Below: Mad hatters (Photo: Tom Halliday)
In just three years the Vans UKSA National Skateboarding Championships has firmly established itself as one of the must-attend events on the increasingly busy UK skateboarding calendar. Much more than that, the NSC can boast that aside from offering the highest prize purse in a UK-based competitive skateboarding event, you can be rest-assured that the absolutely packed-full-o’-goodness weekend is responsible for the following:
1. The reason why hotel staff in Corby suddenly has to work more than usual, and clean up more vomit, blood, pubic hair and broken glass than any other time in the year.
2. 99.5% of Dickfingers’ annual man-hug quota
3. Craig Smedley’s inevitable career change into the world of freestyle urban dance.
4. A reminder that Adrenaline Alley is absolutely bloody massive, and equally just as absolutely bloody freezing.
5. Over half of the UK skate population suffering from sore throats from either shouting “ave it Dad!” during the bowl jam, “BENIHANA” on cue or rapping to Wu-Tang at the unquestionably legendary after party.
6. Keeping Kunt and the Gang in business for at least another four years.
All silliness aside (but never forgotten – it is, after all, how UK skateboarding functions) the Vans UKSA National Skateboarding Championships will always guarantee one thing to all those in attendance: a jaw-dropping reminder of how quickly the standards of British skateboarders is rising. Every year, without fail Corby will witness handfuls and handfuls of bangers over the street, vert and bowl course from those that have been killing it all year; legends will rise up and remind everyone exactly why they deserve the title ‘legend’; newcomers will turn heads back and forth, back and forth; and heads will turn even more so back and forth as many are reminded why vert skating is so head-explodingly awesome.
So if you were one of the unfortunate folk who couldn’t make it, read on to learn exactly who landed what, who got banned from the finals, who impressed the ladies (scratch that… lady, singular) with headspins and who was so impressed by Kunt and the Gang’s performance that they felt compelled to buy the entire back catalogue. Even if you weren’t there, you were probably too boozed up on the Saturday night to remember anything whatsoever from the weekend; so remind yourself from the words you see before you here; the photos that surround them, taken by the omnipresent lens and flash setups belonging to Tom Halliday and Jamie Head; and a comprehensive edit of the weekend’s shenanigans courtesy of a dedicated cameraman capable of an unrivalled balancing act on Adrenaline Alley’s tightrope like fences, Nick Richards.
SATURDAY 23RD OCTOBER – THE QUALIFIERS/BOWL JAM/FOAM PIT JAM
Below: Steve King – B/S 5-0 (Photo: Tom Halliday)
Day one, the story’s just begun, it’s the UK Champs and we’re all having fun!
Okay, so that reference may be a little pitchforkian in terms of in-joke obscurity, even for those of you reading that did watch Ross McGouran and co. back in the day on Channel 5’s ‘RAD’. But it’s totally acceptable if you didn’t recognise it, because seeing the long-haired control-demon – barely recognisable as the same scrawny kid that tore US concrete a new hole all those years ago on the Vans ‘Grom’s Tour’ – absolutely run shit on the street course during the warm-ups made it pretty hard to focus on anything other than the here and now. Not only that, but it made it pretty difficult to imagine anyone other than last year’s champion winning again.
Fair enough, most of us had barely time to wake up from the lengthy and overpriced train journeys or squashed eight-in-the-back car trips but I think most of the eye-rubbing malarkey going on amongst the increasingly more populated audience was due to the amount of holy-shamoley moments going on in the training arenas. Ross McGouran, Daryl Dominguez, Harry Lintell, Caradog Emmanuel, Keith Walsh, Alex Barton and dozens more were bombing through the course in between heats with an apparently inexhaustible energy. Meanwhile, in the other training area dubbed ‘The Berrics’ or ‘The Corbics’, Steven King and Barber came bounding out of Dykie’s super-fun Postman Pat mobile (that got me from my hotel to the park each morning; I’m forever in your debt Matthew!) and tore the place up with those who felt the main course was a little crowded. Hammers were being dropped all over the shop basically, so don’t feel like the finals are when the action’s going to occur; when it comes to our merry nation of skateboarders and pissheads, you must expect the unexpected all the time.
The heats themselves went off without a hitch… excluding a couple of premature peakers who already sank one too many tins before shralping, and those that were having too much fun in The Corbics to hear Sanderson and Churchill’s fuzzy-megaphone-enhanced call of duty. Despite turning up almost a minute late, Barber came in and smith and feeble grinded his way to qualification much to the delight of the perpetually bewildered Crayon head honcho, Dykie.
As the heats progressed and more people stopped skating the ludicrously fun mini-mini-ramp to watch the action unfold it became clear that Superdead were essentially providing an unofficial demo amongst the competition. One of the most talked about newcomers this year, Nick Remon battled it out with the Lovenskate powerhouse Alex Barton and the heats were ablaze. Remon is one styled out and talented motherfucker with 360 flips as nonchalant as a certain Trapasso who shares his name. Harry Lintell kept the Superdead talk omnipresent as he continued to assert himself as one of the UK’s most naturally talented skateboarders. In any other comp, the day might as well have been his.
Above: Nick Remon floats a nollie on the monster quarter (Photo: Tom Halliday)
Below: Jack Edwards – Feeble (Photo: Tom Halliday)
But this isn’t just any other comp. This is the definitive competition for all British skateboaders, the one to go to. And with a monster prize purse up for grabs, the boundaries are guaranteed be pushed by all those involved. Isaac ‘The Killer’ Miller raised eyebrows with ninja caught switch heelfips, Korahn Gayle could have scored extra points for the amazing vibes he was throwing: kickflip f/s 50-50 to smile like a goon roll-away anyone? That’s exactly the kind of combo move pioneered jovially by Bristol’s finest. Radar maker and Unabomber’s latest activist, Keith Walsh clued a few people into just how gnarly the Irish skate scene has become while the weekend’s official powerhouse, Conhuir Lynn remained unsubtle in his reminder of how gnarly the Irish skate scene has always been. Speed, precision, consistency and power. Again, these were only the qualifiers. Mental.
After the carnage the judges were left to make the tough decision as to who to put through to tomorrow. I would like to take this opportunity to dispel any rumours that there is any bias at play here for it’s simply not the case. The decisions made by the panel were spot on as I’m sure anyone present would objectively testify, and when the panel is comprised of Churchill (the undisputed master of beats), Simon Skipp (one of the friendliest rippers from Essex), Cates (CATES!) and Porno Paul (now more family friendly than ever!), the money being dished out is in good hands.
While they were tallying up points, everyone else was throwing themselves into the Maverick Bowl Jam. Some quite literally (perhaps sub-consciously aware that he was going to be banned from competing the following day, Rob Smith took his chance to go out with a bang) and others just trying not to get smashed up. But, be it through coincidence or otherwise, whenever Mark ‘Teabag’ Murray dropped in everyone else just sat and watched. Having already won The Battle of Hastings he’s definitely one to sit, watch and be blown away by. Total pisstake levels of control, complimented magnificently by Manhead’s huge airs, Dan McDermott’s flip out nonsense and Greg Nowick being Greg Nowick. The relatively unknown Luke Jarvis made a bit of a name for himself too; he’s got some sick tricks for sure.
Above: The effects of alcohol. (Photo: Tom Halliday)
By now those who aren’t boozed up are starting to wish they were and those that are, well… are. So what better time for Dickfingers to team up with Haunting Skateboards and get everyone to throw their beaten bodies into a big pool of foam! Check the Writer’s Tailblock edit here to peep rocket backflips and impossible amounts of homo-erotic male bonding that only young BDF can bring to the table. And that he did. And how.
THE LEGENDARY (?) AFTERPARTY
There is nothing questionable about the legendary nature of a Vans UKSA NSC Afterparty. Not content with simply living up to the notorious reputation of being the definitive sausage fest of the year, what makes the party so special is seeing so many of the UK skate scene hanging out, gunning down the proverbial breeze, meeting up with friends old and new and getting totally plastered like a festive family dinner ran by lunatics. We have everyone’s favourite Uncle Churchill dropping beats from a laptop surrounded by bottles of Peroni; ‘Bad Dad’ Dickfingers with his step-brother Powley ordering in questionable entertainment (who are we kidding? Kunt is a champ), organising a typically homo-erotic round of musical chairs and hugging people a little too much; Cousin Smedley who has more urban moves than an awkward contemporay ‘street’ musical cast; and of course, the rebellious teen (have a guess…) who tries to fight everyone in sight and gets thrown out on his arse more times than I hiccup out the words “another 5 beeeeeeeers pleasseee”. It’s legendary in all true meaning of the word, apart from, well… being based on a legend. The video footage says that it actually happened and that’s more verification than probably anyone present could muster; for all I know it was all a dream.
The staff at Corby Rugby Club deserve a big thank you for not just putting up with us, but joining in with the madness and keeping that amazing mood constant throughout the night. Bring on next year. Oh wait, there’s still the Finals… of course.
SUNDAY 24TH OCTOBER – THE FINALS
Oh boy it’s the big day! Slowly after clearing up all the teabags on the floor and the puke in the lav, we waddle outside of our respective hotels and into the hangover-curing crisp sunshine that only a town as absolutely ridiculous as Corby can offer. Entering a mammoth Asda Café and seeing 90% of the UK skate scene hobble around ordering full english breakfasts is one of the most bizarre set of circumstances I’ve ever been involved in. You’d think there was something important happening right? Well, try telling that to the sea of glazed eyes that constituted all of Asda’s punters this morning. Thankfully, the unstoppable Korahn Gayle was in attendance to rouse everyone’s spirits and after an impromptu (and complete) rendition of Judy Garland’s ‘Get Happy’ everyone was ready for the next six hours of total carnage.
Above: Manhead – Mansized Nollie Frontside Heelflip (Photo: James Head)
First up was the Rubicon Girl’s Comp, and after a gameshow style introduction courtesy of UK’s premiere event host Bob Sanderson those that braved the hangover were rewarded to the constantly growing standards of British female skating. Claire Alleaume has more natural style than most people in the entire competition but was narrowly edged out of the top three by Lois Pendlebury, whose bundles of energy led her to pull a tonne of tricks out of the many UKSA New Era hats to earn third place. Lucy Adams brought heaps of nonchalance as she sleepwalked kickflip variations over the hip to snag the silver while Helena Long just ran tings. Speed, power, style… proper first place and best female skater in the UK material.
Below: Conhuir Lynn – Flip Frontboard (Photo: James Head)
The street semi-finals suggested that it really could be anyone’s game. Though the favourites from yesterday’s qualifiers (Harry Lintell, Manhead, Ross McGouran, Korahn Gayle, Chris Oliver) continued to drop bangers with a near unrivalled consistency Sunday saw many step up their game big time. Conhuir Lynn won it for me in the semis by absolutely slaying his run. Didn’t miss a trick, landed everything proper and went at mach ten throughout like a boss. Unfortunately he couldn’t keep up the consistency in the finals but earned the crowd’s support as even after a major snapper he persisted way beyond time to nail a perfect flip front board down the rail. What a champ. Look at it over there on the right. Bonkers, right?
The semis also saw jaw-dropping manouevres from Caradog, who took a break from posting videos of birds queefing on facebook to one-up all the steezy tricks his was hammering down on Saturday. Similarly, despite slaying it in the qualifiers Keith Walsh decided that he wanted to blow this competition up a bit and began flying over the funbox in a way no one else had thought of. Alex Barton kept up what was essentially a performance, waking a few people up to this criminally underrated skater and Alex Lally made a name for himself after replacing the banned Rob Smith in the semis. Barber managed to keep his wits and land some crazy stuff though competition was fierce and though impressive, he just missed the final 12, chilling out for the rest of the day until the insane best trick comp.
Keeping things chronological is difficult when so much gnar went down, you understand. Shit was most exciting. But before the epic final battle and the best trick bonanza there was the stunning vert finals which was a needed reminder for some that vert is one of the most exciting forms of skating to watch. Yeah, fliptricks over the hip are great (really, I love ’em) but it just doesn’t match up to Sam Beckett, Andy Scott and Jussi Korhonen get tech and spinny too many feet above safe, comfortable ground. All competitors manned up against Adrenaline Alley’s monsterous ramp and watching the likes of Sean Goff, Jake Anderson and Pete King style out on something I wouldn’t dare touch was a highlight of the day for sure, but the top three were truly a different class.
Pro-tip: If you are ever present at a Vert comp, be sure to bring a filmer with you. Not just to capture all the insanity, but there’s something strangely amusing and compelling about a filmer jamming a camera to their face and turning back and forth like a hypnotic gif. Trust me on this.
Below: Ross McGouran – Gap to Nosegrind (Photo: James Head)
After some greasy grub it was time for the final showdown. Now, whether it’s the eye of the tiger or the thrill of the fight but the final sessions always seperate the gnar from the gnarliest. Everyone killed it, there’s no doubting that. The standard of British skateboarding has unsurprisingly risen again and the consistency of some of these kids goes beyond comprehension. But Ross McGouran is unstoppable and has been since I can remember watching Rad all those years back. He’s fully matured into one of the best skaters to ever come from the UK and there is no doubting that. That gap to nosegrind is rewind material summoned out of no where – was it second try? Who cares… it’s mental.
But 2010 was the year of the fresh faced newcomer. Keith Walsh has been killing in quietly for years but could easily have taken this – he went big, got tech, landed everything and perfectly too. Harry Lintell proved that the hype behind him is totally legit, he’s up there with Barney Page in the UK’s current wave of amazing skateboarders. Cleaner-than-Gallant’s-white-tee-collection style, unbroken lines and a difficult trick selection. Speaking of Barney Page, anyone who peeped his massive air on the ski jump would have wondered how things would have turned out if he was involved in the finals. Check the video edit below for the madness.
Somehow, this weekend continued to deliver more than what anyone could have expected, as the Mob Gip Best Trick Jam went offfff. Caradog re-crowned himself king of the backside lipslide with a kickflip backlip 180 out on the sloped ledge to claim his £100; Korahn Gayle just about managed to hold on to a flip backtail bigspin out but ending up rolling into the judges as they were announcing the winners, shame. Chroliver tore apart the long handrail alongside Barber, whose backsmith pop over earned him a cool £100. But it was Will Golding who finally put a huge full stop at the end of a spectacular weekend with a flip nose manual nollie flip out down the sloped block. Absoludicrous.
Above: Harry Lintell – Nollie Backside Flip (Photo: James Head)
Sunday night was defined by long train journeys and a tetris effect style recollection of the competiton’s collective insanity whenever eyes were shut. As skateboarding continues to become more prolific and forgettable in the digital age it’s events like this that stay with us, be it in our minds or in write-ups like this one or video edits like the one below or the countless others. Those that attended supported UK skateboarding and were rewarded generously with what UK skateboarding can offer. If you couldn’t make it, then we hope all the fuss around it will persuade you to go next year. It’s worth it.
Because, you see, UK skateboarding is awesome.
You can watch Nick Richard’s stellar footage from the day below.