CBark Takes St. Louis
A few years back, Longmont, Colorado’s Chris Barker raced and practiced regularly with other members of the COSS (Colorado Organization of Slalom Skateboarding) crew, including a local kid named Joe McLaren. Nowadays, though, he doesn’t get to skate slalom much anymore, and regularly jokes about being a member of Team OTC (Off The Couch): Just throw together a setup and race – no practice required. After his performance at the 10th annual Slalom St. Louis race on May 26-27, other slalomers could be forgiven for grabbing the remote control instead of their board.
Barker took second in the single-lane hybrid event and first in the 100-cone dual tight slalom to claim first place overall – despite not having ridden his slalom board for more than a year. The Slalom St. Louis race itself, however, has not been slacking. This was the 10th year in a row for the race, making it the longest consecutively held slalom race in the world. Known for its friendly atmosphere and picturesque setting in tree-filled Tower Grove Park, the race has steadily increased in size each of the last few years. This year 48 racers attended, from as far away as Northern and Southern California, Florida and Texas, as well as from all around the Midwest, to compete for one of the full-size ceramic cone trophies handmade by Paul Graf. Unlike most years, the weather cooperated spectacularly, with nothing but sunshine – although the temperatures were much warmer than usual, in the low 90s (low 30s C).
The hill at Tower Grove Park is not steep, so racers had to exercise their pumping skills during Saturday’s single-lane hybrid event, which featured a couple of tricky off camber offset cones just as racers hit the right-hand bend known as “The Hammer.” Ethan White threw down the fastest single time of the day on his last run after he finally abandoned his aged, super-coned white Avalon wheels for some new Venoms, but he had to settle for third for the day because each racer’s top two times determined his or her placing. Barker had two good runs that put him into second place, and yours truly managed to sneak into first. Sunday featured the same event that kicked off the first Slalom St. Louis race way back in 2003: a duallane 100-cone course.
Cone spacing started at 6 feet and gradually stretched to 7 feet near the end. Sounds easy enough, right? Ah, yes, but after an initial straightaway, the course followed the natural “S” curve of the road, veering right at the Hammer and then finishing on a decreasing-radius left. Racers had to maintain a continuous lean while also making quick turns.
OG Texas Outlaw summed it up with a repeat of the catchphrase from the 2003 event, which he also attended: “100 cones is a loooong way.” Barker dominated the qualifying and cruised into the finals to face White, the stylish longtime protégé of slalom legend Kenny Mollica. The youngster put up quite a fight, but Barker’s consistency prevailed to give him the win. Michigan’s Jason Yerke showed he can do more than push like a beast, decisively claiming third place.
Lisa Scott from Minneapolis took first in the Women’s division over first-time racer Madison Prez, who was one of the few racers to complete a clean 100- cone run. Rachel Wittrock, another first-time racer, took third. In the Junior division, Detroit’s Jacob Dodman beat Chicago’s Nate Favero for the 100-cone title; Jeremy Fugate took third.
Favero, however, claimed the overall Junior title, a happy ending to a weekend that began with him taking a nasty fall. For complete results from both St. Louis and Amsterdam, as well as news about upcoming races all around the world, be sure to visit slalomskateboarder.com.