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The fourth stop on the Grit Academy 2015 tour was to be held at the infamous Rampworx Skate Park in Liverpool which has been catering to all kinds of action sports, in its current form, since the year 2000! With this in mind, we were positive that this stop on the tour would attract many a rider, looking to test themselves and prove they have what it takes to join the ranks of the Grit Academy team.
On the stop we were joined by Grit Pro rider Soly Bloomfield as well as Academy riders Leo Spenser, Jacob Kennedy and Dan Sharpe who all turned up to Rampworx bright and early to help get the park ready for the day’s events.
We started off by checking out the parks various rooms, and it’s safe to say that the place is absolutely massive, coming in at around 75,000sqft in total! Boasting a huge main section complete with resi, foam pit and box rhythm section; a large, triple tiered bowl; bank section and of course the relatively recent addition to the park, the street section. We could have spent hours just chilling and seshing each section, but people were starting to arrive and it was time to get down to business.
Hopeful riders were turning up from all over the place, their eyes set on one thing, the grand prize of the Grit Academy tour; £100 cash, a brand new set-up and of course a spot on the coveted Grit Academy UK team, which has taken riders and moulded them into scooter powerhouses, one of which being current ISA world champion, Jordan Clarke. With this knowledge in the back of every riders mind, they were all geared up and ready to prove that they had what it takes to join the team and make their mark on the scooter world.
Whilst the riders were warming up around the park, we went off with our current riders Soly Bloomfield and Leo Spenser to grab some clips and photos. With Sam Cooper being behind the photographic lens, we were able to grab some awesome shots while I stood back and recorded the evidence on film.
After the guys had had a chance to show off their stuff, we called for round one to begin. The judges took their places and once the competitors had been briefed on the format, we kicked off the Rampworx Grit Academy 2015! Round one would be in a jam format with between four and five riders taking to the park at once and riding for four minutes. Stamina is one of the most important factors in this round, with riders having to pace themselves as to avoid getting to tired to throw their best bangers at the end. The judges found these preliminary rounds hard to judge, but eventually whittled the competition down to just eight riders who would progress through to the semi-finals.
In between rounds, we had a small break to let the riders regain their strength and to allow those through to the semi-finals some time to prepare their best tricks for the next round. This also gave me some time to check out the various other things inside Rampworx’s building. The shop there was well stocked with a variety of action sports products, very useful if you break a part while riding or feel the need for an upgrade mid-session. The café was my other calling point as it sells both hot and cold snacks, but most importantly, has tea and coffee available. After this reinvigorating beverage, it was time to start the semi-finals, those through just that little bit closer to bagging themselves the grand prize of £100, a new set up and the spot on the Grit Academy UK team.
This round would be run with a soul-jam format, meaning that a bail would end your run and pass the round over to the next rider. This put an emphasis on consistency and meant that only the most precise riders progressed through to the finals. That being said, there were some absolute hammers sent in the semis, everyone trying to prove themselves worthy to the judges. Big tricks such as superman grabs and bar bar bars were being sent over the boxes while flairs and huge briflip combos were not uncommon to be seen flying high above the copings of Rampworx’s quarter pipes. As well as this, the famous Rampworx step up saw some action in this round, with several hectic rewind combos as well a front flip being sent up it! At the end of this crazy round, four riders were selected to ride in the final round, this being their shot at joining the ranks of the Grit Academy team.
In the short time between the semis and the finals, the current members of team Grit who had journeyed up to Rampworx put on a demo to show what being part of team Grit is all about. Soly Bloomfield and Leo Spenser worked the box section while Jacob Kennedy and I rode the step up and the large banked quarter pipes. The demo went down well, with the spectators appreciating the skills on display and the finalists feeling pumped for the last round of the 2015 Rampworx Grit Academy.
The first rider to step into the arena for the final round was Roy Savage who threw down some powerful kickless rewind combos over the boxes and impressed the judges with his briflip combos and use of the park.
Following Roy was Scottish rider Brandon Mcleish who had been proving himself all day and wasn’t about to give up now. Brandon sent trick after trick, flowing lines across the park while backing his flow up with some super steezy tricks including a hench front flip no hander over the end box.
Next up was local rider Jacob Dean who had been a strong contender for the title spot all day. It proved no wonder as he threw a number of high level tricks including a nicely executed backflip drop in followed by a briflip whip air.
Last but not least was Nyal Heslop. Having been seen going big all day, he entered the stage ready to throw down hard, sending some of the most unusual tricks we had seen all day, my favourite being his front dono flip airs, a rare trick which is hard to stomp even for pro riders!
With the final over, the judges had a tough decision to make. Would they choose the kickless combo king Roy Savage, the super steezy Brandon Mcleish, local giant Jacob Dean or the high flying Nyal Heslop? In the end, the judges ruled in favour of Brandon Mcleish, his flawless runs and trick amplitude clinching the spot, and winning him a well-earned place on the Grit Academy UK team, fresh set-up and the £100 cash prize.
To finish with, the Grit team, including the newly appointed Brandon, did the now standard swag throw-out, with riders being treated to various stickers, bands, t-shirts and whatever other product we could find to give out.
With another successful academy over, the riders said their goodbyes and either headed back into the depths of the park for a post-comp session or began their journeys back home. The Grit Academy team had added another sick rider to their ranks, and with one stop left this year, there is still all to play for as we look out for one more rider to fill out the Grit Academy 2015 team: Next stop, Adrenaline Alley, Corby…
Text & Video – Ben Wilkinson
Images – Sam Cooper