War Against the Machines
September, 28th 2008
French version available HERE
Back from the 8th edition of the Lugdunum Contest : the freestyle slalom part was kind of successful I must say. After three years of… nothing at all, in the Lugdunum’s schedule, slalom is back, more freestyle than ever, in a basic (one cone) WSSA Battle called: War Against the Machines…
The event was exclusively made up of a huge freestyle battle that lasted the whole Sunday. No speed slalom this time.
From 9AM (opening of the battleground) ‘till 6PM (results) the battle imposed itself in the middle of Place Bellecour (Lyon, FRA).
To keep it simple, we could divide the unfolding of the battle into three parts:
First the qualifications (groups of 3 or 4 skaters), which begun around 10AM.
The first two of each group are qualified for the Battle (the quarter finals of which begin at 2PM)… because there can be only 16 skaters left for the quarter finals (out of the 25 registered).
The others (who did not pass) get into a consolation chart: to make a “small tournament”.
So roughly, the qualifications were to classify all the skaters in two charts.
The small tournament took place immediately after the qualification phases, until 1PM.
And after a quick lunch-break together with our friends the bees (war-against-the-bees mode activated!), we started the battle.
There were several original points in the organisation and in the perception of this battle.
Beginning with the more determining element… everybody in the same basket: boys, girls, amateurs, pros, ranked, non-ranked… the battle was mixed!
All the skaters were French, it was a national competition. There was obviously a horde of people from Lyon, including Aurélien Boudoux (#152 WSSA) the slalom B-Boy, Kyan Sanchez (#197) who beat everybody doing back heel wheelings, Antoine Colange aka TotoGT (#144) of Team Gyro who is going to win the battle; also of Team Gyro, the charismatic Julien Boucry (#177) coming from Paris; there are some other Parisians too, among others, both from the SebaTeam, Chloé Seyrès (#2 Womens) and Xuan Le (#8) – and his protégé Boris Rozbroj (#195); People from Lille too like Louis Leblond (#170) and Emilien Holveck (#153) – 100% Quad Represents; not to forget people from Dijon (Damien Michea) and from Caen (Emmanuel Laurent); and last but not least, let’s note the presence of the Messinas brothers coming from Sassenage to have a go at Battle.
The second originality was to be found in the slalom lines:
There was a 80s for sure, and a 120s, and… a X-Style (i.e. two lines of 9 cones crossing each other in their middles). And no 50s.
The X-Style was a good idea, but this was without taking head of the slight – but present – slope. Thus it was quite complicated to handle the changes of direction taking heed of the slope and all… so that, sadly enough, the X-Style was not capitalized much during the Battle.
And the last originality was in the composition of the jury. One of the three judges was (pseudo-)coming from the public. The underlying idea was to submit the riders’ performances to a non-specialist’s view point which would embody the public’s opinion, to put forward the spectacular and artistic sides – too often denigrated in favour of pure technique.
To be honest, the judge in question was not a total novice in slalom-skating. Actually it was a slalom-skater of Lyon who got hooked on judging. But he had a much more stylistic apprehension of slalom-skating than the two other judges (Sébastien Laffargue and Yann Wong) who have a natural tendency to focus on technique.
A few words about two figures that cannot be ignored: the Speaker and the DJ… the catalysts of atmosphere!
The DJ carried out the mix providing electro-rock sounds on the battleground during the whole day. With 12 tracks per battle group (changing tracks every two runs…), I can hardly imagine the length of the play-list…!
As for the speaker, even with a broken voice no doubt he can talk… it was all the more pleasant to have a speaker not only who is used to the function but also who can skate: thus he could both make intelligent comments and retain the spectators’ attention – around 7.000 spectators came by on that Sunday, September 28th.
The qualifications and the small tournament
The qualification phase corresponded to the eight finals: eight groups, of three or four skaters.
Apart from the knocking out of the two skaters from Lille, Louis Leblond and Emilien Holveck, yet the two favourites in their respective groups… there is nothing much to say.
Was it a coincidence? In my opinion it’s too obvious to be a mere coincidence: the two skaters from Lille get knocked out while they find themselves together with the Messinas brothers from Sassenage: the brothers are two unexpected elements who turn the qualifications predictions upside down. Julien and Mathieu Messina both end up ranking first of their groups, flooring L.Leblond and E.Holveck.
The two girls go on their way: Chloé Seyrès, the favourite – subtly qualified of “prime target” by mister Ixprim-speaker, gets hold of the 1st place of her group; and Séverine Thomas, retired from freestyle slalom for two years now, who gave herself a remembering sequence, ranks 2nd of her group behind Xuan Le.
The people from Lyon are many to go through the qualifications. They are six, including Kyan Sanchez, Antoine ‘TotoGT’ Colange and Aurélien Boudoux.
The small tournament followed on. Its groups were made up with the chart of the skaters who did not pass the qualifications.
There, the two guys from Lille take their revenge and get hold of the 1st places of their groups, followed by Cyril Redinier (Sassenage) and Nicolas Frevol (Lyon).
As for the finals, the level is far from being ridiculous… and Emilien Holveck, skating with quad skates, treated us to a good exhibition of new school tricks (Korean spins, chicken legs…) mixed with roller-dance moves. He wins the finals, in front of his friend Louis Leblond (2nd) whose style is still too random (cf. arms) compared to Emilien Holveck’s.
Cyril Redinier, promising but too shy, ends up 3rd; and Nicolas Frevol 4th.
The quarter finals
Now things become a little trickier with the quarter finals.
GROUP#1: In the first group, Chloé Seyrès qualifies without real difficulty: she lets go, compared to the qualifications of the morning, and she manages heel spins in safety catch, back-and-forth wheelings on the X-Style, style moves mainly based on kicks’n jumps…
The 2nd place is coveted by Julien Messina and Kyan Sancez. The third run is going to be determining: Julien, just like his brother Mathieu, is a Korean spins enthusiastic and largely counts on that during his runs. He is slightly ahead of Kyan during the first two runs with a success rate a little higher than Kyan’s. But there is a reversal of situation in the third run: Kyan does an impressive performance, managing a 13-cone back heel wheeling, and many other tricks neatly done which I do not remember because it is the wheeling which stroke me! His third-run revelation enabled him to reach the semi-finals… and to knock Julien Messina out.
GROUP#2: It’s the same scenario for the second group: the first place goes beyond dispute to Aurélien Boudoux, the guy who puts himself into orbit faster than his shadow (and never stops ‘til time is up). He reminds me of Taz (Looney Toons, for the experts) slightly less nag – well, very slightly then… kicking and turning.
As for the second place, it’s an internal fight between the Team Gyro members, Julien Boucry and Antoine ‘TotoGT’ Colange. Despite Julien Boucry’s (soon) legendary charisma, with a smooth and neat style (maybe a little slow?), it’s TotoGT who goes through to the semi-finals thanks to a better managing of his technical tricks (back toe wheelings, spins) and to a larger panel of tricks (he is one of the rare skaters to show sitting tricks).
GROUP#3: …and still and always this same scenario is to be found in the third group: 12-year-old Mathieu Messina impresses with a technical level far above that of his adversaries (particularly in the spins panel – toe and heel-toe Koreans, uncrossed spins – which he links without pause).
As for the second place, the challenge takes place between Séverine Thomas (a downhill and speed-slalom skater above all) and Nicolas Reynolds from Lyon who started slaloming only eight months ago. It’s at the end of a casting last trick that the jury decides in favour of Nicolas Reynolds. Séverine Thomas managed the 14 cones of the 120s doing a toe reverse eagle while Nicolas Reynolds tries a combo doing crossed compasses alternating between heel-toe and toe on the 80s – not as neat as and with more hesitation than Séverine Thomas, but his trick was more technique and committed (cf. loss of landmarks generated by the rotation).
GROUP#4: At last, in the 4th group Xuan Le and his protégé Boris Rozbroj get hold of, respectively, the 1st and the 2nd places. The stylistic influence of the tutor on his padawan can be deeply felt (cf. super-large voltes, sweeping style, and fast knitting).
The semi finals
From the semi finals on, the format “three runs and one last trick” is adopted.
SEMI-FINAL#1: The first semi final is quite predictable: it gathers Chloé Seyrès, Aurélien Boudoux, Nicolas Reynolds, and Boris Rozbroj. Chloé and Aurélien, whose skating is more mature, give no chance to Nicolas and Boris. Nevertheless, with youngsters like these two… no worries as for the future of the discipline!
Aurélien Boudoux makes the most of break-moves and spinning combos… but with a tendency to repeat himself. Chloé Seyrès tries to vary her runs (sitting tricks, wheeling games, personal tricks, falls irrevocably saving herself with American splits – which are not out of place among Aurélien Boudoux’s break moves).
As for the last tricks, Chloé Seyrès manages a kasatchoks combo (frontward-turning-backward) on the X-Style; Aurélien Boudoux manages spins (Taz mode on) on the whole 80s line – he is a bit out of the line from time to time… but respect!; Nicolas Reynolds tries again his crossed compasses combo which enabled him to get qualified for these semi finals but does not manage very well; and Boris Rozbroj manages the 20 cones of the 80s doing heel wheeling.
SEMI-FINAL#2: The second group of semi final is close: it is made up of Kyan Sanchez (mister back heel wheeling), Antoine ‘TotoGT’ Colange, Mathieu Messina (the last of the two brothers), and Xuan Le (the King of Style).
The first place goes to… TotoGT, who cleverly played on a very large panel of tricks. Xuan did a mediocre performance (that’s what he said) which would explain why he is second – facing rather technical adversaries. Kyan Sanchez managed quite well, and was very close to knocking Xuan Le out. As for Mathieu Messina, he still lacks style, with too many hesitations performing his tricks, and his technique alone is not enough for him to qualify.
The consolation final
Here we can find: Boris Rozbroj and Nicolas Reynolds from the first semi final, and Kyan Sanchez and Mathieu Messina from the second semi final.
It’s Kyan Sanchez who wins with credit this consolation final, followed by ex-aequo Boris Rozbroj and Mathieu Messina (hard to compare both skatings: the first playing with style, the second counting on technique), and by Nicolas Reynolds – no regrets: he did what he could (said the 8-month-old slalom-skater).
The final gathers Chloé Seyrès and Xuan Le of the SebaTeam, and the two skaters from Lyon Antoine ‘TotoGT’ Colange of Team Gyro and Aurélien Boudoux.
The finalists choose one by one their order to go, according to their world ranking: the better ranked, Chloé Seyrès, starts and chooses to go 1st. Xuan Le arbitrarily chooses the 3rd place to go. TotoGT takes the 2nd place, and Aurélien Boudoux gets the 4th place.
What can I say, apart from the fact it was wheezy and disastrous? We all skated too much the whole day, and everybody’s legs were too tired to freestyle for the final. So that everybody made many mistakes, losing balance, falling (more or less stylish falls), having lapses of memory, and so on…
It took a very long while to the jury to decide between the four of us, because we had caused too much interference on our performances with all our mistakes…
After a super-long debate, the judges agreed to award the 1st place to Antoine ‘TotoGT’ Colange who had the genius idea to do sitting tricks while the others forgot – or did not have time to do some… sure, when you realize you have only 5 seconds left on your last run… (talking about my case)…
Chloé Seyrès is hot on the heels of Antoine Colange (fatal forgetting of the sitting tricks).
Xuan Le gets the 3rd place, and Aurélien Boudoux whose voluntary and committed style is extremely spectacular ends up 4th – his limited repertory did a disservice to him.
As for the last tricks, Chloé Seyrès managed a combo of spinning wipers on the 80s – one cone turning to the left, the other to the right, alternating the rotation (this is the moment when I would have been glad to have a 50s not to sacrifice my right thigh… because it died after 13-14 cones). Aurélien Boudoux did the same Taz spin he did as for the semi final last trick – but he ended up down on the ground at the end of the line (tired?). Xuan Le did a weird spin combo as usual. And TotoGT tried a back footgun on the 80s but without success.
To conclude, it’s been a battle, freestyle from A to Z.
A giant session which lasted the whole day.
A show which lured 7000 curious people.
Some very personal and original styles.
Not an international level (kind of normal given the fact it was a national battle) but not ridiculous at all!
An event which makes me want to do it again next year.
At the end of the battle, here are the principal fluctuations in the WSSA World Ranking:
Antoine Colange, thanks to his victory, wins 74 places and finds himself #67. Aurélien Boudoux, Kyan Sanchez, and Boris Rozbroj enter the Top 100, respectively #79, #84, and #89. All the same for Emilien Holveck and Emmanuel Laurent who reach #98 and #99 of the ranking.
The next European event will take place on the 12th of October in Nottingham (UK): it will be the third edition of Battle UK.
A few links...
The freestyle association of Lyon
…more pics HERE
thanks to MagicSeb and Begonia
Close Yr E's
October 3rd, 2008