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BRITS WRAP UP - Jane Peel, Laax, Switzerland
Friday April 7, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

A clear cold day ensured the final day of the British Snowboard and Freeski Championships went ahead on schedule, with the Ski Big Air and the Snowboard Halfpipe titles up for grabs.

Old-timers put on their boots to challenge - and in some cases beat - the existing crop of World-class talent, while a handful of tiny pre-teens did their best to outshine the lot of them.

It was Day Four at The Brits and PlanetSKI was slopeside as the last of the 2017 British Champions were crowned.

Snowboard Halfpipe

In the Laax superpipe - the biggest in the world at almost 7 metres high - double Olympian and World Cup medallist Ben Kilner put on an unbeatable display to retain his British Snowboard Halfpipe title.  He then promptly announced his retirement from international competition.

The 28-year-old, who competed at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 and Sochi in 2014, did not rule out returning to The Brits, however.

"Certainly competing wise, my days are kind of over, I'm hanging up the boots," he said, " but I'm sure I'll be back. It's one of those events that's a real lot of fun and I can catch up with a lot of family and friends."

Ben KilnerBen Kilner - photo















Kilner was joined on podium by the diminuitive 10-year-old Sid Martin Ullah, whose silver medal will have put him firmly on the radar as a star of the future. 

The bronze went to ex-pro and Brits organiser, Spencer Claridge, who dropped into the pipe and then dropped into hospital after damaging his shoulder in a fall on his second run.   

Snowboard halfpipe podium The Brits 2017Snowboard Halfpipe Men's Podium

















Ben Kilner wasn't the only legend of the UK halfpipe scene to triumph.

In the women's competition three-time Olympian Lesley McKenna became British champion at the age of 42.

McKenna, who's now Programme Manager at GB Park & Pipe, was entered into the competition by one of her professional riders, Aimee Fuller.

Lesley McKennaLesley McKenna - photo















Despite saying she was  "a bit rusty", she did more than enough to push Fuller into second place, denying the Slopestyle and Big Air champion her third gold medal of the week.

"Aimee Fuller sneakily entered me into the competition, and persuaded me to ride for fun," McKenna said, "and actually I'm so glad I did, the atmosphere was so great.

"From the old-timers like me, to the young rippers, everyone was having a great day up there and really supporting one another."

The bronze was taken by another tiny rider with talent greater than her years. Mia Brookes stood on the podium just a couple of months after turning 10 years old.

Snowboard Halfpipe Women's Podium The Brits 2017Snowboard Halfpipe Women's Podium
















Ski Big Air

Over at the Big Air, the standard was so good that it prompted the Chief Executive of British Ski and Snowboard, Dave Edwards, to declare it his highlight of the week.

He took some pretty good photos of the event, too, which he shared with PlanetSKI.

Ski Big Air The Brits 2017Ski Big Air - photo Dave Edwards















Ski Big Air The Brits 2017Ski Big Air - photo Dave Edwards















The overall mens' title went to 16-year-old Justin Taylor-Tipton, who had just arrived in Laax from competing at the World Junior Freestyle Championships.

Justin Taylor-TiptonJustin Taylor-Tipton - photo Bluebird Photography















Monty Wright was second and Mike Rowlands third.

In the women's competition, it was a carbon copy of the Ski Slopestyle podium, as GB Park and Pipe skier Katie Summerhayes took top spot again.

Very close behind was 12-year-old Kirsty Muir, who finished the Championships with a haul of 6 medals, and her 10-year-old sister, Fiona, who took the bronze medal. 

Ski Big Air Women's Podium The Brits 2017Ski Big Air Women's Podium
















Katie SummerhayesKatie Summerhayes - photo Bluebird Photography
















"I am very happy with another gold," Summerhayes said.

"It is the end of the season, so I was just keeping it mellow. I had other things up my sleeve, but I didn't push it today, but it's great to have Big Air back at the Brits."

Under-18s Snowboard & Ski Big Air

For the first time at The Brits, cash prizes were awarded for the best tricks performed by competitors under the age of 18 in the Big Air.

The money was put up by British Ski and Snowboard's principal sponsor, Delancey.

The GB team head coaches watched footage of both competition and training runs to decide the winners, with £500 going to the first placed riders and £250 to the runners-up.

The idea came from the successful inaugural Championship Ski and Snowboard (CSS) online video league which ran at indoor snow and dry slopes this summer and was set up to nurture young British freestyle talent.

The winners were:  Cerys Allen and Ciaran Tucker (snowboard) and Kirsty Muir and Justin Taylor-Tipton (ski).

The runners-up were: Mia Brookes and Leon Drynan (snowboard) and Fiona Muir and Tom Greenway (ski).

Under-18 prize-winnersUnder-18 prize-winners
















The awards were a fitting way to end the Championships, which were a true showcase of both the elite and the new and developing talent in British freestyle.

After The Brits 2016 we reported: The Future Looks Bright for GB Freestyle

After spending the week at The Brits 2017 our view is that it is now even brighter.

Read our daily reports on competition at The Brits 2017

Day One - Brits Kick Off

Day Two - Drama At The Brits

Day Three - Big Air At The Brits

The BRITS is supported by partners: LAAX, Picture Organic Clothing, Swiss International Airlines, Swiss Travel System, Switzerland Tourism and British Ski & Snowboard (BSS).

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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