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The final stop of the Grit Academy 2015 tour was held at the one and only Adrenaline Alley in Corby, which boasts over 120sq feet of rideable goodness. Corby’s skate park attracts thousands of users every year, many of whom are some of the best riders in the world at their given sports, telling of how Adrenaline Alley is one of the most well designed action sports training centres out there. With that in mind, team Grit rocked up expecting to see some extreme talent and super sick riding, as scooter riders from across the country turned up to compete for 2015s final Grit Academy sponsorship. As if this wasn’t enough, the winner would also receive a brand new set-up and £100 in cash!
First things first though, I had never been to Adrenaline Alley before, so I was keen to have a look around and check out all of the ramps that I had only previously seen in videos. It’s safe to say that the park is absolutely massive, it’s easy to just get lost in the various rooms, each one providing its own unique ramps and layouts. If there’s a ramp you want to ride, there’s a high chance that it will be hidden away in the depths of Adrenaline Alley.
While I was checking out the skate park, the rest of the Grit team were setting up flags and stickers, making Corby’s scooter room stand out, ready for the contest to begin. As well as team Grit, we were also joined by members of teams Lucky and Crisp who were keen to check out the fresh talent for themselves. After the set-up, it wasn’t long until riders and spectators alike were pouring into the park, getting ready to kick off the day of competition. Even though it was early in the day, lines were being stomped, and people were preparing for the big tricks and bangers that they would send later on in the day.
After everyone had had enough time to warm-up, the riders and judges were all briefed on the format for the day, which was standard procedure for all Grit Academy events, staring off with several jams, before moving into the soul-jam semi-finals and then to solo 1 minute run finals. The competition was to take place in the scooter room, which was specifically built to cater for the needs and styles of park scooter riding. This would give the riders ample opportunity to showcase their talent and impress the panel of Grit Pro and Academy riders who would be judging the event. With the formalities over with, it was time for the final Grit Academy of 2015 to begin!
We launched straight into the comp, and it was obvious that the level of the riders who had turned up to Adrenaline Alley was extremely high. Even in the qualifiers, riders were throwing some of their best tricks, and even in the round filled with the youngest riders we were treated to backflips, 360s and all manner of combos. As the ages increased, so did the power of riders. This allowed them to jump higher and throw tricks faster, stunning the judges with a vast array of mind blowing combos. With just under 40 riders entering the competition, the rounds were surprisingly tough to judge, as each individual rider brought something unique to the table. In the end though, the list was narrowed down, with two riders from each qualifying round progressing through to the semi-finals.
This meant the semis would consist of 16 riders, all one step closer to the prize of £100 cash, new set-up and the much sought after spot on the Grit Academy team. The semi-finals were to be run in soul jam format, with each round of 8 riders being given a certain amount of time on the clock. These riders would then take it in turns, performing solo runs with a maximum time of 30 seconds per run. This would give each rider the chance to take multiple runs and improve upon the last, however, a bail or foot down would mean passing over to the next person, pushing consistency in this round.
The riders were unfazed by this and piled straight in, pulling off hectic combos over the scooter rooms perfectly tailored ramps. Throughout this round, the tricks carried on getting progressively madder, with competitors smashing out tricks that were previously only reserved for high level pro competition. These included 540 flairs, briflip to unward airs, triple bartwists and one of my personal favourites, a full whip bri whip. This did mean that the semi-finals were very hard to judge. With so many riders chucking out high level tricks, it came down to who landed the most consistently and whose tricks had the highest amplitude.
While the judges deliberated, some of team Grits most boisterous riders took to the course to show just what it takes to be a pro rider on the Grit team. Ring leader of this group was none other than current ISA World Champion, Jordan Clark, who threw himself across the resi box take off to solid box landing with an extended back flip, before launching into a very casual looking 360 fast plant front flip up the step up. Following closely behind was Grit academies regular judge, Soly Bloomfield, also cruising a backflip across the box gaps. He followed Jordan over the step up with an ultra-clean 360 backflip, one of his signature tricks. Once the pros had shown off to the eager audience, it was time to head back into competition mode, and get the final round under way.
The judges had made their decisions, and heading through to the final round would be Shaun Hale, Kian Daniels, Rio Whittle and Jacob Dean, all of who now had their eyes firmly set on the grand prize of £100, a new set-up and the spot on the Grit Academy 2015 team. The judges took up their positions, ready to judge the battle that was about to ensue. First into the fray was Shaun Hale, who had impressed the judges with his incredible consistency and high flying briflip combos. He took to the finals in style, flowing out a really clean run and pulling out a few bangers at the same time, nailing a huge double inward briflip over the step up.
Next into the arena was Kian Daniels, who continued on form with some extremely quick whip rewind and kickless combos. He went on to impress the crowd by landing a bar double whip bar up the big rollin step up toward to the far end of the park. That gap was a good five feet higher up than the take-off quarter, which impressed the judges, gaining Kian some well-deserved points.
Rio Whittle dropped in next, also throwing down some impressive kickless combos. Another set of tricks firmly on his list were a variety of flair combos, including flair whips and flair bars which went down well with both the audience and Grit riders. Rio also threw his own unique banger in the finals, as he again stomped the full whip bri whip which had helped to earn him his place in the finals. Last to ride in the Grit Academy 2015 competition tour was Jacob Dean, who jumped immediately into a flair on the medium quarter. He followed this by flowing around the scooter rooms flatbanks, cruising a full whip up the bank, before coming back around and dropping back down into the transition with a finger whip. And with that, the time was over for the competitors, they had done all they could do, and would have to wait for the judges verdicts.
After a tense few moments, the judges had made their decisions. In at fourth place, was the flowy Jacob Dean, in at third, the flairing Rio Whittle, second place was given to Shaun Hale and his super smooth style, but in at first and taking home the £100 cash, new set-up and spot on the Grit Academy team was Kian Daniels and his outrageous combos and amplitude. All in all, we here at VOID think that it has been a brilliant year for the Grit academies and we would like to thank everyone who has turned up to ride, support and compete in the competitions. We are already looking forward to next year, when our search to find the UKs best riding talent will continue!
Text – Ben Wilkinson
Video – Rush1Media
Photos – Sam Cooper