As had been predicted by BBC weather (for once they got it right!) the day of the Girl Skate Jam UK started out as a bit of a damp squid with fairly heavy rain. However by 10am the clouds had parted and the sunshine had broken through. Although the comp was advertised to start at 1pm, competitors started appearing from 11 onwards – the first being Ellie Ford who had persuaded her mum to give her lift up from Southampton – nice one mum!
Not long after others who’d travelled a fair old distance also started to trickle in; those included Lydia and Marie who had made their way over from Dublin, Emily Russell from Glasgow and (part of) Cornwall’s Girl Skate Fal Crew; Lucy, Lexi and Amber from Falmouth – who’d taken a detour via Birmingham from Cornwall on their way to St Albans…basically don’t ask…they definitely won the award for longest homeland journey of 9 hours straight driving though!! Hilary Pearce from Melbourne and Anita Arvelo Almante from Bologna, Italy also made their way over to sunny Hertfordshire. Before the comp had even officially started there was almost 30 female riders skating the course – the youngest of which was 8-year-old Tamsin Bunce from Burgess Hill, who assured the organiser quite animatedly that she had been practicing hard for this years comp and was really very excited.
The comp kept to the same format as previous years – a two hour jam followed by the under 18’s and over 18’s street comps, then the miniramp with the day being rounded off by the sponsored jam.
This years under 18’s comp welcomed a new face on the scene, that of Najla Woods from Barking in Essex. Although she’s only been skating a short time she rolled around the course with confidence adding a kickflip and heelflip in here and there – which helped her take 3rd place. Second went to local rider Caitlin Robinson Mawhood who was on her usual steamer mission boardsliding the rail and transferring between ramps. But it was 15-year-old Claire Thompson who stole the show with her flip trick magic. The run which awarded her first place included a clean tre on the flat, kickflip to fakie on the bank and a varial flip and fakie big spin flip on the driveway – not bad for someone who teaches herself in her back garden!
The over 18’s comp proved slightly more difficult to judge with many more riders participating. It was however one of New Zealand’s finest – Sophie Allen – who with a run which included a 50-50 on the block, boardslide on the flat bar and a wall ride on the err wall, won the judges DC’s Alex Barton and Rubicon’s Geoff Else over to award her 3rd place. Second went to the early bird Ellie Ford with her front heel on the bank, fakie front bigspin on the house wedge and a fakie 360 on the big quatre. Anita who first showed her face on the Girl Skate Jam scene last year when she flew in to the country the same day as the comp, came straight to the skate park, stormed around like there was no tomorrow and took first place – showed that not much had changed…although she managed to arrive a day earlier this year (with quite possibly the biggest suitcase known to man)! She again was awarded 1st place after a somewhat speedy run that included a transfer from quatre to quatre, a 50-50 and a pop shuv into the bank and a kickflip and 180 up the Wembley gap. A mention definitely has to go out to another new face on the scene here – Zoe Kings, another Brummie who narrowly missed placing in the top 3. Her run included a 50-50 front shuv out on the block; flip over house wedge and a clean smith on the box.
The miniramp was up next and as ever was one of the favourites for most in the comp and again was as tight as could be. ‘Nice one!’ has to be said to Stockwell local Harriet Shepherd who shouted out ‘Come on People this is a skate comp’ to a slightly muted crowd – after which all got involved with cheering the girls on.
This was the comp that young Tamsin had been working herself up for and with her coach Lucy Adams on standby to mouth out the tricks as she went along she got some of the biggest cheers of the day for her run which included a range of grabs from across the board – Indy, Cannonball, Mute and Method. Following on was Hilary Pearce who it has to be said has one of the best styles out there when it comes to riding ramp – obviously an Aussie thing. She landed solid back and front smiths – the latter, a trick she then attempted to see how far she could take along the coping, narrowly missing out on bringing it back in. Emily Russell the ninja of the miniramp world threw down as ever a super smooth run with a combo of tricks including long frontside to backside tailslides and backside disasters, which awarded her 3rd place. Helena Long landed a blunt fakie, front 5-0 to tail and a front disaster to take second. But it was Lucy Adams who again placed first with a run that included a variety of tricks – front and back 5-0’s, 5-0 fakie’s, sweepers and a fakie boardslide.
The finale of the day was the sponsored comp. Helena was on good rail form from the off, landing a boardslide down the rounded bar. Her run also included an inward heel over the house wedge and she was awarded 3rd place for her efforts. Emma Richardson who took second made good use of the whole park. 50-50’s and 5-0’s on the block, a nollie lipslide on the flat bar (which she’d only just learned the day before!) and a solid smith to fakie on the quatre were just some of the tricks she landed. However for another year in a row Lucy Adams took first producing a run with a broad range of tricks – an ollie over, front board and feeble shuv out on the rail, backside 50-50 on the Koston and a lean-tail on the huge quatre.
The end to the day saw prizes being handed out on the ramp out back. This year saw a new award being added ‘Best Newcomer to the GSJ’ which was given to Tamsin Bunce for her great efforts and the fact she acts as a reminder as to why we all love skating so much!
A massive thanks to Pioneer Skate Park for all their support and giving us sole use of the park, to all those who gave up their free time – Mark Bennett, Matt Talbot, Marguerite Selby, Kat Bedding, Di Headly and Leigh Burton. To MC Joff Talbot, trophy maker Andrew Selby, judges Alex Barton and Geoff Else. Thanks also to Michelle at Nikita for the BBQ and to James and Georgie at Red Bull for supplying the drinks.
1st – Lucy Adams
2nd – Emma Richardson
3rd – Helena Long
1st – Anita Arvelo Almonte
2nd – Ellie Ford
3rd – Sophie Allen
1st – Claire Thompson
2nd – Caitlin Robinson-Mawhood
3rd – Najla Woods
1st – Lucy Adams
2nd – Helena Long
3rd – Emily Russell
Pics – Jenna Selby