30 October 2006 – Well, what can we say, other than what another storming Backyard Jam! A big congratulations go out to all the riders that participated in this year’s event and to Nate Wessel for his champion course. It provided a top grade arena in which the world’s best BMXers threw themselves at vert walls, rails, ramps and a corner construction consisting of a shed roof-come-curved-wallride with rails, a flat bank, step up and a bowled section, much to the excitement of the passionate and supportive crowd.

The Etnies Backyard Jam 2006 began for most involved on Thursday 26th, with the course builders working through the night and the riders arriving into Sheffield from all over the World. Having finished the floor of the course on the Friday morning, ICE Sheffield’s doors opened to an excited crowd of spectators and riders, with the first day’s event kicking off with the Amateur qualifiers. Strangely enough there wasn’t anything amateur about them, with tricks rivalling the big guns it was pretty interesting to watch. Everyone who rode had already qualified from the regional Qualifiers, so the standard was pretty high.  

After the morning’s qualification rounds, the afternoon showcased some of the stars of tomorrow, as the top ten qualifying under 14’s took to the course for their final. Del Shepherd, who came in third, is only ten years old, and probably less than half the height of Gary Young!  That didn’t stop him from tailwhipping the box at full height, to shrieks of delight from people like Bas Keep and Chris Doyle. Next up was Josh Cox doing it for the trial riders, nothing to no foot cans, big turndown 3’s and some lofty wallrides, we’re definitely going to be seeing more of him in the future. Jon Foxley Evans took the win with flips over the box, big 3’s and wallride transfers both ways. He looked pretty happy by the end of the day and left with a new Federal Hamilton frame.

Friday afternoon was ruled by the World Record Attempt SNICKERS Bunny Hop contest, which last year was one of the most fun events of the weekend as everyone got behind the riders and generally had a laugh. This year was no different, except that the New York street riders were here! Under the watchful eyes of official adjudicators from the South Yorkshire Fire Department, Edwin Delarosa and Tom White were amazing, and proved they are as good as they look in the magazines! With only a 5 metre run-up, the bar height started at 32 inches. In the first few runs everyone flew over. Coming closer to 36 – 38 inches, riders started to drop off.  Aaron Ross and Danny Hickerson both cleared 42 inches, but could not compete with Edwin and Tom who both jumped 43, but it was Tom who eventually beat Edwin to 44inches, the same height as Seth Kimborough’s world record set at last year’s event, ensuring he took home the $3,000 prize money. He tried three times at 45inches but just couldn’t get it… Maybe next year?

The over 14’s Expert final started off the action for the Saturday with just 15 going through from Friday’s qualifiers. It was last year’s Expert runner-up, Jason Phelan from Waterford, Ireland that took first place, after riding well all day and going BIG on everything, everywhere, ensuring that this is likely to be his last year riding in the Expert category! Defending champion, Peter Meakin, Doncaster, placed second with some stylish look backs over the hip followed by a pedal-grind-pedal. Third place was awarded to Paul Ryan, who linked up a dope looking truck driver followed by a tailwhip air.

Saturday afternoon threw out the pro qualifiers, with 60 of the world’s best riders competing. By the standard of the competitors, including talent such as Morgan Wade, Gary Young, Chase Hawk, Taj Mihelich and Chris Doyle, the competition was bound to throw out some extensive crowd pleasers. Just 24 riders made the final cut, to compete in the prestigious 2006 Etnies Backyard Jam final the following day.  

Following the Pro riding, the already hyped crowd went into a further frenzy, and the excitement through the roof as it was time for the Etnies Highest Air contest. With $3,000 prize money up for grabs and Morgan Wade’s and Bas Keep’s impressive 14ft record from last year’s contest to beat, the riders, including Jaime Bestwick, Morgan Wade, Sam Ward and Chris Doyle pulled out all the stops, ensuring the audience were treated to some of the best BMX action ever seen. It was clear that Morgan Wade was keen to take the title again. Beating his own record from last year he came into the Quarterpipe full pelt, clearing a massive 15 feet to take the Highest Air title.

Sunday was electric. The crowds of spectators started queuing for entry early, ensuring they got the best seats in the house to witness some of the finest BMX action ever seen from the world’s best riders. Once through the doors, spectators spent the whole day whooping and cheering with the encouragement of MC Paul “Grotbags”, certainly giving the riders what they wanted to see and hear, enticing them to push the standard even higher!

A new addition for 2006, was the Primo Long Jump contest, which went down a storm with riders and spectators. Starting at 16ft, all of the riders were finding it a walk in the park. As the measuring stick moved further back and headed into the late twenties it was a different story, with many of the riders opting out. Going into the mid thirties, Ali Whitton, Morgan Wade and Chris Doyle were all keen to keep on going and take home the title for this new comp. With the gap now reaching bigger than the size of a house, it was getting tough and Morgan Wade couldn’t quite clear the 34ft gap. Chris Doyle had the title safely in the bag, but still decided to try for 35ft, which he luckily cleared, much to the delight of the roaring crowd.

In the much anticipated PRO final, the riders went nuts. Frontflips, backflips, 360 double whips and massive airs over the box and the 10ft quarter. Some huge wallride transfers went down on the corner construction, which consisted of a shed roof-come-curved-wallride with rails, whoops, a flat bank, step up and a bowled section, that all now know as “The Thing”!

Reining champion from Etnies Backyard Jam 2004 and 2005, Gary Young from San Diego CA, was determined to make it a hat trick and take home the title for yet another year. He rode aggressive all day, riding everything, everywhere. Pumping out a series of back-to-back fluid manoeuvres, and saving the best till last, a HUGE curved wallride to 270 out on ‘The Thing’. He certainly clinched the number one spot and a cheque for $6,000, but more importantly he retained the coveted EBYJ title for a very impressive third year in a row.  

Etnies US team rider, Danny Hickerson, a.k.a The Professor, was jaw-dropping to watch, deservedly taking second place in this year’s event. An extremely dialled and clean rider, with some really unique stuff in his head, which we all luckily got the chance to witness. Danny’s highlights included his signature 360 whips both ways over volcano, barspin to footjam nosepick  first go, and finished off with an underside icepick on the sub.

Morgan Wade from Tyler, TX is a crowd favourite on any course. He was piped at the post to take third place, just two points behind Danny, but showed one and all why he is one of the best riders in the world today. He opened his run with a massive 14ft air, a definite crowd pleaser! This was swiftly followed by a long line of massive tricks including a old school no handed pocket air, bikeflip corked 720, superman double whip and to finish, a tailwhip-to-fufanu on the sub, leaving the crowd gasping for more!

The SNICKERS Best Trick contest brought the etnies Backyard Jam 2006 to a close. It certainly was no mean feet for the judges, as the standard was so high. However, it was soon clear after tricks were being tried and tested, that it was going to be a victorious session for the Canadians. Max Vincent, Canada, didn’t ride qualifying or final and just bided his time until the best trick comp. It took him a few attempts, but after about 10minutes he pulled it, a stalled icepick to tailwhip on the bank to sub. Everyone looked flabbergasted, including fellow competitors. Another Canadian worthy of note, was Wade Ladjar who came in a close second after pulling a wallride to flair!

All in all, the event was incredible – highlights included witnessing never done before tricks, long jumps, high air, amazing style, world records and prize money.  The riders were stoked with the course and clearly enjoyed themselves, as did the crowd who were continuously impressed with the standard of riding and the big names at this year’s Etnies Backyard Jam. Bring on 2007

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