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.
Words by Yatesy DAY 5 How to put this. best place ever. Yeah Julia for hookin us up with the hell pad. such a comfy base called home even if it was for a few days, ur home was ours and we treated it as such!! Journey north to Ruapehu. what a day. the crew hit the road early with the kitchen a cookin in town of wellington. best bakery pie and sanga combo ever and a quick stop over for the boys to get rugged up at campers paradise before the journey to Mordor! Best way to describe the trip is one of Gabes earlier photos. A to B on NZ roads- allow more time. We certainly took the long way and that was no more pronounced than the drive that took us through Rimutaka Mountain Pass. Wet as hell, bendy as and just as tight as a rich man's wallet. A lil too gnar to turn wheels so enjoy we did from the comfort of the IMAX. Man this truly was the country of Hobbits eh. Furns, Waterfalls and all things mondo kuzzi styles. All we needed was a few Kiwis and Moa's to be shreddin the shit with us. Co pilot for the journey Benbro and I felt the need to share the stoke with a Tui or two. oioi! Ok so now we'd been driving for the best part of 6 hours and all everyone wanted to do was turn wheels and get hella pitted on Mt Ruapehu. Stopped at a gas station to fill up and get our munch on as its been a SAFE journey as always. Can never be too safe eh. Especially on roads your unfamiliar with. I asked the Luvvi at the gas station what the mountain was doin. her reply was " see that cloud au, its behind there and blowing like mad bro" haaaaaa. again. too much chur bro kuzzzi tafe eh!! Anyways, full of treats but slightly devod we journeyed into the sun of the afternoon to look upon Mordor and its heavy clouds. booooooo. Benbro was shattered. I was too. I'm sure just quietly everyone wanted to see all its glory, not hidden behind the weather. Turn right into the Whakapapa Village and Mordor was there in all her glory. Still she had a cover of cloud on the lid but the landscape was that of the moon. Rocks and nothing but lumps and bumps. So to the road. Butter pavement again and NO straights, just mondo turn after hectic hell super grip fun as f&ck turns yo!! Thing I've been leaving out is the wind! Try in the ball park of 50-60knt ( 120-130k/p/h) and blowing down her tight tidy curves. After a few runs down with the boys, Gabe, Benbro, Jack, Bondi, Myself and Luca all had our jedus running full tilt. Nothing sets off the flow than skidding down one of the most epic roads in the world with a tailwind of 120kms?? CRAZY??? Stayed at the top of Ruapehu in some dorms that Bodhi and Speedy hooked up. Mate, hats off to u two. U really got the Crew sorted in some hell accommodation. Anyone thinking of N-tense D-centz tour for 2013, DO IT. GET ER DONE EH!!!! these boys run it proper. Hell feed cook up by Kuzzi Ash, rounds of beer pong and some beats, need less to say it was good times! DAY 6 --- DAY 1 of the N-tense D-centz It was to be an early rise with the excitement of a whole day of sk8in Mt Ruapehu. the whole crew were buzzing. the conditions were sunny and dry but still hella windy. Not the intensity of the previous afternoon but the gusts were still ferocious none the less. A quick bite to eat and a stretch and punters were getting stoked and it wasn't long before the call was made. Speedy got us into gear and Bodhi warmed the bus. Here it was, Day 1 of the tour and what a place to be. Standing with all ya buddies on top of a volcano, stoked on the ride ahead. An unfortunate turn of events was just around the next bend, literally. As I stated earlier, the gusts were violent and the unpredictable nature of them was to be the undoing of my brother, a true soldier, Jacko Shapiera. As he puts it, he was coming into the top section not really feeling it. He didn't feel comfortable and as he took a long sweeping left turn, a violent gust held him off his apex and forced him to put it into a slide with no chance of controlling the apex and eventually drifting into oncoming traffic. Lucky for Jack that the driver had seen the events unfolding on the road in front and slowed nearly to a stop, minimising impact. I was around 150 metres behind and didn't see the impact but to come around the bend to see ya wingman looking back at ya - words were not needed here to know how he was feeling and the unfortunate result of the accident. A true professional as always, Jacko controlled himself in a manner that was a lil un-natural. He was calm. Portraying himself as a professional, even under these unforgiving circumstances. The 1st response team for the mountain were quick in getting a splint on and the particular things they do in an emergency. They called St Johns and he was off to hospital for x-rays and a cast. This wasn't the final trip for the man today. A total of 3 and a half hours in the back of ambulances, 15mgs of morphine and 4 bottles of what the docs call " jungle juice" and we were at Hamilton and Waikato Hospital. After being emitted into the E and A, Jack went in for surgery to re-correct a sever compound fracture to the Tibia/Fibia bones of his right lower leg. I cannot begin to describe the emotion that we shared on the way to the hospital. Words sometimes are just for those involved. I will say, I love Jacko like a brother, he's like blood. Kindred. This was to be a massive year for Jackson Shapiera and to have it all taken away in one powerful stroke from the hand of god just seems cruel. There must be different plan for Jacko this year. Whatever it may be I'm sure it will be GREAT and to say that Jacko will be a serious contender when he gets back from rehabilitation is a warning to the world. This guy does things right and usually gets what he wants. Bro, anything, anytime. U holla at ya wingman eh! Open letter from Rob and Maga McWhinnie to Jacko Maga: Accidents are going to happen, its all part of the sport and the risky life style we live. It could happen to you or the person you love the most. Jacko my friend, you are probably surprised and devo'd, from my experience I can tell you time flies, if you keep yourself busy and open to opportunities, wounds heal if you give them the right care and when some doors close many others open for more positive adventures. Acostambo got Rob and me closer and we had the trip of a life time, Rob became a talented filmmaker, I started skating and fell in love with the speed and adventure and we realized that accidents are part of sport but also part of our life. If we decide to learn from them, we could get many other fantastic adventures and grow up in life. Experiences are the direct way to learn and make us wise. love ya jackson, Maga Rob: Jackbro, I'm shocked and still coming to terms with what you've done, I logged online last night to upload a video about returning to Acostambo, where I destroyed my leg years ago and found that you too had destroyed yours, funny timing, I hope you watch the movie and see my perspective, how things like this make and create us and direct our lives. A huge thanks to the rest of the team that helped you to hospital and gave you support when you needed it. I'm sure all of you are a bit rattled by the events and I think a team safety meeting is in order to recap and rethink the year ahead. Jacko you will be dearly missed from Kiera and Newtons. you are our coach and leader and I hope your continue to inspire us and push us to be better riders. See you home soon bro, Rob
Before I post the big one, I have to catch up and tell you a tale by Gabe that landed in my inbox. There will be a few posts today, be patient, I'll get to them all in the next hour. It will become apparent fairly quick why there has been no NZ blog posts the last 48 hours. Words by Gabe Gwynne We awoke late on Sunday morning, some had decided to hit the town the night before and it was pretty late in the day before we rounded the whole crew into the van and off to the slide jam that had been mentioned at the race the day before. The prospects were looking good as we rolled up into the suburban estates of North Wellington. But as we neared the top it became apparent that the hill was copping a gnarly headwind....FUUUUUUCK! After a handful of full tuck slide hill runs [yes, you literally had to tuck into each slide] Team Hopkin decided to not be a part of the competition. We chilled and jammed down the hill while the local groms battled it out for domination of the full tuck slide hill. After a solid couple of hours of jamming the hill, the winners were announced. In first place was young Luke Steezy Scott, the kid was killing it all day with his smooth toeside 180's and switch checks. Just behind him with pretty much equal steeze was Ryan MacMillan. Unfortunately we forgot the name of the dude who got 3rd, he was a tiny grom in a red shirt who was ripping mega monkey heel styles down the hill with some serious balls. Whoever you were little grom dude, you were rad! After a few full runs of the estate the jam was held on, we jumped in the van and followed the convoy of cars to a skatepark a few minutes down the road. As we came around the corner and saw the park there was an eruption of frothing and general stoke. I had never seen a park like this before, every single bank had a perfect transition for getting pitted on a longboard. The banks were massive, flowy and smooth and to make it even better there was a goddamn bomb INTO THE PARK! You could pick how far up the hill you wanted to bomb in from for ultimate pittage. After a quick jam I decided to chill in the sun and take some shots of the boys ripping it up - hope you like them!
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