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      Kozakov Challenge was a weekend of tight racing

      Kozakov Challenge was a weekend of tight racing

      There were a lot of questions after all the racing at the 2019 Kozakov Challenge.

      Why were Daina and Harry so far out in front in the final?
      How did Daina pass Harry in the final?
      Did Chase Hiller do an inside pass in the dirt in the semi final?
      How did Emily (number one qualifier) come third in the Quarter Finals?
      How did Nick Broms knock himself out of the juniors?
      Was it local knowledge that helped Pavel Zajíc beat the undefeated Kyle Martin in the Masters Final? (unknown both Kyle and Pavel have not returned my messages)
      What happened in the Luge racing?
      Has wheel choice been a big factor this Euro tour?
      Should we handicap Emily in the women's division?

      That last question was tongue in cheek, I don't really want a handicapped race. I am running out of words to describe Emily Pross and her racing. She was in a different league at Kozakov. The WRG could be described as fairly close, but Kozakov was a blow out, the only way the other women are going to catch Emily is if we tie a boat anchor to her skateboard...and that would only make it an even race.

      Why were Daina and Harry so far out in front in the final?
      This was answered in the IDF event post. Max Capps said Chase scrubbed at the top of the course, and him and Chase played catch up with Daina and Harry going out to a small lead in the final.

      I asked Chase about the start. He said "I blew the 2nd corner which made it hard for me to catch back up after that".
      "Just by over sliding it. Daina was unbelievably close to me and I could hear him so when I was sliding I thought he might run into the back of me, so I hooked up to early to not be hit but once I did I had to make another slide when exiting the corner"

      How did Daina pass Harry in the final?
      Max Heaton summed it up as Harry was draft bait. I asked Harry he said "Was out running them. And Daina got me right before the last right and I couldn’t get the draft back"

      Daina's comment was it was a good old draft and pass right into the last corner

      Did Chase Hiller do an inside pass in the dirt in the semi final?
      Chase said "Just hovering over the dirt. Think I might have put a puck in the dirt tho actually"
      My follow up question was; "going for that pass was it 50 50 you were going to make it?"
      "Nah absolutely not. I could see the gap was there and knew that if I went for it I would get it without any risk of collision or crashing myself out."
      A photographer at the event said they got a photo of the pass, I have not seen it, don't know if it has been posted on social media, if it has, please let me know.

      How did Emily (number one qualifier) come third in the Quarter Finals?
      I thought she might have scrubbed in a corner, but she said "I was fine in the corners just made a poor decision in passing in the straight"

      How did Nick Broms knock himself out of the juniors?
      I crashed myself out first corner, then did my best to catch the pack but barely missed them at the finish line"
      Nick was on torched wheels on a hot pavement = into the bales!

      What happened in the Luge racing?
      The key point for luging at Kozakov is having a good start, or drafting someone down the longest straight at the bottom. The track at Kozakov is a bit narrower than other tracks, which makes the start important. It is not everything, but it helps. (more on this below when Abdil Mahdzan talks wheels)

      Abdil's summary of the racing
      "Kozakov luge was super competitive, for both semi and the final. In the semi, I pushed out in front of Ryan who has an amazing push, he played the draft game and got me just before the last right hand corner. In the final, Mikel and Olivier false started, we reran, then Mikel's hands and mine overlapped on the push and we were behind Ryan."
      The common thread that connects a lot of these races is the last right hand corner, that is the place to make a pass that can not be countered.

      From what I have pieced together talking to spectators, Ryan got the best start, he raced hard and protected his lead.

      Chris' Instagram video at the finishline.

      View this post on Instagram

      Street luge finals at #kozakov2019

      A post shared by chris McBride (@pinkluger) on

      Has wheel choice has been a big factor this Euro tour?
      The best part of my conversation with Abdil was wheels. He races on Seismic, and this Euro tour the fastest wheels have been Venom Mach 1 Magums, Seismic Alphas and the Cuei Killers.

      "I was on the 80.5mm Alphas at Kozakov for race day. In hindsight I should have been on the 75.5mm Alphas, I think they helped tremendously towards my win at Verdicchio by giving me faster acceleration since I stayed out in front and nobody was able to pass me. Chase and I both used the 80.5mm at Kozakov and we both acknowledged that we should've been on the smaller wheel."

      My question to Abdil was "You think the faster acceleration is more important at Kozakov than a faster top speed of a bigger wheel?"
      Abdil's reply: "I think tracks that have braking points require a smaller wheel in general. The long straight after the last left hairpin just isn't long or steep enough to gain on someone. I tried very hard to draft Mikel who was on a buttboard (higher off the ground), just couldn't gain on him.
      Case in point about smaller wheels. I got 58.xx times at Newton's in 2017 and 2018 on a 73mm Speed Vent, and got nowhere close to it this year with a 75.5mm BlackOps Alpha. I think the Defcon Alpha would've been close to 58.xx, or perhaps even able to beat the track record I had set in 2018.
      Ryan was on the 75.5mm Alphas at WRG and Kozakov and I think that's one of the reasons he was doing well at those 2 races."

      Kozakov Race Results

      1st Emily Pross 🇺🇸
      2nd Lisa Peters 🇱🇺
      3rd Grace Wong 🇳🇿

      Left to right: Lisa Peters (2nd), Emily Pross (1st) and Grace Wong (3rd) Photo credit: BTR Leathers

      1st Ryan Farmer 🇺🇸
      2nd Mikel Echegaray Diez 🇪🇸
      3rd Abdil Mahdzan 🇲🇾

      Left to right: Mikel Echegaray Diez (2nd), Ryan Farmer (1st) and Abdil Mahdzan (3rd) Credit: BTR Leathers

      1st Grégoire Schwab 🇨🇭
      2nd Raphaël Waser 🇨🇭
      3rd Felix Begaud 🇫🇷

      Left to Right: Raphaël Waser (2nd), Grégoire Schwab (1st) and Felix Begaud (3rd) Photo Credit BTR Leathers

      1st Pavel Zajic 🇨🇿
      2nd Kyle Martin 🇨🇦
      3rd Jakub Rod 🇨🇿

      Left to Right: Kyle Martin (2nd), Pavel Zajic (1st) and Jakub Rod (3rd) Photo Credit BTR Leathers

      1st Daina Banks 🇺🇸
      2nd Harry Clarke 🇦🇺
      3rd Chase Hiller 🇺🇸

      Left to Right: Harry Clarke (2nd), Daina Banks (1st) and Chase Hiller (3rd) Photo Credit: BTR Leathers

      Event organiser: Czech Gravity Sports Association
      Event website: http://kozakovchallenge.cz
      IDF Event page

      Dane Hanna wins men's WRG Downhill Skateboard

      Dane Hanna wins men's WRG Downhill Skateboard

      It was the event everyone wanted to win, and Dane Hanna raced the perfect final to win the first men downhill race at a World Roller Games.

      The mixed results of the time trial made for some unusual early heats in the men's bracket. Heat three had the two top USA racers Chase Hiller and Daniel Engel racing each other. They both progressed to round two and met Douglas Dalua in fighting form. Dalua and Engel moving to the Quarters and Chase Hiller getting knocked out.

      Dalua, Chase and Engel battling for a place in the quarter finals

      The two unbeaten racers going into the final were Harry Clarke (AUS) and Dane Hanna (CAN). No surprise that both of them have insanely good push starts, and it was not just Dane, they were both monstering the other competitors.

      The standout country was Australia, although we all know I am a bit bias. They came to Barcelona with a competitive team. They had high altitude training the week before the event in the Alps, and National team leathers thanks to team sponsor @realty. They were easy to follow on the livestream and the team unity was obvious. Their whole team performed above expectation. Out of five qualifiers, four made it through to the round of 16. Zak Mills-Goodwin raced in a stacked heat and young gun Shannon Tully was unlucky to meet Dana Banks, Alex Charleston and Tiago Mohr in the second round. Jacko, Mitty and Harry all made it to the quarters.

      Mitch Thompson (Mitty), Harry Clarke (Potter) and Jackson Shapiera (Jacko)

      It was not just the Aussies who had big representation in the final rounds. Brazil, France and Spain all had big contenders. Óscar Rodríguez won the time trial on Day Three and was storming through the bracket heading to the final.

      The fourth skater in the final was Markarian Yanis who beat Tiago Mohr and Mitch Thompson in the semi. Arguably the four fastest skaters all weekend were facing off in the final: Hanna, Clarke, Rodríguez and Yanis.

      Screen grab of the Men's final livestream (placeholder waiting for a better video)

      It would all come down to the start.

      Harry Clarke found the worse time to break start. This held up the final and Harry received a warning. This caused a problem for the Aussie. He had used his explosive start to jump ahead in his races, and Dane had been doing the same thing. If he broke again, he would be disqualified. Does he play it safe? Unfortunately for Harry, he had a slight hesitation on the second start, enough for him to pull back before the gun. This gave Dane the perfect start and Harry had to play catch up.

      Second fastest off the start was Óscar, no surprise. Dane, Óscar and Harry were so bunched after the first corner, you could throw a blanket over them. The final was the closest racing we had seen all day. The way Harry skated in the final, he was definitely the fastest one there. Dane held his lead the whole way, there were a few shoulder to shoulder moments where if Dane lost his nerve or made a mistake he would have lost the lead. Óscar put the most pressure on Dane the whole way down the track. Harry and Yanis were just trying to find a way through.

      It came down to the last big right corner before the finish. Yanis managed to get inside Harry and was now in third. Dane held his inside line and Óscar was trying to make an outside pass. Somehow Yanis lost traction, and for a split second it looked like a big crash was about to happen amongst the first three. Yanis put a hand down to steady himself and it was enough to lose speed and come in fourth. Dane goes wide towards the finishline making the pass Óscar is trying to do impossible. Harry is screaming down the outside. I think Óscar was so focused on passing Dane he forgot about Harry who snuck into second. Dane Hanna wins and Óscar Rodríguez third.

      It was an exciting final that had almost everything. Dana deserved the win and Harry deserves the beers!

      From left to right: Harry, Dane and Oscar


      1st Dane Hanna (CAN)
      2nd Harry Clarke (AUS)
      3rd Óscar Rodríguez (ESP)
      4th Markarian Yanis (FRA)
      Consi Final
      1st Tiago Mohr (BRA)
      2nd Mitch Thompson (AUS)
      3rd Yan Bertinati (BRA)
      4th Daniel Engel (USA)

      Emily Pross wins women's WRG Downhill Skateboard

      Emily Pross wins women's WRG Downhill Skateboard

      Twenty eight women competed in the finals of the Women's Downhill Skateboarding race. Probably the most female competitors ever at a championship downhill race.

      The racing was fierce all day. Two of the most spectacular crashes of the day were in the women draw. Kristi Henriksen crashes in the second round and was taken off course via an ambulance. In the consolation final, Sirley Tabares came off her board and crashed, but was able to walk off course by herself after a rest.

      The two stand out skaters throughout the day were Emily Pross and Vitoria Mallmann. They were ranked 1 and 2, started at opposite ends of the draw and won each of their races all the way to the final.

      Emily won the race from the start. She does not miss many leg days at the gym, her push and start is one of the best in downhill (men and women). She jump to an early lead. Vitoria not getting the best start, and was third behind Lisa Peters. While Vitoria and Lisa battled for second, Emily extended her lead. By turn two, Vitoria was in second and now had one of the hardest jobs in downhill. Chasing down Emily. She was too far ahead to catch her draft, but Vitoria never gave up. She did gain ground, and narrowed the gap but the course at the Barcelona World Roller Games is short and fast, not good for a long chase. The French racer Lyde Begue was not far from Vitoria, She managed to come from fourth off the start and place third at the finish.

      Screen capture of the livestream (placeholder until we get a better quality video)

      It is good news for women's downhill. Large competitor numbers and tight competitive racing all day. Emily has paved the way for women to step up and race fast, and the girls are taking up that challenge.

      Emily was without a doubt the best women skater all weekend. She hungers for competition, so I'm sure she was pleased with the number of women competitors and that they are catching up to her speed. Emily did not make it easy and did not give an inch all weekend. In all the heats and finals she tucked until the finish line in her classic teardrop shape tuck.

      Emily Pross on the podium


      1. Emily Pross (USA)
      2. Vitoria Mallman (BRA)
      3. Lyde Begue (FRA)
      4. Lisa Peters (NLD)

      1. Melissa Brogni (BRA)
      2. Teresa Gillcrist (USA)
      3. Rachel Bruskoff (USA)
      4. Sirley Tabares (COL)

      Brazilian Cerri Machado wins Luge at World Roller Games

      Brazilian Cerri Machado wins Luge at World Roller Games

      An important win for Brazil, that hopefully starts the healing process, after their loss of Pastrana.

      Brazil, in their first major international competition in 2019, has shown the world who is the real powerhouse in Downhill racing.

      Day 3 of the World Roller Games was all about Brazil flexing. Vitória Mallmann and Melissa Brogni Da Luz were 2nd and 4th respectively in the women's standup time trial. Tiago and Dalua 7th and 8th in the stand up time trial with impressive starts that will make them favourites for the finals. The day belonged to the Brazilian luge team who did not slow down for anyone. Cerri Machado 1st and Walter Ribeiro 3rd.

      The luge final was all about Farmer versus Machado. They started at opposing ends of the draw. The immoveable object versus the unstoppable force. They were both destined to meet head on in the final. Ryan Farmer is the number one US luger and 2017 World Cup Champion, he won all his races up to the final with impressive form. Knocking out big names along the way; Stephenson in round 1, Kolby Parks (2018 World Cup Champion) in the quarters, Graham Brittain in the semis. Cerri's path to the finals was not a cake walk, he knocked out multi World Cup Champion Abdil Mahdzan in the semis.

      What made the Luge racing this weekend so special was the quality and quantity of competitors. We have not seen a world class draw like this in many years. So it really was a World Championship event. The winner of the luge can really call themselves the best in the world in 2019, and that was Cerri Machado.

      It came down to the final and two names: Cerri (BRA) and Ryan (USA). Both undefeated through out the event. It was won on the start line. Watch the footage from Ryan Farmers GoPro and you can clearly see Cerri Machado wins the start, and gets so far out in the lead Ryan Farmer has no alternatively but to run clean and finish second. Without a close start, Ryan was unable to draft, and make any passing moves.

      WRG Downhill Luge draw with results

      1st Cerri Machado (BRA)
      2nd Ryan Farmer (USA)
      3rd Walter Ribeiro (BRA)
      4th Mikel Echegaray (ESP)

      Special Mentions

      Mikel Echegaray, racing in front of a home crowd, had an impressive day. There is always an advantage for the racer who gets to compete at home, and Mikel took full advantage. He stalked through the draw, winning, and coming a close second to Farmer in the semis. It could have been his day, but home ground advantage only gets you so far!
      His racing was courageous, side by side with Walter in the final for 3rd and 4th, was super exciting to watch.

      Spanish luger Mikel Echegaray

      Grits vs Abdil: the battle continues!
      Graham Brittain and Abdil Mahdzan continue their fierce rivalry. Every year Abdil turns up at Newtons on Mount Panorama expecting a shoulder rubbing stoush with Aussie legend Graham "Grits" Brittain. The rivalry continued at the World Roller Games with the pair facing down in the Consolation Finals. Abdil getting the better of Grits, he won the consolation final with Grits coming second. That made Grits 6th overall at the toughest luge race series in the modern era (can we call it that?). A huge accomplishment, after being semi retired for many years. Hopefully we can see both racing against each other next year at Newtons, and Grits can get his revenge!!

      Oh yeah, there was a bit of Downhill Skateboarding

      Time trials were on WRG Day Three for Downhill Skateboarding.

      The conditions where tough for time trialing, the wind played a major factor. Jackson Shapiera summed up most racers day on Instagram "Winds had slowed down the track and sent times all over the place."

      If you want to see an awesome wrap up of Day Three for Downhill Skateboarding at the World Roller Games check out Max Capps Instagram Story (@daggers_rule). If we get permission we'll try to upload some of those videos so we can embed them.

      The time trial was a medal event. Local hero Óscar Rodríguez has been proclaimed world champion, after beating the French Makarian Yanis and Canadian Dane Hanna.
      1st Óscar Rodríguez (ESP)
      2nd Makarian Yanis (FRA)
      3rd Dane Hanna (CAN)

      Watching the Instagram videos, it was clear that having a big push will be key to doing well on this track. It might be the major factor in finals racing tomorrow.

      The big start pushing from Dalua, Hanna, Hiller, Clarke, Thompson, Hampshire are all going to be fighting it out for that all important lead off the start line. It might come down to who has enough gas in the tank. The Brazilians might be saving it all for finals day, Dane mentioned on Instagram that his push out leg is tired, so who can recover quickest? Or who has been saving their push for the finals? The Brazilian team are always thinking, one step ahead, have they planned to put it all on the line for the finals and glory? Have the other countries been tiring themselves out on the meaningless lead up racing? All that counts is the finals. The Spanish media have crowned Oscar their local World Champion today but the real winner will be the person on top of the racing podium tomorrow.

      Finals racing will be live broadcast. It will be on Rollergames.tv. The schedule is on that website, it will be adjusted for your timezone based on your country.

      This should be the live link for finals racing