Damn, that was a good year. Seven comps, three groups in each, and without exception they were all fully rad. We needn’t have worried that Masters would be under-subscribed, it was better attended than the A Group! This means we’ll definitely be continuing the Masters group into next year. Here’s some nerdy graphs to show the attendance, which if you care, is up by 22% on last year with 87 riders registering to compete in 2016.
We all knew there were more people around this year, and now we’ve got a couple more venues too – Southsea Skatepark is back on the circuit with the King Ramps mobile unit for “Shut up and Skate” and St Neots Riverside Park‘s newly re-surfaced “Big Orange” adds another outdoor comp “Steve Bayless Vert Session“. We were lucky with the weather and everyone had a rad time in the sun so we’re hoping to run those comps again next summer.We started with the now familiar bank holiday traffic jam down to the English sunshine state for the freshly re-named “Mount Hawke Vert Jam” organised by Ben Liddell with Jake Anderson on hand to arrange some sweet sponsorship deals at the Cornish venue. We live streamed the event to those poor souls who couldn’t make it, or just didn’t get up in time. This was the first attempt at the Masters comp and we had 9 riders in a straight-to-final bash with the win taken in style by Paul Atkins. B Group went to Dean Greensmith with his only entry of the year, padless and killing it. Matty Carlisle clinched his only 2016 A Group win after a seriously hectic snake sesh seeing hammers go down from all the top riders – 720 (Matty), Samba flip (Jake), flip-lein-disaster (Jesse Thomas).
After a few weeks break (oh, and NASS), we ran 4 comps over a punishing 6 week period including the two new events one week after the other. The first of this run was “Shut up and Skate” at Southsea Skatepark, something we were really excited to be a part of. It was a struggle for some folks to get there but those who did witnessed the rebirth of a legendary contest. Long live vert at Southsea! Best moment was seeing Tim Prescott doing 540s in the B Group. Jake Anderson took the A Group win, Ethan Doody had his first ever B Group win and Andy Scott earned the Masters top spot.
The only comp at a council-owned skatepark followed hot on the heels of the south coast leg. St Neots vert has been around for a good while, but the new surface meant we could hold series event on it. We named the event “The Steve Bayless Vert Session” after a local hero who was integral in campaigning for the skatepark and its resurfacing but died tragically a few months before the comp. On the day, the sun shone, the music was loud, the skating was rad and the crowd was big, in other words; it went off! Being a public event, there was a lot of red tape to organise it, but it was worth every bit and next year is already pencilled in with the council for the first weekend in August. The highlight in this round was probably nobody dying on the slippy ramp in the high winds. Group winners were: A Group: Jake Anderson, B Group: Rob Ayton, Masters: Dave Allen.
- 2016 Steve Bayless Vert Session – Highlights coming soon…
Next stop was a late entry back on the series. After Manchester’s Beast Rampz closed early in the year, we didn’t know what the future held for the park. Then a few rumours started of a local “scooter-mum” re-opening the venue and as soon as it was confirmed we set a date for the comp. Leanne was really accommodating and very happy to have us at the park, she even helped present the prizes! The comp was the usual Mancunian Meltdown, a very busy platform and a couple of close encounters in the snaking practice sessions. The highlight was seeing a few girls at this one, and especially seeing Tiegan Newport attempting the drop-in for the first time. The podium top spots were A Group: Jim Langran (first A group win!), B Group: Rio O’Byrne, Masters: Andy Scott.
- Mancunian Meltdown 2016 by Sidewalk (A Group)
- Mancunian Meltdown 2016 by Sidewalk (B Group/Masters)
- Andy Scott at Mancunian Meltdown by Sidewalk
Number 5 of 7 on the 2016 series was Corby – one of three comps in the Midlands. Improving on last year’s low attendance and the first to need heats in the Masters group due to the higher numbers, there was no shortage of radness on the massive ramp. All-too-familiar PA issues didn’t stop this being a great event and Wheels of Steel will no doubt be on the calendar for next year. Highlight was a storming 4th place by Sean Goff with a massive variety of classic tricks. Winners were: A Group: Jake Anderson, B Group: Logan Dell Wilkinson, Masters: Jussi Korhonen.
- Wheels of Steel 2016 – Highlights coming soon…
The Seaside Session was a chance for everyone to try out the new cut-down version of the Blackpool behemoth. The unusual geometry of the previous ramp has been improved by lopping off 6 inches from the top to give the ramp a more familiar feel with the shorter vert being a better match for the slightly tighter transition. It went down a storm and produced some typically gnarly skating in all groups. A Group was won by Jake Anderson, cementing his series win in the penultimate round. Logan Dell Wilkinson took his second win in B Group and Paul Atkins took the Masters win – no doubt enjoying being back on the podium this year!
- Seaside Sessions 2016 – Highlights coming soon…
And finally! Blockless Combat. This year was no exception to the absolute carnage that goes down at the Birmingham vert contest every year for the last 13 years. The Masters group was introduced here last year so it was fitting to see the first Masters final here a year on. There was a really good crowd and unsurprisingly record attendance (46 riders!). The A Group had, of course already been won on points by Jake Anderson but that didn’t stop him and the rest of the crew ripping hard as usual. The B Group was wide open with the top 3 riders ultimately separated by only 10 points and the Masters similarly close with the added bonus of Jussi and Scotty in the mix! All groups had their gnarly moments, but we were all gripped when little Ellie Waters – a new entrant – stunned everyone by dropping in for the first time. So sick! And a few leaky eyes in the crowd. Also, Alex Griffiths making the podium in his first year skating in A Group. Wins at the last comp of the year were: A Group: Jake Anderson, B Group: Rio O’Byrne, Masters: Jussi Korhonen.
- Blockless Combat 2016 – A Group Highlights
- More footage coming soon…
Series final podium positions below and full results here.
A Group 2016 series final podium:
B Group 2016 series final podium:
Masters 2016 series final podium:
Words by Mat Marlow