Slalom Report – World Championships
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The 2011 World Championships of Slalom Skateboarding in Ottawa began with large ambitions. Main race organizer Claude Regnier had participated in the Expo ’86 world championships in Vancouver and wanted to evoke some of the inclusive, festive atmosphere of that event, and had assembled numerous sponsors, partners and volunteers to pull it off. Pre-race communication and publicity were excellent, and racers from Sweden, France, Latvia, Germany, Brazil, the USA and Canada attended the event, anticipating an exciting three days of racing on Ottawa’s Carling Avenue, a main thoroughfare into the Canadian capital city. However, a lack of anticipated sponsor money forced the organizing team to make the difficult decision to condense three days of racing into two, with the tight slalom event taking place in suburban Dovercourt on Friday, Aug. 19 and the hybrid and giant slalom on Carling Avenue on Saturday, Aug. 20.
Tight slalom is the most demanding slalom discipline. Tiny changes in equipment or technique can have huge effects on results, and only the fittest and best-prepared riders will advance to the final rounds. No one showed this better than Latvia’s Janis Kuzmins and Colorado’s Joe McLaren, who tore through the 57-cone pro TS course with identicalqualifying times of 13.535 seconds, more than a full second ahead of third-place qualifier Seb Leger. Kuzmins and McLaren likewise tore through the elimination rounds to meet in the finals, where McLaren’s uncharacteristic first-run DQ practically guaranteed the win to Kuzmins. Instead of just cruising the second run, however, the Latvian dynamo blazed through it cleanly with the secondfastest time of the day to score a convincing victory and earn his second World TS title. McLaren was second, followed by Louis Ricard and Richy Carrasco. Lynn Kramer dominated the women’s division to win her seventh world TS title. Canada’s Julie Boulanger finished second, followed by last year’s TS champion, Lienite Skaraine from Latvia, and Canada’s Emilie Gascon. Canadians Stéphane Fournier and Thomas Duplessis took the open amateur and junior divisions, respectively, and Florida veteran Keith Hollien skated like a man 30 years younger to win the masters division.
HYBRID AND GIANT SLALOM
With two events to get through, racing began early on Carling Ave. on Saturday, beginning with hybrid slalom, a mix of tight and widely spaced cones. Unfortunately, a rain shower soaked the course just as pro qualifying was ending. Waiting for the course to dry forced another difficult decision for the organizers: Use hybrid qualifying times as final times, or cancel the giant slalom? They opted for the former, so Louis Ricard’s run of 25.611 on the nearly 300-meter-long course made him the 2011 hybrid world champion. Ricard has been near the top of every race he’s entered in the last couple of
years, but this was his first major win and his first world championship. Joe McLaren again finished second, and Robert Thiele, a Czech skater living in Germany, finished third. Lynn Kramer earned her fifth world hybrid slalom title by again winning the women’s division. Texas Outlaw Lou Statman and Washington’s Brad Jackman finally shed their big-race bugaboos by winning the amateur and masters’ divisions, respectively, and Canada’s Gabe Duquet won the juniors, his second world hybrid title. The giant slalom began as soon as the rain had dried and finished under threatening skies. Joe McLaren dominated the pro class with a time of 24.604, winning by more than a second over fellow Colorado rider Martin Reaves. Janis Kuzmins, not normally known for his GS skills, finished a strong third. Kramer won her seventh world GS crown, making it her 19th (yes, 19th!) world title in all. Statman and Jackman repeated their hybrid wins by taking the amateur and masters titles, and Thomas Duplessis took home the junior division title to add to his TS win.
Despite the difficulties of time and weather, and despite the absence of top competitors like Dominik Kowalski, Ramón Königshausen and Kathrin Sehl, the Worlds again featured some amazing skating. Once organizers can work out the sponsorship bugs, future slalom races should start getting bigger and better than ever before. The pro and amateur divisions have a mix of young and veteran talent, any of whom could win on any given day; the junior crown is always up for grabs; the masters are not showing any signs of slowing down; and Queen Lynn the First is always ready to take on all comers. When’s the next race? For more information, including complete results the Worlds, go to slalomskateboarder.com. CW
Written By Guillaume Saint-Criq, Jani Soderhall and Jonathan Harms