Practice was a brutal reality check for some. Josh Irvine and Damian Connolly taking heavy hits while coming to grips with speed and airtime generated over the first set. Both suffering broken collarbones and both unceremoniously relegated to spectator status for the remainder of the weekend after their respective trips to the emergency ward.
Under ever menacing and darkening storm clouds, the riders psyched and padded themselves up for the evening’s 20inch action. All on a mission to score one of only ten places available in the first round for Sunday nights, head to head elimination (can anyone say big money?) final.
With the intermittent rain becoming more frequent, the pace of the evening upped significantly, and with that so did the pressure, intensity and atmosphere.
Under the blazing nightclub like lighting rig the gathered crowd got stoked on the show unfolding before them. Dirt Jam’s Friday final was going off! While more than a few new faces proved their worth on the monstrous trails, it was the big guns of Corey Bohan, Ryan Guettler, Cameron White and Luke Parslow that really proved why they are dominating world wide on the BMX dirt circuit.
Corey’s big, fluid trail style was laced with the likes of front flips and 1-footed 360 tabletops. More than enough flow to score him a 3rd place podium finish, but left many knowing that he had more in the tank for Sunday. Cameron White threw down hard with big flips, double whips and even debuted front flips, his nights riding cementing a second place finish. Ryan Guettler, fresh from a year worldwide as ‘the winningest rider’ in BMX history blew minds with runs full of huge variations that looked effortless. Front flips over the first set to 720’s over the second are just a taste of the whoop arse Ryan unleashed on the Dirt Jam set up. Ryan took the win, locked in his place as the numero uno favourite for Sunday and scored himself a tricked out Honda XR50 in the process.
Unluckily, Luke Parslow went down hard on what may have been the biggest front flip ever seen in a comp, anywhere in the world. Thankfully, a disgruntled Luke managed to walk away from the carnage, yet his injuries would see him out of action for the rest of the night and following weekend.
The ever-increasing sprinkles of rain slowly turned into a torrential downpour and the best trick comp was abandoned in favour keeping dry, the Dirt Jam crew moving in to cover the precious soil and ensure it would survive till the morning.
Dirt Jam Day 2
Saturday saw the true face of Queensland shine upon Dirt Jam, with sun blazing down on the golden beach, bikini clad bodies and massive dirt jumps (You didn’t see that last one coming right?). It was zero hour for those still keen to take on the best in Sunday’s finale.
While some chose to sit it out thru dramas with pieces of bike or anatomy, those that climbed back up to the top of the monster roll in seemed so much more relaxed and in tune with the jumps. Maybe it was that the pressure was off somewhat, or maybe it was that they had had a night to reassess the mentality required to excel on the once in a lifetime set up. Whatever the case, the riding stepped up a few notches. Six riders proved to the judges and sun drenched crowd that they had the goods to ride the Sunday final.
Young trail ruler Daniel Donges proceeded to boost his way into the Surfers stratosphere with style and energy almost unseen before locking down a place in the final alongside Mik Bayzand, PJ Mackellar and the newest member of the front flip club, Josh Stead.
With the final qualification round out of the way, Dirt Jam pulled its wildcard with an impromptu best trick comp for one thousand dollars. One trick, one thousand bucks. Not bad for riding a bike. The only downfall to anyone’s ideas of easy bucks was the level of competition. Off the hook would be the only way to describe it!
The ten-minute jam allowed riders to fire off as many runs as they could manage, taking the pressure off landing everything first time around. This progressive format allowed riders to step into the unknown with tricks they may not usually unleash. The resulting session had the crowd on their feet and the level of riding pushing new ground, signifying a huge leap forward in the progression of Australian BMX.
Cameron White took an early but decisive lead with the combo of barspin to tailwhip (two tricks that stand tall in their own right) slammed into the one air, but with the level of talent on hand, it was short lived. Lee Kirkman and Shane Conlon stepped in with huge flip variations, no footed for Lee and flat spun for Shane. Not content with that, Shane cast a warning to the those accumulated around the second jump that he could get a little off track which was somewhat of an understatement, his flip tailwhip attempt aborted mid way leaving photographers scattering! Frontflips became the new backflip with Corey Bohan, Ryan Guettler and Corey Bohan firing them off with the ease of a regular jump. But it was Ryan Guettler who dominated the session with endless variations; 720 turndowns, 720 tyre grabs, double whips and all round style for miles. When he threw a 360 double whip in the final minutes all knew he had clenched the bucks. Cam White stepped up with only seconds to go and came so close to pulling the same move, but his resultant speedway-esque slide didn’t cut it with the judges, leaving Ryan with the $1000 best trick cheque.
But the day wasn’t over, Yonny Wakefield hell bent on pulling one of the newest moves in BMX off regardless of the judges, crew or MC’s trying to finish up for the day and get into party mode. Yonny’s bike flip attempts got everyone’s attention, including Ryan Guettler’s, who put his winner’s cheque on the second set, incentive Yonny to pull it clean. Even with the cash, roars from the riders and crowd willing him on, he slipped his pedals on the final attempt and missed out on the cash. Although a hazy memory has it that the cheque went on the bar with Yonny and the crew anyways…
Dirt Jam day 3
Waking up to what looked like the most severe thunderstorm approaching wasn’t a good sign for the evening’s finale. The day slowly passed with torrential downpours and electrical storms frying the towering apartment blocks with ferocity reminiscent of a cyclone. Gusty winds looked like all but blowing the covers off the jumps, but just when the Dirt Jam crew were discussing shutting it down, the sunset became nothing short of amazing. The clouds parting and the wind died off almost immediately. I’m not sure what deal Red Bull made with Mother Nature, but it worked! The rain soaked schoolies crowds made their way out from under cover as soon as the lights and music came online. The anticipation so intense after a long day assuming it would be a wash out.
Head to head riding was the name of the evening’s game. Riders paired off against each other, the first to score two wins advancing to the next round.
The early rounds featured the big names and placegetters of the previous nights up against the relatively unknowns, but far from a walkover the riding was nothing short of intense. Amongst a bug plague stirred up by the storm, all eyes were focussed on the amazing set up and the battle raging between each pairing of riders.
By round three, it was the powerhouse riding talents of Ryan Guettler, Corey Bohan, Dave Dillewaard and Cam White up against each other. With everything on the line, the riding stepped up another notch with moves unseen on these shores.
Corey Bohan unleashed all his style and power but fell just short of Cam Whites consistency and flow which advanced him though. Think double tailwhip to front flip… What!
Ryan’s front flip on the first to 720’s on the second set ruled, but it was Dave Dillewaard’s old school no-hander to x-up followed by a signature 360 tailwhip to barspin that left the crowd in mass hysteria. Dave smiling even more than usual upon finding out that it was he advancing through to the final.
With both Cam White and Dave Dillewaard killing it in all the rounds leading up, it was hard to imagine what would unfold in the final. With one win each, it went to the wire and a final run, some calling that Cam threw his second run just to make the show even more out of control! Whatever the case, under the thunderstorm laden clouds Dave fired off his big guns in the final run in a finale that saw both riders land smooth, but not get the combo tricks they were after. Talk about a pressure cooker! With the winning run came the rain and the spoils. The tallest guy in BMX, Dave Dillewaard accepted his 5 grand winners cheque with a smile. Then in a crazy rush, all present headed to the ensuing Red Bull after party for a night of mayhem and trash talk…
Red Bull’s Dirt Jam was by far the most intense BMX competition of its kind ever seen in Australia, with riding that had to be seen to be believed! All who were part of it witnessed the future of Australian riding along with the reasons why the Australian 20inch contingent currently competing overseas are so dominant.
Text + pics: Matt Holmes
RedBull/ 20/20 magazine
RedBull Dirt Jam Head to Head - Final Places
Date: Sunday 27 Nov, 05
1st Dave Dillewaard
2nd Cam White
Equal 3rd Ryan Guettler
Equal 3rd Corey Bohan
Equal 5th Michael Perkins
Equal 5th Dave McComb
Equal 5th Andrew Gul
Equal 5th Daniel Dunn
Equal 9th Mik Bayzand
Equal 9th Shane Conlon
Equal 9th Pete McKellar
Equal 9th Dane Searls
Equal 9th Brad Doyle
Equal 9th Nick Cooper
Equal 9th Josh Stead
Equal 9th Daniel Donges