Here is Gabe's account of the Vernon Downhill weekend.
Just got back from Vernon, what a trip it was!
Jacko, Leigh, Bow and myself drove the team Ozzie car
down on Friday afternoon. We set up camp at a campsite about 200m away from Okanagan Lake and had an early night to get some rest for freeriding and qualis the next day.
On Saturday we awoke to a hot, sunny day and after a breakfast of bagels and coffee drove up to the hill to start practice.
The hill runs through a residential neighbourhood and has two main corners. From the top you kick off down a slight left hand sweeper and tuck through two very mellow sweepers, the road drops away to the right and you come hauling into the first tight lefty at about 70. Most people were throwing down small heelside checks into it but K-rimes took the fastest time of the day by standing up and surfing a big, clean line through the left. The people throwing down footbreaks were getting booed by the crowd of local mega groms (none older than about 12) hyped up on sugar and Strikers booming voice through the microphone.
After the left hander there's a flat, slightly sloping straight that drops down into a right hander, this corner was just a bit less than a hairpin and required no braking for. It had a nasty little rough patch running across the apex which threw me off in both my quali's. After the right hander there was a pretty slow straight which dropped down to the finish line.
After the first day Jacko had qualified 13th with myself, leigh and bowditch all managing to crash out and place pretty terribly.
The next day we were back at the hill and psyched for some tight, gnarly racing. We got another 5 practice runs before the heats began. I had switched over from my dropped through Killswitch to my Voodoo Doll and was feeling much more comfortable through the corners.
First up were the Junior heats. To start I had a 5 man heat against a few fast juniors, one of them Alex Tongue from Portland
, he was the fastest qualifying junior placing 11th overall. I was second off the push and held it all the way through the race, just hanging off Alex's draft the whole way down. Boom! I was in the finals.
In the finals I had Wolfgang Coleman; who rides for Landyachtz
, Alex; who rides for Eastside Longboards
, and Mike Slota
; who rides for Rayne
Again I took second place off the push, this time right behind Alex getting sucked down the hill by his draft. Coming into the left hander he stood up and airbraked and I had to push him into the corner to avoid tangling up. I managed to push him off, throw a lightning fast heelside check, sneak on his inside and pass him coming out of the corner, I WAS WINNING!
I held first place down the straight to the right hander, and just as I came through the apex I hit the rough patch at the wrong angle and slid out into the bales... shit happens eh.
After the Junior, Women's and Streetluge races the Open's started.
Most of the first heats were two man heats so no-one was trying very hard, almost everyone would continue to round 2.
Bowditch got unlucky and had a three man heat with two fast riders, he crashed out in the lefty and was knocked out. Leigh crashed on his first too but managed to push off hard and take 2nd place. Jacko and I had two man heats so we were in no matter what.
Round two Leigh and I were knocked out, I had Dalua and a Vernon local who were both out in the lead the whole way, I took third place and spent the rest of the day sitting on top of the Loco
and watching the carnage on the lefty.
Jacko made it through to the semi finals but had a tough heat and was knocked out. He almost took first in the consolation final but was beaten by Mischo by his hand.
We partied hard that night at the campground and climbed a hill to watch the sunrise over the mountains and lake, beautiful place.
After crashing out at about 7.30AM we woke around midday and convoyed to Giants Head with the Loco to do some gnar shredding.
Giants Head was easily the BEST hill I have ever skated.
Steep, one lane wide with 13 hairpins, all butter smooth and perfectly slippery. It took me three runs to do the whole thing without a hand down, in some sections I was having to bust big standup slides at 50-60 into these tight, gnarly hairpins. After 7 runs I had taken about 16mm off my Sector9 freeride wheels
. These wheels were amazing for throwing down big, fast standup 180s and checks.
Yates, Leigh, Jacko and I camped at Giants Head for the night, Bowditch
went back to Vancouver on the Loco with a pretty nasty staph infection, he was breaking out in hives and wasnt looking too healthy, he's just gone to the hospital now to have another checkup.
Today we woke to cloudy skies and before we could even get our gear on it started pissing down with rain, Leigh
hadn't skated the day before and was mega bummed at not being able to shred down Canada's best hill, silly bugger!
Unfortunately we didn't get any footage of Giants Head, our GoPro's were dead from Vernon.
This Thursday we're flying out to California, Evren
is coming to pick me up from the airport. I'll be staying with him in one of the gnarliest areas of cali, Laguna Beach.
At the moment our boards are locked in the boot of the team Aussie car, the lock was bent somehow and now we cant open it and get out gear out!
Talk to you soon!