Saturday May 15th, 2010
Giant Slalom / Super-GS / Sport Downhill
All Photos by Lauren Dube
Skateboard racing is the most fun for any rider when battling a close rival for placings, or battling the course itself to get better and better times; as happened when 13 skateboard racers gathered in Colchester, VT on Saturday, May 15, 2010 to compete in the Burlington Bomb races. This event was the innaugural competition in the newly formed Northeast Skateboard Racing Association’s (NESRA) season series.
With a new five foot high start ramp built by the Green Mountain Bomb Squad’s Tom Wilson, and a newly discovered 7.6% grade race hill, the stage was set for some high-speed ripping on single-lane timed Giant Slalom (GS), Super Giant Slalom (SGS) and Downhill (DH) courses. A questionable weather forecast, involving a 30% chance of rain until noon, meant the call to go ahead with the race was not made until 8PM Friday night. It was raining hard at 7AM, but had stopped by 8 o’clock. The courses were set under cloudy skies, with temperatures in the mid-fifties. Perfect skateboard racing weather.
The racers all signed up and donated $5 to Marion Karr’s “Surf 2 the Surf” skateboard push across North Carolina, to benefit “Hinds Feet Farm” and raise brain injury awareness. Local racer Rick Floyd, one of the NESRA founders, led the racer’s meeting at 10:15AM and then everyone prepared for GS practice. There was a wide range of rider skill levels – from world-ranked pros to “never raced”. A “B-class” start, lower on the course and without a start ramp, was set up for those not ready to drop-in off the big ramp.
Racers took two practice runs then began racing for keeps. Antrim’s Dave Kirkpatrick, another NESRA founder, had the honor of taking the first timed run in a NESRA series race, and ran the 850 foot long GS course in 28.363 seconds. NESRA was alive! Each racer took three runs down the single-lane course, with their single best time counting as their final result. The Giant Slalom course consisted of 39 cones, with spacing from 10-40 feet, set on the beautiful S-curved road. Adam Schwippert was next on course, laying down a 23.015, but hitting two cones (worth +.2 sec. each), making his final first run time 23.415 seconds. That time would not be challenged for eight more racers, but in the meantime, personal achievements were everywhere.
EJ Thomas, who drove all the way from Boston, MA, for the race, took his first-ever GS run off the ramp, and finished with a time of 29.094, only hitting one cone! Josh Howard from Antrim, NH, completed his first run in 34.506, but had a bearing explode just before the finish. The wheel stayed on and Josh was able to stay upright, which took more than a little bit of skill. Ryan Readel, Glenn Chapman, Jake Palmer and Will Deming put down times in the 25’s and 26’s before Tom Wilson upped the ante with a 24.130. Schwippert appeared unfazed, napping in Glenn Chapman’s van and eating Saltines for breakfast. Rick Floyd woke young gun “Schwippy” with a clean (no cones hit) 23.475 and the race was on.
After three runs in which almost everyone improved their times – with Antrim’s Josh Howard showing the biggest improvement at 3.316 seconds over the three runs – the final results were in. Adam and Rick battled closely the entire time, with Schwippert’s 23.035 run beating Floyd’s 23.333 – a margin of .298 seconds when the smoke cleared. Tom Wilson was close behind at 23.852 and rounded out the podium. Glenn Chapman was his usual consistent and fast self taking fourth place in a time of 24.232. There was one B-class GS competitor, Samantha Castonguay, who put down a 26.580 on the shorter course and took home a nice first place trophy in her first skateboard race.
The weather held, and after some wrenching and course re-setting, the “Super-G” was on. A 22 cone course with 15-100 foot cone spacing was set with the same start/finish locations as the GS. After two practice runs, the GS race order was used to run the SGS as well. Again, riders got three runs, with the single best time counting as the final result. First run highlights included Tom Wilson and Jake Palmer separated by .020 seconds for the 3rd and 4th fastest runs respectively, Dave Kirkpatrick and Ryan Readel separated by .010 seconds for 8th and 9th, and Rick Floyd using his wily veteran skills to best Adam Schwippert by .109 seconds with both racers making clean runs.
After the second run of Super-G, Dave Kirkpatrick had moved up to eighth place from ninth, knocking Kyle Anger down a spot, and everyone else stayed put. Floyd put more time between him and Schwippert, ripping a clean 22.176 second run.
In the final Super-G run, Jake Palmer smoked a top three run with a time of 22.784, which would garner him a final placing of fourth, leaving him just .142 seconds short of his first skateboard racing podium. Look out for Jake in the upcoming NESRA races, the kid is fasssst! EJ Thomas showed the biggest improvement over the three runs, lowering his time by .685 seconds. Adam beat Rick’s time in the third run, but it wasn’t enough, with Floyd taking the Super-G win. These two have also raced against each other on alpine snowboard courses, and Adam is a world-level snowboard freestyle competitor.
Three racers decided to take the “B” start for the Super-G. Josh Howard held the lead over Samantha Castonguay and Heather Readel, until the final run when Samantha pulled off a 22.450 run, taking the victory by .162 seconds. All three “B” riders in the SGS took home trophies for their efforts. It was Heather Readel’s first skateboard trophy and Samantha’s second of the day!
By 4PM, the competitors were pretty worn out, but still had the stoke going for a timed single-lane Downhill race. Same format, three runs, best time counts, but no cones, and thus penaties for hitting cones, were involved. The race was a straight tuck off the start ramp and down to the same finish used in the other disciplines. Half the fun of the Downhill was not a part of the course, but the big sweeping roundhouse right turn after the finish, ending in the uphill runout. No foot braking all day at this location! Only seven riders competed in the Downhill but the racing was close. Rick Floyd led the first two runs on his new Fullbag Elise with a best time of 18.951 seconds. Jake Palmer was a scant .034 seconds behind Rick in the first run, and Will Deming was .418 behind Rick in the second run. The third run was a different story however, as Will Deming laid down a blistering run of 18.405 and Tom Wilson almost matched it with a 18.506 to cement second place, bumping Floyd to third.
Immediately following the Downhill, final times were computed and the awards ceremony began. Trophies made by Tom and Rick were given out for top three finishes in both A and B classes for the GS and SGS, and for the DH. There were smiling faces and tired bodies all around, and a little bit of road rash here and there. Dave Kirkpatrick shot a lot of video footage, and many photographs were taken. All event results and media will be on the Burlington Bomb page at www.sk8racing.com, along with information on upcoming NESRA series races.
Big thanks go out to Dan Parrish for supplying his NASA-programmed timing system; to Glenn Chapman for bringing the 2-way radios; to Dave Kirkpatrick for bringing the video camera, and to Tom Wilson for building such a nice start ramp, without which this race would not have happened.
If you are reading this and thinking, “I want to try it, but I don’t know if I can do that”, then may we suggest you come to our next NESRA event and check out the scene. At the very least you will learn a lot, meet some top racers and see an exciting competition…but beware, you may get “the bug”. I know, it happened to me.
GIANT SLALOM A-Class
1 – Adam Schwippert – 23.035
GIANT SLALOM B-Class
1 – Samantha Castonguay – 26.580
SUPER GIANT SLALOM A-Class
1 – Rick Floyd – 22.176
SUPER GIANT SLALOM B-Class
1 – Samantha Castonguay – 22.450
1 – Will Deming – 18.405