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Vernon downhillers gain momentum

A foursome of local adrenaline junkies battled in the International Gravity Sports Association (IGSA) World Cup/World Junior Championships in Goldendale, Wash.
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Vernon’s Brendan Davidson cruises down the course at the International Gravity Sports Association world cup circuit stop in Goldendale

A foursome of local adrenaline junkies battled in the International Gravity Sports Association (IGSA) World Cup/World Junior Championships in Goldendale, Wash.

Perched on the banks of the Columbia River, the 3.5-kilometre course is one of the premier race sites in the world, with nearly 300 of the world’s top longboard and street luge competing.

Facing strong tailwinds in qualifying, Vernon’s Brendan Davidson, 16, surprised the field by posting the fifth fastest time overall.

Vernon’s Zen Shikaze, 20, a former world cup champion, qualified sixth despite nursing injured shoulders.

On the second day of qualifying, Shikaze clocked the fastest time of the day to move up to third, and Davidson settled in at eighth position.

Vernon’s Mischo Erban, winner of six world cup races, and current world speed record holder, qualified in 12th.

The remaining Vernon rider, Quin Finocchio, 16, qualified 51st in the open division, and ninth in the junior class.

In an unofficial King of the Mountain race featuring the top six qualifiers, Shikaze rode aggressively to finish second.

In the main event, Davidson advanced to the junior semifinals and won his heat. In the finals, he placed fifth. Finocchio advanced to the third round and placed a strong 11th.

In the Open event, Shikaze dominated throughout the semifinals, but riding in second place at the last corner in the finals, he appeared to be pushed into the hay bales by Swiss racer Martin Siegrist, who was inches behind him.

Shikaze went down hard but was unhurt, finishing sixth. But after going over video replay, race officials deemed the Swiss racer to have interfered with Shikaze and he was disqualified, moving Shikaze up to fifth.

The winner of the race was Ramon Konigshausen from Switzerland. Erban and Davidson were narrowly squeezed out in the third round, as was Finnochio in the second.

Said Shikaze: “The Festival of Speed is unique. It’s a fast technical course that allows for lots of drafting and passing during the race, which creates intense competition among the riders.

“It also sets a very diverse playing field for competitors since people come from all around the world for the first world cup race of the season. It was unfortunate what happened in the finals with Martin and I, but there is always next year to get onto the podium.”

Erban leaves this week for world cup races in Europe, South Africa and Australia in the fall. The remaining locals have several more races throughout the summer, culminating in another world cup top in Calgary on the Labour Day weekend.