I’m probably one of very few mountainboarders who goes into events and competitions weaving a tale in my head about who the favourites are and creating stories of how it may pan out. I love the pundit role. This time, I thought it’d be good to canvas some of the best and most well known riders in the World for their predictions of who will be crowned World BoarderX and World Freestyle Champion in 2017.
The competition is a little under 6 months away, but I wanted to get an early read on what people think – I’ll ask the same riders for their opinions again 2 weeks to a month before the competition starts. It’ll be interesting to see how their choices change as the season progresses, and riders show their form! It’ll also be fun to stir the pot and generate some hype heading into the biggest competition of the year.
Without further adieu, here’s who the riders picked as their early favourites (I was strict and only allowed them to give me one rider per discipline);
Mason Moore – BoarderX = Matt Brind, Freestyle = Matt Brind
Dave Steifvater – BoarderX = Matt Brind, Freestyle = Nicky G , Ladies BoarderX = Simona Petr
Mikael Gramont – BoarderX = Joel Treliving, Freestyle = Nicky Geerse
Diego Anderson – BoarderX = Matt Brind, Freestyle = Matt Brind, Ladies BoarderX = Sonia Nicolau, Freestyle = Sonia Nicolau
James Wanklyn – BoarderX = Kody Stewart, Freestyle = Matt Brind
Andy Brind – BoarderX = Andy Brind, Freestyle = Matt Brind
Matt Brind – BoarderX = Andy Brind, Freestyle = Matt Brind, Ladies BoarderX = Chloe Hirst, Freestyle = Lisa McLernon
Dan WIlson – BoarderX = James Wanklyn, Freestyle = Nicky G, Ladies = Senka Bajic
Chloe Hirst – BoarderX = Kody Stewart, Freestyle = Matt Brind, Ladies: BoarderX = Sonia Nicolau, Freestyle = Martina Lippolis
Banovic Slobodan – BoarderX = Matt Brind, Freestyle = Matt Brind
Predrag Marcikic – BoarderX = Nicky G, Freestyle = Mason Moore, Ladies: BoarderX = Senka Bajic, Freestyle = Simona Petr
Senka Bajic – BoarderX = Matt Brind, Freestyle = Dylan Warren, Ladies BoarderX = Senka Bajic Ladies Freestyle = Lais Morimoto
Dawid Rzaca – BoarderX = Kody Stewart, Freestyle = Matt Brind
Piotr Dameski – BoarderX = Krzysztof Dybczak, Freestyle = Krzysztof Dybczak, Ladies = Natasha Chernikova
Giulio Bernardelli – BoarderX = Matt Brind, Freestyle = Matt Brind
Carlos Alberto Sabino – BoarderX = Matt Brind, Freestyle = Nicky G
Arno VDV – BoarderX = Kody Stewart, Freestyle = Nicky G, Ladies = Sonia Nicolau
Nicky G – BoarderX = Kody Stewart, Freestyle = Antoine Gambier
Evygeny Vyborny – BoarderX = Matt Brind, Freestyle = Matt Brind, Ladies = Natasha Chernikova
Jo Mo – BoarderX = Krzysztof Dybczak, Freestyle = Krzysztof Dybczak, Ladies BoarderX = Natasha Chernikova, Freestyle = Natasha Chernikova
Bodgan Rusu – BoarderX = James Wanklyn, Freestyle = Matt Brind
Marco Dahler – BoarderX = Lucas Melo, Freestyle = Matt Brind, Ladies = Sonia Nicolau
Caveat – almost all the riders who responded noted how difficult it was and tried to offer multiple names per discipline, however I forced them to name just one.
Thank you to everyone who responded – I got a much better response rate than I expected!
Having to make a call this early is very tough, especially as a lot of the riders I asked haven’t seen much of the track or jumps. This could be a contributing factor as to why the majority selected riders who have already won a World title – taking a safe bet on riders who have already proved themselves capable of winning. For example, I have been out injured for the last 10 weeks, and I will be for at least a couple more, yet my name came up a bunch of times in the nominations!
This ties in with the title of the blog – long range forecast. Weather algorithms work by varying the initial parameters of the system and then selecting the most frequently occurring patterns as the most likely outcome for the weather, especially for long range forecasts. Statistically, arguably, the most likely outcome is for history to repeat itself and one of the already top riders to take the cup/s. As we move closer to the day in question, the forecast becomes more and more accurate, thanks to an increase in data quality and a shorter forecast period, and so to will the predictions of the riders.
On that note, I wonder if, with a sufficiently large sample of well informed individuals, we could predict who will win each discipline? Probably not with a significant degree of accuracy, but then that is the beauty of sport, and hell, I’m going to try to anyway!
With that in mind, let’s throw out some stats so that we can more accurately compare to the later survey (it’s at this point I wish I had collated the results in a spreadsheet (damn you, Mika)):
Sample size = 22
1 – Matt Brind = 36.36% (8 votes)
2 – Kody Stewart = 22.72% (5 votes)
3 – Andy Brind = 9.09% (2 votes)
3 – James Wanklyn = 9.09% (2 votes)
3 – Krzysztof Dybczak = 9.09% (2 votes)
Sample size = 22
1 – Matt Brind = 54.54% (12 votes)
2 – Nicky G = 22.72% (5 votes)
3 – Krzysztof Dybczak = 9.09% (2 votes)
Sample size = 44
1 – Matt Brind = 45.45% (20 votes)
2 – Nicky G = 13.63% (6 votes)
3 – Kody Stewart = 11.36% (5 votes)
Sample size = 12
1 – Sonia Nicolau = 33.33% (4 votes)
2 – Senka Bajiic = 25% (3 votes)
2 – Natasha Chernikova = 25% (3 votes)
All nominees have 1 vote.
So the weight is on my shoulders more than anyone else…. Good job I like pressure…I was hoping to be able to write about others!
There is a close battle going on in the BoarderX though – largely undecided with very few votes separating many other riders. In keeping with the forecast theme, long range the riders expect Kody or I to win, and as we are the only riders with World BoarderX titles it makes us ‘safe’ bets.
Krzysztof isn’t a bad call though, coming 5th in 2015 (and he would have made the Finals had Beiran not pulled off a daring, perfectly executed overtake), he is one of the fastest riders on rollers – something that will be a huge benefit on the second straight of the Compiegne track.
Andy and James are also very solid choices – both regulars on the BoarderX podium in the UK and the Team GB stats at the World BoarderX Championships speak for themselves (headline stats – at least 2 Team GB riders in Pro Final every year, 5 Team GB riders in semi-finals in 2016, more finalists and semi-finalists than any other nation (^see end of post^)). Throw in the fact that the Compiegne track is the closest to a UK track than any other World BoarderX venue so far and you can pretty much guarantee a great result for both of them. Plus, Andy is exceptional on rollers and in the gate, as well as being the fastest rider I’ve seen on a pump track – can you guess who my money is on?
The relative indecision of the BoarderX ‘vote’, and the larger total number of riders being nominated in BoarderX, reflects the discipline itself – as the only discipline in the sport where other riders can have a direct impact on your performance (other riders are on the track at the same time as you), as well as not having any second chances makes it the most unpredictable. Not only that, there are extremely fine margins at the top and one mistake can change the entire outcome.
Freestyle on the other hand, is more predictable. Sure, riders can have an inspired competition and ride out of their skin, landing their hardest tricks more regularly than usual and/or even learning new ones during the event, but often at the top that isn’t enough. Going into the event, the level of the riders and their tricks is largely known, it’s just a case of whether or not that can put their runs together on the day. There is much less of an unknown quantity in Freestyle compared to BoarderX, which is reflected in fewer riders being nominated and a stronger bias towards a small number of riders. Plus, it is much easier to compare one rider’s level of tricks and style to another’s; it is much harder to compare two riders BoarderX on a certain track ability without a race or two.
That’d be my guess as to why I’ve been voted as a bit of a stand out for Freestyle – people know my level and they know how well I perform in competitions – they’ve seen what I can do. In BoarderX, anyone can fall over, anyone can get caught up in a collision, anyone can get a mid-race puncture. There’s no do-over, no mulligan – when you’re out you’re out. Point and case being Kody Stewart in 2014 – having stormed to victory in 2013, an uncharacteristic slide in his first Knockout race put Kody out of the competition, finishing in 17th. In Freestyle, you can almost always have another run if you don’t land a trick or run first time.
Speaking about Freestyle, Nicky G and Krzysztof will be very strong contenders and I’m not surprised to see them on the nominations list. Nicky is one of the most prolific, technical and well known riders in the World and has a tonne of big tricks in both regular and switch. If he can put them down under the lights, pressure and on the big jump, he will be a hard man to beat.
Krzysztof on the other hand isn’t afraid to go huge (I don’t think he actually knows how to get a small amount of air), and throws the craziest shapes in the game, but often struggles to land his hardest tricks – if he can land some of the crazy, unique tricks he attempts he’ll be able to match anyone. Whatever happens, it is going to be an epic session under the floodlights and I can’t wait to see what goes down!
It’s very close in the Ladies category. There were fewer votes cast (largely my fault for being unclear in my initial request) which will naturally bring the field closer together, but the outcome still fits with what I’ve previously said. The riders have voted and leading by one vote is Sonia, the 2016 World Champ, with Senka and Natasha trailing by one vote. Both are yet to win their maiden World titles but pretty much always make the Finals and have a strong run. It seems the riders are sticking with the ‘safe’ bet for the Ladies, similar to the Men’s, although there really isn’t much in it.
I think this is a reflection of the difference between the Ladies and Mens competitions – the Ladies is a more level playing field than the Mens, with consistently close races and no riders yet to really dominate the category. The closest was Martina Lippolis’ two in a row in 2013 and 14, but there were multiple position changes during the Final each year. Conversely, in the Men’s there has been some domination at the top, with 3 riders in the field who have made 2 or more Finals and 5 riders who have made at least 2 semi-finals (^see end of post^). In the Ladies, the 4 titles so far have been shared between 3 riders whereas the same number of titles have been shared between 2 riders in the Mens.
For the Freestyle, the reason for the all-nominee dead heat could be that Ladies freestyle is largely unknown – flying in the face of one of my previous points. The thing is that you don’t see Ladies pulling tricks and stunts that much, which makes it very hard to judge who will do well ahead of the event. I guess that kind of proves my previous point a little but doesn’t? Meh, you figure it out.
What I know is the Ladies is a great category to watch and it really goes down to the wire. It’s going to be exciting to see who clinches the titles and it’ll be very tough to call on this year’s track and jumps.
On a side note, you may have noticed a few riders nominated themselves as favourites for the competition (me included). I think that’s totally acceptable. Perhaps it seems arrogant or a ‘dick’ move, but well placed confidence is a very powerful thing and self-belief is a key part of the mental preparation for some riders. You can draw your own conclusions and I’ll leave it there for now as I’m planning on writing a post about confidence in the future.
Back to it and one thing is certain – the list will change when I ask again at the end of June. With Dirt Dessert taking place just before I ask this question again, as well as a bunch of other early season events, riders will have had a chance to show their form and everyone will have had a chance to see the track and jumps in a video (giving them a better read on what kind of rider should perform well). I’m not sure how much it will change, but my gut instinct is that I would expect a much closer pack of nominees. The nominees have been nominated for a reason and I wouldn’t expect them to sit on their laurels and fade away but I would expect other riders to show their form and turn some heads as #mwbc17 and #mwfc17 approaches, leading to more ‘wild card’ nominations.
Keep an eye out for the follow up post at the start of July, but for now I’d like to sign off with this; if someone can win both competitions (a feat that will be extremely difficult, which I’ll discuss in a separate post), they will be the undisputed best rider in the World in my books. Personally, I don’t think we’ll see a Double World Champion crowned in July, but I think you should try to prove me wrong.
*** Timing Update ***
Instead of doing a whole separate post, I thought I’d quickly tag on the end (and it is sort of related). The timing kit is functioning and ready for real-World testing!!! I’ve got the background coding sorted and it’s working well. It’s an MVP (minimum viable product) at the moment and I would like to eventual build a user interface but for now, I have something which works – one start beam break (to be broken by the start gate flap dropping) followed by four finish line breaks resulting in four race times to 0.001s. We’ll only use 0.01s accuracy.
With thanks to Andy, we also got it boxed up and looking a lot more ‘professional’ – see the picture below. It should be able to take a bit more knocking around now and it’ll be OK in the rain (as opposed to before where it would have to be accompanied by an umbrella).
All in, I’m incredibly stoked and excited and I can’t wait to get out and test it. Realistically it won’t make *that* much difference to the competition for the majority of riders, but I think it is an incredibly important step forwards. Even if I’m the only one who appreciates the accuracy, at least I had fun working on the project and it’s one less thing that will annoy me at the competition (allowing me to focus more mental energy on the competition itself).
*** Ankle Update ***
While I’m at it – the ankle is doing well! My check up of Thursday informed me that the pain I’m having is due to an inflamed tendon, and after a course of ibuprofen over the weekend it’s almost good as new!
The consultant said the injured parts felt perfect and said I could start sporting again – starting easy and building it up – so I spend 2 and a half hours on the squash court with Andy and Mark (our older brother) over the weekend. It was fantastic to get back on the court and the ankle felt better after the sessions!
I’m not, of course, as agile as I was but that will come with time. The important thing is that I’m feeling confident on it. The ankle is already feeling more flexible and ‘freer’ thanks to the squash sessions. Time to start putting a mountainboard session together so I can finally get back on a board.
It’s badminton at lunch time today – I can’t tell you how much I’ve been missing it! Overall, it’s excellent to be getting back into the sports I enjoy after 10 weeks out.
|Rider||No of Finals||Nation||Year|
Team GB riders = 5 distinct, 8 total appearances.
USA riders = 2 distinct, 4 total appearances.
Brazil, Russia, Switzerland = 1 distinct, 1 total appearance.
|Rider||No of Semi-Finals||Nation||Year|
Team GB = 8 distinct, 16 total appearances
Poland = 4 distinct, 4 total appearances
USA = 2 distinct, 4 total appearances
Russia = 2 distinct, 2 total appearances
Italy = 2 distinct, 2 total appearances
Brazil = 1 distinct, 1 total appearance
France = 1 distinct, 1 total appearance
Romania = 1 distinct, 1 total appearance
That was a dangerous round-up – I almost started writing about trends and backstories! Maybe in a later post. If you made it this far in the post, I congratulate you.
Thanks for reading!