Maryhill Festival of Speed 2008

Maryhill Festival of Speed 2008

World Championships

Maryhill Festival of Speed

Goldendale, Washington

Down in the bottom of the state of Washington, in the shadow of Mount Rainer is the small town of Goldendale. With a population of several thousand the town is large enough to have two grocery stores, a bowling alley, and a McDonald's. It is the county seat of Klickitat County and is home to the county fairgrounds. Agriculture is the main commerce for the area.

About 10 miles away from Goldendale is Washington's first paved road, Maryhill Loops Road.

In 1998 a portion of the original road was repaved. The road was an experimental road, using a variety of asphalt as well as a design that kept the grade a fairly consistent  5% grade using horseshoe turns. 3.6 miles were repaved, with 25 curves and 8 hairpins.

The course utilizes the top 1.8 miles of this pavement. The course is too long to full explain, there are 17 named corners on the road!

Three of the turns are fairly similar, a long left handed hairpin, almost immediately followed by a right hand turn.

The course in Google Maps.

Tuesday, August 26

I live about four hours from Maryhill, and I left home in the afternoon. I had hoped to get to the course in time to do registration, but I pulled in about an hour late.

The Ozmans and Marcus were still there setting up the course. Mainly putting on finishing touches, such as hanging banners.

After getting checked into my hotel, I hung out at the fairgrounds for the evening.

Wednesday, August 27

I knew things would start late, plus we were going to have almost three days of practice, so I wasn't in a hurry to get to the race course. Amazingly the place was already packed.

People were very excited about the race, and couldn't wait to get started. Since I didn't get registered yesterday, I had to wait in line to.

The line wasn't long, and neither was tech inspection.

The weather was cool and cloudy. I don't think it was going to rain, but apparently it had rained quite a bit a few days ago.

I took my time registering, and finally hoped on the bus. I got one whole run in before we broke for lunch.

The day was warming up, and the clouds were disappearing. By the time our 1.5 hour lunch break was over the sky was clear.

We got about a half dozen runs in, in the afternoon. There was generally never more than a dozen or so luges and buttboards and gravity bikes and inliners, and well over a hundred standup. So they let us go first, with standup coming down behind us.  Unfortunately they were letting too big of a gap between practice groups and it took us about an hour to get an entire run in. The nice thing about this, it gave us time to grab a coke, or do work on our equipment.

I think it was my second run of the day, when I got taken out twice on one run! We started off in a pack of lugers, and it we were going around the first left. I was in the middle of the pack, and started to move over to the left edge of the road, to take the inside line. I knew there was someone behind me, so I left a little room. When I thought I was clear, I moved over a little more, and we tangled. Fortunately we were still fairly high on the course, so we weren't moving that fast. We both hopped back on our boards, as followed the next group of buttboarders. Didn't take too long to catch up to the buttboarders. As I was coming around another one of the lefts, I decided I had the speed to pass on the outside. I started to pass, I was probably in the middle of the course, when the buttboarder started to drift outside. He slammed into me and we both flew off the course. As I hit a hay bale, for some strange reason I had the presence of mind to GRAB the hay bale. I knew there was a cliff here, and I thought if I grabbed this 10 pound hay bale, it would stop me from going over the cliff. When the dust settled, and after watching one of the bales leap off the cliff, I noticed that I had snapped one of the metal posts in half! We were both ok, and continued on our way.

At the end of the day I headed over to the fair grounds to hang out.

The fair grounds are on the opposite end of town from the hotel, they are even further away from the course. The campground is located at the fair grounds.

The fair grounds have a real RV campground, but the tent camping was supposed to be in a different section. I think most of the people just set up their tents in the RV campground, so they could be near their cars. After dinner Paul Busse set up his project again. It didn't take long for a huge crowd to form to watch videos. Unfortunately we didn't have too many videos from today.

Thursday, August 28

I got up early this morning to have some free pancakes.

The city of Goldendale was providing free pancakes to the athletes every day this week!

Unfortunately breakfast was served from 6:30 to 8:30. Of course it allowed me to get to the track about 9, just in time to miss the first truck.

Maryhill is an interesting place. There is a single tree on the hill. Well ok there are a couple of small ones, and several down near the finish, but at the start there is one large tree.

There is a small stream that feeds the tree, but the advantage of the large tree was a bit of shade.

I got a few runs in before our lunch break.

Probably the biggest controversy surrounding Maryhill, or maybe the second biggest after the sellout, was one of the sponsors.

The US Army was one of the sponsors of the event. They provided a climbing wall and the large tent.

The controversy was whether downhill skateboarding should be sponsored by the US Army. Most of it was more internet talk than anything, but I did see one person wearing a No Army shirt.

Riding was pretty much get on one of the three U-Hauls. Hang out in the shade for a few minutes, as the trucks drove back down.

Spend just over 3 minutes cruising down the course. Then wait at the bottom for everyone else to show up to do it all over again.

McDonald's had set up an autograph session again this year. This year they had tents set up in their parking lot.

The session was broadcast live on the local radio station.

Most of the participants were prepared, this year, with posters and pictures to sign.

Of course that wasn't the only thing being signed.

Ronald McDonald was the special guest.

Just after I took this picture, he told me "better get out of the way, cause I can't turn." McDonald's was also offering half price food to all athletes. Paul Busse had already set up his projector for another night of video replays and photos. We also saw some footage from the Ice Luge class that IGSA had back in 04.

Friday, August 29

I swung by the campsite for some tasty pancakes. They also had some sort of egg thing, a quiche or something. Some fruit and orange drink from McDonald's finished off the meal. Unfortunately driving from the hotel adds about 20 minutes to the commute!

I pulled into the course just in time to get my leathers on and jump on the truck.

The morning practice run consisted of three runs. First round of qualifying would happen after lunch.

Last year quite a few people skipped the first day or two of riding, probably because they couldn't get enough time off from work. This year it seemed like pretty much everyone was were on the first day. Chris Chaput waltzed in today.

He brought his six wheeled board along with a "fairing."

There were three different production companies filming the race.

Orangefiist was working on a documentary.  Another production company was filming for Jeep World of Adventure Sports.

Since standup was going first, I had a couple of hours to chill out. The weather was fairly warm, although it was windy. I watched from the final corner for a little bit. The corner was lined with sponsor banners.

I hiked up to Cowzer's corner, the tightest and probably fastest hairpin.

There was a small spectator area, that was mostly full of other racers.

It was almost 5 O'clock when we finally went up to qualify. About a dozen standup guys had to rerun. Apparently there was some issues at the finish line, and they didn't get a time.

IGSA was trying something new this year. First round of qualifying would be run in reverse world ranking order, with the top ranked guys going last. Second round would be run in reverse order of first round qualifying. But guys that raced standup and luge used their standup numbers. This meant that #2 Beni Weber actually qualified first.

I ended up being the last one to qualify.

We had about 30 lugers, one of the largest USA races in a long time.

Buttboard and gravity bikes were the last to qualify.

The buttboard field was larger than it was last year. We were up at the top just as he sun was starting to go down. The shadows were getting longer. We managed to finish up, with a little bit of light left.

I went to a dinner with some friends. There were nine of us at the table, from eight different countries and three continents! We had a long dinner and missed most of the official video session at the fairgrounds. Basically the same thing Busse had been doing the past couple of nights, but it was set up under the fairground bleachers, so it was a bit warmer.

Saturday, August 30

I skipped the free breakfast this morning. I just woke up too late to drive all the way over to the fairgrounds, and with today being the last practice runs, I didn't want to miss any runs. I got there just in time to make the last truck up for the first run.

The day was crisp and cool, with no wind. Off in the distance I could see them interviewing Scoot. We took our last few practice runs and then broke for lunch.

A few vendors were set up near the finish line.

A large tent was set up with some tables, to eat in the shade. There was also a food vendor serving char broiled hamburgers and chicken.

During lunch the zoo bombers started up a joust competition.

Someone tried to do this on skateboards too.

Standup started off the second day of Qualifying. But with a strong head winds most times were slower than yesterdays times. I watched for a time from the corner.

But qualifying really isn't all that exciting to watch.

Standup qualifying went a little faster than it did yesterday. We got street luge ready to go about 3:30!

The wind was blowing quite hard, although it is a little hard to take a picture of the wind. Scott Peer decide to demonstrate.

Unfortunately the wind was almost blowing straight up the start line.

Unlike standup, about half of the lugers qualified better than yesterday. I wasn't one of them. Buttboard and gravity bikes ran last.

My buttboard start has always been horrible, but with a strong head wind at the start, it barely felt like I was moving!

Dinner was being served at the fairgrounds, for a small fee.

We had a choice between turkey and ham.

Along with all the fixings. After dinner we had an awards ceremony

to give away prizes to the top standup qualifiers. First a skateboard was presented to Lorraine's grandson.

Lorraine was Goldendale event organizer that helped organize the event, and provided the free breaksfasts. The top qualifiers were Siegrist in the Open class, Davies in the Women's, And Meehan in the Juniors.

Each received a $500 check! Immediately after the awards ceremony a live band took the stage.

Sunday, August 31

After a quick warm up session the Junior skateboard race was run.

Last year it was the last event, and most everyone had left and missed it. This was a way to show off some of the new up and coming talent. I was standing next to Riley Meehan's mom during the race, and she freaked out a little on Riley's first run.

Riley was in the lead coming out of Cowzer's, but then kind of took it easy. Mrs. Meehan thought he had lost the race, until I told her that Riley was in a 2 man race, and was basically taking a practice run. Riley was in the lead coming into Cowzer's in the final, but someone in the back wrecked, and took out 4 people! Coming across the finish line were only two guys, Nick was in second and tried to take the win by pulling a Flying Haiwiian and leaping off his board.

The gravity bike race was run at the same time.

Buttboard was next. In my first heat, only four of the six slots were filled. I only needed to beat one person to advance, and with my good qualifying time I thought I could do that. I took it fairly easy, was in 2nd place most of the race. As we entered the turn before Cowzer's I was confident that I had a decent lead, so I took the turn slower than I needed too. As I broke for the turn both of the guys behind me flew by me! They were closer than I expected, but fortunately since I slowed down for Cowzer's I was able to take the tight inside line. We came out of Cowzer's three wide, but I had slightly more speed and pulled out in front coming down the straight. But, now I am on the outside coming into the final turn before the finish. I knew I needed to hit the turn hard. I cut the turn as close as I could, yet still giving room to the two guys behind me. And sure enough, as I came through the turn I got hit from behind. All three of us went down. Somehow I was the last one back on my board, and I knew my race was over. But for some reason Hicks stopped, so I paddled around him and advanced. Last year, shortly before the race, a car company came in and filmed a commercial. They sprayed the road with some sort of sealant to make it look blacker. When I wiped out, the stuff completed coated my wheels. I knew it was going to be a problem, but didn't think I had time to change all four wheels. While the protest was going on, I changed the front two wheels.

Back up top for the semi finals, I didn't have a great start and was in 4th place. I was pretty close to the back, fairly confident that I could overtake someone, when we got to the first hard turn and my back end (the end I didn't change) started to slide out! I had to take the corner slower, and fell to 5th. I thought I still had a chance, and outside chance, but a chance, when I started to slide out in the next corner. Again had to put a foot down. This time when I got to the bottom I moved the front wheels to the back, and put fresh wheels on the front.

For the consolation run, I actually got a better start, but was right in the middle of the pack. We were pretty much six wide through the first few turns, with a little bit of bumping and pushing going on. I settled into third place and followed one of the Bobs and Andreas down the course. I took Cowzer's pretty well and was catching them, as they were bumping. I drafted them down the last straight and as we hit the final corner, I thought I had a chance to overtake both of them! I had a small opening, right at the apex. Just as I dove for the opening, something happened at Bob shot in front of me (I later found out that Bob and Andreas were hooked up entering the turn, and Andreas had shoved him off, right in front of me!) I had to change my plans, and had to take the outside line. I was able to pass Andreas by about a foot, but the outside line was too long to catch Bob.

The standup race was going to be run next, but first the top 12 qualifiers were announced.

The local Boy Scouts presented the American flag

and David Dean sang the national anthem along with two kids from the spectators. The race got under away fairly quickly, with no break for lunch as we were about 2 hours behind schedule. The weather today was the coolest it has been all week. It was mostly cloudy with a light breeze. Many people were wearing sweaters and jackets!

Typically the first couple of rounds of racing aren't very close, especially in a field of 96. The top racers are fairly obvious as they beat their competition by a fair margin. While this was true for some heats, I was amazed at how many close heats there were in the early rounds.

I guess when only about 20 seconds separate those 96 riders, and only about 15 seconds separate the bottom 90 or so riders, then most heats will be hotly contested. Between rounds, swag was tossed out at sponsors corner.

This year, to try and prevent injuries, instead of tossing out all four wheels, one would be tossed out. The recipient would go up to grab the other three.

Chris Chaput

made it into the consolation, after wrecking, or getting tangled up in the semi finals. He wrecked again in the consolation, and tried to pass the finish line in style.

The crowd was pretty excited about the finals, with a lot of noise being made.

While the racing remained tight, Scoot did an impressive feat by soundly beating the competition and winning by a dozen or so yards.

Scoot crossed the line in stlye. Of course Scoot was mobbed at the finish line.

Scoot was stoked to win Maryhill for a second time.

But it was pretty late, at it was time to run the luge race. We got up to the top, and there was a bit of a mess, near the tree. Mostly empty water bottles, and used wheels.

A local water company sponsored special Maryhill bottles of water, complete with pictures of Lundberg and Scoot.

The Women's Standup was run in front of luge. There were 12 females, the largest field ever!

Unfortunately not one of them was from the US.

Luge got underway and we started with a bunch of three man heats.

The weather had been getting worse all day, and it even tried to rain. And then when it was time to race, a rainbow broke out over the Gorge. I spent some of my run checking out the rainbow, and a few guys hoped the person in front of them got distracted by it.

We got back up to the top and I saw a fellow luger sitting on the hay bales. I was thinking to myself, how did he get back up to the top? Turns out, he was told the heat he was supposed to be in was only a three man heat, when he should have been the fourth person in the heat. A discussion ensued about how to solve the problem, and finally it was decided to find the fourth person, and rerun the heat. It took them a few minutes to find him, and bring him back to the top. Then we had to wait for the run, and for them to bring the winners back up.

The sun was setting by the time the finals were run.  I was barely able to get a shot as

Mr. Lang won for the second straight year.

Dave Dean did a phenomenal job of keeping the crowd entertained.

Brycin did a lot of play by play, from up on the course.

Brycin took over for Dean, when Dean had to race.

We wrapped up the race at 7:30. Most of the skateboarders had taken off. I hurried back, hoping there was still food left. Dinner was being served at the fairgrounds again. Our award ceremony was supposed to start at 8, but we all knew it would start late, as we barely left the course at 7:30.

Fortunately we had enough time to eat, as the awards ceremony started late.

First the prices for last years World Cup winners were announced.

Peer (Inline), Lundberg (standup), and Serek (classic) were the only ones present. Johnson was in attendance, but was apparently still at the restaurant.


Peer, Merkert, Focke

Gravity Bike:

Phillips, Tiller, Bridge


Serek, Meehan, Lang

Street Luge:

Lang, Eliot, McIntyre

Junior's Standup:

Maytum, Jean, Spencer Smith

Women's Standup:

Davies, Pascente, Neilson


Scoot Smith, Kelly, Siegrist

Scoot  was carried up on stage. But before he got there, he got hit by a flour bomb.

I think it was supposed to be one groups idea of tagging another group, or perhaps it was someone's idea of throwing champagne? Unfortunately it was difficult to take a podium picture with all the flour in the air.

After the awards were present a couple of live bands took the stage.

A beer garden was setup near the stage. I don't know if it was the cold weather, or if people wanted to hang out instead of listening to live music, but most people left the stage area. I think part of the issue is many people had their own alcohol, and they couldn't bring it to listen to the band.

I hung out in McIntyre's RV for a while, and then decided to wander back over to the bands. The bands cut out fairly early, as they had no customers. But the flour was still flying.

The zoo bombers were playing some sort of weird bungee game. Take two bikes, attach each rider to a bungee cord. Have them ride at each other, past each other and see who falls off first. Mean while the flour flew all around them. I didn't even get away before being hit myself.

I was thinking that the partying was much mellower this year than last year. The flour shouldn't be too hard to clean up.

Monday, September 1

I slept in as long as I could, with a roughly four hour drive home, I wanted to be as rested as possible. I swung by the fair grounds on my way out. I helped McIntyre pack up, and we were the last ones to leave the campground. There was some trash around, but most of it had been picked up and deposited in large piles. The place didn't look too bad.

I stopped by the Stongehenge replica before heading out.

The monument is about a quarter mile from the track, and the view is spectacular.

Maryhill was a great event. The road isn't the fastest road, but it is still challenging. The competition was fierce, with over 200 athletes from a dozen countries. The town of Goldendale was behind the event. Providing us with free camping, free breakfast, and cheap dinners. But a few bad apples may have spoiled the event. Someone decided to spray paint graffiti on feed hay that was stored at the fair grounds next to the horse barn. At the after party some damage occurred, some items were stolen from the fair grounds, and fire extinguishers were extinguished. Coupled with some foul language spray painted on cars, some smoking, and apparently some public sex going on, our event left a very bad taste for Goldendale. I hope that we can return next year, and race again. But we have to act more professionally.

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