North American Championships
Vernon, BC, Canada
Vernon is a small town in the Okanagan Valley. The town sits at the northern tip of Kalamalka lake, and just minutes from Okanagan Lake. As one of the warmest regions of Canada, and sitauated on a beautiful lake, the region sees a lot of tourists activity. Vernon is also home of 2009 IGSA Skateboard Champion, Misho Erban.
The Vernon course is fairly short, at exactl 1 kilometer, about 2/3 of a mile, but it runs right through a neighborhood. Starting at the top of a steep hill, the course heads down
towards the first intersection. The course takes a hard left turn, but this is where most of the spectators, as well as the announcers sit.
Heading down from here the road widens up quite a bit before taking a hard right hand
turn onto Middleton Way. A short straight, with some drafting oppurtunities ended the course.
Saturday, June 12
We have a pretty tight schedule. Today is practice and qualifying and tomorrow is racing. I wasn't sure when things would start, last year it was supposed to get going around 8. With the schedule so tight, I figured things would get going fairly quickly. Becausing parking was sparse at the start line, we were asked to park at the parking lot
near the finish line. One of the buses would take us to the top. I found the parking lot first, and noticed there were no other vehicles. I was little worried, and just hoped that I was a bit early. I drove up the course to the top, and discovered I was quite a bit earlier as there were only about a dozen other people there.
It gave me a chance to drop my equipment off, park my car in the lot, and walk back up the hill.
I got back to the top and managed to get in line first for tech inspection.
We had about 75 riders total, but tech didn't take too long.
We finally got started at 10 AM.
With a short course it didn't take long to get everyone down the hill. We got four runs in before breaking for lunch.
Our chase vehicles were two school buses.
The lugers jumped in front of the skateboarders so we wouldn't have to carry our boards through the narrow aisle. Since we were the first down for the lunch break, and we would be the first to start qualifying I decided to walk up for lunch. I got a chance to watch some of the practice runs.
The left had turn was definitely the most exiting place to be.
On the way up the hill we ran into some of the local kids,
who were totally stoked to have this race so close to home.
The riders were given a lunch ticket for a free lunch. One of the neighbord near the corner was frying up hamburgers and hot dogs. The ticket got us a hamburer, a hotdog, and a drink.
I took my time walking up the hill, chatting with people and watching the riders, I just barely beat the rush.
Although there was about a half hour break for lunch, I had to head to the top as soon as I finished my lunch.
Street luge started of the qualifying, followed by the standup riders. Because the road had to be open every 20 minutes, it took some time to get through the entire lineup. I hung out at the corner, listening to Stryker announce, watching the standup riders.
As soon as standup was finished, the buttboarders ran their first qualifying run. Since there were only three lugers, who were also buttboarding, the lugers jumped into a truck to be run back to the top. The 20 minute window had to be used to its maximum. The second round of qualifying ran in the same order as the first round. We actually finished up shortly after 4, and we had the road until 5. There was talking about doing another practice run. But some of the volunteers were ready to call it quits after a long hot day.
After packing everything into the car, I was ready for a shower. But a bunch of people went down to the lake, which was only a few minutes from the hill. I found the group already there, and apparently most of the throwing people in the lake was already done.
After hemming and hawing, and hoping no one throws me in, I finally decided I was at the lake, I should go in. I added my shoes to the pile, and jumped in. The lake was a little warmer than I expected. It was still cold, I wouldn't want to stay in too long. But it was definitely a refreshing way to end a hot day. One of the locals I spoke to said that this weekend was the first nice weekend of the year. The party on the beach lasted until the local cops came. They didn't like us drinking alcohol on the beach. Most people headed to the bar on the beach, and then back to the campsite.
Sunday, June 13
Today the festivities were getting under way at 10:00 AM. I slept in and got at 10. I thought I might be late, but things were still getting going. They were handing out Tshirts and a really cool water bottle.
Today's schedule was similar to yesterday's schedule. Practice in the morning, racing in the afternoon.
After lunch it was time to race. The entire field of street luge, Will, Kolby, and I
along with the juniors
and women start the racing. I had been trying some new equipment this weekend, and spend most of Saturday dialing it in. I still wasn't quite on my game, it shown in that I was abour 4 seconds behind in qualifying. The race started and Will and Kolby beat me off the line, I caught up as we approached the first turn, but I was still a little hesitant and slowed down too soon. But Will went all out, and hit the second turn a little too fast, he hit the hay, and rebounded and hit Kolby. This allowed me to pass both of them and take the first heat.
Our second heat started off much like the last. I got around the first turn better, although I could still hit it harder. I also hit the second turn a little better, but I was still trailing a foot. Fortunately Will and Kolby also took the turn slow. I thought I had a chance to draft them. I was trailing behind Will who was drafting Kolby. There is a slight bend as we approach the finish line. I finally pulled out of the draft to try and pass, and headed to the inside. Will left at the same time, also heading to the inside. I almost caught him, but ran out of room. I think my feet were around Will's waist. Fortunately Will didn't quite hit the apex of the turn, giving me room. I did run over the code that was there. Turns out it was a photo finish between Will and Kolby. Will thought he won, and I thought he won, but I wasn't exactly paying attention to Kolby. We started our third heat without knowing who won. This was my best run, although I still hit the brakes too soon heading into the first corner. I exited the second corner with more speed than the previous run, and closer to Will and Kolby, but they also had more speed. I tried to draft, and I was inching closer, but it wasn't enough. I think my feet would have just been past Kolby's head as I tried to shoot between him and Will. But Kolby was closing the door, and at the last second I veered around his left side.
There were about 70 standup riders, so they ran a 128 man bracket, to give everyone a chance. Buttboard would race with the final three heats of standup. I hung out in the corner to watch the first two rounds. Max the youngest standup rider did a stint at announcing, and did a great job.
He tried his best to get the crowd riled up. A group of the neighborhood kids formed the Sk8tie Katie fan club.
I'm not sure if they even knew who she was, I think they just liked the name. One way to get a bunch of kids to get down and boogie, is to promise a set of wheels to the best dancer.
Some of the racing in the corner was very tight, even in the second round!
I finally had to head to the top to get read for our buttobard heats. This time we had five of us. Our first heat had Will beating Kolby and I off the push, I think I passed Kolby in the first turn, but he pulled through the turn a little faster than me. Our second run went pretty much the same way, with Kolby actually passing me twice. I was just letting the first turn get to me a bit, and slowed down too much.
For the last round, standup consilation was run, and then our third heat of buttboard. This time I had a much better run heading into the first corner, but Will changed up his run, and apparently tried to apex the corner properly. It was completely unexpected as he pulled out of nowhere in front of me, and I ended up slamming on my brakes hard.
There was still plenty of time, so we were given a ride up to the corner to watch the standup final.
Reimer came through the turn in a distant second. He closed the gap with Silva in the next turn, but I thought he was still too far back. But apparently he drafted well as he won the race. As soon as the race was over, some more swag was handed out
and then the awards
ceremony was held. We started with luge and buttboard, although we still weren't sure who won luge!
Condon, Parks, McBride
Condon, Parks, McBride
Juniors I Standup:
Juniors II Standup:
Tongue, Coleman, Slota
Davies, Neilson, Gregerson
Reimer, Silvas, Shikaze
The standup awards were these cool etched glass trophies. But getting off the podium wasn't exactly easy, and Reimer dropped his! Fortunately only a small corner chipped off, fairly sturdy for about a 10 foot drop!
For me I got my car packed up, and a quick diner with the other lugers before I took off for my seven hour drive home.
Vernon was a really nice warmup to the World Cup season. The course was short with two hard corners. It gave me a chance to try out some new equipment, and also a chance to enjoy some nice warm weather. I think we only had one person how had an injury. Vernon really isn't a continental event, but it is an awesome regional event. And the neighborhood, for the most part, seems to love having the race. I hope there are many more Vernons in the future.