Alex Jumelin organizes a contest once a year, formerly known as Ninja Jam, now as Ninja Spin and also this year with Braun as main sponsor. Held in Acheres, close to Paris, in a gym around the corner from the local train station. As soon as you enter the hall, you notice that things here don't look like your average flatland contest: designer seats in the pro lounge and big balloons hanging from the ceiling, in very distinctive Stereo Panda colours, all wear flatlander-turned-fashion-designer Jimmy Petitet's signature.
Flatlanders from everywhere started to drip in on Saturday afternoon, Lionel Cardoso was spinning the wheels of steel and the atmosphere was positive and relaxed. Who were there? German Crews including riders like Michael Steingraber, Sven Steinbach, Seppl and Benjamin Grossjohan, the OG Posse from Hungary, with Marton, Adam Kun and Peter Sarlos, some of the best flatlanders from the USA:
Terry Adams, Justin Miller, Jesse Puente and even Steve Brand was there, this guy has been riding for ages and doesn't visit Europe very often. As he now is sponsored by KGB, Martti and Vicki, who were also there, probably decided to bring in one of the big guns. Kimmo wasn't there, that was too bad. Flatland veteran Effraim Catlow (who had a terrible cold) was there with his dad and Lee Musslewhite and Sam Foakes also made the trip from the UK. Wastl and Michi Sommer from Austria were there and of course lots of French riders, although I missed some, like Francis Bessiere, Florent Guyennon, Gregory Gonzales and Cedric Borghy (rumors say that he quit riding for a while to concentrate on being an electro dj). Belgian riders like Alexis Bracke and Melvin Hills, Alex from Greece was there, so was Chad Johnston (Intrikat) and Karin and Michel from Switzerland. Of course, we were there too, Dutch Destroyers in da hizhouse: yours truly, Francis, James Alberto, Bram the Candyman and Sytse Winkel.
The contest was huge, lot of riders entered the competition, prelims were held on Saturday, and closed with the Eastpak Best Trick Contest, but instead of having just one try, like at the Worlds 2004, you had 3 tries, IF you fumbled within the first 5 seconds of your trick/combo you could try again, so it gives you more opportunity to nail your trick. It was won by Vicki Gomez with another of his crazy frontwheel combos. Scott O'Brien from the USA was mc this weekend, his energetic, hectic way of presenting was very refreshing.
Sunday was the day of the finals and the riders who placed 1, 2 and 3 after the finals run would have to battle each other again in a jam-style format to decide who was to be the winner and numbers 2 and 3. Master Class riders Benjamin Grossjohan (BRD), Sytse Winkel (NL) and Nicolas Ferrando (FRA)battled for first place. Benjamin pulled lots of his combos, mostly backwheel, with mad stuff like backpacker regular footed jump to cross footed, backpacker g-turns and spinning cliffhanger, Sytse just couldn't finish his links, that was too bad, Nicolas Ferrando did finish most of his combos, super hard switch and cross footed frontwheel scuffing and rolling, very original, he took the first place in Master Class, Benjamin second and Sytse third. Nicolas won the special edition KGB frame, spray painted in Ninja Spin colours. Congratulations!
In Pro class, after the final runs were run, 4 riders had to cross swords in the end battle: Vicki, Martti, Alex and..... Wolfgang Sauter (BRD)! This gentle, positive, easygoing and always smiling German rider flowed his buttersmooth back and frontwheel combos into the final battle. Unfortunately he didn't ride as well as he did in his prelims and finals run, maybe he was a bit intimidated by the other 3 riders in the battle, maybe it was his girlfriend and baby watching that made him nervous, who knows, fourth place for him! Aight! Alex had new shit, as usual, fast, ninja-style fronwheel extravaganza! Third place for him! Martti also had new tricks on his pink KGB and whipped himself onto second place. It was the Spanish matador Vicki Gomez who won it all! First place for him! Ole!
Thanks to Alex Jumelin and crew, thanks to all the sponsors and thanks to the village of Acheres! It was a very good weekend and it was good to meet all the riders again and hang out together, up to Prague for the Worlds! See you there!