Round 3 of the Grit Academy 2017 tour was to be held at Unit3Sixty in Stourbridge which boasts 22,000sq feed of ridable goodness, including a super flowy bowl and spacious street section, giving all of the riders who turned out, ample opportunity to shred all different kinds of ramps and rails.
The competition itself would be run in the main bowl area of the park and would start off in a jam format which would allow the judges to whittle down the almost 30 entrants to just 8 riders. These riders would then progress through to the semi-finals and get ever closer to the chance of winning a place on the Grit Academy team for an entire year!
It was immediate right from the get go that the riders at Unit3Sixty meant business. Bangers were stomped early on in the qualifying rounds, impressing the judges and showcasing just what grassroots talent the Grit Academy is all about.
After 5 ferocious heats, the judges had chosen 8 riders to go through to the semi-finals. This round was even more intense, with all of the riders upping their previous tricks and trying to land even more outrageous stunts. The crowd was going wild as air tricks were increasing in amplitude, flair combos were being pulled left right and centre and even pro level tricks, such as the nothing front scooter flip, were being pulled over Unit3Sixty’s jump box!
As the semi-finals concluded, the judging panel of professional riders had a tough decision to make. With the competition level being incredibly high, it was difficult for them to choose only four riders to progress into the final round! After a few minutes of deliberating, they decided that Kieran Powell, Connor Lafferty, Jacob Quailey and Harri Dodd were deserving of the chance to ride in the finals, and compete against each other for the grand prize of £100 cash and a place on the Grit Academy team for an entire year!
Everyone had pushed themselves hard in the semi-finals, so a brief break was called in the competition for the riders, and the audience, to rehydrate, re-energise and otherwise recuperate themselves and prepare for the spectacle that was to be the final round of the third Grit Academy of 2017!
The finals kicked off in style, with each of the 4 finalists given two runs of 1 minute to prove themselves worthy of the Grit Academy sponsorship. As in the previous rounds, the competition was vicious, with each rider trying to outdo the next with increased height, style and amplitude! This time though, there was a sense of seriousness about the riders, as each of them could smell the distant scent of victory in the air. This meant that the runs were more refined and clean than their previous efforts, but this didn’t stop them sending banger after banger, wowing both the crowd, and the Grit Academy judges. Jacob was landing highly technical combos such as flair bar whips, Connor was showing off his incredible style with big boosted t-bog and tuck no hander airs, Harri was keeping back to back briflip and whip combos under control while Kieran threw some tricks not commonly seen in competition, with 360 double down whips and big, extend superman grabs being part of his trick list. Kieran even managed to roll away from a lawn dart front flip, unfortunately just outside of his allocated run time.
This made the final decision, yet again, difficult for the judging panel. Eventually though, they concluded that Jacob Quailey would clinch the win due to his incredible combo tricks and park style, earning him the much sought after prize of £100 and an entire years sponsorship on the Grit Academy team! Each of the 4 finalists performed extremely well, with Connor following closely in second place, and Kieran and Harri not far behind in third and fourth respectively.
With the prize giving over and done with, the riders congratulated each other on their performances and went off to continue the day of riding at Unit3Sixty, concluding the 3rd Grit Academy stop of 2017.
With such an amazing day consisting of epic riding, we can only look forward to the next stop on the Grit Academy 2017 tour, which will take us across the border to Wales, and Ramps Skatepark, Llanelli…
1st – Jacob Quailey
2nd – Connor Lafferty
3rd – Kieran Powell
4th – Harri Dodd
Words by: Ben Wilkinson