Verdicchio Euro Championships
In Central Italy is the Marche region, famous for growing the white wine grape, Verdicchio. Jesi, not far from the Adriatic Sea is most famous for the Verdicchio grape. Just a few minutes up the road is the small town of Castelplanio.
The town covers a hill side, with most of the town at the bottom, but part of the town at the top. The road connecting the two portions of the town was our course.
The course is long, about 3 km. The course starts at the very top of the hill, and almost immeditately dives into two hairpins. The road passes some houses before a hard left turn. A short while afterwards is a tight righthand hairpin. A long straight builds speed to a right turn that empties into another hard lefthand hairpin. The road meanders from here down to a hard left hand turn. A short straight to another left hand turn. The following, double apex right turn was called the Spectators corner.
This is where a bar was set up (complete with wine
) and most of the spectators watched from. While this was more than half way down the course, it felt like the cut off between the upper and lower sections. Not long after Specator Corner was a wider right hairpin, followed almost immediately by a tight left hand hairpin. These two hairpins led to two right turns that almost made a very wide hairpin. These set of turns finished with a left turn that wasn't quite a complete hairpin. From here a short straight led to the finish line.
Thursday, August 11
We pulled into Castelplanio in the middle of the afternoon. It gave us a chance to check out the town a little bit and get settled into our hotels. The campground was in the sports fields in the town at the bottom. But it was fairly empty, I guess many people will show up later in the evening. In the evening there was a dinner and registration, not far from the campground.
We had dinner at a pizza place at the top, but afterwards I went down to get registered. There were a few people skating on a large concrete slab, but not many other people at the registration/dinner. So I called it a night.
Friday, August 12
Things were off to a slow start, but at least the weather looked good. Hot, but good. Marcus was doing tech,
while we waited for things to get underway.
We finally started riding about 10:30. The course was long, and a lot slower than I expected. Fortunately there was water at the bottom waiting for us.
We had a bus
and a couple of trucks
to take us back to the top. We were managing about a run every half hour. It wasn't long before it was time for lunch.
I guess a lot of people went to the pizza place near the start line. We decided to hit the restaurant at our hotel. Ice is difficult to get in Europe. Although the warmer countries tend to get it. But I'd been travelling with Dave Kessler all summer, and almost everywhere we went, we asked for ice. This was the first time that we really got ice.
We were supposed to start qualifying right after lunch. We got our warmup run in, and then got ready to start qualifying with street luge. We watied,
and then waited some more. Turns out the radios stopped working. It was finally decided to forgo the radios and use cell phones. It was nearly two hours later when we finally started qualifying.
After a couple of people went, the timing stopped working! After playing with the timing it was decided to skip qualifying and do free rides for the rest of the day.
We grabbed dinner at the pizza place at the top. After dinner we stopped at the rider's dinner, for the rider's meeting.
Dinner was free
for the riders, but it was also relatively cheap for everyone else. Beer and of course wine was also served.
After the riders meeting, where tomorrow's schedule was discussed, it was off to bed.
Saturday, August 13
The plan for today was to do both qualifying runs. We started qualifying with classic.
Patrick Switzer hurt his foot, skating before the race, so he volunteered to help run the start. Fortunately things worked well, and qualifying finally got under way. Standup ran next, while standup qualifying was going on, a few people set up a slalom course.
Red Bull was one of the sponsors for the event.
We were given a card, and were allowed two Red Bulls a day.
I tend to race conservatively, and qualifying even more conservatively. I don't wreck too often, as I tend to brake a little too much. On my classic run I tried to take one of the fast right turns without braking, and I ended up hitting the hay. I hit the hay at the end of the turn. On my luge I would have stayed on my board, but on my classic it was enough to push me off the board! The one race we will only get one qualifying run, happens to be the only race I wreck!
We had a lunch break in the middle of standup qualifying. In the grand Italian tradition, it was a two hour lunch and siesta. We headed into town for lunch, which apparently was a good thing. I guess a lot of people hit the nearby pizza place, and they were swamped.
Immediately after lunch we dive right back into qualifying. Or at least we tried to start. There was additional communication issues that had to be sorted out. Fortunately they were solved a bit quicker this time, and we got underway. We had to wait
It was quite hot, and most people hung out under the trees near the start. But others found what little shade there was.
We finished qualifying off with street luge.
We actually got done a little early, and had time for some free rides.
We hit the riders dinner for dinner.
While I was waiting in line, I watched the young groms.
These guys were really enjoying themselves. While we were eating, the qualifying results and brackets were posted.
It is always nice to know where you placed.
A few of the skaters tried to put on a show.
I don't think this guy ever got off his trick, but the kids were mesmerized.
Rietema decided to show how it is done.
There was a short riders meeting, to discuss the schedule for tomorrow. Switzer took this oopurtunity to get rid of some of his wheels before heading home.
As he tossed some of his wheels, and some Orangatang product into the crowd. After the riders meeting, a DJ played some music
while most people just hung out and chatted, and some of the groms continued to skate.
Sunday, August 14
For the first time this summer in Europe, the skies were clear with no hint of rain on the race.
As we got ready for our warmup run, I spot a radio controlled camera.
Not sure who was filming, but I hope I get to see the footage at some point.
and junior's, and women started the race off.
The start was very flat, and without any sort of push I was just killed off the start line. At least I got to watch the last couple of rounds.
Getting the hole shot was important, as the first turn was still slow enough the outside lane would take you to long to get around.
Everyone dove for the inside line. Dr. Serek demonstrated one reason he typically wins, and why we layed down the fastest time on the hill.
After the junior's we broke for lunch. We raced over to the pizza place, and found no one else was there. Although it looks like they had extra staff, and we were informed that we could order pizzas today. I guess yesterday only the sandwiches were available for lunch. It was a good thing we got there early, as quite a few other people came by as well. I took my time, as standup would start after lunch.
I wanted to go down to spectator corner to watch, but street luge was supposed to start after the first round of standup. So I watched from the first couple of turns.
We were going to start street luge as soon as Yvon Labarthe got knocked out of standup, but he kept doing well.
After each round, I wandered back up to the start to wait and hear if Labarthe advanced or not. Once I caught some suspicious activity.
Apparently Dr. Serek locked Alex's keys in the car. Alex wasn't too worried, but he figured it would keep several of the guys occupied and out of trouble! Labarthe continued to do well, so I continued to watch the racing. Finally he made it into the finals. Labarthe had been doing well all day, by coming from behind. But in the finals, he was too far back after rounding the second turn and out of sight. I didn't think he heard a chance. But then I heard a crash, and ran back down. Apparently Jacko was in the front group, some wheels touched, and all three riders in the front group went down. Labarthe continued on to take second!
It was finally time to get street luge underway.
I ended up with an unlucky draw. Serek started racing in the luge class this year, on his classic board. In classic qualifying he had the fasted time on the hill. But in street luge he hit the hay in one of the turns. He ended up with a mediocre time, putting him in the middle of the pack. I ended up racing the #3 qualifier, and the fastest guy on the hill! My chances weren't good. Despite having a bad start, I ended up hanging with them until the Spectator turn, then I broke a little too much and had no chance to advance.
In the finals Serek gets the hole shot, by a significant amount.
With his fast qualifying time, he had a shot to win. But the other three lugers essentially draft trained him. Serek said he had no chance, once they flew by him. Labarthe wins, giving him three podiums on the day!
There was a discussion of trying to go to one of the nicer restaurants in town. But by the time the race was over, it was just easier to head over for the athelete dinner. After dinner, it was time to give the awards away.
Serek, Deltour, Labarthe
Labarthe, Tournissac, C. Robert
Junior II Standup:
Conan, Sokjer-petersen, Patricksson
Junior I Standup:
Gemperle, Bougourd, Prader
Ballesteros, Labarthe, N. Robert Inline:
We had some final words from the organizers. They were already talking about next year.
They tossed out some swag into the crowd. And the a band got on stage.
I was a little sick all weekend, so I didn't have the best time. The course was interesting, but slow. It was also cool to essentially race through the town, but it made it more difficult to keep it clear.