World Freestyle Championships 2017 – Contenders

World Freestyle Championship Contenders

I’ve been thinking about this article for a while now, and it’s taken some time to put together. Below I outline my top 10 contenders for the World Freestyle Championships on 14th July, listing their strengths and areas that, I feel, they could improve. The goal of this article is in part to generate some excitement before the event, to get the thoughts out of my head, and to motivate riders to step up their game and really ‘bring it’ at the competition, making it a night that mountainboarding will remember.

I have tried to be honest, and I think that the below is a reflection of the scene right now although it is my own opinion. As the season has only just begun, there isn’t much recent form to draw on so some comments may already be out of date. Also, I may have forgotten some riders and, if I have, I’m sorry and let me know! I want to hear your thoughts so make sure you comment or message me.

Some History

The World Freestyle Championships is the premier Freestyle competition in mountainboarding. The competition saw a period of yearly competitions since the original version in 2004 but has recently undergone a long hiatus with the riders having waited 5 years for the competition to come back around.

Freestyle mountainboarding has seen a lot of progress in the last 5 years and it will be interesting to see how the level of the competition compares to previous iterations. This year sees the competition held on a series of 3 jumps (2 medium and 1 large) finishing in a quarterpipe.

The competition is highly anticipated and it’s expected that the level will be very high. With only the top 15 riders qualifying for the floodlit nighttime Finals, all the riders will have to be at the top of their game from the start of the competition to ensure their progress and for a chance at the title.

The competition has seen only one repeat winner in Tom Kirkman, arguably the mountainboard GOAT, winning in 2005 and 2009, however this year’s event will see a couple of previous World Freestyle Champions in attendance and hoping to join Tom on 2 titles – namely Arno VDV (2007) and myself (2012). The full list of winners is below:
2004 (Weston Super X Arena, Weston Super Mare, UK) – Leon Robbins, USA
2005 (SWMBC, Bideford, UK) – Tom Kirkman, UK
2006 (SWMBC, Bideford, UK) – Alex Downie, UK
2007 (SWMBC, Bideford, UK) – Arno VDV, Belgium
2008 (Bugs Boarding, Gloucester, UK) – Renny Myles, UK
2009 (Bugs Boarding, Gloucester, UK) – Tom Kirkman, UK
2012 (Luzhniki, Moscow, Russia) – Matt Brind, UK

2004 WFC video
2005 WFC video
2006 WFC video
2007 WFC video
2008 WFC video
2009 WFC video

Predictions

It’s worth bearing in mind that this is a rough prediction/countdown and remains very fluid – there are lots of ifs and buts and this is only a reflection on what I think are the current standings which could become out of date quickly. I’ve tried to be honest and frank, including with my own chances.

With all this in mind, and with only 3 months remaining before riders from around the World descend upon the competition, here are my predictions for the top 10.

Countdown

10 – Arno VDV
9 – Kody Stewart
8 – James Wanklyn
7 – Ben Wanklyn
6 – Mark Adams
5 – Krzysztof Dybczak
4 – Nicky G
3 – Mason Moore
2 – Antoine Gambier
1 – Matt Brind

Breakdown
10 – Arno VDV

Arno has bags of style and lots of flip trick variations (including in switch). Lacking in big spins will make it hard for Arno to put a podium contention performance in but he will be floating around the top 5/10. If Arno can get his bs cork 5s and frontflips consistent, he’d easily make the top 10 and battle for the top 5. Arno is no stranger to the pressures of the competition, having claimed the World Freestyle Champion title for himself in 2007.

9 – Kody Stewart

A legendary freestyle rider who’s been around since the start. Kody claims he has lost some pace over recent years in the freestyle department but having seen him ride and seen his style, solidity and surprising variety, I think Kody will be knocking heavily on the door of the top 5. Expect Kody to mix up the competition by getting footloose with some 360 and 540 one footers as well as some other tricks he’s been working on – and he can always land a 7.

8 – James Wanklyn

The last rider to beat me over the course of a season in freestyle (2012), James has been at the top of the freestyle game for 6 or 7 years now. His form has recently dipped, due in part to a back injury, but also because James has (I think) forgotten what made him such a strong freestyle rider – big spins in regular and switch. If he re-finds his 720s, cab 5s and switch 7s he could reinstate himself as a freestyle rider of the highest calibre. Without re-finding that form, I think he’ll battle for the top 5 but will struggle to make the podium.

7 – Ben Wanklyn

Strong performances in 2015 and 16 saw Ben beat brother James in Freestyle for the first times and become a stalwart of the bridesmaid position in UK competitions (4th place). To break into the top ranks, Ben needs to work on his style and improve his competition strategy – with this he can fight for a place in the top 5. Speed management is also something that Ben struggles with which could really hinder him in Compiegne, where speed management is critical.

6 – Mark Adams

Super stylish and not afraid to throw the biggest tricks. Madams is finally a consistent big freestyle rider, constantly on the podium in the UK and the only rider to beat me in a freestyle competition in the last 5 years. The things that will hold Mark back from a title challenge is his speed management (due to his size and how much amplitude he gets, he sometimes struggles for speed) and how infrequently he rides – if he gets a solid amount of riding done in the Spring and gets some switch under his belt, Mark could become a real contender for the title.

5 – Krzysztof Dybczak

Possibly the biggest pop in the game, Krzysztof is the definition of amplitude. Mix that with some of the most unique looking and difficult tricks and he is one hell of a freestyle rider. He will need to improve his landing consistency to mount a title challenge, but should be on or around the podium either way. The course will require great speed management, and I wonder how well Krzysztof will carry his speed through the course with the amount of amplitude he gets.

4 – Nicky G

Nicky has all the tricks in regular and switch and is a jibbing machine. Able to pull a bs corked 720 on a tiny jump, the only drawbacks to Nicky is that he tends to struggle on bigger jumps and in the past he’s succumbed to the pressure of the situation. If he can take his tricks to bigger tables (specifically the middle table in Compiegne) and keep his head clear then he will mount a strong title challenge. Either way he’ll be fighting for a podium position.

3 – Mason Moore

Fully competent on jumps of any size, Mason will be a strong contender. I’m not sure on his switch game, but with style, doubles and 7s both ways Mason will probably be fighting for the podium (at least) regardless. If his switch game is strong, Mason’s name will be firmly in the running for the title. The top 5 is very tough to decide, I’ve placed Mason above Krzysztof and Nicky as Mason is a more solid rider – he lands his tricks more consistently and has lots of big jump experience.

2 – Antoine Gambier

Solid and stylish. Antoine’s style reminds me of Tom Kirkman – making the hardest tricks look effortless. He has big tricks on lock and gets bundles of amplitude, however he is lacking in the switch department. He’ll be contending for the podium and the win, but if he gets some switch moves dialled he’ll be a tough man to beat.

1 – Matt Brind

I’ve placed myself at the top of the list based on recent form but by no means will this competition be easy. If I can re-find my best switch form from my switch glory days (2010, 2014), I think I’ll mount a formidable title challenge. Without improving my switch, my top level regular tricks and variety (medium level switch, front and back foot one footed tricks) matched with my speed management and competition strategy should see me contend for the podium and title.

Might attends

Thiago Solon – hugely skilled all-round rider. From his edits it seems that Thiago has all the moves and he is a rider I very much look forward to watching in person. If he attends, I think Thiago will easily be mixing it in the top 5, the main issue being that France is a long way from Brazil. I really hope he comes along, this guy rips.

Pierre Louis Vine – a strong rider with lots of amplitude and some big tricks. Pierre often attempts very hard tricks, which, if he could get them consistent would put him in and around the top 5. I haven’t seen PLV riding recently which is the main reason I’ve put him in the ‘might attends’.

Dawid Rzaca – much style and big tricks, Dawid should be a solid top 5 contender, certainly top 10, but, as with others, I think switch will hold him back from greater things. Throw in that he has been injury prone over the last few years, I would expect him to run a fairly reserved competition for the sake of staying healthy (and you can’t blame him for that, especially as it could cause him issues with his degree studies), if he will compete at all.

Emlyn Bainbridge – consistently on the Freestyle podium in the UK in 2015, beating both Mark Adams and James Wanklyn in the process, Emlyn has a flowy style as well as some big regular tricks and some switch capability for good measure. He didn’t ride much in 2016 but if he gets back on it early in 2017, I would expect him to push for the top 10.

Dylan Warren – very strong rail rider who could bring some variety to the competition by mixing up his first hit between the kicker and the kinked rail. Dylan has some big jump tricks up his sleeve, which he demonstrated in the UK back in 2011, although he hasn’t hit very big kickers recently so he’ll have to re-find his form to break into the top pack. Dylan has a long way to travel to the event and isn’t much one for competitions, so I would be pleasantly surprised if he attended. *cough* Perhaps MBS could support their headline rider to attend *cough*

Eyes on Poland and Russia –There’s a bunch of Russian and Polish talent to keep an eye out for. The likes of Szymon Jesionek could put in a solid performance and make it pretty high up the rankings without too much work. Don’t count out Evgeny Vyborny and the current World Freestyle number 3 Anton Shalementsev, both from Russia, either.

Summary

There are a lot of people in the running, and there are many more that I haven’t mentioned. Making it through to the floodlit finals (top 15) will be an achievement in itself. It’ll be hard for an unknown rider to break into the top 10 and very hard for any rider to break into the top 5, let alone make the podium. Unlike BoarderX, there are no lucky breaks in Freestyle and riders really have to earn their place in the rankings.

For me, there is a ‘Big 5’ heading into the competition and they are the riders everyone else needs to aim for. They can’t rest on their laurels though – the pack of riders behind the ‘Big 5’ are hot on their heels and not to mention that the level of the other ‘Big 5’ riders is going to go up.

The strength and breadth in Freestyle mountainboarding is pretty incredible which makes it hard to stand out at the top of the discipline. There are still 3 months to go ahead of the competition which plenty of time for riders to get some solid practice in and climb their way towards the top (especially as you typically know what level other riders are at and can figure out what you need to do to beat them).

It promises to be one hell of a competition, whether you are a rider or a spectator. You can guarantee 720s, doubles and one footers as well as some crazy and unpredictable shapes, matched with an incredible atmosphere. Under the floodlights on 14th July, who will put down a World beating performance and lift the World Freestyle Champion crown? I personally can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

Head back to the blog or the Matt Brind homepage.

About the author: Matt Brind

Has one comment to “World Freestyle Championships 2017 – Contenders”

You can leave a reply or Trackback this post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.