Despite the fact that on the Wednesday before the main event, the jumps in the Monster Energy Airfield were being drenched with yet another mood-dampening assault from Mother Nature—the event was on the verge of being called the Mud Jump Open—the three main players on the Woodhill Trail Crew made the call that The 2011 Monster Energy Woodhill Dirt Jump Open (DJO) could still be pulled off.
Around two tonne of fresh sandstone was brought in and spread by hand on the ten-hit dirt playground, to soak up any water that was stubbornly just not going away. Then it was in the hands of the weather gods. And for the fourth year running those weather gods sure did make a few people smile. Throw in most of New Zealand's top MTB dirt riders, some local rippers and a bunch of the the best local BMXers and you have yourself a pretty good day out.
The action kicked off on Saturday when the riders got to try out the newly refurbished Monster Energy Airfield and feel it out for the main event on the following day. Thirty riders qualified into Junior, BMX and MTB classes.
Log Entry: Woodhill Mountain Bike Park, Sunday 22 May 2011 9am. Top and Bottom Carpark … Full … It's DJO time!
The crowd was quickly getting in a weekend ride in the main part of Woodhill MTB Park's 100 km purpose built trail network, making sure they were back at 1pm to check out the neighbouring action in one of the few big full time dirtjump arenas in New Zealand.
That crowd, estimated to be around the 1000 mark, was not let down as riders threw down tricks to try and grab the judges' attention. As the action got hotter the crowd rose to the occasion and fed the riders with more adrenaline to pull off some crazy tricks including Invercargill rider Conor Macfarlane's front flip and Wanaka local Tani Te Pou's 360 tailwhip.
As numbers dropped through injury and equipment failure, several riders flew through to the second round and then into the finals. Before the last riders got to prove themselves and take out the title, there was the matter of the second Nature Valley best trick contest. (The earlier best trick contest ended with local BMXer Liam Marshall crashing a 720 attempt and being taken away in an ambulance as a precaution. The riders decided to keep riding and we have since heard that Liam is home and well.)
The aptly named “Monster Jump” was surrounded by eager onlookers as only the really keen riders rolled down the lead-in step-down to the screams of the crowd, and pulled off big trick after big trick after big trick to try and nab the cash. Despite backflip attempts from Wanaka's Elmo Cotter and Aucklander Matt Harris, the prize money went to Raglan's Lewis Jones' 'Super Seat Grab'. Lewis had only hit the jump for the first time earlier in the weekend after avoiding it for nearly two years because it “was too big”. He deserved the cash, looking very much at home flying over the 10m gap, 6m in the air at 40km an hour, holding on to his seat with his legs out and above his head. Wow!
The Final round followed with the top five riders in each class having one last chance to wow the judges. Let's just say that the judges had an extremely hard task trying to pick the winners from an outstanding bunch of riders all worthy of a share in the prizes. Once again Lewis Jones shone with his combination tricks and his silky smooth style, taking out the MTB Class and jumping up from his 3rd place from last year. Conor Benson (AKL) pipped last year's winner Nick Dethridge (AKL) in the junior class. New for 2011's BMX class was won by George Bolter (AKL).
More info, videos and pictures can be seen on the events page and photo gallery and Over the Top Productions video link. These will be updated as more come in this week.
The Woodhill MTB Park would like to thank this year's sponsors Monster Energy, SRAM, ABD, Fox, Nature Valley and Oakley.
Thanks also to our three judges Tim White, Richie Mac and Alan Montifiore. Thanks also all those media who contributed, especially Thomas Lloyd, John Colthorpe (Over the Top Productions) and Jamie McKenzie (Pure Productions).