I know it has been a few days, but here it is. It was an awesome weekend. The Sydney downhill scene grew up on Mt Keira. It is where the Hopkin Racing team honed their skills and introduced new riders to downhill. There has always been a dream to hold an event on this mountain. ASRA has spent nearly two years negotiating with Wollongong Council to get the event cleared and sanctioned. The commitment and dedication of a few has resulted in an amazing new track on the World Cup scene. However, all dreams need to be funded. There were three important sponsors: Ourselves (Hopkin Racing). Orangatang Wheels and Landyachtz longboards. Both those companies have gifted the Australian longboard community with a sponsorship deal that will stoke us for many years. It was a big ask and we are grateful for the support. The other people (skateboarding's power couple) that contributed and never get a mention is John and Christine from JHS Distribution, without their generous support we would not have had the capital to run Mt Keira. These events survive on a knife edge of funding. You want to know what happened. When I arrived on the mountain on Sunday morning, there was carnage. The road was slightly wet from the night, and the corners were slippery. Two big crashes affected the Hopkin Racing Team. Lea went down and dislocated her shoulder, and Luca crashed and smashed the back of his helmet. He was wearing the new Predator, and I have seen the helmet, the Predator saved his life. More on that later, but Luca hit his head at the worst position, at the back, the Predator absorbed the impact, the outer layer took the force and the shell remained in tact. As the morning progressed the track dried up. Mid morning the heats began and the racing was eye popping. What makes this track so great is the length and gradient. It is fast all the way, not too technical as you can rail all the corners with a bit of air braking, but it is long enough to create close tight races. The only surprises in the first round was how many Australian juniors were progressing. Particularly Dejan Djukic who quickly got the Striker nickname of "mustard". You know you have made it when Striker nicknames you! What was impressive about mustard was that he qualified for the final 64 by winning through the repechage rounds. He would only be stopped by the Arbor team riders James Kelly and Duke Degen in the quarters. Who else kept racing all day was young gun Will Morphett. He also progressed via the repechage and got knocked out in the quarter finals. Can you imagine the nerves of steel this guy had, raced for two days to find himself in a final sixteen up against Dalua, Kyle Martin and Tony Graves. New Zealand youngster Api also showed that our cousins across the ditch have what it takes. He also made the final sixteen but raced up against Louis Pilloni, P-swiss and Matt Kienzle and was knocked out. The remaining Hopkin Racing team were knocked out in round two, and no shame in that. There was tight hard fast racing against the best skaters in the world. It goes to show that racing on Mt Kiera is a bit different to freeriding. One mistake or mis judgement and your out. Every race was super competitive and Round Two was where it all happened. On a race tree, round 2 is where 16 racers do not progress and there are always big names that bow out. The Australian Round Two curse continues for Mischo. He got caught in the rough at the start and fell over on his push. He never recovered and could not catch the field. Where is that rough section? Locals secret, Mischo knows where it is now, maybe he'll tell you or kept it for his advantage next year! There were two hero performances within the Hopkin racing Team. That of Kelly Carter and Lea Robertson. Lea dis located her shoulder on Sunday morning. She had it gaff taped up and raced the women's draw. Made the finals and came a board lengths away from winning on debut in an IGSA World Cup race!! It started to rain during the women's final and on crash corner Lea had the inside opening drafting Marisa and as she dove in to overtake her board slipped out and she crashed into the hay bales. Marisa crashed too but she managed to get on her board faster and win the race. Kelly Carter dislocated his shoulder on Saturday. It did not stop him competing in the junior round. He made it to the final. Lead into the final corner getting drafted by Jayden Mitchell, and had one small wob on his board which gave Jayden the opening to pass and win. He lost by a board length but in my mind he did not lose that race, he has just shown that even with a busted wing he is still one of the best juniors in Australia. That leads us to Jayden Mitchell. Not much I can say, his performance speaks for itself. In the after race ASRA meeting it was generally agreed that the best racer of the event was Jayden Mitchell. There is no award, if there was it would be Most Valuable Racer award. Not only did he dominate the juniors, he matched it with the best in the world and represented Australia in the open downhill final. The Australian scene has been watching his progress over the last 2 years. He has won a few junior races and a few outlaws. He definitely has stepped it up. He was racing on a Early prototype called Olive, another longboarders pro model, who knows, it could be released under Jayden's name! I was on the finish line for the finals. When it started to rain, we all yelled over the radio to the startline to start the open standup downhill final first. We thought the track would still be a bit dry but it was too late. Wet track, which resulted in a chaotic final. Most of the men crashed multiple times. It shattered Dalua's race lines. Only Alex Tongue managed to stay up and finish first. Watch all the videos below, the racers tell the story in their own words of what happened. It has been dry so far this week in Bathurst for Newtons Nation which starts Friday. Dalua holds the course record and he is itching for revenge. I would not be surprised if he smashes the course record and becomes the first downhill longboarder to break 1 minute on Mt Panorama. I could write stories all day. There was excitement in every race. Thousands and thousands of people showed up and crowded the course to watch. Hopefully we have inspired one of those young locals and he or she will grow up and compete in a Mt Keira race in the future and take on the world's best. Thank you to the residents of Wollongong for having us in your city. We love the Gong. See you all next year.
Here are a few videos from Day one practice session. Simple phone videos with Jacko voice overs. The track was wet, it was slippery. The days results are up on ASRA. Louis Pilloni was the fastest today followed by P Swiss. Best placed Aussie is Ben Hay sitting third. Yatesy is 9th and Cam is 17th. Lea is the top placed woman qualifier and is sitting 56th in the open which damn fine for her first IGSA race! Hopkin Racing team has never been better placed in a world cup event. Adam Yates, Mischo, Dalua and Switzer all cruise past in this practice run. IGSA Mt Keira race Day 1 practice Steez corner followed by faceplant and Tony Graves inspecting the haybales. IGSA Mt Keira race Day 1 practice with Tony Graves Rob McWhinnie shows us how to crash into the haybales. IGSA Mt Keira race Day 1 practice with Rob McWhinnie Louis Pilloni shows us the right way to crash into hay bales. IGSA Mt Keira race Day 1 and crashing with Louis Pilloni
Words by Lea Robbo Greetings from NZ! What an incredible town Wellington is for skating. Fast downhill and freeride runs everywhere. If I was not so in love with Sydney I would move here just for the hills. Though the town is pretty rad too and the locals friendly and relaxed. My introduction to Wellington skating did not require much effort. I walked out of our guest house and threw myself down the hill outside. Oh my, it was spectacular. Three kilometres long, butter smooth, sweeping corners, fast! I did about 10 runs in a row as Benbro kindly drove behind offering pointers and getting stoked with me on the ride back up. What a dude. The next big task was to tackle the Wind Turbine Race. The view from the top of the hill looking out over Wellington was breathtaking.View from the top of Wind Turbine
The design of the hill was cool, but the surface was inconsistent and rough as guts, so riding down it felt sketchy as. My plan was to ride in the girls bracket and then also enter the opens. I made it through practice and then my first race was against Marisa Nunez from Peru. I kicked out in front cleared the first corner with a slide, though lost a puck. Marisa made a good pass on the small up hill in the middle of the run. I tucked hard and chased her down. As we rounded the second last corner she went out wide and I began to pass on the inside, getting pulled through by her draft. I was surfing through but put my glove down lightly to steady myself. Then whack, my glove with no puck grabbed the rough road and my arm was pulled out! Gutted. We were having such an awesome run together. But that was me done for the day. I cruised on down to the finish line and asked if someone could please put my shoulder back in. Kelly-grom kindly did the task with a loud 'crack' and 'snap', much to the disgust of the surrounding skaters (BTW don't try this at home, I've had my shoulder out before, but you really should go to hospital). My shoulder started to seize a little so it would have been silly to continue skating - though I did consider it! I don't like to be beaten easily! Ishtar Buckland from Sweden was also claimed by the road in a gnarly crash into a dirt wall, so that left three ladies in the women's bracket with Marisa placing first, and Racheal London and Amy London from NZ placing second and third respectively. They all rode well on the challenging hill.
From left to right: Rachael London (2nd), Marisa Nunez (1st) and Amy London (3rd)
Racing aside, the brilliant part of this event was linking in with these international female riders. Dasha Kornienko from Canada, a World Cup racer of many years, was there spectating. Along with Dasha all the girls hung together and commented on how pleased we were to finally meet. We also stoked out as we talked about all the skating, hanging out and racing we'd be doing back in Sydney in five weeks for the Mount Keira World Cup. What a race it's going to be. I can't wait to race Marisa again and see her in full flight, she is a tidy rider, and fast! And to have the Aussie girls step up and race hard against international women is going to be awesome. To the Aussie team- Maga, Gemma, Deanne - get ready to shred! I can hardly wait! Thanks to Rachael London and Max Gordy for all of their hard work and organisation of the event, and to all of the locals who made me feel so welcome. Also to Hopkin for sending me over here. Luca keeps wondering how I am surviving living with seven blokes on a skate trip. Sometimes the boys can be a bit stinky, but I think they are all brilliant guys and I'm stoked to be here! Skate safe, skate hard, particularly you girls! Lea Robbo x
Hopkin Racing presents the Wind Turbine Race in Wellington New Zealand this Saturday. Not only that, we are sending the whole crew to New Zealand to stoke our cousins across the ditch!! This is the biggest tour Hopkin Racing has ever done. We want to match up against the Kiwi's. Start a new tradition of rivalry and friendship that matches the Bledisloe Cup. Maybe we could get our own silverware and call it the bloody-fast-cup! Heading up the Hopkin crew is team manager and Australia's fastest skater Jackson Shapiera. Sponsored by Sector 9, Rad wheels, Aera trucks. Also part of the Downhill Division on Sector 9 is Skatehousemedia movie creator Gabe Gywnne. If you are competing or hanging out at the race, make sure you get in front of the lens of these guys, you never know you might get a cameo in the next video. New Hopkin Team member, and on the Landyachtz Eh Team, is Adam 'Yatesy" Yates. Solid Queensland rabble raiser, look for him in the mix on finals day. Cam Kite is on the plane to New Zealand , whether they let him in the country is doubtful. I dont know how he'll get through the metal detectors with all that paraphernalia hanging from his belt. He represents all that is good about Rayne Longboards. Kelly Carter is racing this weekend. One of the fastest groms in Australia, and just put on Landyachtz flow. What is a tour without the big man Ben Hay. He might be distracted with all those fish in all those rivers in New Zealand. Standing on top of the windy peak, listening to the call of the ocean ... come and fish ... we miss you. Until you see Benbro, with the fishing game face on, you dont know the meaning of intensity. He'll be trawling for the big trophy and if that gets away he'll at least have some Kahawai on his home flight carry on luggage! Luca Coleman, fresh from the the red eye from London, hops the ditch to surprise all. He has been training on sacred hills in South America and Africa. So watch out Kiwis, lock up your daughters if you see urethane lines out the front of your house. Keeping them all in check is Lea Robbo. Australia's first lady of downhill. Competing in her first international race. She'll have a point to prove. Expect to get an elbow in the ribs on the start line. She has a smile that will make you blush, but dont let her good looks fool you. She wants to grind you into the ground and dance on your podium. Can you believe it? Eight Hopkin Racing crew in New Zealand! We can't forget Josh (resident Hopshop pommie)...he is carrying everyone's bags!
Here is the tour run down by Gabe
The welcoming sign for the Hopkin Racing Team at New Zealand airport
Wellington is incredible, in every direction all you can see are huge-ass hills, each and every one of them with multiple roads built up on, over and into them. Hairpins, Sweeping canyon runs, Tight pathways with rad corners, one way death roads, highway bombs, slide hills, alleyways, banks, urban runs that take you down mountains in so many different ways it makes your head hurt..... EVERYTHING! In one city. The next few days we will be driving around in the Hopkin Racing Team bus and skating the gravity fueled playground that is Wellington. Saturday is the Wind Turbine Outlaw race. The road is chunder balls chipseal and there's a corner that requires sliding for, it should be interesting watching how people slide into rough as balls corner on fresh wheels, guaranteed plenty of carnage! From there we will be driving up north towards Auckland to the holy mother of fast, butter smooth, volcano runs....Mt Ruapehu. Last year we slept in the car at the bottom of the hill and skated down the mountain at sunrise into a giant fog bank rising up the mountain. The run requires no sliding, just pure mobbing through huge, fast corners with sharp volcanic rock and guard rail whizzing past on both sides. The N-tentz D-Centz tour will be meeting us up at Ruepehu and myself, Jacko, Yate-dawg and Josh Hunt will be joining the tour for another two weeks of skating the sweet variety of hills that NZ has to offer. Stay tuned to the Hopkin vimeo channel, skatehousemedia.com and on the Hopkin Blog for updates, stories, pictures and sick-ass videos! Fuck yeah shred gnar. Gabe ARE YOU IN WELLINGTON??? LET IT SHRED