Lishui Roller Skating Open: First Downhill Competition in Asia
The city of Lishui has been organizing skating events for several years now. Lishui has the will of gathering more and more disciplines. The IIDA, through its president Alexandre Lebrun, was solicited in order to organize a World Cup competition of downhill skating in this small town -- compared to the scale of the country -- of 2.5 millions of inhabitants.
Emails were exchanged and a first scouting on the spot was organized in early June, in order to test the slope and validate all safety aspects. Everything met the safety standards and the event was confirmed for August 22-23, 2014.
Lishui means "wonderful waters". The city is well known for its water streams and fountains. It is so aptly named that the most torrential downpours in 50 years stroke the region a few days before the event. A part of the city was flooded, especially the speed track planned for the opening ceremony, 48 hours before D-Day!
Thanks to all the means implemented, the track was dried out and the opening ceremony could unfold as planned on Friday August 22nd, at 8AM without any trace of those past events.
Tracing and securing of the zone
The 2 km route winds along the cliff and tree-filled precipices. The Chinese organization took things very seriously. Further to the IIDA recommendations, they erected over 400 m of safety barriers made of bamboo and supported by a metal structure covered with polystyrene plates and recovery blankets.
The conception may be atypical, but it was highly efficient.
Let's not forget to mention the human resources, a team of 10 locals, who worked non-stop for more than a week for it.
A good dozen of volunteers were also dedicated to the safety of the competitors on the spot, in the many bends of that technical downhill slope.
The event gathered more than 25 countries with the participation of international skaters in the disciplines of downhill, speed skating and freestyle slalom. More than 500 competitors took part in the opening ceremony.
Many shows were orchestrated, including a demo by Jean-Yves Blondeau with his Buggy Rollin suit, a slalom dance show by Kim Sung Jin and friends, as well as local chinese dance shows.
The parade of nations followed and the opening ceremony finished with the speeches of local officials, who declared the official start of the 2014 Lishui Roller Skating Open.
Friday August 22nd: Trainings and Timed Competitions
Right after the opening ceremony, the competitors took the organization busses for a 30 min ride towards the outskirts of the city, and arrived on the competition site, in the mountains of Bayiun.
The four training downhill rides that took place on Friday morning enabled the competitors to scout their way in the winding slope. After two supplementary warm-up rides in the early afternoon, the timed competition started.
In the Men's category, German Moritz Nörl was the fastest with more than 5 sec of lead on French Grégoire Pinto and Swiss Christian Montavon.
In the Women's, it's another German who won the competition with Annalenna Rettenberger, in front of French Séverine Christ-Thomas and Chinese Chen Qian 陈倩
Saturday August 23rd: Inline Cross finals with four skaters side by side
The inline cross finals were advanced to Saturday morning instead of the afternoon, because of less favorable weather forecasts.
In the Men's category, the final gathered German Moritz Nörl, Swiss Christian Montavon, Iranian Sebastien Rastegar and French Florent Cottinet.
The German won the race, followed by Christian Montavon who, despite a runaway excursion in one of the first bends, managed to catch up on Sebastien Rastegar, who took the 3rd place.
The award ceremony of the whole downhill event took place just after those competitions, under the arrival arch.
Feedbacks and perspectives
Let's congratulate the impressive Chinese organization and the consequent logistical resources carried out throughout the event, with shuttle busses picking up the competitors at the Shanghai airport, and giving them a ride from Shanghai to the organization hotel. Let's also note the presence of many English-speaking volunteers to assist the competitors.
That Chinese event was the first ever downhill skating event in China and on the Asian continent. That event also enabled to build interesting contacts with other Asian cities and countries, with a view to organize upcoming events in Asia.
The local contestants finished with runner-up places but let's remember that, 10 years ago, the opposite scenario had happened when European slalomers had travelled to Asia for the first freestyle competitions, while the discipline was still emerging... Will Moritz Nörl or Daniel Ladurner (2013 World Champion) be overcome by Asian skaters in the years to come? Only time will tell!
Useful linksBy Rollo
Photos : IIDA
Translation: Chloe Seyres