Montreal is the second largest Canadian city with over 3.5 million people in the area. The majority of the city is on an island in the St Lawrence River. The downtown area of the city is wedged between the river and Mont Royal. The tallest peak is 233 metres (those of us who've attended Talimena know that this barely qualifies as a hill.)
Coming down from the top of the tallest peak is the course. The course starts at the lookout, runs straight over some cracks and bumps
in the road to a gentle left. These leads into a right hand hair pin. The road is very rough, with lots of chip sealed cracks. After the shallow curve, the road smooths a bit to pick up speed for the hard left. After making it through the left, there is barely enough time to set up for the hard right just before the finish. Of course there is a fairly large bump in the middle of the turn.
Friday, August 24
The riders meeting was held Friday evening at MileEnd
a bar in downtown Montreal.
First we needed to register. By the time I got there, the line was gone. They had two tables set up to make registration go faster. Despite the fact that they lost my online registration, it still only took a few minutes. They gave is some magazines that they had advertised in. The advertisement was one of the coolest I've seen. It was a standup rider in a slick blue leather suit, standing amongst some guys in business suits.
After registering we had our pictures taken.
Then we hung out drinking beers waiting for the riders meeting.
The meeting finally got under way.
They first went over the schedule and race format
Top Challenge has an unusual format. On Saturday there will be a points race, much like GSI does. Everyone gets 4 randomly selected heats. Your total points will be your best 3 finishes. The top 32 standup riders and top 16 lugers will then race a single elimination race on Sunday. After the meeting there was a small give a way. Only those that pre registered were entered in the give away. The biggest prize was a week for two at a Mexican Adventure Resort.
Of course Dead was happy to win 25 shots.
After the riders meeting, several of us took off to a local landmark to eat. After dinner we went back to the bar, only to find it was super dead. They claimed it would get hopping until after midnight. We decided if we stayed, we'd be there till 4am.
Saturday, August 25
The weather wasn't looking good. Brenda was a course worker, and had to be at the course by 7. We didn't make it, but we were still early. The weather still didn't look good.
After getting set up under the
Bud Light tent,
I got in line for my bib.
The road was soaking wet, so I put on my rain wheels. With the heavy thick clouds, there was no telling if it would ever dry up.
We had a short riders meeting
before starting practice.
Amazingly enough the road started to dry out.
This is the type of road I hate the most, half wet, half dry.
But the road continued to dry as we practiced. I switched back to my normal wheels before practice was over.
Practice went much smoother than it went last year. This year we also used the school bus to return riders to the top,
although our luges barely fit into the trucks that were provided.
After practice Dirt Surfers started racing,
and the rest of us took a lunch break. I just hung around at the top of the hill, as the inline board race wouldn't take too much time.
Our luge race was next.
There were about 25 of us, only 16 would race tomorrow.
I had a few good heats, but I was having the hardest time getting through turn two with enough speed. I raced well enough to qualify for tomorrow. There were quite a few cameras and media at the event.
The sun started to come out and the day started to warm up. One of the sponsors M-150 brought some cold energy drinks.
My day was over,
and the standup guys would start after the Inline race.
I took the opportunity to wander down the course to watch the standup. Despite the weather, or maybe because it was improving, there was quite a crowd.
And even more people at the bottom.
A stage was set up,
but I think there was just a DJ and an announcer. At the bottom of the course there was a hot dog stand
and a few booths set up,
mostly skate shops.
ilesansfil.org set up a free wireless hotspot on the course.
The idea was to upload pictures from the race immediately. I also ran into the Bud Light girls while I was hanging out at the finish line.
After the races were over, on my way back to the top of the hill I spotted a future skateboarder.
This kids arms would immediately snap out as soon as the board started moving.
The official party was held at a local nightclub, Balroom. We got there about 10:30pm, and the place was fairly dead.
The place got hopping after midnight, and like we feared we ended up partying until they kicked us out about 3:30. I was really surprised how busy the streets were at that time. Of course that may be because most of the bars had just let out. This isn't going to be good, I'm supposed to be at the course at 7AM!
Sunday, August 26
The weather was a little bit better than yesterday,
but maybe it will clear up later. It was too early,
but I was at the track and awake. About 9:05, we were just kind of standing around wondering when we would get started, when someone yelled out "any time you are ready, you can go." It didn't take most of us long to jump in our suits.
We got in several practice
runs before starting the same schedule as yesterday, Dirt Surfers would start first while the rest of us ate lunch. We actually had a while, because we were trying to stick to a schedule, and luge was starting at 1:45.
As lunch wore on, the day got warmer.
At one point the generator ran out of fuel.
These inflatable tents deflate fairly quickly, and as one person stayed inside trying to hold it up, claims, they are fairly heavy as well.
Today the race would be the usual single elimination. My first heat I started off with a decent start, made it down to the right turn in decent shape, but tapped the brakes just a little too much. I came out of the turn without enough speed, in last place. I made up most of the distance in the next hard turn. We were almost three wide heading into the last turn. I was trying to decide if I can make a move and pass two people before the finish, when the guy next to me hit the bump. I was on his outside, saw the bottom of his luge and sparks. I thought he was going to slide out and slam into me, so I hit my brakes and backed out.
Top Challenge did something differently this year. They decided to run the consolation brackets farther down, for standup they would run down to 20 spots. I assumed, since they only had 16 lugers, we would run everyone through the consolation. So I went back to the top, and found out only the top 12 would race a second time. If I would have known that, I would have stayed at the bottom to watch the semis and finals.
So I changed into street clothes, I walked down the course to watch the standup race. The weather was incredible today, and there were a lot more spectators.
I don't think I've seen this many competitors since DHX. People pretty much lined the entire course, although the final corner had more than its share of people.
Although there were a lot of spectators, there was plenty of room for a lot more.
Dave and Will ended up racing each other, in a two man heat, and I guess they had discussed earlier to try and cross the finish together.
But John ended up sticking his hand in front of Will's rear wheel, causing both to wreck. They cross the finish hand in hand.
The final was incredibly tight.
The race was over, time for the awards ceremony. We hung out in front of the stage, while the racers raced to the top to quickly change and grab their equipment. While we were waiting the Bud Light Girls posed, and posed a lot.
I'm not exactly sure what happened, but when a Black Belt grabs you and tells you to get a picture taken with her, you do it.
I think their boyfriends got jealous.
The Canadian skateboarders seem to be getting younger every year.
The awards ceremony was finally ready to get under way.
Sebastian, Mig, Louis
Nihat, Leghalt, Razza
Rogers, Labarthe, Dean
Lundberg, Rimer, Lang
Everyone on the podium got a bottle of Bud Light to throw.
A couple of the camera men upfront had some plastic shielding, but the girls didn't have anything.
The standup guys couldn't even pose for a podium shot, they were too excited.
Some of the awards were nice. The Dirt Surfers got some forks.
First place got a wooden carving.
The slalom guys got slalom boards, and the skateboards got skateboards.
The trophies were ring sized nuts.
The event was over, time to go home, clean up and then party!
The after party was make at milend. We were promised an all you can eat buffet. We showed up a little late, and discovered it wasn't exactly a buffet. Every few minutes they would bring out a small plate of finger food. The food on the plate disappeared in seconds! A few of us went ad gorged ourselves on enormous pastrami sandwiches. We came back to hang out at the bar.
By the time we got back, a lot of the guys had already left. Tonights party was nothing like last years. Towards the end of the night, there were a handful of standup riders left. They all got together for a group shot. The guys stood still for all of about 63 seconds.
I think someone got a shot, I just got mayhem.
This years Top Challenge was much better than last years. For one thing, the organizers listened to us. We asked to have some hay bales moved down the course, and while it took them a few tries they did move the bales down the course. Every attempt was made to run the race on schedule, and we got more runs in than the year before. The parties could have been better.
We had a few bad injuries. One of the Lady Skaters tore some leg ligaments. I think there was also a separated shoulder.