Die fünfte Runde der IGSA California Downhill Series ging im Bonelli Park, etwas außerhalb von Los Angeles, in die fünfte Runde. Bericht, Fotos und ein Video zu diesem Spektakel hier auf boardmag!
After a six-month break for summer, the European Circuit and the Demons of Downhill in Ohio, the IGSA returned on November 4th to Bonelli Regional Park in the San Dimas foothills, outside of Los Angeles, California for the fifth round of the IGSA California Downhill Series. Under clear, blue skies and warm, November weather, a huge turnout of racers hit the hill, both to resume battles postponed by the break and to prepare for the State Championships, coming two weeks hence. With 31 skaters in standup DH, 17 streetlugers, a competitive inline class and the gravity bikes in attendance, it was all the organizers could do to get practice, heats, semis and finals done before dark.
The racing was on the “standard” Via Verde course, and the racers’ speeds were enhanced by an absence of the traditional headwinds on the hill. The standup DH skateboarders regularly passed the Silverfish Longboarding radar trap at over 40mph, with a few coming past at 44mph. Many inliners, streetluges and gravity bikes recorded speeds over 50mph in the mid-hill trap, and Fermin Rodriguez rode up the hill to finish a semi-heat with 53mph at the line! With higher speeds, some new equipment and new skaters on the hill, close racing and beautiful weather also hosted more wrecks than we’d seen so far all season on Via Verde.
The 2006 started in January and went through April. Since April, there has been a six-month hiatus in the action that really killed the flow of the current season. Organizers Bob Ozman and Marcus Rietema decided that it would be better for the season to run continuously from November-to-April, so the 2007 season also began with this event. Since there were still some close points battles going on after four races of the 2006 season, the organizers didn’t want to cut the season short either, so for this year only, the November 4th event and the upcoming December 2nd event will count toward both the 2006 and 2007 California Downhill Series Championships.
Let’s get back to racing: the place was packed with racers! Waldo Autry came out to run streetluge, pitting with the Rogers Bros. racing team, Noah Sakamoto came down from the Bay area to join Danny Connor, Justin Kludy and their factory DH team, “Papa Rick” Kludy returned to Bonelli, looking to burn some stress, grief and adrenalin on a Chaput-built board with proto trucks and wheels, Silverfishers Roland Sumile, George Siddigi, Ed Catipon and Paul Carroll were there, not to mention young phenoms like Tyler Wendtland, the Meehan boys, the Natividad brothers and even the “OG” Victor Earhart bombing the hill on a gonzo-lowered board and beaming his inimitable grin!
After a nearly two-hour morning practice session, each competitor took a single qualifying run to determine starting position. It was here that we realized speeds were high and when the first of the skateboarding wrecks occurred. In Downhill Skateboarding, brothers Dave and John Rogers set the two fastest times, with a 48.586 and a 48.700, respectively. At the radar trap, Dave rolled by at 44mph, John at 43. The third-place qualifier was Rick Kludy, who also rolled the trap at 43mph and garnered a 50.320 for his efforts. Everyone was happy to see Rick smiling, having fun and doing what he does best after suffering the loss of his wife Sandy a few months ago. Rounding out the top five were Andrew Sawyer with a beautiful run that registered 50.677 and Paul Carroll, charging down the hill in his first IGSA race on a prototype Loaded DH board, with a 50.715.
In Street Luge, it was John Rogers posting the fastest qualifying time at a 48.680. Tyler Wendtland was second quick at a 49.268 and third was Rob Ruhman at a 49.514. There were a lot of new riders in the street Luge division. Junior racer Christian Conaway rode his new Luge to a very respectable 54.001. The board appeared to be a big step up in performance for the young rider from Fillmore, CA. Two racers made their first ever starts. One was Albert Yakubovich from Russia, on a new sled built by Steve Fernando, and the other was Ted Foster, on a Rogers Bros. boomless design.
In Gravity Bike, it was Mike McIntyre who qualified first, with a 48.217. The fastest Inline Skate qualifying time was done by George Merkert at a 49.724. Tyler Wendtland was fastest in Classic Luge with a 50.474. The flat-out fastest time of the day was turned by Frank Waterhouse on his Fairing Gravity Bike when he ran a 46.975! Once all of the qualifying runs were complete, it was time to go racing.
First on the hill was Downhill Inline. They were creating one photo finish after the other as they raced through their three heats. It was all about Drafting and each skater worked with partners, Drafting in trains to gain any advantage possible over the others. Faster speeds resulted, with the racers crossing the line at over mph on the Silverfish radar gun. When the racing was done, it was Scott Peer earning the victory, followed by Mark Henley and Warren Focke .
In Downhill Skateboarding, there were some crashes during practice and qualifying. AS the heats and semis got underway, Ronnie Iverson picked up some dirty air coming through the ess turn, drifted sideways and got pitched off his board at 40mph for a wreck you can see in the Meehans’ video, linked below. The “NASCAR fun” wasn’t over: later in the round, David “D.T.” Thompson got Speed Wobbles while preparing to pass at the bottom of the course and went down, taking out an unsuspecting Danny Conner from behind. Fortunately, both skaters leapt to their feet and cleared the course in time for Judith Rogers to scoot by for a berth in the top-16 of the mens’ division!
In the semi’s, Noah Sakamoto and Andrew Sawyer relegated Rick Kludy and Boris Schinke into the Consi, with “Lit” Sumile and Paul Carroll. In their final run, the next casualty on the course the speedy, hard-charging Paul Carroll, who hit a metal plate on the upper section of the hill and went down hard. He finished the race on his board, but missed the battle between Kludy, Schinke and Lit. Boris, here in California for a semester abroad from Germany, prevailed in that one, taking Fifth Place for the day.
In the finals, the Rogers Bros. were joined by Noah Sakamoto and Andrew Sawyer. The race came down to a duel on the lower third of the course. John Rogers outran his brother Dave to take the victory, as Sakamoto’s charge down an alternate line came up just barely short and put him in a solid Third Place.
Not yet content, the chrome-domed John Rogers pulled off a double-victory by streaking to the win in Street Luge, as well. A hard-charging Rob Ruhman came from third position and almost beat John to the line with a late surge, but he ran out of time before the line. Tyler Wendtland finished in a strong third position. The surprise of the day was Jeremy Kahn. Jeremy had not sat on his Luge for nearly two years when he decided to come out to Bonelli to have some fun in both Luge and standup DH. At first, he looked quite apprehensive but soon, it was obvious he was regaining his confidence on the Luge. Kahn finished in fourth place right in the thick of the battle.
Other winners for the day included Judith Rogers in Women’s Downhill Skateboarding, Mike McIntyre in Gravity Bike, Frank Waterhouse in Fairing Gravity Bike, Charlene McIntyre in Women’s Gravity Bike, Tabitha Collins in Jr. Gravity Bike, Tyler Wendtland in Classic Luge, Christian Conaway in Jr. Classic Luge and also Junior Street Luge, and Keri Tishner in Women’s Inline Skating.
It turned out to be a great day of racing. Special thanks go out to Chris Chaput from Abec 11 for supplying the Street Luge trophies and SilverfishLongboarding.com for shooting all of the great photos. After the success of this race, the upcoming IGSA North American Downhill Championships (Nov. 18,19) are shaping up to be the biggest downhill event held in the Los Angeles area for several years.
For complete and comprehensive results please visit www.gravity-sports.com
To watch the Meehans’ killer video of the racing, click here .
The Silverfish Racing Gallery is here .
Written by Silverfish, with Marcus Rietema