Red Bull Reporter: Manny Mania UK Finals

Red Bull Reporter is a nationwide search to find the best young music, culture and sports writers, filmmakers, photographers and presenters, giving them the chance to use their skills and indulge their passions as a Red Bull Reporter. The most talented young media makers could be selected for one of the many assignments – each designed to give them an amazing experience as a working member of the media, covering world-class sports, cutting-edge music and innovative culture events.

You might remember that we featured the Red Bull assignment to find reporters to cover the Red Bull Manny Mania 2009 Grand Final, where talented unknowns were up against the likes of Kris Vile in the last stop of the competition, held at the Truman Brewery in East London.

Liam Teague was selected as the writer, and Sam Gillespie and Tom Quigley as the photographers for the event. We have all their reports and photos exclusively for you here before anywhere else!

Keep your eyes out for the full selection of pictures and video created by the chosen reporters at

After months of planning and eight qualifying rounds across the UK and Ireland, Saturday saw the best of the technical skate world descend upon the capital for this years Manny Mania final.

(Photo: Tom Quigley)

Manny Mania is not your average skate competition. Rather than most which involve simply doing all you can to impress the judges, this event requires a much more refined skill – the act of balancing on two wheels. If you want to succeed here every stunt you pull has to involve some sort of manual variation.

The final this year took place at the back of a brewery in the heart of London, and the buzz in the atmosphere at this interesting location was clear on arrival with everyone cramming in early, lining the barriers to watch or heading inside to make the most of their chance to skate, while the competitors got used to the place and figured out some possibilities for the main event. ‘The course this year is great,’ said Will Greenfield, who qualified in Edinburgh, ‘The way the obstacles are positioned by each other make for some good combo opportunities.’

(Photo: Tom Quigley)


This year also saw the addition of a new obstacle, a mellow kicker to and from a block, designed by last years winner, Mike Wright, who explained the thought process behind it. ‘Easy to do tricks into manny, I thought, and easy to sketch out 180s at the end, so you could get tech. The idea of the block being thinner than the ramps was so you could slide or grind then pull up to manny, or into a slide at the end. That was the thinking behind it – making something low impact, easy to skate and good for manuals.’ 

Josh Cox (Photo: Sam Gillespie)


The specificness of the skills needed gave a chance for some real unknowns to come out of the woodwork and skate side by side with the more seasoned pros. ‘This sort of event is very important, as it gives people who wouldn’t usually enter the competitions a chance to shine’ Ben Powell, editor of Sidewalk magazine and MC on the day, explained.

Tom Shimmin. (Photo: Sam Gillespie)


And the amount of skill in attendance became clear as soon as the semi finals commenced. The 20 finalists, made up from those who had qualified at the previous rounds and a few lucky wildcards who replaced a handful who couldn’t make it down, were split into groups of five and given 10 minutes to use the entire course and impress seasoned judges Rodney Clarke, Rob Selley and Dan Cates. Everyone was on top form and pulled some serious manoeuvres, with Avi manualing into bluntslides, Kris Vile putting down solid combos within a few tries, and many unknowns making their mark landing the hardest of tricks with stupid consistency.

Kris Vile. (Photo: Sam Gillespie)

After the four heats were over, chaos descended upon the course once more while the judges took some time to undertake the impossible task of whittling the qualifiers down to a last eight for the grand final – two 15 minute heats of four. As the sun went down and the lights came blasting on, the finalists were announced and given a little extra time to practice, before the finals commenced and the level of skating suddenly went through the roof. ‘People seemed a bit more nervous in the qualifiers, but maybe they were saving it for the finals as the special bar went off the scale!’ said Andy Evans, in charge of documenting the day on film. MK local Sean Smith, who eventually managed fourth with his crazy pop and asleep-at-the-wheel style, gave some insight into skating in the finals. ‘It’s hard to describe. There’s extra pressure there as you have to land your tricks more (compared to the semi finals), but there’s that extra motivation and adrenaline which helps.’

The final two heats saw more ridiculous skating than the brain can process in half an hour, with Craig Smedley’s one foot madness, Tim Prozorov’s crazily consistent tre flip nosemanuals on the kicker to block, and Tom Shimmin going switch over the lesser skated wavy pad, amongst a million other things.

(Photo: Tom Quigley)

The finals put the judges in an even more unenviable position than during the semis, but shortly afterwards the top three were announced and received their very well earned cash prizes. Balance specialist Joe Moore got to 3rd wiggling around the course shoving in and out of everything, and getting fakie biggerspins and inward bigspin heels into manual in a few tries. Manchester’s Ben Rowles made 2nd for a huge collection of tricks that definitely shouldn’t be landed that quickly, including flip manual late shoves, back foot flips out of manual and a flip manual to 360 shove out off a 4 foot high block, not what you see everyday.

But the point made about the underdogs came to life as the gold was taken by Irish ripper Paddy McGuire, who stunned the crowd by flipping and nollie shoving in and out of absolutely everything, throwing a few Haslam-esque maneuvers into the mix, and landing about 20 tricks a minute which by the end had the onlookers almost laughing in amazement as he just kept going.

(Photo: Tom Quigley)

All involved certainly pulled it off brilliantly this year, with Etnies doing their bit with the shoe recycling programme, MCs Bob and Ben keeping us entertained, and everyone behind the scenes at Red Bull, King ramps and all the other organisations making all their hard work pay off with a truly spectacular skateboarding event. See you next year!


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