Just got back from the Jomopro contest last week, what a awesome time!! My trip started out on the Tuesday before the contest, when I flew out to Tulsa International airport via Chicago. Bobby Downing kindly picked me up, Ucchie was there fast asleep in the baggage reclaim area as I arrived. We took the two hour trip to Joplin, Missouri, on the way the cops pulled us over for a routine check, which was an experience. Think they quite surprised to hear my English accent haha.
The Bridge is the skatepark where the Jomopro contest is held, the place looks like a cinema or something from the outside, it was super close to all hotels, this gave a real community feel to the event. Everything was basically on one strip of road. All the locals were rad as hell, and the park is epic. Run with Volunteers, Jeremiah the owner does a great job holding this together, one of the best parks I’ve ever seen! I still can’t believe its in Joplin, middle of nowhere!
Myself and Ucchie were the first riders there, the first day, Wednesday, we rode in between the ramps and had an awesome session, even a lil decade contest, which Ucchie lost haha. All good fun! There was a banquet in the foundry where the flatland contest would be held so we had to wait till Thursday to ride there, but it was all good.
Part of the best thing about travelling is meeting new people, getting to know them better. Ucchie was my room mate all week, whether it was his crazy Japanese i-chats with flatlanders at 4am, the awesome riding sessions we had, or watching him do his warm up workouts with the bad thing guys later in the week was funny, Ucchie was fun to hang out with….
A lot of riders started showing up late Thursday, I spent Thursday from 1pm getting used to the floor with Ucchie, the skatepark staff along with Pat Schoolen regularly cleaned the floor the whole entire weekend, which was awesome! Thursday night I had session with Bryan Huffman, Issiah Jordan, and some intermediate riders, did a spot of filming with Rad Dad, and then called it a day.
Friday was the start of the contest, first up were the intermediates, flatmatters contributer Joe Miller took care of the Mic duties and of course has taken care of the intermediates, expert and veteran write up.
Pro qualifiers took place Saturday evening, so there was plenty of practise time for all the riders, 15 riders in attendance, as everyone is well aware this contest had some added spice with the return of Trevor Meyer, everyone was psyched to see him ride at a contest again. His first in seven years! I could write forever, so I’ll just keep to the finals.
The atmosphere at this contest was great with Catfish on the Mic, things went off!, All the riders supported each other in the pits, like I said this was new for me, I’m not really a battle rider, but I enjoyed this! Part of what I like about jomopro, is that flatland is with the rest of bmx, flatland was the last event of the weekend! Thus all the park riders were watching, which you don’t normally see, Dennis McCoy was in attendance even!
One of the standouts of the whole contest was the riding of Jean William “Dub” Prevost, his riding has a real feel of authority and power, multiple carving xft jugglers to two footed xft steam pivot halfpacker whip to halfpacker, crazy back wheel combos, like 360 bike varials out of forward g rolls, back into long combos, the man is definitely on the come up, if not already there, and took Viki all the way first round, one of the closet battles. Viki the man of many recent edits, and in possession of a huge trick bag, used his experience well against Dub, I believe it fell down to the last combo “last trick”, where Dub fell right away, Viki boshed out a massive combo, taking him through to the next round.
The next battle was between veteran Alex Jumelin, and Mr Smooth, Dane Beardsley, a great contrast in riding styles and a hard one to judge, Alex is very quick around the bike, Dane kind of floats, beautiful to watch if you pay attention. Alex concentrated his moves on the front, lot of peg boomerang variations, turbine xft karl kruzers, Dane was mixed front and back wheel, long combos, lot of one kick switches (check the videos), many have disagreed with this judgement, Alex advanced to meet Matthias…
The next battle was a complete contrast in styles, the pegless Chad Johnston vs the human tornado, Matt Wilhelm, there’s something great about flat when you see two such contrasting styles such as this, brought a wry smile to my face. Chad’s riding is awesome, rollback 180 to one footed carving manual to pedal megaspin, pedal 5 turbine kick back pedal 5, rope a roni on pedal to pedal straddle walkover footjam overtaker out, Chad just missed this in the contest.Matt in practise was a monster, no other words, everything first go pretty much, dropping all his new tricks in the contest for the first time, bike flip to upside down megaspin back to spinning death truck, fire hydrant to no handed spinning foot on bar cliff jump to spinning crackpacker, Matt went through to the next round. Definitely one of the heavy hitters.
The next battle was myself vs. Ucchie, this was my first major battle at a big contest, nervous yes, scared of getting arse kicked, yes! I decided I was on a win win situation, hit my back wheel combo, which I was stoked on, I made to many silly mistakes to advance, but learnt a lot during this battle with the No 2 in the World. Maybe I should believe in myself a lil more as only lost three decisions to two, Ucchie had a few touches also, close battle….
Next round was battle of as Catfish called it the battle of “master” and “sensei”, Alex Jumelin vs. Matthias Dandois, Alex rode well in this battle lacing together a nice no handed xft karl foot on the back peg to inside steam to no handed one footed spinning fork wheelie with his foot on bar, but nothing was stopping Matthias, he seems to thrive on the crowd, and the rock n’roll music, his variety of long front wheel combos and back wheel combos was too much for his master, and the sensei went through to the last four.
The next battle was a biggie, Matt Wilhelm vs. Terry Adams, two contest machines go head to head, and who would fall? Neither!!! Both rode almost flawless as I recall, Terry somehow saving his opening 360 karl flip to xft flip with a few scuffs, mad control! Inside karl 360 pivot to right hand halfpacker pivot to xft hitch combo, the signature Katrina, all this wasn’t enough to pass Matt Wilhelm, in the pits he asked me, what do I do? “all your hard shit, no fucking around”, wow!! Matt went off and blew the house down in this battle, flip to upside down flip back to spinning death truck! Flip to forward rope turbines jump to xft upside down turbines back to no handed pedalling upside down mega spins to no handed Wilhelm spin body varial out. Banging!!!! Matt is so good! The fastest Miyaki spin I think I’ve ever seen him do, lot of variety in Matt’s combos, although I have to say his back wheel level was so high!!!, this level of riding took him rightfully through to the next stage. Terry was out and watching with us.
I had Viki down before the contest as one of the top three, rocking his new frame being made direct from quamen, he met his match in Shintaro, who is coming of age as a contest rider. Viki mixed things up well with nice back wheel pivots, spinning death trucks, hang five no handed jump to steam. Shintaro is like a ninja on his bike, quiet, reserved but deadly combos! His walkaround messiahs with out hands on bars were one of the highlights of the contest! Good to see Shintaro get what he deserves in the contests.
The next battle was huge and will be one of the most talked about battles ever, Ucchie vs Trevor. The argument from the judges was that Ucchie’s variety was low, and the riding level was so close that that alone swayed the decision towards Trevor. I have to admit I was blown away by that decision, that is to take nothing away from Trevor, Trevor rode awesome, but Ucchie was on fire! This made me think, how can we improve this judging system? Ucchie doesn’t scuff, thus there is very little room for error or break in his riding, he also does a lot of pivots, bar spins, rolling, turbines, pedal spins (forward and backwards) backwards spinning, which adds variety in my eyes, Trevor scuffed a lot, thus much easier to control on the slippery floor. Ucchies originality was higher than Trevor’s. How can this be reflected more, I think the answer is to go back to judges being responsible for just one category, having judged myself, when it’s a tight decision minor details need to be taken into account, for me the length of links for example which also added to Ucchie’s variety, there were so many subtle things going on... What I do respect is that the judges they had a system and beliefs and stuck to it, in hindsight, of course the flaw was that riders were not aware of the judging criteria. Essentially Ucchie could have done one front wheel trick and advanced…this debate will run and run. And I was sad to see Ucchie’s face, the picture below says it all. A lot of the crowd at this point left. Trevor advanced, the atmosphere changed, and perhaps flatland changed forever right here, pivotal point perhaps?(more on this debate to follow soon in separate post).
Photo credit: http://bmx.transworld.net
Matthias vs. Shintaro was up next, two of the biggest names in flatland right now, Shintaro busted out, so consistent, effortlessly linking no hand messiah walkarounds to spinning circle to halfpacker inside steam pivot to steams for example, but nothing was stopping Matthias, who worked both wheels flawlessly with a look in his eyes like he was going to kill someone after the Ucchie decision.
After some crazy battles, so battles don’t go off as you’d think, riders tired, nerves, whatever it is, it happens, and I think this applied with The Wilhelm vs. Trevor battle. Matt was going all out, the upside down flip to spinning death trick is epic, sadly Matt crashed a few times, Trevor rode a lot calmer, almost holding back, but so dialled!! Gadget whip to One foot on bar pumping cliff ala’ Jumelin. Trevor went through the final! Matt to battle Shintaro for 3rd place finish.
Matt was noticeably exhausted and pretty beat up (swollen elbow) from a few harsh crashes, I’m stoked that Matt pushed himself at this contest, he definitely raised the bar, just wasn’t his day. Shintaro as ever rode so consistent during the 3rd place battle and won.
The atmosphere you could cut with a knife, Matthias had the look of a mass murderer, never seen him look like this ever, normally lil show boating, nothing, head down, focussed, eye of the tiger. And once again rode flawless, mixing up his runs nicely, adding his pumping spinning karl kruzer on the bar almost as an answer to trevors cliff spin, Trevor looked unfazed by anything Matthias threw at him, many would have crumbled under Matthias heavy barrage of flawless combos, it was great to have Trevor back on the contest scene, I hope after all the fallout from the Ucchie battle this wasn’t the last we see of him. Matthias ended the contest with a half cab whopper to peg wheelie double bar mega spin out, the evil eyed Frenchman was on fire and deserved the win! Catfish was going off, his announcing certainly added to a crazy good contest!
It was a fitting end to one of the best weekends I’ve ever had on 26 years flatland riding, the crowd were into it, the riders stoked, much respect to Jeremiah and all his staff, Pat + Katie Schoolen & Paul Couvey for all their hard work making this happen. Bobby D for driving me around, flatmatters!!!
Contest of the year??