Tag Archives: Snowboarding

Meet Jamie Barrow – the British snowboarder targeting 200kph

From the devastating low of a serious back injury which shattered his Olympic snowboarding dreams, Jamie Barrow’s career has reached heights – and speeds – never before seen in his sport.

Born and brought up in Switzerland and on the slopes from a very young age, Barrow was seemingly destined to make his mark in the world of winter sports.

“I started skiing when I was about two years old, somewhere around that time,” Barrow explains. “When I was eight, I decided I wanted to do something that I was better than my older brother at, who was always a little bit faster than me. That’s when I discovered snowboarding.”

The 27-year-old credits growing up in the Alps as a big factor in his subsequent success. “It was amazing. At the time I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as I would do now, but I absolutely loved it. I had the snow so I could go wherever I wanted during the winter season and that definitely helped me get to the level I am at now.”

Shattered dreams

Like most young snowboarders, Barrow dreamt of competing at the Olympics. Following several impressive results in senior competitions, he looked in good shape heading into 2013, the year when qualification for the 2014 Winter Games would be decided, before disaster struck.

Barrow suffered a serious back injury on a qualifying run that January, after the high-back on his binding broke and he ended up off the slope. His hopes of competing at Sochi 2014 were in tatters.

“That was one of the lowest points of my life,” he revealed. “It was really quite depressing after that crash, I lost everything, and it was a to come back again, but the motivation for me was to prove the doctors wrong. They told me I would never be able to run again never mind snowboard. I wanted to prove them wrong and get back to what I loved.”

Even follow a crash of such magnitude, Barrow was determined to make his mark on the sport, even if he was unable to compete for his country.

“I came up with the idea of doing ski records. I knew I’d be in a lot of pain snowboarding, but if I just went straight down a hill for 20-30 seconds I could put up with the pain for that long.”

Breaking boundaries

In April 2013, just months after doctors told him he would never be able to run again, Barrow broke the British snowboard speed record, recording a time of 151.6kph, before three times breaking the world record for the fastest speed whilst being towed by a vehicle.

“The first time I did it, it was a huge achievement for me as I’d always wanted to be in the Guinness Book of World Records, and to finally do it was a great achievement,” he explained.

“The first two times there was always something which held me back and stopped me from going faster, whether it was the car not being fast enough or we didn’t have a long enough track or just the conditions weren’t right.

“So, this third time I wanted to find a new place so that nothing held me back and that’s why I went out to Norway. I wanted to see just how fast I could go, and I was lucky enough to break the record again, going faster than I ever had done before at speeds of over 183kph.”


‘When I was falling over at 180kph, that was the scariest moment of my life for sure’

Despite setting yet another world record, Barrow described the achievement as being “bittersweet”, with several things going wrong which prevented him from going even faster, including another scary crash.

“Don’t get me wrong I was so happy to have broken the record, but so many things went wrong on the day. Firstly, the weather came in a little bit and it was -14°C. On the first run it was so cold that the spray from the car was freezing to my goggles, I went completely blind at 180kph and ended up crashing which was the fastest snowboard crash ever recorded.

“I wasn’t really expecting to get up from that. I knocked myself out a bit and slid for over 100 metres, but when I came to, I was okay.

“That wasn’t a great way to start the day, but I eventually pulled myself together, knowing I had worked so hard with the preparations for the record. I shook myself of and went for it again with a couple more runs and was able to break the record.

“I didn’t go as fast as I wanted to go as we didn’t have the right conditions and the equipment was messing up a little bit, however I did go faster than I’d ever been before, so I was really happy with that.”

Barrow has experienced several major crashes in his career but revealed this latest one at 180kph to be the most frightening of them all.

“Being knocked out and waking up in the snow is not a nice feeling. When I was falling over, that was the scariest moment of my life for sure. When I injured myself the first time it wasn’t that big of a crash, it wasn’t scary. Whereas this time was the scariest thing that I’ve ever done.”

Far from putting Barrow off, however, the snowboarder is aiming to break his own world record once again in the near future.

“My next target is definitely to hit 200kph. That’s always been the aim and I was hoping to have done it on my last attempt, but things didn’t quite go to plan.

“It’s not always about trying to get it on the first go, it’s about dealing with these setbacks and coming back stronger. I’ve got a few other world records I’d like to break as well, they’re in the pipeline, but we’ll see how this goes.”

Korean adventures

Away from the records, Barrow has visited many different resorts around the world and describes Japan as being his favourite place to snowboard.

“The snow over there and the powder is absolutely incredible. It was my dream, somewhere I’d always wanted to go. It was just incredible, unlike anywhere you can go in Europe.”

By far the most unique place he has visited however is North Korea. Very few would associate ski resorts with the most isolated country on the planet, but Barrow was lucky enough to experience them first-hand.

“Snowboarding there was a very strange experience. We pretty much got a whole private resort to ourselves. It was an interesting trip. They’ve just opened up a new ski resort and we’re in talks at the moment to be the first journalists to visit to film a documentary with National Geographic.”

Jamie has his own website and is on Twitter at @JamieBarrow_GB.

Featured image via https://www.facebook.com/barrowboarder/

Games review – Snow

Ever thought of bracing the chill of the Alps to do some snowboarding or skiing?

Maybe the cost has put you off, or possibly the thought of breaking a leg.

In which case, Poppermost Productions’ Snow is a winter sports video game that takes the expense, cold weather and potential for injury out of the equation.

Initially released towards the end of 2016 on PlayStation 4, Snow gives players the opportunity to digitally snowboard and ski across various locations, game modes and events with their own customisable character.

Free Roam

One of Snow’s games modes, and arguably its most, enjoyable is its Free Roam, where players get to explore different mountains under no gaming conditions (e.g. time limit) in place.

Players have the option to choose between seven peaks, which differ in size and level of difficulty, to snowboard or ski on.

These mountains, mostly named after competitions, include: Sialia, Suzuki Nine Knights, B&E, S Games, Jon Olsson Invitational and Fochi 2014.

olsson
Jon Olsson Invitational

Out of the seven, Jon Olsson Invitational (JOI) is without a doubt the one for beginners.

With its map size classed as small and its difficulty ranked as easy, JOI will break you in gently.

Players only have the short distance between the top and bottom of a very small hill to travel, with just a couple of ramps put in place afterwards to allow the practice of tricks.

However, The unchallenging nature of  JOI it quite tedious and probably surplus to requirements once players have grown accustomed to the game.

In contrast, Sialia, the largest mountain on Snow, can keep players entertained for days with its numerous pipes, ramps, rails and expansive landscape, which can sometimes feel never-ending but in a satisfying way.

As for the rest of Snow’s mountains, they strike a balance between both Sialia and JOI, ultimately offering players a range of experiences across Free Roam.

Events

With no overall aim or compulsory challenges to complete, Free Roam can become boring, especially in an offline setting.

If so, then there is the option of trying out the Events mode instead.

There are seven event types to choose from: Time Trail, Descent, Slopestyle, Big Air, Freeride, Freestyle and Rail Jam.

event-type
Events

These events involves tasks ranging from reaching the bottom of the course as fast as possible, to performing a specific number of tricks, thus giving players the chance to test and further improve on their in-game snowboarding or skiing skills.

Out of the seven, the two event types that really catch your eye are Descent and Freestyle.

In Descent, players have to complete the course without crashing, while Freestyle sees virtual snowboarders and skiers attempting to record as high a score as possible through the use of tricks.

Both events are challenging yet still fun, but can have an element of frustration attached to them if you fall into the habit of constantly crashing before completing the course and having to restart.

Multiplayer

The Multiplayer mode for Snow resembles its Free Roam counterpart, with the only major difference being players get to snowboard and ski with other online players.

multiplayer
Multiplayer

Currently, it appears that Sialia is the only mountain available to play on, with a maximum of 12 players allowed to join the server.

Taking into account the size of Sialia, it can become difficult to come across fellow players in the server (unless you opt to spawn at their location), leaving you with the feeling that you are not actually playing with anyone from time to time.

However, once alongside budding snowboarders and skiers of the virtual world, Snow becomes much more fun as you speed downhill with other players while performing tricks simultaneously.

Perhaps Snow could do with additional content to its Multiplayer though, like actual races or trick contests between players, rather than just having an online version of free roam.

Overall gameplay

Despite being officially released and available to purchase on the PS4, Snow is still in its Beta stage and, as a result, has its flaws.

For instance, although quite minor, the manner in which a player’s character is tossed around after a crash can look very glitchy — an issue likely to be bothersome for those who seek perfection in a game.

Also, on Multiplayer, which can feel very laggy at times, players pass through each other as if they were ghosts when riding into one’s path, rather than colliding and eventually crashing.

This may have been done to prevent players from purposely riding into other players in order to cause them to crash and disrupt their experience but, ultimately, it has removed a sense of realism from the game.

Nevertheless, Snow remains an entertaining sports game.

It’s not as complete as other similar winter sports video games such as EA Sports’ SSX series, and doesn’t have the best of graphics in this current generation of gaming.

But if snowboarding, skiing or sports games in general for that matter are your type of thing, then give Snow a go.

Elephant Sport rating: 7/10

Featured image: ©SNOW