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, images and luck by Jackson Shapiera Photo captions by Hop
Part One - Life is heaven Swiss Alps
We are at that part of the European Tour where we enter the Alps and disconnect from the real world for 2 or 3 days and skate some of the most amazing roads in the world. However before we get too far into it I'm just going to share with you what we managed to sneak, while I have some connection to the real world. Just outside of Luzern we stopped at this spot in a beautiful valley, and rode a gondola to the top of a narrow as hell, steep as shit, windy and curvy road that went through the forest and then opened up into 8 back to back hairpins followed by long drops through the town.
Epic run near Luzern
The run finishes right back to the gondola to ride back up. There's not much I can say about it right now except...RAD. It was just straight up rad
Patrick Switzer in the gondola, can he be beaten at Padova and if he becomes World Cup Champion will his wheels mysteriously change colour to green in 2012?
Anywho, I'm off to get lost in the mountains and skate some epic shit, and sleep in the grass at the top of the hill.
Jacko ... no caption required
Part Two - the opposite of lucky is... Well... the Van died... fuck.... We got to Susten Pass yesterday arvo, got 3 runs in then called it a day as the sun was setting and got a feed. In the morning we had the biggest fail ever... went to start the van, but it wouldn't start, and the battery light came on. Crap, we drained the battery. Next thing we thought of was to jump start the van, so we rolled it down this little pathway which was quite steep, but with no luck. So we tried again, and rolled it down further, still no luck. Got to the point where there was no road left and we had to call for help. Patrick went up to the road and tried to flag down a van as big as ours with a diesel engine to possibly give us a jump start. However it didn't take long to realise the chances of that happening are slim to none, so he went to the nearest emergency phone to call for a tow and fix. He came back and told us it would be at least half an hour, so I grabbed my board and hitched up to the top to take a run while we were waiting. By the time I got back down, the van was back up from the trail and working again, but something smelt REALLY bad. Turns out we were using the wrong key, which is why it wouldn't start. While I was out skating they eventually figured it out and got it started, but because the hill was so steep and there was no where to turn around, they had to reverse it up. With so much weight in the van, it totally killed the clutch. It was burnt and I could smell it from at least 50m away. So we got back on the road, then BAM a storm hits, no more skating... We decided to head to the next pass, but the clutch was hurting, badly. We got stuck in traffic and with a lot of stop-starting, the clutch in the van just totally died. As soon as we got past the traffic the clutch had failed and struggled to get us into gear. We altered our route and started heading to the nearest garage. As soon as we got there, and dropped gear to pull into the garage, BAM! the clutch blew... lucky for us we were all ready at the garage, as it started to piss down again. So right now the situation is we are holed up in a hotel somewhere near one of the sickest roads in Switzerland, but with no transport to get us there. Should have used the right key! The van will be fixed tomorrow afternoon and we will head on to Padova, which cuts short our tour of the Swiss Alps. At least I get to sleep in a bed tonight! cheers Jacko [Hop's notes] Epic Alp's tour stories brought to you by Orangatang Wheels and Sector 9 Downhill Division.