Northaw, 1992, break-time on the road to the tennis courts by the beehive. None of us had ever seen anything like it. Pretty much in total awe, I asked if you would teach me how to board. You said you would if I lay on the floor for you to pop over. Not a tricky one. I got one of my friends to lie down next to me and told you we wouldn’t tell anyone if we took an axle to the face. A little crowd gathered and before long, there were 4 of us on the tarmac – all in our boiler suits – all thrilled to be part of your show. Mr. Hill came out, saw what was happening and told us to stop. Not popular. By this time most of the school were there and everyone begged him to allow you to try 5. This was before health & safety superseded a spirit of adventure, I told Mr. Hill that I’d go on the end and, thankfully, he relented to a big round of applause and shouts of ‘Go on Nelson’...You cleared me by a yard & landed clean. Remembering it now like it was yesterday. Like everything you did you made it look so effortless and very, very cool. And it seems this is how the world of pro snowboarders remembers you too. As an outrageous natural talent and as a gentleman; a class act. As fate would have it, Northaw is sadly closing down and a few of us made the pilgrimage back on Saturday. I lay down on the exact same spot. My thoughts are with you, with Chris and with your Mum & Dad. You will be sorely missed. Rest in peace x
Very nice words, I can clearly picture him doing that as that was how he was when snowboarding.Regards Pat Meurier
My Time with Nelson Pratt; March 2001-June 2012 part 1It was my third year as Sales Agent and Team Manager for K2 in the UK a rare position I managed to inherit from being a team rider for them which I am most grateful for. I knew of Nelson through his first mentor Steve Bailey before 2001 he was making his recommendations, but he was already riding for Nitro and to me he was off limits, the old saying “no-one likes a poacher applied”. I was at the British Championships in 2001 in Mayrhofen, I saw a rider clad totally in black ripping up the jumps looking like he was having fun and was informed that that was Nelson by Steve. I saw him on a chairlift passing overhead and noticed that he wasn’t riding a Nitro. I managed to catch up with him, introduce myself and have bit of chat, I asked “Are you riding for Burton now?” to which he replied “No I bought this and when I break it they seem happy to replace it.” “What happened with Nitro?” I said. “They dropped me as I broke a few boards.” “Well I would like to have you on K2?” To which he nodded many times in his way and said his thanks many times, his politeness shining through. I sent him a 2001-2002 Zeppelin, black top sheet with a red demon on it and demon on the base. A few weeks later I receive a phone call from Nelson asking how I was and bit of general chit chat “how are you getting on, how’s the board?” “I’m really sorry Pat but I’ve broken it.” 6 Zeppelins later , thinking he might be having to go and get a new board sponsor or buy a board. But I re-assured him saying “that’s what Travis Parker does.” Plus our boards weren’t particularly strong for a rider of his magnitude. The Zeppelin had a complete change and we’d got him down to breaking only 2 boards, 3 at a push which eased his mind. They were now breaking due to him wearing them down from his mighty riding instead of snapping like twigs in the wind. Nelson, as had always been the case, started getting great coverage for us; it was good times at the Brits as K2 and Ride would hire out a place for our riders and Nelson was always polite and helpful as we all know. I started to acquire more riders Simon Brass, Mark Kent, Melanie Leando, Colum Mytton along with Nelson, James Marney, Tim Hoad and at the time our grom Ben Kilner made a formidable team I was very proud to have and that all got on so well. I’d always see Nelson, Si and Kenty riding together at the Brits, out there killing it and bringing home the medals, video parts in the especially the Lockdown series, shots in catalogues, shots in magazines, Nelson and his team mates were out there getting some and it was never any stress for me. I only really had to fend off riders asking to be sponsored to which I’d ask “can you ride as good as Nelson?” Which we knew what the answer to that was. It was great to open magazines and see his shots in them. Who can’t remember his double page spread of the massive Backside Rodeo 720 shot by Natalie Mayer? After he landed that trick he went up to Natalie and apologised for wasting a load of film , a classic Nelson mannerism as it took him a few goes to do, not realising what she had in one of those magic rolls that would appear the following winter, which I’m sure was put up on many walls.
My Time with Nelson Pratt; March 2001-June 2012 part 2For someone that seemed so laid back, when it came his kit the opposite in him appeared, picky or fussy aren’t the right words but he knew what he needed. The board was easy; Zeppelin. But it was fun from my point of view to send him different boards to which his response would be “it’s nice Pat but not a Zeppelin” his polite way of saying he didn’t like it bless him and made me chuckle. As for bindings oh boy it took me ages to wean him off Burton. I remember Lizzie Holloway presenting him a pair of P1s and cheekily saying we just need to change the graphics on your board ;-). It was a pleasure dealing with him, not much really needing saying to him, just a few phone calls to his parents’ house to see how he was getting on, which leads onto communication. If we still had carrier pigeons, Nelson bless him I’m sure would use that instead of a mobile phone ;-). Computers didn’t mix well with him, he told me they could send him into a mini rage by spending precious time writing something, for it only to be mysteriously deleted and like snowboards he seemed to be able to break them. I can’t remember the last time I sent Nelson an email?! A call or a text was all that was needed another nice and easy trait I liked about him. He would travel all over, snowboarding in some mighty fine places with photographers, film crew and fellow snowboard companions, enjoying what he liked doing best. Along comes 2009 after many years the Zeppelin had been retired, Nelson had 8 years on them and the Slayblade had come to replace it with its flat/no camber profile, there could be trouble ahead, new board, new technology and Nelson . But more pressing concerns had turned up. Nelson was suffering from very bad headaches; he’d only be able to ride for an hour or so before it would manifest and would take a day or two to leave. It took a while to diagnose after which an MRI scan revealed that the fluid between his skull and brain had drained away, so his brain was getting bashed against his skull. After speaking to him his treatment was either of 2 things, do nothing physical for at least six months or they’d have to tap into his spinal cord and inject fluid into his brain. Not good. Over the summer I phoned him to see how he was and if he was being a good patient? No, he was helping Chris out making deliveries of Pratt’s rape seed oil bless him. He said to me it was ok as when he felt a headache coming on he’d jump into the back of the van and lie down for an hour. Ok then. Later on in autumn Nelson phoned to announce his retirement which was tough for me. Si Brass had retired a year earlier which had also been sad and losing 2 great riders was hard to take. We had a chat and the door was left wide open for him should he decide to change his mind. He did I got a phone call in February 2010 whilst he was driving back from Europe “Pat I’ve been out coaching the army with Dave Seeley and riding again and absolutely loving it! The new board is great and your bindings are super comfy” A triple win there . I said “as you’re going to be driving past today why not stop by on your way home to get some new kit (can’t have him on current season’s kit) and we’ll watch Kilner in the Semi Finals of the Olympic Halfpipe contest.” He came round mine and Lyndsey’s place had a little bite to eat, some cups of tea and a good catch up. It was great to see that smile and happiness back on him and we had fun watching Ben represent. It was great to have him back. I got out to the Brits and Nels was killing it in boarder cross and picked up a medal. At the beginning of the course there was a triple set of whoops which presented no threat to him as he was the only one able to gap them with those farmer’s legs of his. The next day on the rail jam he was doing frontside board slide down the 50 ft. rail with the same razor sharp board he’d ridden in the boarder cross the day before!
My Time with Nelson Pratt; March 2001-June 2012 part3In April I eventually made my way over to Morzine where he was spending his season living and riding with Kenty, Joel and Mike Austin with whom they made their wining Cavern Club 24/7 film! I had fun times riding with those guys and watching them ride, just gliding through the parks. Whilst sat on the chair lift with Nelson, Kenty and Joel, I’d worked out our combined age exceeded 130 years especially as the chair of sponsored British riders in front of us, (whom I can’t remember) didn’t reach triple figures between the four of them! A chunk of that was my fault ;-). Whilst standing around talking about kit, Nelson admitted in front of Kenty and I that the Slayblade is better than his beloved Zeppelin which Kenty’s response was along the lines of “I didn’t think I’d ever have heard that!” I laughed, as some people know that Nelson is quite adverse to change, but there were ways of getting round him .Pre winter 2010-11 came up; a call from Nelson was on my phone which I answered. “Come round for dinner and collect the new kit I’ve got for you.” A date was arranged. The day came and Nelson called to say he was on his way in his trusty Landy “I’ve got a mystery guest for you that’ll be joining us Nelson.” He arrived with a bottle of wine and a bottle of Pratt’s extra virgin cold pressed Rapeseed oil, stoked. Mystery guest turns up with a bottle of wine too, the none other than friend and former team mate Melanie Leando who’d been living in Australia for 4 years and recently moved back to England to a place just outside Newbury not far from both of us. Neither of us had seen Melanie since she went to Oz. We sat down for dinner that I’d cooked which Nelson had a good second helping, chatting about what we’d been up to and old times, a nice family feeling. I pulled out a copy of That’s it That’s All snowboard movie which Nelson nodded many times and to me was an indication for me to put it on. It was interesting watching him watch it, I could see or sense how much he wanted to be there riding, a good way to kick start his next winter. That year he was the first Brit to stomp the Backside Double Rodeo 900 an incredible feet and showing that age is not a hindrance! When I spoke to him about double inverted tricks he’d felt that he had that one in him and I was over the moon that he’d done it.
My Time with Nelson Pratt; March 2001-June 2012 part4.My last time seeing Nelson was around September 2011 he needed some new bindings, we were talking on the phone and I’d said to him I’d come round and drop them off. For me it was nice to see where he’d lived and hopefully to meet his parents Nigel and Edith who unfortunately for me were away on holiday. He had a great time at the Brits getting a Silver medal in the Slopestyle contest still shining his light for us old guys. In May he’d been riding with and coaching Ben Kilner out in Mammoth California where the parks are amazing. I would have loved to have seen them both riding as Ben has reached the age of 23 which is 2 years older than the age of Nelson was when I had signed him up. I called him when he got back to see how he was and try and coax out some of the tricks he’d done “ a few cab nines perchance?” “Oh um just a couple” was his reply “nice” was mine. He was never one to boast. He was impressed that his board had lasted all winter too! We also talked about how Ben was getting on especially as he’d recently injured his shoulder; Nelson said that all was well with Ben and nothing to be concerned with. I’d sent Nelson some new boards and bindings, he sent me a text thanking me as he always does and wishing me a speedy recovery from my back injury. Sadly we’ve been deprived of a fantastic man that in my eyes still had plenty of riding left in those strong legs of his; he was more than making his way of becoming a great coach for the current GB team and future riders as he certainly would have been the one to be able to practice what he preached. I will miss chatting to him, sending boards out to him having him round for dinner. He was one of the best riders out there and at the same time being the most humble and polite and a good friend to have had. My heart goes out to his wonderful parents Nigel and Edith, also his wonderful brother Chris and all friends and family out there.Hope the powder is deep, the back country kickers are big and the park and pipe are well groomed. Deeply missed but never to be forgotten. Much Love. Pat Meurier.
those two were a lovely read, thanks guys, I can totally imagine that skate story, everyone in awe of Nelson, that's just the way it was, one of the nicest human beings on the planet and good at everything...apart from using an iPhone perhaps!Does anyone know if there's a collection for a charity or is it better to sort flowers for the 11th?-Gilly
Thanks for taking the time to read my long blog, it was something I felt needed to be written.
Nelson was sitting on my right.I said, ‘So Nelse, how are you, you know, feeling….about the speech…”.He answered in his soft voice, nervously, “yeah yeah, sarah, yeah, I think I’m okay, I think it’ll be okay, I’ve done some notes……”. He pulled two sheets of A4 from inside his morning coat, covered front and back in tiny longhand writing. My heart sank. I could feel the nerves start to take hold as everyone began to finish eating, and the microphone was fetched.As he walked up behind Caz and Ben I literally had my hands clamped together under the table, and held my breath. And then he began to speak, and the notes lay unread in front of him. From the first gentle joke, he had absolutely everyone captivated. It is still one of the most memorable best man speeches I’ve heard, not only because he had learned it so faultlessly, and delivered it so perfectly, but because its content was of course, like him, gentle and quietly humorous and self depreciative and sensitive. And watching him doing this thing which I had thought he would be so terrified of doing, and watching his eyes shining and his face relax as he knew that everyone was with him and hanging on what he was saying, and knowing that every lovely thing he said he truly felt, was, frankly, magic. He is irreplaceable.
Very nice story Sarah :-)