Nathan Price sweeps the UK board at Battle UK
By Naomi Grigg
Well! it seems that the BattleUK judges made the same mistake as they did at the SkateLondon IFSA competition - foolishly crowning some 16 year old upstart as better than the rest of us. Max and I are both appealing against the decision to see our face plants as accidental falls rather than well practiced, mind-numbingly impressive manoeuvres, but we'll humour the result for now...
Oh yeah, and the speed slalom timing equipment sucks. It cheated for him.
Anyway, humbling experiences aside, the weekend can only be described as a huge success for UK freestyle skating. BattleUK was only the 2nd official Battle style competition, the first being held at the Paris World Slalom Cup in France. It was quite an act to follow, and although the PWSC was hugely successful, the format was altered to make it more suitable for the UK skate scene.
The organisers chose to hold two completely different competitions for the UK and international competitors (UK competitiors could enter both). At SkateLondon this year, everyone competed together, but there were separate podiums for the UK and international/open competitors. Because of the knockout style of a battle competition, totally separate competitions were held. Which meant that those that entered both definitely earned their dinner!
The weekend kicked off on Saturday morning after a night of trickling arrivals from as far away as the US and France, but the really last minute middle-of-the-night arrivals were made by the more local London based skaters... Fortunately though, the sardine style sleeping slots on the floors of Nottingham skaters don't have a midnight curfew!
The main day itself started out with freestyle qualifications for everyone - which is a bit of a misnomer really, because they are not about qualifying at all. Everyone does a 1 minute run (to whatever music Mr DJ (Garrett Cashman) has on at the time, so the judges can do a 'rough ranking' so that the initial battle knockout groups are reasonably even, so the better skaters are spread out in the groups, and each group is of similar difficulty to all the others. No one 'fails to qualify' - all it does is remove the 'luck of the draw' aspect of the competition.
Following the qualifiers, a refreshingly succinct speed slalom competition was held. Each competitor high-tailed it twice up the run, and the electronic timing equipment recorded the times, and Judge Neil counted penalties. No usual knockout - that was saved for the battle itself...
The freestyle battles started out with the mixed UK battle. There were 9 competitors - 5 in one group. and 4 in the other. Each group had around 10 minutes to take it in turns showing off their best tricks for the judges - each had 3 or 4 opportunities to raise the game, before the top 2 or 3 were selected to go through into the final. The final saw Phil Downer, Max Freeman, Nathan Price, CJ Lee and I (Naomi Grigg) battling it out, and generally growling at each other. By 'growling' I mean hugging and going 'oh awesome! that was really cool!', but the less said about our pathetic aversion to serious competition the better...
Next up was the Mens Open competition. From the USA we had Philadelphian Jeremy LaCivita, from some hybrid of London and Lyon we had JB Milleret, from France we had Olivier Herrero, Igor Cheremetieff and of course the man who brought Battle to freestyle Skating, Sebastien Laffargue, and a number of UK skaters. The mens battle was by far the largest competition, starting with 4 groups, meaning that there were 3 rounds including the final, which was won by Igor, and followed by Sebastien and Olivier.
Last competition of the day was the Womens Open, with myself from the UK, Chloe Seyres, Fanny Violeau, Soraya Ghadrey, Eva Cochey-Cahuzac from France, and Marta Previde Massara from Italy. Despite only being 6 skaters, it was enough for 2 groups, and therefore 2 rounds, which were very clearly won by Chloe, and she was followed by Fanny and myself.
The street skate that evening pretty much finished us all off, and it was only due to the reviving and replenishing quality of the full English cooked breakfast that Jim, Katrin, Lance & Lizzie created for us on Sunday morning, that we were able to compete in the Freejump and Slide competitions later that day... I say 'we', but I chose to play freestyle with the visiting yank during the slide contest...
The Freejump was taken at 1.15m by JB Milleret, and closely followed by Ray Li at 1.10m, but Eastbourner Max brought back our national pride by pipping JB Milleret in the Slide contest.
Interestingly, Phil Downer qualified top of the UK, Nathan beat everyone in the UK battle, Max was the highest placed UK skater in the Mens Open, and I er.... anyway, so once again it seems that there's everything to play for over the christmas break...
Credits and Links
It takes a lot of people to handle both the big picture & the details that make an event work. Here are some that thanks go out to:
to Mark & Neil Kempton
Photos courtesy of Lance: http://www.lanceb.me.uk/NottsStreetSkate/
Naomi Grigg's website: http://www.skatefreestyle.com
Here's a summary of Naomi's articles - either by or about her.
All material on this website is © Copyright 2000-2011 LondonSkaters.com, contributors, and associates. Please do not reproduce anything without permission. If you wish to use photos or other material from this website, please contact me first.