from.
So you wonder, why do so many good riders come through dryslope? Well, ever since Rossendale and Sheffield and Halifax launched, the kickers they have, obviously meant that riders have a decent kicker which you can hit repeatedly. If you havent ever been to a dryslope, for the foreign readers here, its basically like a small mountain, except your not suseptable to white out days, bad light, rain, infact its better in the rain. Due to the fact you have a button lift, you get to lap the slope probably a hundred times a day if you want, and your knees allow.
So the repitition, and knowledge that the jump doesnt ever change in shape or angle, you get to the point where you can hit the jumps almost with your eyes closed. So that definitely helps, and obviously parents who will take you along regularly enough to ride. When I was about 11 until 14 I used to ski, as thats all I knew really, and do slalom and go as fast as I could through the moguls and hit the last one as fast as possible and do what felt like massive daffys. It was an amazing feeling being so stoked on something, and i remember every saturday going, and getting so excited as you get closer to the slope. It was the same when I switched to Snowboarding and started going regularly.
If it wasnt for those years skiing, I would never have started snowboarding, would never have met so many amazing people, seen so many amazing places, and wouldnt be writing this. So any parents reading, give your kids chance to keep doing sport as much as you can, you never know where it might lead. And kids, enjoy those times at your dryslope, you might wish for way more snow, but honestly those times with your friends at your dryslope or indoor will be some of the best ever.
So what is it that makes dryslope, or indoor snowboarding, so damn good, and against all the odds produce great snowboarders? Well, to be honest.
People. People like Rob Needham and Alex Spence.
If your not from the UK, you might not have met them before but these two live and die dryslope. Rob on the left has been doing the Morrow Jam for longer than I have been snowboarding, so a good 15 odd years. Alex has been holding events here in Chatham for the best part of the last decade. Thats what creates a great scene, and what creates good snowboarders. Kids who get in to snowboarding, and so they want heros, be it local heroes or big name pros, but they also need people who are out there making it happen, building rails, holding events, driving the length and breadth of the country to support others and drive riders to take part in them. Steve Terry below is another of them, who yesterday said he has hand built 30+ rails in the last few years and most of which reside up at Hemels indoor.
There is hundreds more of these people who I could give a shout out to. They are the people who make the British scene happen, Scott Todd, Duncan at SCUK, Wayne Taylor, Damien Doyle, Neil from Euroboyz and many more. They might not be world famous, they dont get rich from their dedication and they wont get a shout out when Jamie or Andy wins their next event, but whenever you see any of these people who make the scene in the UK what it is, make sure to buy them a drink. I’m sure there are many more now aswell, as since I worked for whitelines, many new slopes have opened, and new heroes have arrived.
Another group of people who need a shout, is the parents. Dryslope has obviously changed a bit now, and more kids are into it, whilst a lot of older riders are away on snow and so parents are a huge part of it. Above Tony Hierons, easily one of the nicest blokes you could ever wish to meet has probably driven the UK a good few times, and flown round Europe with his son Cody. Believe me though, he isnt a soccer dad. If anything you will find him and another of the Dads like Tom Hunts dad, finding a spot in the sun, and craftyly tucking into a few cans of lager, which they brought up the hill in a plastic bag from Tescos. They are watching their sons, but they are also on holiday, drinking a beer and enjoying themselves so why not. Talking of parents, I always remember a certain parent who turned up with a picture of my ugly barnet on her t shirt. I will save her blushes but still remember it well.
Above the judges with Jay Cooper, one of my local heroes back in the day along with Chris Woods, taking a bit of light refreshment, whilst Ryan Evans looks like he is still getting back on the straight and narrow after the royal wedding.
I remember back in the day, Dryslope contests almost had more appeal than snow events, because of the legendary stories you heard about the riot in Sheffield, and letting that caravan run down the hill until it exploded at the bottom of the hill, it was the stuff of urban myth, but it was all true. I remember going to the Morrow Jam in probably 1999, meeting Josh Wolf and Ryan Evans for the first time, meeting Rob Needham, winning a t shirt or something and being so stoked. That night there was people camping at the top of wycombe summit, with fires going, people driving cars round, and just a good time all round. That was a good time to be snowboarding, even if it was on dendex.
So Alex Spence, i salute you sir.
Whilst we’re at it, and telling stories about people that dryslope snowboarding introduced me too, a certain Tom Kingsnorth, now CEO of Transform Gloves, writer, general legend and Charlton fan. This was when they held dryslope slalom contests, and so we were up at Bromley, and we got to the finals, me riding a 165cm board against Tom Kingsnorth looking like JP Walker himself, with doo rag, bandanas, and the rest, and so anyways, it went down, i beat him by a nose and then he was asking for a re run claiming my board was too long for slalom on dryslope or something. Anyways, either way, Dryslope is a world full of characters.
I’m happy to have been a part of it, and am lucky to see that its still going strong thanks to the hardwork of people behind the scenes, the parents, the slope owners, and the kids who ride it still. Keep at it, Jamie came from Dryslope, and has one of the best techniques you will see on kickers.
Oh and if you want to see the set up for the Strawberry Jam in Chatham, this is part of it, and how the Chatham Mountain looks.