X-treme Grand Prix
St. George, UT
For the third year the XGames last chance qualifier was held in the Southern Utah desert oasis town of St. George. St. George is a small town about 100 miles north of Las Vegas. The country side is littered with red dirt and mesa's.
Like last year, the race course went down Foreman Drive. The course is fairly short, but steep. There is a left shortly after the start, followed by a fairly straight 9 degree drop. This leads into the technical part of the course, a hard right, quickly followed by a hard left, which leads to the finish line.
Thursday, April 27
I decided to arrive early so I can get teched on Thursday. This meant arriving in Las Vegas around 2 PM. With the time change, a roughly 2 hour drive, it left little room to assemble my board and get it teched before the 6 PM deadline. St. George is roughly 100 miles from Las Vegas, but be careful about driving too fast, several riders got tickets last year for speeding. It also takes sometime to drive through Vegas. I go to the race course right on schedule, just before 5 PM, they were still working on the course. I set up on the side of the street and start putting my board together. The course workers were still assembling the course, and I was in the way. I noticed this, and I thought I could put my board together in time. It was a race, the hay bales got slowly closer for each bolt I put in, but in the end I lost, I had a couple more bolts to tighten when the hay bales arrived. But thats ok, I finally got the board put together, and managed to get some hay in my bag. But I did manage to get to tech.
There were a few other people at the site, Ozman and Marcus were buzzing around on powered scooters, having a grand 'ol time.
I saw Rat's truck, but I think he was off in the hills on his bike. I didn't get a chance to say hi, I figured I would talk to him tomorrow.
After breezing through tech (with one small problem, a hole in my leathers), I took some time to walk the hill. The race is pretty much won and lost at the turns at the bottom.
Neither turn is really that bad, but put them both together... The turn at the top of the race course is also fairly sharp, but the speed is fairly low.
After dinner it was back to the hotel to get ready for the race. I spent the evening sewing my leathers. I was told I just needed to put a few stitches in, I decided to sew it properly. That wasn't too hard, but then I noticed that there was a HUGE hole underneath the armpit, that took some sewing. Mean while Kurtis went through his wheels, unsure if he had enough.
I couldn't convince him that 56 wheels was more than enough for this race.
Friday, April 28
I got to the race site fairly early. Earlier than I needed to because I had already been through tech. Kurtis convinced me to go to the Walmart up the street and try and buy a canopy. I spent too much time there and gave up when the cheapest canopy I could find was $129. We had been hoping to buy a cheap 20 or 30 dollar throw-way canopy. Oh well, we'll either have to deal with the sun, or befriend someone who had a canopy.
I believe that this was Team F-6's first race, a team from Oklahoma!
I wandered around greeting a bunch of old friends, most I hadn't seen since last year, a few I saw last month in South Africa. But there was no Rat. I knew he was here, I saw his truck last night. It turns out Rat got sick and decided to drive home. I'm still not sure what the problem was, kidney stones? I found out months later that he made it home ok, and the doctors fixed him up, go Rat!
As practice time neared, people began to get antsy and lined their boards up.
But as usual we were late, what was the holdup this time? Chris "Old School" Chaput had recently purchased a large RV that looks like a school bus. He drove the RV, with plans of camping at the bottom. But first he was going to drive down the race course. He filled up before leaving home. It is 402.2 miles from Chris' house to the top of the race course, Chris discovered that his RV has a range of 402.3 miles! Fortunately through the local AAA (or Sam's Club or whatever the RV club is called) Chris was able to get some gas and move the vehicle. Unfortunately for the riders, the local club wasn't able to help him until about 10am, an hour after practice was supposed to start. We did hold the riders meeting while we were waiting.
We finally climbed aboard the U-Haul
for the first practice run.
While the weather wasn't as bad as it could have been, it was still hot, and what little shade there was, was welcome.
It was getting close to lunch time, and I was the last one to go down the hill when I was red flagged. I pulled over to the nearest course official, and he said someone went straight into the hay, didn't turn or anything. I sat there for a while, hoping who ever it was had been winded. Wondering if I should walk back to the top. After a few minutes, nothing had changed. Who ever it was, was still on the ground. I decided to walk down. I meet the U-Haul coming back up. I found out that Johno Moore was the injured rider. It turns out that he had a fractured leg, and I guess he also broke his arm. Apparently going through the right hander, he hooked up with someone and they were unable to stop.
Johno was rushed off to the hospital, and we took our last practice run before lunch. Every sport qualified.
We had 19 buttboarders!
I was unable to get pictures of the streetluge qualifying, but I did get a few shots of buttboarders, as well as a few standup shots.
Bob Swartz has a fan club from Colorado, and apparently they want to get into racing as well.
The final event of the day was the buttboard race. This year we got the event off a little earlier, but the shadows were beginning to form.
I was DQ'ed at the start. I qualified 16th overall, and I had a pretty touch crowd to contend with. In qualifying I didn't push as hard as I could, partially because the buttboard feels more unstable. So I decided I had to give it everything, as I really had nothing to loose. Well I practically leapt into the other lane, I did everything I could, practically putting my hand under the board to not cross the line, but I pretty sure I crossed over. To make matters worse I was concentrating so hard on trying not to go outside the line to the right that I wasn't paying attention to the end line, which I also paddle over. I realized the error of my ways, just as I put my hand down. I through my hands in the air, as in "oh well" and layed down to race. But then I thought (and I'm still kicking myself for not doing this) the road is fairly flat right here. Wouldn't the other guys just get a kick out of it, if I just kept on paddling, and I paddled right by them?
My day was over, but I did get to watch the rest of the race.
The heats were pretty tight, at least one person wrecked
and it got too dark for me to take any decent pictures. But not as dark as it was last year.
I wonder sometimes if anyone ever has any fun buttboarding.
Nah no one has any fun.
The four finalists line up for a photo shoot,
and then the other semi-finalist join in.
Saturday, April 29
Today was race day. After a short riders meeting, a local Boy Scout troop opened the day up with the playing of the national anthem.
Followed by a flag ritual.
Then a local clergyman said a prayer.
Then everyone got one practice run in,
including the inliners.
As we prepared to set up for the Last Chance Qualifiers (which I failed to qualify for) some of the riders who already qualified goofed off. Gerhard wanted to be a course official, and figured an extra pair of sunglass would help.
I also ran across Beth, a new woman rider, checking out the buttboard.
But then it was time to start the first four man race.
We were going to run the four man race twice. I was able to get a few photos of the races.
These guys are looking pretty good,
but something goes horribly wrong
I didn't think this shot really came out, slightly out of focus and all,
but John has the best facial expressions.
The first race was won by Ruhman with Jason and Brent taking second and third. The second race went to Chaput, with Duffield and Orton following.
There were quite a few wrecks in the turns this year.
The course martials worked hard to keep the hay bales in place. By the end of the day we would have at least one more trip to the hospital (bruised and battered, but otherwise ok) and several people with wind knocked out of them, and even some ice going around.
Between the luge racing there was some bike racing.
The inline skates ran, but it wasn't much of a race as there were only three entrants! And the Standup race was run.
The last race of the day was the World Cup Super Mass. I was not on my day this weekend, and I came in fifth in my heat, allowing me to watch the rest of the race.
While there was some pretty good racing,
there was even more carnage in the turns. Brent Dekeyser takes his first Gold Medal, with Chaput and Colabella right behind him.
As people cleaned up a bit before the awards,
Kurtis grabbed a bunch of the riders for a photo op,
And then it was podium time. Marcus and Gerhard share the stage for the first time and try to explain some of their new vision for IGSA.
Last Chance Qualifiers:
Riders who earned slots to the XGames: ,
World Cup Luge:
And then it was Party Time. As we were clearing out, I was handed a sheet of paper with a sort of map scribbled on it. A bunch of us piled into my car, and off we drove. After driving around the entire neighborhood, where the party was located, after all four of us had interpreted the map, and after running into a couple of other lost party seekers, we somehow managed to find the party (a huge clue was the forty some odd cars parked out in front.)
Waldo did some bonfire diving.
and Beagle was his usual self.
All in all it was a fine way to end the day.
Sunday, April 30
Sunday, a day of rest. But what better way to rest than to lay on a street luge in or near a beautiful state park? Today was Bike Path day! Early Sunday morning, before checking out of the hotel, it has been customary to head out near Snow Canyon State Park and ride the 7 miles bike trail. The trail is fairly straight, but you can reach 60 mph. Unfortunately I don't know how much longer this tradition can continue, as the area out there is being developed, more people are using the bike path.
The Red Cliff bike path starts at the entrance to Snow Canyon. We had quite few people show up for the run.
We took the opportunity to have a photo op. First up was the F-6 crew.
and then pretty much everyone who was going to go down the bike path, except I think the standup guys got tired of waiting for us.
Even when we are in charge, there is a lot of waiting around.
We let the lugers go first,
as the buttboarders were going to go a bit slower to try and stay together. We had some vehicle problems after the first run
We had more people and equipment than the vehicles could handle. Us buttboarders jumped on a truck that was driving drivers back to get more vehicles so we could get another run in. This time we took the course at full speed. When we got to the bottom, Darren had noticed there was a problem with his wheel. He took a closer look at it.
Fun was over, it was time to pack up, drive back to Vegas and fly home.
While this had been a fun weekend, we had a large share of injuries for the second year. At least two people went to the hospital, one with a compound fracture. Rumor has it that we will not race on this road again. I think this is a good thing as in the two years we have raced here, there has been more accidents than anywhere else (I think there were more accidents here in two years that pretty much every where else combined!) St. George is a lovely town, and I hope to return next year, just to a different road!