The gruelling challenge of waking up for a 6:20am bus was the first of many battles to be faced by the NUSSC freestyle and racing teams on Wednesday.
The BUCS Snowsports Dome Series take place on indoor ski slopes with artificial snow. They comprise of individual slalom racing in the format of time trials; team dual slaloms, relays raced on parallel slalom courses; and ‘slopestyle’, a freestyle competition where athletes are awarded points for the amplitude, originality and quality of the tricks that they perform over a variety of obstacles such as jumps, rails and pipes.
All three disciplines are contested in separate competitions for skiers and snowboarders.
Newcastle participants had to finish in the top eight at qualifiers in order to participate in Wednesday’s national finals.
In the first racing of the day, the female ski slalom, sixth and eighth places were secured by Newcastle’s Isabella Colley and Katie Guest respectively, making Newcastle the only university with two skiers in the top ten.
Despite losing footing it is impressive that Sewell still managed to complete the course in just 22.382 seconds
Next up, the men’s individual slalom races saw drama amidst the success. Again Newcastle skiers took two spots in the top ten, this time joined by city rivals, Northumbria who did the same. Felicitations were joined by frustrations however when it emerged that Newcastle’s Calum Pitkethly lost out on a podium position my just a thousandth of a second.
Individual slalom races usually take place as a best of two runs, but due to time pressures last Wednesday all second runs were cancelled. This denied East of England champion, Logan Sewell a chance of medal contention as he unfortunately crashed on his first run. Despite losing footing it is impressive that Sewell still managed to complete the course in just 22.382 seconds, less than ten seconds behind first place. Sewell responded to Pitkethly’s disappointment, “Ooo. Thicker shinnies and you’d have had it” highlighting the minuteness of the margin by which he lost out.
Newcastle’s Sarah Appleby was next to grab a top ten place in the women’s snowboarding as she finished in eighth place. In the men’s, Koen Olde Rikkert took eleventh. Both boarders then competed on the mixed team dual slalom. Newcastle’s first draw against Leeds was an easy win as their opposition took an early stage un-recoverable fall. This result put Newcastle through to quarter-finals where they would face Queen Mary’s University of London in what was to be one of the toughest battles of the day.
Queen Mary’s took a marginal lead on the first leg, opening it slightly on the second, but Newcastle clawed back. Penultimate racer Chris Harrington made a fantastic run reducing Queen Marys’ advantage to a negligible distance, but in the final leg seventh place individual finisher, Guro Nyhus again proved just slightly too fast for Appleby.
Following their close defeat, team member Rebekah Puttick commented “who even are Queen Mary’s?”, and a member of the crowd shouted “they don’t even go here”.
The ski duals was set to be an exciting contest with two Newcastle teams qualifying to compete. Back to back flawless performances from Newcastle’s second team saw them knock out UCL and Edinburgh from the competition and sail through to quarter finals where they would unfortunately be drawn against the qualifier winners, Newcastle firsts. As expected the firsts took the race.
Tom Simpson and Chris Harrington were almost unrecognisable in comparison to previous performances
The firsts remained undefeated in semis and in finals. In the words of first team member Sewell they “sent the opposition into next week”. He continued “we are the champions, my friends, and we’ll keep on fighting ‘til the end.” Captain, Ryan Jamieson described the team as “untouchable”.
In the freestyle lots of cool tricks were performed by Newcastle athletes. A rigorous training schedule was shown to have payed off for Tom Simpson and Chris Harrington as they were almost unrecognisable in comparison to previous performances, but despite their best efforts and great female representation Newcastle did not bring home any prizes in the competition.
Racer Claire Russel summarised the day’s events “there was snow getting board today at Castleford”. President Matt Smith said “I’m extremely proud of all of our teams across the board, not only on a racing stage but also on a social stage. I think Newcastle have proved themselves as a force to be reckoned with.” Sewell added “watch out boys”.