For those of you who weren't there to witness it, Jiberish International atheletes Tom Wallisch, Matt Walker and Mike Clarke along with TJ Schiller have 'Just Passed Thru' the UK on a tour that has taken in the London Freeze, and then the more obscure locations (for them anyway) of the Chill Factore indoor snowdome in Manchester and Bearsden dry ski slope in Glasgow! Led by Jiberish UK rep Neil MacGrain, this was a great opportunity for Mike Clarke to film and document proceedings for the Just Passing Thru film project (supported by Jiberish and Salomon), but was more importantly for UK rippers, a unique opportunity for them to meet and ride with their heroes!
After a busy weekend at the London Freeze, everyone crammed into various vehicles and headed for the Manchester Chill Factore which is one of the UK's newest Snow Domes. The Park crew had worked tirelessly to get the park ready for the crew, who seemed eager to get out on the slope and tear it apart. But first there was the small business of signing autographs for the disbelieving group of fans who looked genuinely shocked to see their idols in the flesh.
Once on the slope the crew went about slaying the various obstacles with a lethal efficiency. 360 switch ups over the kink box, 630s off the drop down box, flat spins, 9's, backflips, and corks off the kicker, and Tom (Wallisch) was attempting a ludicrous transfer from the high box to the street rail. All the while, the 80 odd UK riders who had joined the crew on the slope were also throwing down with a jedi-like concentration that was almost unnerving; as if the presence of the pros had stunned them into silence.
After a few laps the crew stopped to watch the British youngsters, and throw out spot prizes to those who impressed. With this one act of generosity the level of riding in the dome raised a notch as the kids started trying to out do each other. In fact it occurred to us that if we just took these guys around the country for a couple of weeks, then the UK would probably have an X-Games gold medalist by the end of it. Unfortunately though they all had to be in Barcelona for the weekend, so after grabbing a burger everyone headed to bed.
The next morning we took the lads for a traditional English fry-up, possibly one of the unhealthiest meals on the planet, but as is the case with all things bad for you, ridiculously tasty! TJ was particularly enamoured with the HP sauce. Meanwhile, Tom and Matt were grappling with the English slang for a pound - a 'squid' - and were desperately trying to work out how best to go about fishing for this tentacled beast in order to pay the bus fare home. It was time to head on to Glasgow.
With such a short time to travel between London, Manchester,Glasgow and back again, it would have been very easy for the crew to have only seen the M6 motorway and only sample the delights of the various service stations...so we took advantage of being in different vehicles and everyone ended up on their own mini adventure en route to Scotland.
SkiUnion editor Pally Learmond and Mike Clarke jetted in for a quick detour to the Lake District which is one of England's most beautiful spots. If all the rain here fell as snow, then there'd be some killer ski hills, but sadly rain was mostly the order of the day. Wallisch, Walker and the rest of the crew ended up in more pouring rain in order to go and check out a a castle, but it was soon that everyone found themselves rushing to get to Glasgow on time!
Onwards and upwards to Glasgow and Bearsden Ski centre, and it seemed that things could be scuppered by the weather as the words 'torrential' and 'downpour' were not sufficient enough to describe some of the storms that blew through. However, when we rocked up at Bearsden the skies cleared and after meeting and greeting a healthy crowd of fans, the boys headed out for their first taste of carpet skiing!!
Matt walker made the comparison that it was like a football field having a baby with a ski slope...TJ wanted one in his back garden... as always though, the boys killed it! Again, evryone who had come to see them really stepped up their game, and fed off the vibe, with all sorts of lunacy being thrown down.
If Manchester had been more of a rail fest, then Glasgow was definately kicker night. It didn't seem to take too long for for everyone to get used to the alien surface that is Snowflex, and soon the boys were stepping it up from 180's and backflips to cork 9's and anything inbetween, with the quarter pipe either providing handplant opportunities or serving as a useful stopping device at the bottom of the slope.
Sadly though, all good things come to an end and the boys followed their Just Passing Thru' philosophy to the letter. Only a 10:30pm bus from Glasgow would see them economically and on-time down to London for their train connection across Europe to the Barcelona Snow Show. The Tour to the UK had been a massive success, and one greatly appreciated by everyone who came along to the sessions. We can't wait to see the Mike's edit from the trip, and hope that more events like this can happen in the UK.
Many Thanks to Neil MacGrain for organising the trip, and to everyone else involved. And now for your viewing pleasure a little video of the whole tour:
http://mpora.com/videos/HRr5XC8yX More Ski >>
Photos: Pally Learmond (except where noted)