For the second year Newton's Playground was held on the haloed grounds of Mount Panorama. Mount Panorama is a road race track that is also a public road, on the outskirts of the old gold mining town of Bathurst, Australia. Because it is a race track, the road surface is immaculate.
The course itself is one of the steepest on the circuit, parts even rival Tuetonia, except it isn't as long. There are two very challenging corners. Despite only have two tough corners, the course is very technical.
Thursday, November 26
I pulled into town last night. Late enough to get checked into the university hotel, and grab dinner. I woke up and grabbed my skateboard to skate over to the Unibarwonder if it will still be that way after being open for a year.
It was back to the Unibar for a riders meeting. Of course the meeting didn't get started right way,
Friday, November 27
Things were supposed to get started at 8 AM. I figured things wouldn't get started right away but I wanted to get the free breakfast at the top of the hill.it took about an hour to complete a round trip. One reason the line was moving so slow, was they let each heat pass the elbow before sending the next heat. And almost every heat was wrecking in the dipper or the elbow.
This race had the largest luge turnouts since the 2003 Hot Heels (the second IGSA World Championship).
Classic started off the qualifying.
We didn't break for lunch, so with standup qualifying after classic, I took the opportunity to grab a bite to eat. I checked out some of the vendors. Draggin Jeans
I walked down the course. I wanted to watch at the elbow, as I never had a chance to get down there last year.
While there were about one hundred standup riders, and it would take about two hours to get through the list, and with me being one of the last street lugers, I wasn't exactly in a hurry to get back to the top. But I didn't want to miss my run either.
I made it back up before the first lurger started.
The qualifying results were posted live to the web, using google docs. The results were then piped up to some screens at the top of the course.
Towards the end of the day Jacko, one of Australia's best downhillers, put in an appearance.
The gravity bikes finished up the qualifying. Everything was running a little late, and they finished up about 5:30.
I thought the plan was to use the Unibar as the party headquarters every night. I made plans to meet some of the other guys there, and I decided to head down there a little early. And for the most part the place was empty! After everyone joined us, we ended up deciding to eat dinner there, as it was easier. But not many other people showed up. I guess most people found their own restaurants, or ate at the campground
Saturday, November 28
I wasn't sure if things would get started on time, but with the last chance race this afternoon, we were going to have even less time for practice. I decided to make sure I was at the course by 8:00 AM. It was easy to do with my hotel at the bottom of the hill.
We actually got start shortly after 8.
Just at the end of the practice session a group of riders went down for a media run.
Once again classic qualified first.And sometimes it could get a bit crowded, and it was hard to see the screen.
Once again we had about a two hour break as standup qualified.
I knew once luge qualifying started it would go fairly quickly, and with me somewhere in the middle of the pack, I wanted to be ready. I ran into one of the skaters who was seventh. He was getting ready, so I figured it was time. Turns out there was still 30 or 40 riders to go, and I got all leathered up for nothing. Fortunately the weather was a little cooler than yesterday.
I'm used to have fewer than 30 lugers. With 50 lugers, it took a bit longer than I estimated to get through the field.
Maryhill had a last chance qualifier, Newton's Playground is having a reprechage race. The top 62 skateboarders qualified for tomorrow's race. The next 32 would race, with the top two taking up positions 63 and 64 in tomorrow's race. Luge would also hold a reprechage race, but with 30 prequalified and the next 16 in the reprechage race. With this format, almost everyone skateboarder and luger would race.
The skateboarders started off the race.
We hit the Unibar for dinner once again. I didn't want to eat dinner there, but I got there a bit late, and there were quite a few more people than last night. There were a couple of shuttle runs between the bar and the campsite. The bar shut down after the last shuttle.
Sunday, November 29
The weather forecast for today mentioned possible rain showers. I got up to the mountain a little earlier, as today's schedule was tighter than yesterdays. And the sky didn't look too promising.
The schedule for today was going to be very tight, as usual, it seems. Standup led off the racing.
The reason that the races were mixed was to keep the track in constant use. One set of racers would be brought up the hill, as the other set raced. One advantage was it gave people a chance to work on their equipment between heats.It felt like we got through the first two rounds fairly quickly, and that we would finish the day early! Things would get a little more interesting as classic would immediately follow luge, and would have to wait for them to get back to the top. I wasn't racing all that well. I didn't have a push in classic, and got knocked out in the first round. I advanced to the second round in luge, but was still having a problem with the dipper, and finished third. Because of the way they intertwined I got knocked out of both classes in the same round. At least I was done, and could get out my leathers. I also had a chance to get some lunch. There was no lunch break built into the schedule, making it difficult for those that kept advancing to get something to eat.
I was getting something to eat, and watching the races when I discovered they were going to run "playoffs" that is for those that made it into the top 16, they were going to run a losers bracket. I rushed to get into my leathers, and I came running back, still getting my equipment on. They were yelling for me to get on the line. I get ready, get up, and wait. There was an accident, and it was taking a while to cleanup. While we were waiting, Budro and Yatze started bowling using slide gloves.
With only a few more heats to run, and almost two hours to finish up, they tried to drag things out a bit. They ran a free ride. I took the opportunity to ride the road again. I decided to stay at the bottom to watch the last couple of finals. Meanwhile a few other people took advantage of the freeride.
The the luge final came down. I was standing on finish line watching the heat come down Condrod Straight.
Finally after the ambulance crew drove their ambulance over, so we could use the car batteries, Marcus was able to download the footage that showed a frame with Nick about a TOE ahead of Lally! It only took about a half hour to determine Nick won!
The standup final was almost anti-climatic
The race was over, and everyone started to pack up. A few of us took some last minute photos,
The awards ceremony was going to be held at the Unibar. There were already people gathered to watch videos.
It was finally time to give the awards out. With probably the best look trophies going to classic!
The first set of awards given out were for the 2008 World Cup Champions.
I thought the the skateboards as trophies was cool, and was definitely jealous of the cool classic boards. The winners also received cool checks.
We partied, and said our good byes.
Mount Panorama is a great course, a little short, but it is fast and technical, and challenges the best of us. Unfortunately there are a lot of new riders, and that led to a lot of accidents. And just the course itself caused some of the better riders to wreck. Too many people ended up in the hospital, or required medical attention. Multiple seperated shoulders, several broken wrists or arms, cracked/broken ribs, and at least one set of punctured lungs. Numerous sprained ankles, and problem a few broken, and one or two broken hands. This was probably the most injurious race since the second Almabtrieb!
Hopefully next year it will go a bit more smoothly.