The first event of the 2021 FMB WT season is done and dusted, and its first champs have been crowned!
Highline Slopestyle took flight in Australia March 20. The bronze event brought together 16 of the countries best Slope riders, as well as Australia’s first female competitor.
The course build was spearheaded by event manager Shannon Rademaker, and involved moving over 3000 tonnes of dirt to shape it out. In the end, what awaited competitors was five challenging features, including a flat drop, whale tail/step down, cannon log, and two trick jumps.
Rademaker says in the end it grew to be “the biggest slopestyle course Australia has ever seen.”
We caught up with Shannon and the winners, to chat about how the weekend unfolded.
Event details and results: https://www.fmbworldtour.com/en/Events/FMB-World-Tour/460/Highline-Slopestyle%C2%A0.html
On the men’s side, Ben Phillips takes the win. Ben improves on his second place finish in the event last year, bumping last year’s winner, Gaelen Slaney, into the second place spot in 2021. Mike Ross rounded out the podium in third.
“It feels amazing, an absolute roller coaster of a weekend. Took a few heavy slams the evening before finals and had to change up my run. I started my run with a flip on the flat drop into a flip bar spin on the stepdown. I followed that up with a flip on the cannon log. Into 4 pack I linked a backflip no hander into a frontflip no hander. I’ve learnt a lot over the weekend and can’t wait to get back out next year with a more diverse run. Big shout to Shannon for putting Australian Slopestyle on the map! All the crew that helped to make everything run smooth, the fans for coming out, the event sponsors and the riders for putting on such a great show!”
Adding to the hype and overall progression on display, Harriet Burbidge-Smith took things to another level as the solo female rider in the comp. Organizers conducted a two-run judged format for her to showcase and promote the women’s freeride and slopestyle movement and to inspire other girls and women to get into the sport.
“It was amazing to get down with two solid runs, and though I didn't have any competition I can’t even begin to list the positives that came out of the event. Mainly the progression for myself, as well as women’s freeride/slopestyle in Australia. So being able to put down the runs and tricks I wanted in front of a crowd felt amazing! It was a smooth run, with a table out of the whale tail, finishing with a tuck no hander on the 2nd ramp. I am excited to step that up next year!
In terms of the sport for females in Australia, I think we are just starting really - I think that this event, and ones alike happening next year, are just going to get bigger. Being a woman in slopestyle right now means really forming your own path, as there isn't really one to follow yet, that means I have the freedom to make it whatever I want, and go as big and aim as high as I can!"
Organizer Shannon Rademaker says the vibe on site was electric, with a solid crowd on site of riders and families, many of whom were seeing a live Slopestyle contest for the first time.
“When riders started to arrive on the Thursday to get a first look and test the course, their reactions were priceless! Comments like ‘this is the real deal,’ ‘Its BIG!” and ‘it rides so good and flows.’ So from there on, it was on! From what I had seen riders doing in training in the months leading up, I knew this final was going to be HOT! On finals day the crowd starting rolling in at about 3 p.m. we estimated almost 1000 spectators onsite to watch the best show in Australia unfold. It was a first run by the top 8 that pretty much sealed the final podium. With 1st place Ben Phillips scoring at 87.5, 2nd Place Gaelen Slaney scoring 83 and 3rd place Mike Ross Scoring 76.
It was humbling to say the least...months of design, planning and construction went into it. To get the reception from the riders that it’s the real deal and that it reflects a true slopestyle course: my job was done with a sigh of relief, haha but also knowing that the riders were going to send it for competition. Bring on HIGHLINE Slopestyle 2022, an FMB WT Silver event!”
Photographs: Marcus Kessler and Stanislav Likane