Written by: Ralph Lloyd-Davis – 21/12/2006
Photo Credits: Big thanks to Gorm – Ace Joe – Elvin – Steven King.
Sequence Credits: Big thanks to Dom Marley and Leo Sharp (Sidewalk Magazine)
Video Credits: Big thanks to Adrian Downie, Niall Kenny, Alan Christensen and Andy Evans
Road to Ruin – Anarchy in the West-End
“My doctor told me not to let anything get me stressed. You fucked up…”
Those were the words Zac uttered to me as I grovelled apologies for missing my train out to the Crossfire Xmas Jam from Belguim! I felt stupid, and shit. Another ticket would set me back an arm and a leg, and even then I wouldn’t make it to the jam until it was ending…
Then, I got a call from my wife…..There was a flight out the following morning for £50, and I’d get there in time to party. What would I do without such a wonderful woman? I’d probably be wearing odd socks and pour salt instead of sugar in my tea.
Woo hoo! Crossfire, here I come! However, there was a catch to this golden ticket: The plane took off at 7am, which meant 6am check-in, which meant 5.15am taxi, which meant 4.45am wake up, which meant no sleep till Crooklyn!
But it was no good feeling sorry for myself. I was the one who fucked up in the first place. 20 minutes kip, one bottle of rescue remedy and one confiscated deodorant later, and I was gazing dreamily at the sun coming up over London.
Crossfire is the only outfit down South to pull everyone together at this time of the year when the days become nights and water turns into ice, so if you were anywhere within a few hundred miles radius, you know you should have made it down for the annual Xmas get together.
But I’m guessing you were there because the Bay66 skatepark in London’s hip west-end was ram packed full of skaters. I won’t list off each and every British skateboard notable present, just take a look at the news sticky for that, but I think it’s safe to say that if the Westbourne park flyover decided to collapse on that sunny Saturday afternoon, then British skateboarding would be reduced somewhat, Freestyle included- seeing as This’n’That celeb whizzplanker Darran Nolan was present and giving a helping hand. Cheers mate!
Right, enough setting of the stage, what everyone wanted was guaranteed carnage and prizes, so without further a due, Zac grabbed the cowhorn and the unsponsored jam began.
Always a favourite with the crowd, and the worst fear of the on site medical staff, the ski jump opened the show. A few clean melons here, and plenty of ragdoll flailing there, it was tiny little Alex Decuhna (inspired by Lee Blackwell!) who scored a pair of Globe Shoes with a kickflip, and a huge backside 360 that even Danny Way could tip his helmet to.
Honourable mentions must go out to the kid who managed to tailblock drop in on the massive wallride beside the jump, and nutty Darryl who went all Sluggo Boyce on us backflipping to revert over the hill dressed like a Backstreetboy! (Jokes!)
Next damage control zone was the Koston blocks across the driveway. You should have seen the way these unsponsored kids were fiending to have a go at balancing across the blocks. I think they broke a collective record for most under 15’s huddled onto a drop-in bank. After many valiant efforts, and a few bumps and lumps, the chaos claimed its winner, Ollie Smith (with a name like that, he’s hardly going to be a fisherman!) who slid his way through some smooth 5-0s, nosegrinds and bluntslides. Sweet as a nut.
Ollie wasn’t holding back either when the third stage of the unsponsored jam took off. The cheeky fella was thrusting long frontside 5-0s and an oh-so-close frontside nosegrind the full 14 feet of the kicker to curved blocks. This obstacle is a new feature of the Bay66 skatepark, and looks like it was inspired by the London Mayor’s building; a top city street spot.
One pair of Globes was enough for Ollie though, so it was up to technical Jak Tonge to earn his winnings with a perfect manual kickflip out, and a sketchy frontside 5-0 frontside 180 out to fakie nose manual drop down. The exact opposite trick- kickflip manual- was also made by James Baker who bagged a years subscription to Sidewalk Magazine.
To wrap things up with the kids, the mini ramp sesh took centre stage. Eager amateurs lined each side of the deck waiting for the master of Ceremonies to call their name and drop-in. This was a mini version of a skate off where consistency and variety in tricks was the key to success. It wasn’t until the last 5 minutes of this jam that things went ballistic with a full on Texas Death match going down, except the madmen taking part were all under 5ft tall! Wicked!
With so much talent on show, three winners had to be announced. I was designated Judge for the entire Christmas Jam, and to tell you the truth, this was the only moment I felt really intimidated. Little kids eyed me up, ready to throw me into the flatbottom if a disrespected their efforts. Oh no… The midget mafia wouldn’t sway my mind though because it was obvious that little Kyron had killed it lining up frontside flips, sugarcanes and backside 360s into his runs. Mini-me’s Dean and Michael also walked away triumphant with Sidewalk subscriptions and a free Globe deck signed by the European Team for their troubles.
As a brief interval between the unsponsored and sponsored comps, I’d like to say that the skatepark was buzzing. There were skaters everywhere, so if you noticed something sick go down which I fail to mention, please let it be known on the forums and share the stoke.
Right, anybody who has been to a Crossfire Jam should know that the midi ramp jam is always explosive. There must be something in the masonite or cement ceiling because everyone gets worked up into a frenzy.
Zac heckled the riders and the place kicked off Creature Skateboards rider Marc Churchill was slicing through some of the smoothest smith grinds, taking each one to revert, whilst Brighton beardo Stevie Thompson hopped ridiculous beanplant and backside boneless variations way out of the ramp onto an extension box before leaping back in backwards. Those two guys are seriously under-rated!
Slapping their balls to the wall were Death rider Steak and Ross from Bournemouth. Steak was powering around the ramp like a rabid animal, even going so far as to attempt several Mctwists. The power was obviously in the headband. Ross tried his hardest, and did land on a couple but without rolling away, to stick a head high 360 flip mute grab..
With a park like this on their doorstep, it’s pretty obvious that the local talent could ride too, with Awahd rotating perfect miller flips every go. He never lost his New Era once. Ben Raemer’s mum was there to show support for her son who went one higher than Danny Wainwright this year with a frontside air into the ceiling! His other deep bag of tricks had finger flip liens to tail revert, and a super close kickflip backside crailslide(!). Ben is the future of British skateboarding.
Finally, the tech-wizardry of Chris Oliver and Greg Nowik set the standard for Crossfire cash. On the one hand, Chris was stomping out ridiculous head high frontside kickflip melons, kickflips to fakie, a ludicrously close rock 360 flip to fakie and I even spotted a close attempt at a frontside salad kickflip to fakie. Whoa!
But, no-one could get close to the consistency on White Trash Skateboard pro, and amateur boy racer, Greg Nowik.
As Zac bellowed out of the bullhorn- “Greg eats mini ramps for breakfast, lunch AND dinner!”. Greg was relentless with the massive tweaked airs, double flips, blunt shuffles, a stupid blunt late back foot flip to fakie landing in a switch manual roll away, and the winning trick: a blunt 360 flip to fakie.
The crowd went bonkers, hardcore punk rock from Black Flag, Bad Brains, Flipper and Negative Approach rained from the speakers courtesy of DJ James Sherry and Zac couldn’t feel his hands anymore. Those last Crossfire minutes lasted almost as long as those of British Rail on Sundays, so without hesitation we went straight to the rails.
Boots opened the show with a third try kickflip frontside boardslide, whilst Blueprint Skateboards Neil Smith answered back with a nollie backside lipslide and kickflip backlip.
East and 50-50 dread head Korahn Gayle pushed out a buttery smooth frontside salad grind to fakie, and flatcap wearing Sherpy mixed things up with a feeble to backside 50-50.
The ratio for bails per make was running at about 7:3, which is fair enough, but poor Adam Howe riding for Plan B took the heftiest slam when he miscalculated a frontside something or other, and flew straight to the floor and sent one of his shoes flying a good 20 feet away! Ouch!
In the end, judgement had a split win between Globe rider James Gardner with his shocking frontside bluntslide (held upright I might add!) bigspin out, and Death Skateboards am Boots hammering in the nails with a perfect bigspin frontside boardslide.
The vert wall jam was next up with a love seat quarter pipe that dominated the far side of the park. Whilst Zac heckled Santa Cruz’s Joe Habgood to get his boots on, Duffs man Rob Smith was already two tricks in with a sick kickflip indy footplant and good bonk of his nose on the ceiling!
Someone else heading for the stratosphere was Death rider Horsey who literally hit the roof on several of his mental beanplant to fakie attempts. The speed freak actually landed on a couple, but couldn’t roll away far enough.
Chris Ault repped in front of his boss, Fos, with stylish wall jams to rock fakie and massive frontside airs out and around. Tranny tamer, Stevie Thompson took off like Horsey on some great beanplant madness. One wipe out almost took a camera man out to Zac’s call of “watch out media scum!“.
Local ripper Awahd rode high up into the wall to frontside air back into the quarter pipe, whilst the Southampton crew came correct with Marc Churchill knocking out a massive frontside air across the whole expanse. Father Christmas a.k.a. Dan Cates heckled Death team rider Lee Blackwell for wearing shorts when he whipped out his trademark (and last year’s winner) kickflip nosegrab fastplant. It was obvious who had won though- Rob Smith with gruesome face paint to boot, had a big bag of tricks and almost shut it down with a kickflip indy footplant finger flip back in! As time was called, Globe and Kill City rider Daryl Cashman repped the tech side of things with a beautiful kickflip nosestall revert – silky smooth.
Helas, it was time to haul out the beast for this year’s special obstacle. Initially the people screamed how they wanted a Ring of Fire, but the local fire department had us wrapped in thick red-tape at that suggestion.
So, plan B was brought forward by Mark ‘Fos’ Foster who suggested a Whale and this beached sea creature was built, thanks to SA. Ettienne and his brother.
Shaped like a wave, with sharp gnashers and a dangerous harpoon wallie bar poking out its backside, The Heroin Whale was definitely a proving ground to separate the men from the boys.
It took a while for everyone to get used to this quirky beast, but once the initial slappies were settled, things really started to heat up. Horsey got a one-footed 50-50, whilst Chris Ault balanced a long manual to 5-0 slappy off the end. Playing it slow, but not easy, Neil Smith gathered the balance to land a rock fakie on the bar Daewon style! and Ben Reamers came closer than ever to a backside 360 out of his pole jam.
As men reduced themselves to pulp trying to tame the beast, little Alex Decuhna from the unsponsored comps stepped up out of nowhere and wallied the rail first go! The crowd couldn’t believe it, and a few of the sponsored guys felt a bruise of their ego.
Naturally, the Whale’s creator, Fos, gave Alex a free Heroin deck for his effort – N.B. The rail was almost a foot taller than Alex at its peak! The man of the hour though was Chris Oliver. After losing out to Greg Nowik during the ramp jam, this time Chris was taking no prisoners. The ginger ninja dropped bomb after bomb with backside smiths, nose grinds, nosegrinds to revert, switch nosegrinds to revert, and to top it all off- a head high kickflip caught perfectly out of a mach ten wallie! Boom!
Last year, many kids took it too far and people got injured, this year had to be slightly different. Crossfire would like to stress that it is with great pleasure that we can give out so many free goodies thanks to our sponsors, but skate parks are becoming targets for parents who allow their kids to come to these events and then threaten to sue us afterwards and that just can’t happen anymore.
That said, the rabid look in a child’s eyes when four massive boxes full of clothes, Globe Shoes, DVDs, boards and stickers are carried out and showered from above, is a sight that makes Damian from the Omen look angelic.
It had been a long hard day, but so amazing. The British skate community had come together to celebrate Xmas in the Big Smog, and fun was had by all. With the kids stoked, the obstacles sore and the skaters hyped, the only thing left to do was hit up the party organised down the road at Mau Mau.
Hi-Jinks assured by Ed Pitt’s DJ set and a live performance that took the roof off from Joe Driscoll, a steady flow of booze and good vibes. Merry Christmas everyone!
If you would like to comment on the Xmas Jam you can do it here.
Big thanks to our associate sponsor Globe Shoes for their unconditional support for the second year now. Also big shout out to Independent Trucks, Heroin, Death, Landscape, Blueprint, Casual, Kill City, Karma, Plan B, the Harmony and Blind Skateboards for supporting British Skateboarding, supplying product and organising their pro riders for this event.
If you were there, thank you for your support, if not we will have more planned for 2007 so enjoy downloading the video on this page by right clicking and saving as.
Click the image below to view the Xmas Party Pics..
Merry Xmas 2006!
Ski-Jump: Alex Decuhna – BS 360 and a Kickflip
Koston Block – Ollie Smith – FS 5-0 – BS Bluntslide and FS Nosegrind on the top.
Curved Ledge – Jak Tonge – manual Kickflip out and FS 5-0 FS 180 fakie nosemanual drop down.
Mini Ramp: Kyron, Dean and Micheal
Midi Ramp Jam – Greg Nowik (White Trash/Globe) – Blunt 360 flip in, ollie back foot flip, double flip fakie and huge tweakery.
Rail Jam: – Boots (Death) w/ Kickflip FS Boardslide & big spin FS Boardslide. James Gardener (Globe) – Front blunt slide big spin out.
Taj Mahal Wallride Sesh – Rob Smith (Death/Independent/Duffs) Kickflip indy footplant and roof ripper..
Whale Tail Pole Jam on the Heroin Whale: Chris Oliver (Alai/Vans) – BS Smith, BS Nosegrind revert, switch BS nosegrind revert and wallie kickflip out head height!
Photo Credits: Big thanks to Gorm – Ace Joe – Elvin – Steven King.
Sequence Credits: Big thanks to Dom Marley and Leo Sharp (Sidewalk Magazine)