Battle Warsaw 2008
Let's go to Poland!Were present: Polish people for sure – including Lidia Wardzińska (#18 WSSA) who is carving out a place for herself little by little, six Belgians of the Cone Crazy Team – including Tim Shraepen (#98 WSSA), who seems to have taken out a year's subscription to battles this season, the germano-russian Mischa Gurevich (#12), Xuan Le of the French SebaTeam (#7), John Stanning the Australian globe-trotter (#196) who was in Seattle for Battle US last week, … Although there weren't many skaters, the location as well as the weather forecast was more than favourable to attract the crowds – particularly on Sunday.
MediasLet's also note that some television channels came to film the event, on both Saturday and Sunday. As a result: a handful of TV reports on polish national channels… you can have a look at one of them (at 7min40) here.
ProgramAs for the program: simple but efficient on the basis "speed then freestyle qualifications on Saturday, and finals on Sunday" – a small infringement of the scheme with the womens freestyle battle finals which took place on Saturday.
Speed BattleThe event officially began on Saturday morning at 10. I said officially, because the skaters did not wait until the Saturday to gather altogether, and had diner in a restaurant the day before.
First were the speed qualifications: time qualifications with two tries. The best times will go through to the KO systems of the morrow – the 16 first for the men, and the 8 first for the women (no real suspense for the latters who where… eight!). Mischa Gurevich (RUS) (#9 WSSA) comes first of the mens qualifications, and Renata Bugalska (POL) (#6) first of the womens. Let's note – because it will be important later – the poor performance of Xuan Le (FR) (#7), one of the favourites together with Mischa, who ranks only 8th of the qualifications; let's also note the good performance of Tim Schraepen (BEL) (#62) who comes provisionally 2nd to his great surprise.
Women freestyle battleThe day goes on with the womens freestyle Battle in the early afternoon. Most of the participants were not classified in the WSSA World Ranking, and the groups had to be drawn to be constituted: eight skaters, dispatched up into two groups of four. Let's cite Lidia Wardzińska (POL) (#17) and Renata Bugalska (POL) (#6) who are skating at home, and the three Belgian skaters Isabelle Swennen (#65), Nancy de Maesmaker (#77) and Vicky Denissen (#44).
During the semi-finals, Lidia and Renata go through to the finals without difficulty in winning their respective groups. Behind Lidia, the second to be qualified is Izabela Bednarska (POL). The 11-year-old girl comes 2nd and wins the access to the finals, thanks to a panel of varied tricks, which positions her in front of Kamila Osetek (POL) – better mastering but sanctioned to have repeated herself too much from one run to the other. In the second semi-finals group, chance had it that the three Belgians found themselves together… which secures the going through of at least one of them three: it's finally Vicky who is kept for the finals in second position behind Renata.
A little reminder of the finalist skaters: Lidia and Izabela from the first semi-finals group, and Renata and Vicky from the second group. Being one length ahead of the others, Lidia wins the finals hands down. As for the second place, it is coveted by Renata and Vicky… The third run makes the difference and propels Renata 2nd. Vicky is still lacking a bit of assurance – no doubt she'll win some with experience.
Results of the Womens Freestyle Battle:Lidia Wardzińska (POL)
Renata Bugalska (POL)
Vicky Denissen (BEL)
Izabela Bednarska (POL)
Men Freestyle Battle:Last point on the program of Saturday: the qualifiers for the mens freestyle battle. At first it had been planned to make two mens categories (amateurs and pros). But in order to have a consequent battle (starting with eighth-finals), it was best to gather all the men: the skaters registered in the pro category being only 8, they merged with the 20 amateurs. These qualifiers enable to situate the freestyle population of the competition: except the regulars of the top of the freestyle – I'm alluding to Xuan Le (FR) and to Mischa Gurevich (RUS) – some promising elements show there face. In saying this, I'm thinking about Tim Schraepen (BEL) and John Stanning (AUS) who are making their way to the top (but it's a long way to the top if you want to rock'n roll, as AC/DC used to play) more and more at each battle – with more and more assurance, smoothness, and technique; and no doubt they will go and needle the top-skaters during the finals of Sunday; I'm also thinking about Kryzstof Kudyk (POL) or Viacheslav Sinyuchko (UKR) who are no battle collectors but who have enough resources to get by.
Sunday: KO systems + Mens Freestyle Battle
The Women begin the KO systems.At the end of the qualifications of Saturday, the podium was nearly set: in one order or the other, it should be Renata Bugalska (POL), Lidia Wardzińska (POL), and Vicky Denissen (BEL).
Nevertheless, in semi-finals, a turning point is going to condition the end of the speed competition: Lidia, 2nd at the qualifications, falls… and this costs her her going through to the finals. She does the best she can not to make things worse, and she manages to win the consolation finals, coming thus 3rd of the competition. She lets the first 2 places to Renata and Vicky, both qualified for the finals. In the end, Vicky wins these somewhat lively KO systems, in front of Renata, 2nd.
Results of the Womens Speed Battle:Vicky Denissen (BEL)
Renata Bugalska (POL)
Lidia Wardzińska (POL)
Men's turn now.Here too, there happens a nice reversal of situation. Let's remind the note above, which was to be important for later (later is now): Xuan Le (FRA), having made a poor performance during the qualifications, had come only 8th. At the opposite, Mischa Gurevich (RUS), the second favourite, had made the most of the qualifications, ranking 1st.
The two favourites inevitably meet in quarter-finals. The two adversaries take up a challenge on their first round: managing the 20 cones doing the stroll. The round is won by Xuan, faster than Mischa in execution speed. Yet, Mischa is quite gifted for speed-knitting… but Xuan had had a good training with the Freestyle Speed Battle (cf. Battle US) of the previous weekend. Mischa, being a cunning tactician, had rather come back to a more academic kind of speed slalom (i.e. doing one foot) and beats Xuan on the second round. Nevertheless, Xuan pulls himself together on the third round and gets Mischa out of the competition. The finals have just taken place… in quarter-finals! Contrary to the previous day, Xuan masters the situation, and nothing can stop him: he does perfects with a mechanical steadiness, achieves the best time of the competition (nothing extraordinary though with 5.7), and wins the finals in two winning rounds against Adam Lawrynowicz (POL) – who had reached the finals playing safe in doing slow perfects, facing adversaries who did strikes most of their rounds…
Results of the Mens Speed Battle:Xuan Le (FRA)
Adam Lawrynowicz (POL)
Piotr Andrzej (POL)
"B" PlanAs the KO systems finished way before the time expected, this enables to organise a B-plan to replace the Mens amateur freestyle battle which had had to merge with the pros battle. It was quite obvious that in doing that, some amateurs had a huge handicap compared to the pro-skaters, and had almost no chance to go through the qualifications… So that nobody feels prejudiced, the organisation suggests a consolation battle reserved to the amateurs. The groups – as for the women the day before, and for the same reasons of WSSA non-ranking – are constituted by draw.
Then comes the Mens freestyle battle, starting with the quarter-finals.
It's Sunday afternoon, at the entry of the park, the terraces are full of crowd, the DJ is in da place, ‘underground funcky' mode doing scratch-scratch tchicki-wouiiin-wouiiin (explicit enough?). He got out of it pretty well, given the fact that apparently he was only the substitute DJ, as the other DJ called off to go and do the first part of Prodigy…
Battle freestyle menLet's get back to the battle. There were five favourites fighting for the finals: Mischa Gurevich (RUS), Xuan Le (FRA), John Stanning (AUS), Tim Schraepen (BEL), and Viacheslav Sinyuchko (UKR). If we make a quick calculation… there are 4 places for 5 people… inevitably, one of them is going to fail.
The quarter-finals first. The most directly concerned go through to the semi-finals. And here is the critical moment: the first semi-finals group is made of Xuan Le, John Stanning, Tim Schraepen, and Rafal Rackman (POL). Xuan comes first of the group. But the real fight is between Tim and John. It is so hard to decide between both, that at the end of the three runs and last tricks, the jury is indecisive and asks for a last-last trick. John does a 3-cone seven – a bit out of the line, but sufficient to leave Tim and his two-turn toe spin high and dry. The second semi-final is less close: Mischa plays safe to get qualified, principally counting on a fast style-knitting without attempting any big trick: he goes through to the finals together with Sinyuchko, who comes 2nd of the group. Before the finals, there are the consolation finals, which oppose Kryzstof Kudyk (POL), Adam Lawrinowicz (POL – who ranked 2nd in speed slalom), Rafal Rackman (POL) and Tim Schraepen (BEL). No surprise as for the ranking: Tim is first, hands down. Follow Kryzstof, Rafal and Adam.
And to let the public stew (or to stretch the jury's legs?!), a judge battle is improvised between Sebastien Laffargue (FRA) and Lidia Wardzińska (POL) – the third concerned declined the invitation. In fact, it was more of a show following the scheme of a battle (three runs and a last trick) judged by the public's applause. Seba ‘wins' with a 40-cone wheeling (he had added a few cones at the end of the 80s…) against Lidia who does a reverse toe eagle – her trademark.
This kind of interludes staging the jury has the merit of proving to the public that the riders are judged by people who can skate, and who can analyse what they judge. It enables to dissipate the possible doubts as for the legitimacy of the members of the jury.
AT LAST, it's time for the finals! …in which we can find four of the five favourites: Xuan Le (FRA), Mischa Gurevich (RUS), John Stanning (AUS), and Viacheslav Sinyuchko (UKR). Note: even if Tim fails to get to the finals, he comes 1st of the consolation finals (i.e. 5th at the general ranking): the five favourites took over the first five places.
Back to the finalsThere are two internal conflicts: on the one side Xuan and Mischa are fighting for the 1st place, on the other side John and Viacheslav are fighting for the 3rd place. The finalists choose their turn order, the first to choose being the highest ranked at the World Ranking: Xuan (#7 WSSA) begins and chooses to go 4th, Mischa (#10) chooses to go 3rd, John (#57) to go 2nd, and Viacheslav (non-ranked) has no other choice but to go 1st. In the fight for the 3rd pace, Viacheslav finishes in front of John thanks to a nice last trick (front toe wheeling, to block, to back wheeling coming back): he is indeed more technical than John, who mostly counts on style. As for the two first places, it's a very close fight. Xuan leads the finals during the first two runs… but the third run constitutes a turning point: Mischa makes a wise tactical choice in doing lots of spins, whereas Xuan doesn't manage to do any interesting trick.
As for the last trick, it doesn't enable Xuan to pull himself up: he does a 7-cone back heel wheeling on the 80s, and Mischa does a front reverse eagle managing the 20 cones of the 80s. [nb: trick described in the Inline Games 08 Report]. Mischa wins thanks to a good plan of action: amongst his three runs, he devotes two to do full speed style-knitting, and one to pure technique in order to show a wide panel of competences (style, smoothness, rapidity, technique). And doing this, he manages to nose out Xuan, who mostly concentrates on style (smoothness and mastering).
Results of the Mens Freestyle Battle:Mischa Gurevich (RUS)
Xuan Le (FRA)
Viacheslav Sinyuchko (UKR)
John Stanning (AUS)
At the end of the battle, the results of the winners will have an important impact on their WSSA World Ranking: in speed slalom, Xuan Le (FRA) wins +1 place and finds himself #7, and Renata wins +3 places becoming #6; in style Mischa and Lidia both enter the Top 10.
The battle was a basic event, which we could define as a regional event. It thus enabled unknown skaters to have a try at Battle… It turned out well for some, amongst others for Viacheslav Sinyuchko (UKR), basically registered in the amateur category – he was not in the World Ranking, i.e. he had never taken part to a competition indexed by the WSSA – but he nevertheless comes 3rd of the Mens freestyle battle!
The next WSSA gathering will be on September, the 6th and 7th, in Chuncheon (KOR), and will be part of the International Leisure Games. There will be Classic challenges (speed slalom, individual and jam freestyle slalom), and a battle competition.
LinksBattle Warsaw website
Organization website (JaNaRolki)
World Slalom Series
Some pictures (1)
Some pictures (2)Text : Close Yr E's
Photos : Lidia Wardzinska