Battle UK III : Battle the Beast With Inlines
Oct., 11 & 12, 2008
French Version available HERE
Before the Battle
The third edition of Battle UK, called “Battle the Beast With Inlines”, took place on 11 and 12 October, 2008, at Victoria Leisure Centre in Nottingham – just as usual. Nevertheless, Battle UK came very close to being expatriated somewhere else: a few months before, a Leisure Centre Transformation Program to provide fewer but better quality community leisure centres across the City had been proposed – a program that stipulated the closing of Victoria Leisure Center. Eventually, it was decided that instead of definitely closing the facility, the Council would commit to replacing the old centre with a new swimming pool.
For the skaters who had arrived the day before on Friday, there was a meeting at The Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub from 7:30pm on – just as usual: we meet altogether, we drink beers, and as the waves of skaters arrive, we make a bigger circle till we occupy the whole room at the 2nd floor…
The official battle was planned on Saturday, 11th. There was to be (mens) freestyle, (womens) freestyle, and (nationals) freestyle… and a little bit of speed slalom to end with. As for Sunday, two fun contests were planned (freejump and slides) in the great outdoors on the riverside (so rural!).
The Saturday schedule was quite uncommon. I think that it was very well conceived for the spectators, but the rhythm was exhausting for the skaters: the event started at 9:30am with the qualifications of the mens freestyle battle, then followed by the qualifications of the nationals freestyle battle, and those of the womens battle (i.e. the semi-finals). And here we go again with the quarter-finals and the semi-finals of the mens battle, and that of the nationals battle.
In fact, the aim was to cream off the skaters of all categories first, and then to present the three finals in a row. The first final was the nationals, then the womens, and finally the mens.
The day ended with a speed slalom competition quickly set and done, consisting only of two runs per skater. And the skaters were ranked according to the best of their two runs. Just like the two first editions of Battle UK…
There were not that many skaters registered (19 men and 9 women) but there were top skaters from everywhere in Europe: people from the UK for sure (Jon Bell (#13 at the WSSA World Ranking), Naomi Grigg (#4 womens), Cheryl Evans (#17 womens), CJ Lee (#77) amongst others), French people (Igor Cheremetieff (#1), Xuan Le (#8), Sébastien Laffargue (#16), Chloé Seyrès (#2 womens), JB Milleret (#14), Kyan Sanchez (#84)), Germans (Rudy Op’t Veld (#2), Miriam Kwasny (#7)), Spanish people (Victor Bermudez (#81) and Adrian Almazan (#96)), one Italian (Tiziano Ferrari (#31), people from Belgium (Tim Schraepen (#59), Vicky Denissen (#75)), and even one Singaporean girl (Mabel Ang (#54)). To sum up there were seven nationalities present.
The Mens Freestyle Battle
The Mens Qualifications
The qualifications… were very close to cost Rudy Op’t Veld (GER) dear: he was not far from being knocked out by CJ Lee (UK). They were in the last qualification group, all three with Adrian Almazan (SPA). Adrian Almazan ranked first of the group thanks to his dexterity, his fluidity and his execution speed. As for the second place, the jury hesitated a while and finally asked for a fourth run to decide between CJ Lee and Rudy Op’t Veld. There, Rudy Op’t Veld clearly made the difference alternating between technique and trick variety, whereas CJ Lee whose panel is shorter tended to repeat his moves. I’ve got one theory to explain the ranking… In my opinion, Rudy Op’t Veld was too serene (being the favourite of the group) and he probably didn’t think it was necessary to take too much speed doing his combos – which were far more technical than his adversaries’. And maybe it was that (too) slow general impression which was detrimental to him, to the benefit of Adrian Almazan and CJ Lee who were faster on these qualification performances.
At the opposite, in the first group, Igor Cheremetieff (FRA), the other pretender to the first place (presently the titleholder of the two previous editions), seems to have very different tactics. Whereas Rudy Op’t Veld obviously tries to keep his energy for the follow-up, Igor shows off as soon as the qualifications start… tactics of intimidation? Anyway, whether it is tactics or not, it is undeniably intimidating: he does a toe seven with a style effect on the free leg, a never-ending heel seven; he ‘ends’ his line (i.e. the big dozen of remaining cones) doing back toe wheeling, manages clean frontward to backward wheeling; and speeds up doing freestyle on the 50s – there was no radar but I’m sure he broke the speed limit. In the same group was Victor Bermudez (SPA), surprisingly nervous on his legs during his three runs, who gets knocked out by the third skater of the group, Kyan Sanchez (FRA). The later qualified with merit: quick and stylish knitting, good managing of wheelings, (almost) unruffled despite a sound system failure during his first run, sevens which begin to take shape, a combo of toe cross compass, a nice toe chicken leg…
The second group was made up of Sébastien Laffargue (FRA), Phil Downer (UK), Samer Alhabash (UK) and Tim Rofessart (BEL). Sébastien Laffargue qualifies thanks to his ease, which is not comparable to that of his rivals. The second place goes to Samer Alhabash, after a long hesitation of the jury to choose between him and Phil Downer.
In the third qualification group, it is Jay-Pee Louise who gets knocked out… Jon Bell (UK, the favourite of the group, was beyond dispute above his opponents; and Grégoire Pinto (FRA), the third skater of the group, showed more advanced technical tricks than JP Louise (wheelings, spins) – though slalom-skating is not his specialty. Nevertheless, it’s always nice to welcome fresh blood on competitions!
The next three to go were Robbie Smith (UK), JB Milleret (FRA) and Tiziano Ferrari (ITA). No real surprises either… the regulars go through (it is a mere question of technique and habit), letting the newcomer high and dry. Tiziano Ferrari ends up first of the group, combining smooth and light style to technique (wheelings, sevens). JB Milleret does not break with this smooth effect which sticks to his skates… and last but not least, he has speeded up, gained in fluidity, and enlarged his technical repertory (sevens amongst other tricks). As for Robbie Smith (UK), fresh blood from Serpentine Road (London) too, judging by the originalities he shows in the execution of his tricks (see his cross Korean spins), he can quickly become quite interesting if he goes on this way…
The Mens Quarter-Finals
Quarter Final : Xuan Le (FRA), Sébastien Laffargue (FRA), Rudy Op’t Veld (GER)
The quarter-finals cost dear to Xuan Le (FRA): he had to stop, knocked out by Sébastien Laffargue (FRA) who used all the stratagems of showman he could to get ahead of him. And yet, Xuan Le did a good show, based on stylish knitting (games on speed variations, …) in which more and more often you can find some more technical and committed elements– like a big flat Korean spin on two cones, heel-toe Korean spins, frontward to backward wheelings; he also thinks about varying his tricks: he even does footgun at the end of the 80s – rare enough with him to be notified. As for Sébastien Laffargue, he managed back wheelings – not as well as he hoped, but well enough to make the difference technically speaking with Xuan Le; he also competed with Xuan on the spins (very neat external toe spins), one of the favourite domains of Xuan Le. And I must believe he brought a decisive original touch making an attempt to manage 20 cones doing blind heel wheeling (with his hat on his eyes). Though he stalls after a dozen of cones, the attempt is praiseworthy. Another original touch from Sébastien Laffargue: he tries a kind of jumped fish leg in a sudden flash of creativity (interesting…). To the originality, he adds a comedy of situation establishing a perpetual play with his hat which refuses to remain in its place…
The two skaters were in the same group as Rudy Op’t Veld (GER), who does not make the same mistake as during the qualifications: he speeds up a little bit, manages his technical combos, and ranks first of the group, far ahead. Haphazardly and amongst other tricks, during his three runs he managed: a slide (à la Igor, called Mario by the Singaporean sliders) to Korean spin to back heel-toe cross compass, a slide à la KSJ to back toe wheeling, a wheeling to seven, a seven (out of time and out of the line) which is worth seeing just for the beauty of the movement; and I’m not mentioning the heel special one foot, the kasakspin on the 80s, and the back external heel chicken leg. If you do not understand a single word of what you have just read, blame it on Rudy, not on me (I’m just describing).
The rest of the quarter-finals is less turbulent, and apart from the fight for the second place between Kyan Sanchez (FRA) and Jon Bell (UK), there is nothing much to say. Jon Bell finally gets hold of the second place at the expense of Kyan Sanchez who yet fought with conviction… There is still more assurance in Jon Bell’s style (in his favour) but it would have taken only one tactical mistake for Kyan Sanchez to get ahead of him (and it also works the other way around: I think that Kyan’s tactical mistake was to remain stuck trying to do a consequent back heel wheeling instead of trying to vary his performances.)
The Mens Semi-Finals
The skaters that are still in the race are: Igor Cheremetieff (FRA), Sébastien Laffargue (FRA), Tiziano Ferari (ITA) and Tim Shraepen (BEL) all together in the first semi-final group; and Rudy Op’t Veld (GER), Jon Bell (UK), JB Milleret (FRA), and Adrian Almazan (SPA) in the second group.
Mens Semi-Final #1
Thus the first semi-finals is made up of Igor Cheremetieff (FRA), Sébastien Laffargue, Tiziano Ferari (ITA) and Tim Shraepen (BEL). Igor Cheremetieff’s first run is not far from defying gravity: he begins on the 50s managing 15-16 cones doing front heel wheeling, stabilizes to turn around the cone doing back external heel chicken leg, re-stabilizes and finishes the line doing front heel wheeling… and to kindly wear out his adversaries, he punctuates his first run with a frontward to backward wheeling on the 10 cones of the 80s… his other runs are a little less impressive, but nevertheless remain above the level of the other skaters: he manages his favourite line of sitting tricks on the 120s, a Mario slide to heel-toe Korean spins to back heel-toe cross compass, a nice combo of turning jumps to disaster-front toe wheeling on his third run (have a look at the video, it’s worth it), and so on… It is useless to say that Igor Cheremetieff ranks first of this semi-finals group.
The second place is played out between Sébastien Laffargue (FRA) and Tiziano Ferrari (ITA). Tim Schraepen, the fourth skater of the group, made impressive improvements in only a few months. We had already witnessed a neat evolution at the Inline Games in Hannover (August ’08), but now he has stabilized a fluid and quick style combined to technical elements linked with a good speed (sweeping moves getting out of the line to toe chicken leg for example). As for the fight between Sébastien Laffargue and Tiziano Ferrari, in the end it is Tiziano who knocks out Sébastien, despite Sébastien’s second showman offence. Tiziano Ferrari has perfected his style and refined some jumping moves which boost his fluid freestyle. He is none the less present technically speaking with, amongst other tricks, sevens during which he can afford to play with his cap. Sébastien Laffargue also makes the most: he begins his first run managing 10 cones to do back heel wheeling, more than 10 cones on the 120s doing kazatchock, neat toe spins, a frontward to backward wheeling… and his special trick: this time he managed all the 20 cones of the 80s doing his blind heel wheeling!
In the second group, we can find Rudy Op’t Veld (GER), Jon Bell (UK), JB Milleret (FRA), and Adrian Almazan (SPA). No surprise as for the first place, seized by Rudy Op’t Veld. The challenge is close for the second place, and it is finally JB Milleret who gets his ticket to the finals.
The Mens Finals
The finalists are: Igor Cheremetieff (FRA) and Tiziano Ferrari (ITA) from the first semi-finals, and Rudy Op’t Veld (GER) and JB Milleret (FRA) from the second semi-finals.
The ranking is already more or less predictable: Igor Cheremetieff and Rudy Op’t Veld are going to fight for the 1st place, while Tiziano Ferrari and JB Milleret are going to make their most to reach the 3rd place. And this is precisely what happens: two distinct duals.
Igor Cheremetieff tries the same combo on the 50s he did during the semi-finals, which he does not manage as well (but indeed…), validates some sitting tricks, takes over the last cones of his sevens turning around and around, kicks and jumps everywhere (Igor Style). Rudy Op’t Veld manages some tricks with a very high technical level: a 3-cone external back heel chicken leg, kasakspins on the 80s (with merits given his size…), combos made up of spins, like his heel-toe Korean spins blocked and back with a back heel-toe cross compass (changing the direction of his rotational movement) – Igor Cheremetieff takes up the challenge trying this same combo, but stops at the first back compass; Rudy goes on with his one-wheel exhibition: heel special one foot, a five-turn heel spin (with the free foot on the spinning foot) slow and balanced…
Finally the winner is Igor Cheremetieff, with a last trick which undeniably propels him to the first place: a back external turn doing heel wheeling, then he goes from backward to frontward and keeps on turning around each cone and ends up doing Eights on the last two cones of the line (still doing heel wheeling)… Rudy Op’t Veld also made a daring attempt, but without success: going frontward doing toe wheeling on the 50s, blocked (still on one leg, and one wheel) and backward (still doing toe wheeling…)
As for the second internal fight, the one between Tiziano Ferrari and JB Milleret, it’s Tiziano who reaches the 3rd place, leaving the 4th place to JB Milleret (it seems that each year at Battle UK, the 4th place is inevitably in store for him).
Results of the Mens Freestyle Battle:
- Igor Cheremetieff (FRA)
- Rudy Op’t Veld (GER)
- Tiziano Ferrari (ITA)
- JB Milleret (FRA)
The Womens Freestyle Battle
The Womens Semi-Finals
Womens Semi-final #1
The first semi-finals was made up of Chloé Seyrès (FRA), Cheryl Evans (UK), Mabel Ang (SIN), Ann-Marie Philip (UK) and Rosie Cohen (UK) both from the Serpentine Road Crew (London). Chloé Seyrès qualifies at the top of the group ranking, and the second place goes to Cheryl Evans who does a very neat (but a bit slow) performance: her freestyle gets more fluid and complex as time goes by. She’s got a good mastering of flat tricks and moves now, and begins to explore wheeling and toe tricks.
Mabel Ang ends up 3rd of this semi-finals. Seeing her evolve amongst the cones, her potential is obvious, but sabotaged by too much stress (kicking cones, …). She has the merit of having original transitions (often blind transitions – back external), as well as original tricks (a heel special…)
As for the two skaters of the Serpentine Road Crew, Ann-Marie Philip and Rosie Cohen, it is still their debuts in slalom-skating… but it is nevertheless promising: Ann-Marie seems to have a natural ease on skates and a natural dynamism, which should make a nice mix if she goes on training; and Rosie already masters a good number of basic tricks, but there are still too many hesitations in the linking (in-between the tricks).
Womens Semi-Final #2
The second semi-final gathered the four other skaters, that is to say: Naomi Grigg (UK), Miriam Kwasny (GER), Marianne Rio (FRA), and Vicky Denissen (BEL).
Naomi Grigg calls the tune, high above the others in ease, with dynamic and varied freestyle (alternating between kicks, rotations, sweeping moves, …) She ends up 1st, in front of Miriam Kwasny. Vicky Denissen and Marianne Rio fail to pass. Nevertheless the level goes up… Marianne Rio has stabilized her basic tricks since her last competition (the Inline Games in Hannover, August ’08): her combos are fluid, her tricks get a bit more complex (a nice mega-volte, toe spins): her sitting tricks and her wheelings are still random but she manages a footgun and 8 cones doing heel wheeling at the second try. As for Vicky Denissen, she too gained fluidity; her tricks are not very complex either but her style is sincerely very pleasant to watch – and full of original little moves.
The Womens Finals
I am going to disclose the final ranking right now to avoid any suspense: Chloé Seyrès (FRA) wins the battle, in front of Naomi Grigg (UK), followed by Cheryl Evans (UK), and Miriam Kwasny (GER).
Chloé Seyrès ranks first thanks to her technique. Her runs were not that fluid, punctuated by blocks which gave a quite hesitating general impression of her freestyle. Nevertheless, she managed some interesting tricks, amongst others: a toe sewing-machine (a kind of special one foot for which you go in and out of each interval), crossed and un-crossed Korean spins, kasatchoks, a heel chicken leg, a combo made up of turning jumps and kicks (basically the same as Igor’s) linked with a kasakspin on the 120s, and a cracking of jeans doing the American splits (it served me right for showing off!).
Naomi Grigg decides to have a go at technical skating for once, and does Korean and Russian spins, turns around two cones doing toe wheeling, tries a back heel wheeling… but she irrevocably goes back to freestyle, to her dancing moves, to her sweepers and her kicks (yeahh).
Cheryl Evans and Miriam Kwasny tend to repeat themselves from one group to another, and show the same combos as during the semi-finals. Cheryl however is more fluid than Miriam, which explains why she ranked ahead of her. Moreover there is a greater ease in Cheryl’s skating – judging by the full speed heel-toe spins with which she finishes her lines.
Results of the Womens Freestyle Battle:
- Chloé Seyrès (FRA)
- Naomi Grigg (UK)
- Cheryl Evans (UK)
- Miriam Kwasny (GER)
The UK Nationals
The battle was mixed, and national – i.e. all skaters living in the UK were accepted. They were 12, including the French JB Milleret and the Singaporean Mabel Ang.
This detail is of the utmost importance given the fact it turns the whole competition upside down: indeed JB Millered wins the national Battle, thus dethroning Jon Bell – the 2007 winner, who ends up 2nd. The 3rd place goes to Naomi Grigg – whose results are steady compared to last year’s. Please note: the improvement of CJ Lee who reaches the finals this year (ranking 4th), a place reached last year by Philip Downer (7th) – who does not goes through to the finals this year. As for the 5th places (ex-aequo, corresponding to the first two that did not pass – i.e. the 3rd places of the semi-finals), they go to Cheryl Evans and Robbie Smith.
Results of the UK Nationals Freestyle Battle:
- JB Milleret
- Jon Bell
- Naomi Grigg
- CJ Lee
Just as for the previous editions of Battle UK, the speed slalom competition merely consists in two runs per skater. The best time of the two is kept to establish the ranking. Nothing much to say, apart from a strong leading pack for the men, made up of – in the ranking order: JB Milleret (FRA, best time: 4.634), Tiziano Ferrari (ITA, best time: 4.711) and Sébastien Laffargue (FRA, best time: 4.846). Igor Cheremetieff could have been a rival if he had not kicked too many cones (both of his times are around 4.8), and he ends up 4th.
For the womens competition, there is a significant gap between the times: Chloé Seyrès (FRA) wins the speed slalom (best time: 5.227), in front of Miriam Kwasny (GER, best time: 6.815) and Cheryl Evans (UK, best time: 7.233).
The Fun Contests
(Freejump + Slides)
On Sunday afternoon, we all went for a skate (or for a walk for some lazy skaters…) and stopped on the riverside, together with the swans. There we put up the equipment for the freejump contest, and we followed on with a slide contest – even less formal than the freejump contest. It was so nice, in a hugely bright sunshine (I’m sure that in concentrating very hard maybe we could even have sun-tanned a little bit!) – a striking contrast compared to last year when the same excursion had been organised… but in the cold, and it was really not that fun at all!
Results of the Freejump Contest
- Sébastien Laffargue (FRA)
- JB Milleret (FRA)
- Igor Cheremetieff (FRA)
- CJ Lee (UK)
Results of the Slide Contest
- Tiziano Ferrari (ITA)
- Sébastien Laffargue (FRA)
- Igor Cheremetieff (FRA)
- Grégoire Pinto (FRA)
The WSSA World Ranking
Here are the major changes that triggered the Battle UK III results in the WSSA World Ranking.
In the Mens Freestyle Slalom Ranking:
Tiziano Ferrari (ITA) enters the World Top 10, ranking #7 ahead of Xuan Le (FRA, #8).
Sébastien Laffargue (FRA) goes up to place #12, whereas Olivier Herrero (FRA), absent from this edition of Battle UK loses points and gets down to place #13.
In the Mens Speed Slalom Raking:
Thanks to his first place in the speed slalom competition, JB Milleret (FRA) reaches place #3. As for Tiziano Ferrari (ITA), he goes up to #7.
The major change is for Cheryl Evans (UK) who enters the World Top 10 in freestyle (#10) and in speed slalom (#7).
Photo Credit: Big Steeve
Close Yr E’s
October, 25th, 2008