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Locals medal in big Vernon DH

A total of 85 longboard daredevils chased a $2,000 prize purse in the Vernon DH North American Championships last weekend on Middleton Mountain.
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Mischo Erban of Vernon (left) prepares to hit the hay bales after George MacKenzie of Calgary (underneath Erban) and Patrick Switzer of Vancouver collide on the first turn in an elimination heat Sunday in the Vernon DH North American Championships at Middleton Mountain. Mischa Farivar of Vancouver slides in at the back of the pack to avoid the carnage.

Morning Star Staff

A total of 85 longboard daredevils chased a $2,000 prize purse in the Vernon DH North American Championships last weekend on Middleton Mountain.

It was the first stop in the five-race International Gravity Sports Association (IGSA) NorAm Downhill Series, featuring participants from as far away as Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Quebec, Colombia and Mexico.

There were 82 male riders in the Open and 32 in the Junior divisions. There were three female entrants in the Open Women.

Close to a dozen Vernon athletes competed in the Open and Junior divisions. There were also races in the street luge and inline skating categories.

Residents were very accommodating as the athletes shredded the one-kilometre course through their streets for two days. The City of Vernon was also instrumental in supporting the race.

Former world champion Mischo Erban masterfully organized the race in which spectators were treated to many spills and intense action.

Offsetting the intense competition were numerous moments of  camaraderie, including when one of the racers in the Women’s Open chose to tend to her fallen competitor rather than finish the race herself.

In the Junior 2 Division (ages 13 to 17) Brendan Davidson, 16, sponsored by Dunas, prevailed while Quinn Finnochio, 16, also from Vernon, placed second.  Riley Taylor from Vancouver took the bronze medal. Locals Bryan Reich and Devin Nowlin also competed in this age group. Nick Lutsenko claimed fifth place in the Junior 1 category (ages 8-13).

The biggest upset of the day was in the Open division, where Davidson, a dark horse, and relative newcomer to the Open division, advanced through numerous heats to the finals.

He outwitted a variety of top pros, entertaining spectators by dodging fallen riders and equipment debris in four-man head to head heats. In the finals, he was in third place until the last corner onto Middleton Way, after which he drafted and then passed Riley Harris of Edmonton on the straightaway just before the finish.

The winner was Patrick Switzer, 24, of Vancouver, currently first overall in world rankings.

Rounding out the finals was Robin Sandberg from Sweden in fourth.  Davidson pocketed $300 for the Junior win and $500 for his second place in Open. Switzer took home $1,000.

Amongst other local skaters in the Open Division, favourite Zen Shikaze, who placed seventh in qualifying, advanced to the quarterfinals before crashing out. Organizer Erban even found time to compete. He, James Ware, Finnochio, Jeremy Morrow and Zoran Bos were eliminated in earlier heats. Max Erwin was injured in qualifying runs on the first day and was unable to compete.

Generous sponsors included the Sprouted Fig, Sun FM, Switchback Longboards, GMR Skateboards, Ronin Trucks, Bucsuboards, Seismic, Tekton, McDonald’s and Telus.

The next race is in Kelowna this weekend, followed by the Whistler Downhill June 25 and 26. Over the July 1 weekend, the World Junior Championships will be held  on the historic Maryhill Loops road in Goldendale, Wash. on the banks of the Columbia River. There will also be a World Cup Downhill race for the Open Division.

 

Davidson will be training on snow with the Canadian Skicross team at Mount Hood, Ore.  in August since he has been invited to try out for the Canadian 15-16 year old team at the inaugural Youth Winter Olympics in Austria next January.