I started doing competitive snowboarding when I went to uni (Nottingham Trent) in 2006, this ranged from freestyle to slalom and the occasional boarder cross. I had done competitions in other sports such as athletics before so as soon as I reached the ability with my board to compete I was very keen to try.
I first tried speed boarding back in 2013, I had seen that Jamie Barrow had the British record and I knew I had beaten him before at events such as BUISC in the relay, so I was just had to see if I could beat him on a speed slope. The hardest part for this was the preparation, I spoke to some speed skiiers and some speed snowboarders who compete in a world league that ran back in the early 2000's. I found that all of the speed slopes that were interested in letting me make an attempt were too short and that...
"Even with perfect conditions I was only ever going to be close and unlikely to break the 160km/ph barrier I dreamed of."
With Les Arcs deemed too dangerous and closed and Verbier slope slipping in a landslide it only left VARS run by Phillipe Billy, a French speed skiing enthusiast who isn't overly keen on snowboarders and those new to his piste. During the trip I met and trained with Joost Vandendries a Belgium skiier who was just getting back into speed skiing, then a few months ago he mentioned he was going to be attempting the indoor record, I let him know I was interested however he already had a snowboarder taking up one of the spaces. Fortunately for me on Friday 20th Joost messaged me saying they had pulled out.
We caught a ferry late Sunday ready for the training rides on the Monday, Joost, Maxime (mono skiier), Katrien Aerts (female skiing switch), Mathieu Verlinden (male skiing switch). We had around 1/3rd of the piste fenced off with the official guys from the FIS setting up the timing gates towards the bottom of the slope, even though it was pisted the slope with a little messy and the two rollers towards the top made it tricky to get into an aerodynamic position.
My first run in standard boarding gear had me reach just 62km/h. At this point my fears on the size of the slope seemed to be coming true, with Joost reaching 78km/h it wasn't looking good for either of us, the others were just setting records so there was a little less pressure on them. I pushed myself harder, throughout the session getting a couple of kilometres more each time and the same again as I cat suited up, at this point I was wearing my Ruroc Helmet and on my Windlip custom board. Finally by the end of my runs I had reached 69.9km/h so I knew that the next day I could do it. The feeling of going from fairly dejected initially, disappointed with my speed to very positive and excited about the fact that I could have a world record the next day, was quite a thing, I sent one message home just saying "I think I can actually do this".
Joost and I spent hours that night then waxing up, even more so than when I had the day before my speed run and he showed me many little tricks to get an even better finish, we started with cleaning, then a graphite layer, a base layer, then Magma High Fluoro Race Wax to top it off.
"looking up I saw the speed come up on the board, 69.9kph, I had reached my goal on the first run!"