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You know, stereotypes become stereotypes for a reason. You step off the train at Liverpool Street, the financial heart of London, and you get exactly what you expect. People in suits sipping lattés, discussing losses, gains, and incomprehensible strategies of how they will shift imaginary monies from one computer screen to another, somehow giving them the finances to afford a Lamborghini so that they can get stuck in traffic jams whilst crawling past other get rich quick schemes being hatched.
A hundred yards up the road in the hipster paradise of Shoreditch, the stereotypes are different, but they’re still present and proving them true. A fine collection of beards, trendy bars, thick rimmed spectacles and more wackily coloured single-speed bikes than you can shake a stick at.
There are some things, however, that you really wouldn’t expect to see in a small bit of empty wasteland edging a busy A Road in London. One of these is a three storey high structure, covered with 50 tonnes of snow, punctuated with a stair-set complete with handrails and ledges plus, to keep the stereotyping theme going, a bus stop complete with London bus, red phone booth and letterbox.
This wasn’t the latest in some sort of installation art piece, this was the O’Neill Shoreditch Showdown. O’Neill had invited 45 of the country’s top skiers and snowboarders to take part, whittling these down to 12 by the time the doors opened and 500 snow hungry spectators flooded in and packed out the venue, in addition to lucky top deck bus passengers, overlooking office workers and people passing by and climbing the fence for a better few.
The standard of riding was high. An hour long jam session kicked things off, with regular spot prizes meaning that riders had the chance to fill their pockets with envelopes stuffed with cash, not unlike the bankers that inhabited the office blocks just down the road. The atmosphere was whipped up by Christian Stevenson aka DJ BBQ and Scott Penman on the microphones, talking randomness and hyping up the crowds and the riders to a new level.
There were so many highlights, everyone was pulling their best tricks to try and get their hands on the swag. Highlights included Jamie Trinder front flipping off the bus shelter, skier George Walton tapping the phone box mid 360, and new O’Neill rider Andy Nudds looking super stylish on everything.
In the end snowboarders Sparrow Knox and John Weatherley made it through to the head to head final. For the skiers Ross Welch and TJ Harding beat off the competition. All of them threw down some amazing tricks to run away with the cash, but Sparrow Knox’s smooth frontside 270 to boardslide claimed the snowboarding crown, whilst TJ Hardings 270 on 270 off put him at the top of the pile for the skiers.
And so the first O’Neill Showditch Showdown came to an end – prizes were given, pictures were taken, and riders and crowd slowly melted away towards the after party down the road at the Bar Music Hall for music and themed cocktails – my favourite being the “Who Gives a SCUK”…
Once a drink or two had been drunk, I had to make my way through the traffic – still gridlock, long after the rush hour – back to Liverpool Street Station. I got on the train which was already running 5 minutes late. See what I mean – stereotypes are true for a reason.
Here’s a behind the scenes video of the night by our friends at Whitelines: