Pro Sensation & Mountainboard Pundit Matt Brind eyes up this year’s UK Champs & World BX competition
“The season is well and truly upon us. The weather has started to warm up (at times) and the riding sessions are getting more frequent and longer thanks to the longer evenings. This year will be a different year for UK scene – moving from six competitions over three months to only one competition. Case and point, we would have already had Round 1 if this were a normal year! We could discuss the pros and cons, the how and whys but I’m not here for that. I’m here to talk about the juicy prospect of the battle between the top riders that will be brewing this summer and coming to a head with a week of mountainboarding awesomeness. Did you know the WBXC is the weekend after the UKC? This year poses a new challenge for the riders hoping to become champions – previously your best 3 of 4 or 2 of 3 results in each discipline counted which gave some wiggle room if you had a bad weekend. But now? Well, you have one shot, one moment, one opportunity (to capture everything you ever want, would you capture it? or just let it slip? Couldn’t help myself) to get points in the bank. No longer a marathon but a sprint! Then, 5 days later, qualifying begins for the biggest competition in the calendar!
Needless to say, there is much more pressure now than before if you are looking to take the title in your category and win the Pleisure Holidays one week accommodation voucher! And if you want to take the World title, how well you deal with the UKC result will be very important as well. An example of the pressure and how quickly things will play out – I believe we will know who is in the running for the title as early as Saturday night. Realistically, if you want a shot at being crowned the UK champion, you need to get at least top 4 in all disciplines so look to the riders who make the BoarderX final for an early indicator of who might take it. I think top 6 and you have a chance, top 4 and the ball is in your court. Make one mistake, slide out in a race, exit the comp early, and your chance of taking the title will vanish. No pressure then. With all this in mind, let’s discuss who I think stands a chance to become
the UK champion 2016
4 likely’s (who I would expect to win)
Myself – Having won the title 7 years in a row, I know I am capable and I can tell you now that I’m super keen to keep the streak alive. True, I’m rusty, but I have 3 months to find my form and a lot of experience and consistency I can draw upon (let’s not talk about Another World 2015).
Andy Brind – Andy had a stellar season last year, not only making his first Pro BX final (getting a bronze) but taking the Gold at R6 BX! He also pipped me 2-1 in BX head to head over the season and finished 6th at his first WBXC!! Andy has finally found his confidence and his riding is improving leaps and bounds from an already high level. Andy has some massive tricks but freestyle is still his weak spot. Once he gets a few more moves on lock (especially some switch) that he can link into his big tricks he’ll be very hard for anyone to beat. Here’s an interesting thought – if last years R6 results were exactly the same as the 2016 UKC, Andy will miss the UK title by 0.01s in the Downhill. That 0.01s put him in 2nd place giving him a 1,2,2 finish over the weekend and was only beaten by my 2,1,1 results. Andy can come into the event with arguably more confidence in anyone given his results at Hale’s last year and finishing the season 2nd Overall.
James Wanklyn – Yes, he’s back! Finally recovered from two slipped disks in his back, we’re all very pleased to see J-Dub back on his board again. He’s back, he’s happy and he is shredding! He’s only been back a few months but already looking super comfy on his board again, James will no doubt be a real contender for the title again this year. James has been very close to the title several times, taking multiple discipline titles along the way, will this be his year to take the final step and claim glory?
Ben Wanklyn – Super competitive and very skilled, Ben ‘Baby Wank’ Wanklyn has been coming through the ranks for a while now and finally started getting Pro category medals last season. Ben is starting to find some high level consistency and putting down some big tricks – if he can get his head in the right place, he has the ability to be a big contender for the UK title. If Ben wanted to give himself his best chance, I think he needs to remember to take a breather, relax and enjoy himself and let the skill and style come out on it’s own.
3 hopefuls (I wouldn’t be surprised if they won)
Mark Adams – lots of ability, lots of promise but yet to translate into solid and consistent results. Mark Adams has all he needs to take the title – fast on a track, fast on a downhill and huge, stylish runs in freestyle. Opposite to Ben, I think Mark needs to hype himself up a bit more and he definitely needs to be riding a lot more frequently than he has in the last few years if he wants to stand a chance and finally make good on what his ability promises.
Tom Reese – returning to competition for the first time in years, Jolly took 3rd place in the Pro BX then 8th at the WBXC a couple of weeks later. Having ridden all winter and thoroughly enjoying every ride, Jolly Tom is as fast as he has ever been making him incredibly hard to beat in a race. His pace will convert to the Hale’s DH track so he will be looking for Gold there as well, but the reason Tom is a Hopeful instead of a Likely is his freestyle. Jolly has steeze, we all know that, but he needs to get some bigger tricks in the bag if he wants to go for the title. As it stands, Jolly is mid-pack in freestyle and two golds and a medium result won’t beat three podiums. Rumour has it Jolly has some foamy freestyle manoeuvres he wants to bring to the dirt – let’s hope he does and can get them consistent for the August Bank Holiday Monday!
Connor Smout – Connor was the only rider left in the race for the title going into R6 in 2015 which, in itself, would put him in the Hopefuls box. Connor is keen and, like Jolly, he has the BX and DH ability but needs to work on his Freestyle to give himself a chance. Connor has been on a board for less time than anyone else on this list, but proved he can handle the pressure with his impressive 6th and 9th place finishes at the 2014 and 2015 WBXC and 3rd Overall at the 2015UKS.
2 maybes (I would be quite surprised if they won, but it’s within their ability)
Beiran Martlew – always a favourite in the downhill and a charger in the BoarderX – Beiran has struggled to show his true BX pace in the UK but, with only the one race, perhaps it will come out this year? We know it’s there and we know he responds well to the pressure – take his 8th at the 2014 WBXC and fantastic 3rd at the 2015 WBXC as proof of that! Beiran can never be counted out of the running, but he’ll need a bit of luck and great BX and DH results to make up for a mid-pack freestyle finish if he is to win overall.
Andy Dumelow – Andy Dumelow is a very rounded rider, equally talented in the BoarderX, Downhill and Freestyle which puts him in good stead for a great Overall result. If he can raise his game a bit on all fronts he could cause an upset with consistent results across the board.
1 wildcard – (a shocker if they can do it, but not impossible!)
Joel Treliving – Who? But he doesn’t ride anymore? Surely not? Yes. Yes, Joel. Rumour has it he is making a comeback. I saw him ride two years ago and on his third freestyle run for years he stomped a backflip as easy as you like. Not just that, Joel is actually huge which gives him a strength, weight and intimidation advantage. I don’t know figures, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me that Joel has beaten me in BoarderX more than I’ve beaten him – if he can get back to his best and find some big jump form then Joel may come out of nowhere to take the title. Even if he doesn’t find his best, it’ll just be great to have Joel back.
Outside of the UKC, it’s good to see a bunch of other events going on – Let’s Get Creative is back for a second year and Another World and Hale’s have teamed up to bring us the ‘North of the Wall‘ mini-series not to mention the many #yearofthefreeride meet ups going on.
Outside of the UK, myself and a few others are planning to attend Gold Rider 2016 in Compeigne, France (near Paris) on the second weekend of July so feel free to join us!
Not only that, but the Mountainboard World Boardercross Championships returns to Serbia this year, the week after the UKC, and it looks like we have a strong Team GB contingent going to represent! Alright, you’ve twisted my arm, here’s my
I will list who I think will make the Finals, not win the title – it’s far too hard to call: Only three riders have been in more than one WBC final (Kody Stewart, James Wanklyn & myself) and only two riders have won the WBC title (Kody & myself). Straight away I would through us in the likely group for obvious reasons.
James Wanklyn – with 2 starts and 2 4th place finished, James has what it takes to make the final. Slides in both finals cost James medal positions so he’ll be extremely keen to stamp his authority and at least take a medal home this year.
Kody Stewart – insanely fast and riding a board built to raise the level of mountainboarding. Kody is a former World Champ and took silver in 2015. Kody is still determined to take home a second title and the Serbia track plays more into Kody’s hands than the Germany track. Never count Kody out.
Beiran Martlew – Serbia is EXACTLY Beiran’s kind of track. Beiran was running 2nd in his semi-final in 2014 when he tried to overtake for first but couldn’t make the line stick, otherwise Beiran was a favourite to win the title that year. A year later, Germany was not a track that played to Beiran’s strengths, and he was in 3rd in his semi-final before he put in a superb overtake on Krystoff to move into 2nd at the halfway point on the track and he never looked back, storming his way to the bronze medal! Beiran is shredding his homemade board, designed to his specific requirements and style of riding and it is a super fast deck. Coming back to turf that suits him, and never being afraid to attempt an overtake, Beiran has to have Gold on the brain.
Andy Brind – an impressive 6th at his first WBC, Andy would have made the Finals had he not taken such a tight line on the first corner in his semi-finals. But such are the margins for the highest level event in mountainboarding. Andy will be looking to use his lightning fast gate starts and solid pumping to give himself an early lead in the races and rely on the overtaking difficulty of Serbia to help in through.
Krystoff Dybczak – we finally saw Krystoff racing at a WBC last year, and boy did he impress. He qualified 2nd and finished 5th – were it not for Beiran overtaking Krystoff on the inside of turn 3 in the semi-finals, Krystoff would have been a finalist in 2015. I hope he comes back this year, he’ll be a hard man for anyone to beat!
Tom Reese – competing in his second competition in years, Tom charged to finish 8th having qualified in 28th. Tom was fast, but wasn’t solid last year – he was in 2nd in his semi-final with Andy hot on his heels when he slipped in a corner causing himself and Andy to collide and settle for the small finals. Serbia is a track that requires guts to race it full speed, and Tom has that and then some. Tom already looks solid this year, and dare I say it, better than when he stopped boarding. If he can make 8th while still finding his feet, what can he do when he’s confident and in control?
Myself – Two Golds and a Silver over the three years the competition has run, and a streak of making the finals of every BoarderX event bar 1 over the last 4 and a half years. As always with the WBC, the goal is the semi’s but I’ll be pushing as hard as I can to make the finals and medals.
Marco Dahler – 2014 bronze medalist and strong competitor in 2015, you can’t count out Marco. Very fast and ready to race wheel to wheel, I believe his early(ish) exit at the 2015 WBC was due to a mid-race punture/tyre blowout?
Dawid Rzaca – young gun, very skilled. A broken collarbone during qualifying ruled Dawid out in 2015 but he was looking very rapid up to that point!
Ben Wanklyn – as before, very fast and very competitive, if Ben can get comfy going full speed down the track surrounded by riders, he’ll do very well.
Connor Smout – small-finalist in Serbia in 2014 and top 10 in Germany in 2015, Connor has proved his capable, he just needs to confidence to give it 100% when the going gets super tough (tough is the first round, semi’s are insane).
Arno VDV – Arno always makes my list, and with good reason. He is super quick out the gate and has crazy pumping tech-ers, he just needs to keep it together and consistently put down top speed runs and not back down when he is racing similar speed riders. Arno has been unlucky with the draw every year – perhaps this year will finally go a bit more in his favour?
Marcin Tata Staszczyk – small finalist in 2013, there is a helmet cam shot of his semi-final with Kody and myself proving just how close he was the entire race. He won the event in Serbia three years running from 2009-11 before it became the Euros and then the Worlds. Not only does he know the track well, he knows how to race it well.
Evygeny Vybornyy – 2nd place in 2014, Bora Bora gets stuck into every race and never gives up until he’s crossed the finish line, stopped and unstrapped. Bora Bora isn’t afraid to take a different line (or wear a pink helmet), this and his determination were shown in the 2014 finals when he went side by side with James Wanklyn corner after corner, never on the racing line, until he finally made the move stick on the penultimate corner, claiming the Silver medal in the process.
Joel Treliving – for the same reasons as above, if Joel can find his old form in time, he could come out of nowhere and not only make the finals, but also win this thing. The top 3 ‘pumpers’ I have ever seen would have to be Kody Stewart, Tom Kirkman and Joel Treliving. ‘nuf said? (4th would be Andy Brind btw).
I think you can tell from the size for the list why I’m struggling to predict who would make the finals, let alone take the title!!
Gun to my head, here’s some predictions;
UKC BX Finals Andy Brind, Tom Reese, Joel Treliving, Matt Brind
UKC Overall Top 3 1- Matt Brind, 2 – Andy Brind, 3 – James Wanklyn
WBC Finals Kody Stewart, Andy Brind, Myself and either Tom Reese or Beiran Martlew I have to back myself otherwise I’ve already lost 😉 however, here’s a list excluding me;
UKC BX Finals Andy Brind, Tom Reese, Joel Treliving, James Wanklyn
UKC Overall Top 3 1 – Andy Brind, 2 – James Wanklyn, 3 – Tom Reese
WBC Finals Kody Stewart, Andy Brind, Tom Reese, Beiran Martlew
If Joel doesn’t turn up, I’d put Connor Smout or Beiran Martlew in the UKC BX finals.
Just my two cents worth, let me know what you think and send over your predictions! All I know is I cannot wait to see how the season progresses and how the competitions unfold!
Thanks for reading and remember to keep an eye on my facebook page in the build up to and during the events for live updates on results!
See you on the hill, Matt”
Find details about the 2016 UK Mountainboard Championship (BX, Freestyle + Downhill) here