Its been a massive few weeks on the World SBX Tour. With a perfect run of fun snowboarding for a week or so in the lead in to Montafon, I was feeling ready to start the tour with a strong result. With a huge variety of conditions each day of the contest, it was a real test judgements and saw a few come badly unstuck. I was happy to lay down a solid qualifying run and go into finals ready for anything. I had strong starts in all the rounds right through to the final, winning all my heats from the hole shot and let my boards run to a solid lead each time. Unfortunately, gate choice forced me to the outside gates and I feel I may have made a poor choice at this point. My final start was a shocker from the inside right gate and with the thought of an entire season in mind, sat in 4th waiting for an error by the leading riders. No such luck and it was 4th for the first event. Happy with my early rounds, coming away with a final in tough conditions and feeling really positive about the season ahead.
The travel to Telluride was hell trip like no other!.. We woke early and boarded our flight in Zurich. Made our connecting flight in Frankfurt to take us to the states. Along with many other athletes and coaches on that plane, we were stuck on the plane at the gate for a whole 6 hrs going nowhere, no food and surrounded by a lot of angry people. When time an out, we were told to leave the plane due to snow storms. It was here Ben and I teamed up with Seth Wescott to organise hotel and flights for the next day. Long story short, our bags we meant to make our flights with us, but when we finally arrived in Grand Junction Seth and I were both missing board bags as well as my gear bag. I had a feeling it was going to be sometime before I saw it all again.
Ben made the call that Seth and I should end up 1,2 on the podium in whatever order to turn the whole situation around. We laughed at the time, but I think we both had it in mind. My boards arrived, prior to training, but boots, bindings, body armor and wax was nowhere to be seen. Ben worked tirelessly to keep people searching for it. I used borrowed boots and bindings for the training session, which threw my routine out a bit. First run, my back binding strap popped in the first straight, leaving me with little confidence that my foot wouldn’t just lift out of the entire binding for the rest of the run. Behind time, i didnt risk missing a run and rode it too the bottom. I changed to another set of bindings thanks to Johnie who lent me his for the rest of training. The following morning, Ben and I went shopping and bought some new gear to get me through. It wasn’t perfect, but at least I could trust it wouldn’t break on me. I put down a solid qualifying run to put me into 12th for finals. Relieved that part was over, I was ready to give it everything in finals no matter what I was riding on.
2.30 am and the phone goes off in my room. Gear bag arrived and I was back on my custom setup, which I have to say felt pretty good after those first few days. Went through early rounds well, with the hole shot and good speed winning both heats. I met Seth in the 2nd round and so began some of the best racing I have ever had. In the Semi final, 3 World Champions stood in the gate, with Markus Schairer, Seth and myself looking to make the day ours. The snow was falling pretty heavy, making the track a bit slower. I missed the start a little bit and Seth pulled into the lead. I moved into his draft but let too much room down the straight and Markus made a killer move on the inside of turn 2 and 3 passing both myself and Seth. It was nose to tail for the rest of the run. I remained patient waiting for the opportunity, until I had no banks left and the final straight. I tucked into Seth’s draft and made a move from 3rd to 1st in the final 50m of the track. Photo finish number one of the day and so happy my patience paid off! Seth and I were already laughing and saying how much fun we were having as we did the post heat TV shots. I felt bad for Markus who rode really strong that whole run, but I have seen both sides of that situation before also and was happy to come out on top.
The final saw Seth and myself line up once again, along with the tall Norwegian Stian Sivertzen and Canadian Chris Robanske. It was a good vibe in the start gate as the snow started falling heavier. Stian called out, “lets go get some pow guys” as the camera panned through our gates. I was just having such a good time and wanted to enjoy another whole run of it. Gate dropped and I missed the first few features, leaving me in 4th around bank 1. Not too worried as I could feel the draft paying off down the straight, I executed one of my best moves of my career so far, threading a tight line through Chris and Stain over the triple and then carrying speed to pass Seth out of turn 3. Into the lead for 2 banks and exactly where I expected Seth’s toe side came into play, he passed me on the inside of bank 6. I went into draft mode once again looking to make the same move as I made in the semi final on the last straight. Came so close and with a photo finish ended the day in 2nd behind Seth. Chris went on to take 3rd and Stian in 4th.
It was all smiles in the finish area!! Man hugs going down everywhere. I was so full of excitement and couldn’t of had more respect for the guys I got to race with that day. Seth and me jumped up on the podium and laughed about Ben’s call of going 1,2. It was such perfect, tight and tactical racing. I think that even though it was a 2nd place for me, I had just had another experience in this sport which makes me realise why I love it so much.
This result also moved me up into #2 in the World Ranking and I look forward to more great racing in the new year starting with World Champs in late January. I want to thank Ben and Viktor for working so hard with me to keep me fast, Mum & Dad for the endless love and support, JM for the strength and fitness that allows me to ride aggressive, to all the team at the OWIA, Suzuki, Red Bull, Bolle, Apex Snowboards, The North Face, 2Xu, Globe, Burton Australia and XTM. Also to all the support I’ve had via facebook, twitter, instagram and texts, thank you all so much! It really is special to feel that support. Its been a huge few weeks and I’m looking forward to rest of the tour in the new year. Time now to get back home for Christmas on the beach with family and friends. And if you made it this far with reading this short novel, congrats! Hope it was worth your time.
ride on – Chumpy