The New Zealand Dirt Jump Open this past weekend was, for lack of a better phrase, "OFF THE HOOK". The event started off with a bang on the Saturday with 50 riders at the qualifying and nearly 200 people showing up to watch that. Amongst the big names to watch were South Island legend Brett Frew, Paul Langlands and a host of other strong names in the New Zealand Dirt Jump fraternity hitting up the newly transformed Airfield, at the Woodhill Mountain Bike Park.
The Under 16 Junior section was quite surprising and showed us all that these young guys could rip with Nick Dethridge and Taniora Te Pou firmly securing themselves in the “watch this space” category.
The main event on Sunday started in a relaxing manner in a new jam style format as the riders were whittled down to the top ten and top five juniors. The first 45 minute session had quality riding with every rider stomping some pretty sweet tricks.
Then things got all twisted, literally. The first of the Best Trick competitions got underway with the riders trying to get their hands on the first of the two CASH prizes for best trick in this 20 minute session. Paul Langlands (Cambridge) got back on his BMX for the session and started with a bang laying down a superflip, barrel rolls and then tried endlessly to get his flipwhip. Brett Frew (Southland) trademarked an opposite 3, and other riders such as Lewis Jones (Raglan) with his one handed pendulums, Conor McFarlane (Invercargill) with his massive three’s and Alan Montifiore (AKL) with his front flip all tore it up. But the cash belonged to Jed Mildon (Taupo) as he threw down a perfect 360 double tailwhip…boom! The event just took a leap to a whole new level.
From there on the lads realised to take home the cash prizes they needed to step up their game. They also knew they had to start hitting the new line, a 7.5m step down followed by a huge 8.5m double and then a jump over a 3m high concrete pipe.
But before the finals kicked in and the top five open riders got to throw down, we had the second of the Best Tricks. This one was over the Monster jump, and we all thought the first one had the riders and the crowd pumped. Paul Langlands (back on his MTB), Jed Mildon, and six or so other riders (who were brave enough) took on the challenge. Amongst the flipwhip, several tailwhips, the pendulums, the no footers to tuck no handers, the 360 turndowns and so many more tricks Jed Mildon secured the cash again by landing a perfectly executed DOUBLE backflip and instantly became a favourite with the 1000+ crowd. INCREDIBLE!
The highlights continued in the last 20 minute finals session with the remaining five open riders having one last chance to show us their stuff. An injured Phil McLean (CHC) started landing his tailwhips combined into the runs with backflips and huge tuck no handers. Elmo Cotter (Wanaka) showed everyone how to execute massive but perfect backflips over and over again including one run where he did four in a row. Never say die Conor McFarlane blew everyone’s mind when he backflipped the seemingly unflippable step down, when the closest thing to a trick on this jump (designed to simply set you up for the biggie) so far had been a x-up or a whip. He then proceeded to nail a perfect 360 over the Monster Jump to make that one of the best runs of the competition and jumping into second place. Lewis Jones rode all of the different lines in the park throwing down combo after combo to secure his spot in third place. But the day belonged to Paul Langlands with his consistent and seemingly bottomless bag of tricks executed at World Class level.
Open Class: 1st Paul Langlands 2nd Conor Mcfarlane 3rd Lewis Jones 4th Phil McLean 5th Elmo Cotter 6th Brett Frew 7th Chris Beverland
Junior Class: 1st Nick Dethridge 2nd Taniora Te Pou 3rd Conor Benson
Haydn, Mark and Tim from Woodhill MTB park would like to thank: Monster Energy, Nature Valley, Fox, Oakley, SRAM Rockshox, Accent Audio, Porter Access, Casey King, Rod Rila, Antony Pennington, Calum Hogg for judging. All the volunteers for their tireless efforts getting the jumps ready and helping on the day.