James Gambrill reports from the Kings Ski Club National Finals

08 May 2007 00:00

Kings Ski Finals 2007 - Report ¦ Gallery ¦ Video ¦ Results

Kings Ski FinalsThe Kings Ski Club National Finals brought the biggest ever field to Brentwood Ski Centre following a hard fought season between over 200 teams competing in regions across the UK. Team Natives finished as runners up in the London and Southern League with one win and three second places following a close battle with the vastly improved Kent Uni team who took the league title.

Team Natives virgins face Kings' finest
With the huge number of racers teams were placed in 8 leagues of 4 teams each, with the top two teams in each league progressing to round 2. Team Natives were missing a number of regular racers, but were ably re-inforced with two Kings 'virgins'. Louise Jones, returning to ski competitons after 11years out, and Natives very own Phil Martin, who had planned on a day sunning himself and using his long-range camera lens to best affect, suddenly found himself thrust into the competitive cauldron of the Kings Final.

Race skis & rental boots...
The first race didn't go exactly to plan, with Team Natives regular Katy Lamb a little short of dry slope form following a powder week in Whistler, leading off, the opponents got off to a flyer and had pulled out a gate lead by the finish. Next up, Louise Jones shook the dust off her vintage rossis and put in a solid run, followed by Phil Martin, the only man combining limited edition race stock skis with rental boots, who was happy to reach the bottom without incident for race 1. I wish the same could be said for yours truly; with a 3 gate deficit by this stage, last man Stefan Elton whispered an encouraging 'you're gonna have to really go for it' as I launched out the start gate with determination to cut back the other teams lead.

Team parallel slalomA new freestyle slalom move - the "Gambrill roll"
By the third gate the lead was cut in half, but unfortunately having focused on gaining speed I forgot a key element of slalom technique, turning. Needless to say even Kings courses aren't straight enough to allow no turning whatsoever, and a very late attempt at turning round gate 3 resulted in a spectacular (so I'm told) barrel roll down the slope, and a badly bruised ego. Needless to say even with ex England racer Stefan Elton anchoring the team, the race was lost.

Newcastle looked strongest in early rounds
Elsewhere the usual suspects were all progressing nicely, with pre-race favourites Newcastle looking particuarly strong. Bristol, last years winners and consistently one of the best teams were notably changed, boasting a' a new start' in their smart new hoodies. Although far from a bad team they were clearly not the allstars who had won four out of the last five Kings finals, and attention turned to the Birmingham, Durham and Kent teams as the ones to watch - along with the Geordies.

Team Natives (& 15 other teams) progress to Round 2
Thankfully after the shaky start, Team Natives re-grouped with Louise discovering her old form, Phil strapping his boots up so tight the plastic deformed, and me, well just managing to stay on my feet. Victories against Kent 2 and Bath saw us progress to round 2 along with 15 other teams.

Tyrolean dry-slope ski techsFurniture polish, washing up liquid & yellow gunk - secret recipes for dry slope speed
Meanwhile in the individual competiton the short slope and summer temperatures brought out every dry slope waxing trick in the book to gain those precious hundreths of second. With over 200 racers and only top 30 men and 15 girls eligible for a second run, competion was fierce. Alongside the old dry slope favourites of Mr Sheen and Fairy Liquid, out came all manner of waxes, liquid silicon, teflon, and the yellow 'gunk' that has been banned by most slopes for the mess it leaves. Wax works, and after a liberal application of all of the above Stefan and myself progressed to the second run.

Geordie clean sweep in individuals
The indivduals came down to an all Newcastle battle in the Mens between Matt Bruton and Dan Wyatt, with Newcastles Rachel Adcock holding off Jemima Barnes of Cardiff in the Ladies. Team Natives managed a credible 12th (Stefan Elton) and 17th (James Gambrill) but were not match for the boys from the north. A storming second run from Matt, aided by so much gunk his skis were barely visible, saw him take the victory by a mere 1 hundredth of a second from Dan Wyatt.

"Is beer a performance-enhancing drug?"
Lunch became a lengthy affair, no doubt so the hard-working officials could have a well earned beer, and argue over the important point from round 1, such as whether beer should be considered a performance enhancing drug for Kings comps.

Manchester appealing to the Fancy Dress judges in personFancy dress competition won by Manchester
There was also the very important quesiton of who was winning the fancy dress, with Manchester Unis 'tomato' theme winning admiring glances, until Plymouth pointed out the red skin was not facepaint but in fact a Manchester students normal reaction to sunlight....with no ski racing to watch, the more resourceful unis decided to stage their own parallel slalom, down the course, on foot, carrying a beer, and in some cases, whilst naked.

"It's not just thumbs that get stuck in dry slope matting..."
Clearly no physics students were involved in this as clearly a drunk student running down a dendex slope as speeds faster than their legs can carry them can only lead to one thing - big falls, and lots of them. Manchester added to their 'red skins' with some impressive dendex scratch marks, and the unlucky naked male student who fell and slid along the slope drew a collective 'ouch' from the watching crowd and proved it's not just thumbs that get stuck in dry slope matting.

Team Natives fall prey to Newcastle slalom stars
To the serious business, round 2 saw Team Natives putting up a spirited fight but going out to the favourites Newcastle. (who Team Natives beat in last years semi, before ending up as runners up to Bristol) With time pressing the top 4 teams went through to the semis showdown featuring Kent, Durham, Newcastle and Birmingham.

Newcastle secure team parallel slalom 2007 Kings Finals title
As expected, with the two fastest male racers in Matt Bruton and Dan Wyatt, and the fastest female in Rachel Adcock, Newcastle finally lived up to their seeding and were duly crowned 2007 Kings Champions. Team Natives would like to congratulate them, but will be back to challenge for the crown next year. If you'd like to be a part of it, contact Team Natives Captain James Gambrill at james@somewherehigh.com.

Team Natives
Team NativesTeam Natives Kings Final 2007 were: Stefan Elton, Katy Lamb, Louise Jones, James Gambrill, Phil Martin

Team Natives is a regsitered club affiliated to LSERSA and Snowsports England. We compete in local and national races throughout the year and are always looking for new team members, contact team captain, James Gambrill, for more information.


Parallel Team Ski  - 1st Newcastle, 2nd Durham, 3rd Birmingham.

Individual Men Ski -  1st Matt Bruton (newc), 2nd Dan Wyatt (newc), 3rd Tom Francis (brum).

Individual Women Ski - 1st Rachael Adcock (newc), 2nd Christina Pennock (brum), 3rd Jemima Barnes (cardiff)

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