Vernon longboarders battled the wind as much as they did the other 200 riders at the International Gravity Sports Association (IGSA) World Downhill Championships last weekend in Calgary.
The event featured top riders from Europe, North and South America and Australia, racing on the curvy access road to the sliding centre at Canada Olympic Park. The course was technically challenging and included two speed bumps, which caused numerous mishaps.
A total of 96 athletes qualified for the Men’s Open division. Vernon’s Zen Shikaze (sponsored by Dunas Skate Shop and Landyatchz), Quin Finocchio (Ronin and Seismic) and former Vernonite Matt Rae were taken out by other riders in the first round.
Vernon’s James Ware (Rad Wheels) hit the hay bales in the second round, and Brendan Davidson (Dunas, Sector 9, Aera Trucks), sidelined since June with an injury, advanced to the quarterfinals, where he collided with another racer.
Strong, swirling winds played havoc on the racers, and with many competitors crashing into hay bales, straw was strewn over the course by the wind, making for treacherous corners.
In the Junior division (ages 14-17), Davidson won all his heats, but fell victim to the slippery conditions and crashed. Finocchio was eliminated in the semis, but rebounded to win the consolation round to finish seventh, just behind Davidson in sixth.
Riders completed two timed qualifying rounds to determine the starting order. Just over one second separated the second to 20th qualifying times.
The Open Men’s class drew 185 entrants, with Shikaze, fresh off a second-place finish in a world cup race in the Czech Republic, laying down the fastest local time to earn 14th spot. He was followed closely by Davidson in 17th.
Finocchio, the world No. 1 Junior rider, qualified 37th, with Rae and Ware finished 41st and 42nd respectively. Brian Reich missed the cut at 111th.
In Junior qualifying, Davidson placed second on the first day and third on day two, while Finocchio qualified fourth in the group of 70.
Before the finals, athletes and spectators observed a minute of silence for Duncan McCrae, a 13-year-old who was killed in a freak recreational longboarding accident a few days earlier in Calgary.