This month snowsports apparel brand AfterJam hosted their second freestyle event at Gloucester Ski Centre. Our friends at ShredSki headed down to check out what is fast becoming a staple of the UK Snowsports calendar…
For the second year running, AfterJam seamlessly blended the incredibly talented university ski and board circuit with the vibe of mountain resorts, hosting The AfterJam 2019 competition and après. Over 600 students from all over the UK came to celebrate some of the best emerging talent the scene has to offer, and send it on and off the slope.
Tickets to The AfterJam 2019 were up there with the most sought-after items in the snowsports scene for months leading up to the event, selling out a month early. With over 20 university clubs in attendance, and over 400 spectators on the waiting list, the demand for the event was unreal; a testament to the show that AfterJam and their long list of collaborators put on. The event even gained traction outside of the student snowsports scene with ShredSki the graduate ski society, professional riders and members of the Team GB Park & Pipe squad coming to pit their skills against grassroots riders.
The all-day event kicked off with coachloads of students and competitors getting their first look at the course. The 230m freestyle slope was jam-packed with 13 features including two kickers, an air-bag finish and, the riders’ favourite, a stepdown pipe. Parked next to the freestyle slope was the race course, with a selection of particularly heavy gates and a world-tour style finish in front of the ski lodge. Stretching all the way up the hill was a sea of spectators all crowded around university club banners and gazebos, settling in to watch the day’s events unfold. After a comprehensive rider briefing, competitors began to find their feet on the course, entertaining the raucous crowd that was gathering up the hill, all well lubricated by the Lydia app-sponsored bar at the top and the Ski Lodge at the bottom.
After an hour’s warm-up, the first competitors took their place at the top of the time trial. Despite slightly sticky conditions, both skiers and boarders were ripping down the course. Multi-discipline riders Gillian Finnerty from Leeds Snowriders and Daniel Symons set the pace early in the board and ski races. The competitive fire was burning within all the riders, but only a select few came out on top. The male snowboard race was won by Birmingham’s own Max Mueller, with the women’s board gold being taken by Exeter’s Becky Chorlton. In the ski races, the brother-sister combo of Daniel and Rachel Symons (representing Leeds) took home both golds in the men’s and women’s races.
The Freestyle competition included a diverse selection of riders and styles, with special mention going to young Palmer Parish hitting 720’s off the kicker at 9 years old. The warm-up started to get spicy early with the competitors hitting the airbag hard, and a selection of cork 7’s from the boarders and some dubs from the skiers. As the event moved through the qualifiers into the finals, the crowd tore themselves away from the rugby to witness some of the best talent the UK has to offer.
A wide variety of tricks were put on display in the final with the likes of Eddie Reeder throwing multiple front 3’s off the toes, and GB Park and Pipe Rider Justin Taylor-Tipton (JTT) hitting a backflip onto the pipe. The freestyle male board comp was won by Ross Barwood after throwing down some buttery frontside 5’s and back 3’s. The women’s freestyle board was won in style by Gillian Finnerty The star of the freestyle show had to be Olympic hopeful JTT, throwing down what is fast becoming his signature trick, with a caribou switch slide to take the podium in the men's freeski comp.
Following last year’s after-party, the event has become notorious for its heavy-hitting après. This year was no different, with two separate stages delivering the tunes in the Bootroom and Monster Energy room. AfterJam used this opportunity to showcase the musical talent that the UK snow scene has, both homegrown and exported. This year bassline pioneer Darkzy headlined, raising the roof and finishing off the day with some serious gun fingers.
Prizes for all this year’s medallists were supplied by the long list of fire sponsors that The AfterJam attracted including Monster Energy, Newschoolers, Wasteland Ski, Saxx, InTheSnow Magazine and Ski Bartlett.
This year The AfterJam carried with it some sombre undertones as all riders and spectators mourned the recent loss of long-term friend Yolanda Moore. Her foundation was represented at the event, promoting the continuation of the amazing work she did with disadvantaged children.
The success of the event was a testimony to the huge pool of talent on the UK snow scene and the culture surrounding it. We suspect the event will be even bigger for round three!