Granite City Invitational, 7th February 2009

24 Feb

rider: Ballo Elmsie. photo: Matin Senyszak.

rider: Baloo Elmsie. photo: Matin Senyszak.

 One of the longest-standing annual traditions for the two universities of the North-East is the Granite City Challenge, where students from Aberdeen and RGU face off against each other in the final snowsports event of the packed university calendar. Every year, you’ll see some top-class displays of freestyle and racing. And every year, you can bet on the traditional post-event chatter from enthusiastic participants that ‘next year, we’ll invite all the other unis and it’ll be an epic event’. Inevitably, the idea becomes a logistical nightmare, and it doesn’t happen. This year, though, local riders Robbie Burry, Chris Rettie and Ally Gray decided that with a bit of forward planning and scamming skills accumulated from years of student living, there was no reason why a sizeable and well-supported comp could be arranged. 


CrowdWhen the day finally came, it was clear that it would be an event to remember. A fresh layer of snow gave a unique feel to the proceedings, and the crowd was spoilt by all that the boys had swindled from the big-name sponsors: free Brewdog beer, free Rockstar energy drink, a BBQ and sets from top Aberdeen DJs Mark Paterson and Alex Barton made for a grand party atmosphere.

 The prize pool, tallying up at over £1000 worth of kit, had lured some of Scotland’s best (and possibly cheapest) racing talent up north. By 6pm the course was up and the Dendix slope was awash with coloured comp t-shirts. Euan McGhee from Strathclyde University took gold in the men’s ski slalom, edging out Edinburgh’s Ross Jardine in the final. In the girl’s event, the prizes were split three ways as Sam Fisell from Edinburgh came joint first with Glasgow’s Eilidh McNicol and Michelle Hope, given that they all beat each other in individual races. Eilidh did claim a solo victory later on, though, taking the gold in the female snowboard slalom. For the guys, Tom Akass beat his fellow Napier student Matt Higginson into 2nd place. Both Tom and Matt were also part of the victorious Napier dual slalom team, with Glasgow taking the equivalent prize in the skiing.

Over on the Snowflex slope, it was a non-stop showcase of freestyle riding, kicking off with the Slopestyle. Riders had an hour to take their pick of the jumps, rails and quarter pipe, including a new double rail line on the snow to the side of the mat. Aberdeen’s Matt Gibson, the local snowboarder who has dominated the slope’s recent competitions, was the heavy favourite in the guys’ contest. A huge variety of airs including backside 7s and cab 5s, as well as versatile rail and quarter pipe lines, impressed the judges and assured him of 1st place. It was an Edinburgh showdown in the girl’s event, with Moa Johansson eventually taking gold over Heriot-Watt’s Joanna Zukowski. Matt also went on to win the Big Air with a textbook inverted 720, with Finlay’s switch backide 5 and Chris Mahony’s frontside 5 indy taking 2nd and 3rd respectively. Johanna took the female prize with a solid method grab over the kicker, evening the score with Moa.

rider: Finlay Wallace. photo: Mark McKechnie.

rider: Finlay Wallace. photo: Mark McKechnie.

 For the skiers, both Slopestyle and Big Air were sewn up by the Husband Brothers from Glasgow and RGU’s Baloo Elmsie. Elliot Husband took 1st place in both events with huge inverts off the kicker and solid rail riding. His brother Rennie finished 2nd in Slopestyle and 3rd in Big Air, while Baloo took the remaining podium spot in both events.


 The Quarter Pipe event was always going to be a crowd-pleaser, with prizes for highest air and best trick up for grabs. The Husband brothers cleaned up the skiing once again, Elliot for truly ballsy height and Rennie for his tricks. No other snowboarder got close to Finlay Wallace’s enormous frontside nosegrab, but the best trick prize was a close fight. Matt Gibson set the standard early on with a super clean backside 5. QMU’s Ben Venn raised the bar with a textbook handplant, only for Matt to step it up again on the very next run, throwing a perfect backside 7 to take the honours.

Running simultaneously with the Quarter Pipe event was the mogul challenge, and few could have predicted that this would be just as entertaining. Since it opened in 2004, Aberdeen’s mogul run has been the most notorious feature of the slope, widely mentioned in reviews and on internet forums for its dubious design. The layer of snow made this difficult run even faster, and before long the freestylers were stopping to watch while another brave soul careered down the bump line. Edinburgh’s ladies dominated both disciplines: Moa Johansson won a second event, with skier Sam Filsell the only female to clock in under ten seconds. Less than a second separated the top three male skiers, with Euan McGhee winning out once more. For the snowboarders, Tom Akass of Napier showed incredible control to win with a time as good as some of the skiers.

rider: Elliot Husband. photo: Mark McKechnie.

rider: Elliot Husband. photo: Mark McKechnie.

 As the prizes were dished out, a heavy blizzard provided the perfect backdrop, and a fitting end to proceedings. Getting back into town was now easier said than done, but with the promise of cheap drinks deals awaiting them, it’s maybe no surprise the crowd found their way to the afterparty in Priory. With all three main organisers moving on to real-world pursuits next year, we’ll have to wait and see whether any keen undergraduates can step up and build on the inaugural Granite City Invitational’s success. Students and non-students alike should hope that they can.


Robbie, Ally and Chris would like to thank all the sponsors for making the comp so memorable: Ride, DC, Eleven, Arcus, Clast, SP, Demon, Syndicate, Movement, Rockstar, Brewdog, and local shops Granite Reef and Boarderline.

One Response to “Granite City Invitational, 7th February 2009”

  1. Ben Venn July 23, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    That was a mctwist not a handplant!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: