European Inline Downhill Race Adventure 2009
By Scott Peer
Stage 1 : Argonay
The good omens for the trip began right away. My flight on July 21 was on time, and as we flew out of LA, I looked out the window and spotted one of my favorite skating places, Glendora Mountain Road.
In Milano I met with Warren Focke, and we headed towards Argonay, France for our first stop, the IGSA Graveyard Call World Cup race.
The name comes from the graveyard near the end of the course, which has its final turn at the intersection of Funarium and Clinique roads (in other words the finish line is between the hospital and the graveyard).
The race was organized by a local group called D173, after the name of the road at the top section of the course above town, which they get closed for skating only every Sunday during the summer.
It starts in a forest, where riders hung out waiting for turns for practice and racing. Transportation from the bottom to the top was in comfortable busses. It starts out fairly gentle, then becomes steep, then drops into a series of switchback turns that require massive braking, sometimes on uneven pavement or man hole covers or grates.
Practice started on Thursday on the upper section. Friday was all day practice on the full course. Saturday was practice and then timed runs. For inline, the best of 2 runs were scored as an IIDA World Cup race, substituting for a race in Austria that got cancelled. Unfortunately, the decision to score the race as a world cup was only made a week before the race, and only 8 inline racers showed up to join the field of over a hundred skateboard, luge, and skullboard racers. Most of the inline racers had already planned to go, either as a warm up race leading to the world championship the next week, or for the IGSA world cup chase.
Alex Lebrun won the race. My first qualification run was typical for many of the racers: a slip while braking for turn 1 followed by a hard crash that broke nuts off of my skate, followed by a crash in turn 3 where I landed in a ditch and had to climb out.
Sunday was the head to head races for the IGSA world cup race, run two at a time due to the road being only wide enough for one-way traffic. In IGSA racing, competition is unisex (except for the skateboard class).
Round with Severine Thomas
The closest race pitted me against repeated women's world champion Severine Christ-Thomas. Severine got the jump on the start, and I followed her through the narrow and tight turns, waiting for a slip or a good chance to pass.
Severine skated flawlessly, and so I waited for the final straightaway, which has plenty of room for a sprint to pass. However, my sprint to pass came up a few inches short and Severine advanced to the semi-final.
In the semifinal, the favorite Alex Lebrun was in the lead, but crashed, and Severine advanced to the final to meet second qualifier Nicolas Varin. Nicolas led for the whole race, but in the final straight he mistakenly thought he had an insurmountable lead and stood up and coasted. To his horror, Severine sprinted hard and beat him by inches at the finish line! This may be the first time in IGSA history that a woman has won an open class world cup race. The women skateboard racers were ecstatic, and cheered wildly.
When the racing was all done, no one had died, a couple had been to the hospital, a couple more had seen medics but didn't go to the hospital, and it wasn’t clear if anyone had become disabled.
After the racing was over there were awards, and in classic IGSA style, live music featuring local punk and metal bands.
Stage 2 : Teolo Padova
Next up was the FIRS Inline Downhill World Championship in Teolo, Italy, in the Padova region near Venice. The race also included an IGSA world cup (head to head races) and IIDA world cup (the timed qualifier for the world championship). The scenery in the area is gorgeous, with farms, wooded hills, and small towns like Teolo.
Once again, the course started fairly straight to get speeds up, but then went into a series of 7 switchback turns.
The course was very intense and physically demanding, with each turn typically consisting of braking, then turning, then sprinting to the next turn. Many of the top racers were saving their energy in the qualifiers for the championship run.
After the qualifying, Dan Ladurner and Severine Christ-Thomas re-asserted themselves as the FIRS World Champions of inline downhill skating.
The evening featured a nations parade, entertainment from artistic skaters from Padova, traditional regional dancing, and a dinner.
For the 4-man IGSA head to head race on Sunday, Harry Perna took the cup and the prize money, followed by Daniel Ladurner and Christian Montavon, to end a weekend of intense racing.
Main results Graveyard Call
Graveyard Call - men
1) Alexandre LEBRUN
2) Nicolas VARIN
3) Tobias WÖHRLE
4) Scott PEER
5) Warren FOCKE
6) Nicolas BERANGER
7) Ludovic BERANGER
Graveyard call - women
1) Séverine CHRIST-THOMAS (4ème temps scratch)
World Championship1) Daniel Ladurner (AUT)
2) Harry Perna (FRA)
3) Alexandre Lebrun (FRA)
4) Nicolas Piron (ITA)
5) Christian Montavon (SUI)
Women1) Séverine Christ-Thomas (FRA)
2) Marjorie Phlippoteau (FRA)
3) Emilie Sadoux (FRA)
Boarder-cross1) Harry Perna (FRA)
2) Daniel Ladurner (AUT)
3) Christian Montavon (SUI)
4) Alexandre Lebrun (FRA)
LinksTexte : Scott Peer
Photos : all rights reserved