Sports

Quin captures world J2 title

Vernon’s Quin Finocchio leads a pack of riders down the Hot Heels course near Pringle Bay, South Africa. - Joana Marchetti Photo
Vernon’s Quin Finocchio leads a pack of riders down the Hot Heels course near Pringle Bay, South Africa.
— image credit: Joana Marchetti Photo

Vernon’s Quin Finocchio capped his Junior longboarding career in the best way imaginable – as an International Gravity Sport Association world champion.

Finocchio, racing in the Junior 2 division (ages 14-17), capped his season by winning the 10th annual Hot Heels event at the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, nestled in the mountains near Pringle Bay, South Africa. He completed the gusty course just ahead of world No. 2 Jonas Richter of Brazil.

“It was a fantastic season of racing, new experiences, new friendships, fun and memories,” said Finocchio.

“I was fortunate enough to win five races, reach nine finals, be the fastest qualifier eight times and be ranked as the IGSA World  No. 1 J2 downhill skateboarder the past six months.”

The 1.9-kilometre Hot Heels course is a narrow, two-lane road nestled in a valley, and Finocchio said: “As riders, we had to deal with head, tail and crosswinds, all in a single run.”

He sent a big thank you to Swedish rider Erik Lundberg, who was generous enough to lend him his $1,000 AeroLid helmet that helped him cope with the shifting winds.

The win capped a year of relentless travel that saw Finocchio, 18, compete in World Cup events across four continents.

Struggling to adjust to the wind conditions, Finocchio qualified fourth out of 47 Juniors. Richter qualified first overall, more than four seconds ahead of Finocchio.

“Overall, my time was not horrible as I qualified 21st out of 120 Open riders, but I knew I had work to do,” said Finocchio.

“Also, with my fourth-place qualifying spot, it would mean that Jonas and I were on the same side of the elimination bracket. If things went as expected, we would meet in the semifinal and then again in the final.”

Finnochio finished 10 metres behind Richter in the semis, but changed his game-plan to follow the Brazilian more closely in the final.

It turned out to be a two-man race, with Finocchio and Richter swapping the lead several times. With about 400 metres to go, Richter pulled in front, and instead of defending his line, Finocchio opted to draft him towards the finish line.

“I set up about a two metres behind him and stayed there until there was about 100 metres left,” he said.

“Then I started creeping in on him until my helmet was almost touching his butt and the front of my board was about six inches from the back of his. With about 20 metres left, I slid out of his draft and blew by to win by about two board lengths.

“After I crossed the line, I looked back and Jonas was clapping for me with a big smile on his face. Jonas and I are competitors, but we are also good friends and I think I would have been happy for him if he would have been able to defend my final pass and win the race.”

Next season, Finocchio will be competing in the Open category against riders of all ages. His 2013 campaign begins in Australia at the Mt. Keira Challenge in late April, followed by Newton’s Playground in early May.

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