Speed, Puddles and Nuggets Rain can’t Stop Longboarders on Canada Day.
The driving rain soaking St. Albert Sunday morning forced a small delay for the beginning of the downhill longboarding races, but once the weather eased up, the riders launched themselves downhill. “It’s been pretty cold and wet,” said Spencer Stead, who won the beginners’ division title. “I was shivering at the top. You’re always trying to not turn so you don’t slip out.”
Parents and onlookers, sparse in attendance but warm in support, cheered on each successive heat of four riders as they descended the long, curving slope of Woodlands Road to the finish line at Keenoshayo Elementary School. Some threw their gloved hands to the ground to stop while others sat down and dug their heels into the asphalt.
One boarder – Lane Curial – was a little late putting his hands on the ground and became the race’s only real casualty as he fell from his board after the finish line, landing hard on his back.
“I didn’t put my hands down fast enough and my board slipped right under me,” Curial said. But he suffered more injured pride than anything serious. In fact, Curial’s spill was the only at the downhill event.
At the end of each heat, competitors simply picked up their boards and marched back up the hill to the starting line. In each heat, two moved on to the next round.
“It’s good,” Curial said. “It gets the little kids to get to see what’s going on in the next races and the downhill will help them out a bit.”
But once the downhill races wrapped at 1:30, the bulk of the approximately 35 competitors hopped in their parents’ cars and drove to St. Albert Place for the start of the push race. The course followed the Red Willow Trail with the finish line at Kingswood Park. Instead of individual heats, the boarders pushed off in one mass start that left everyone clambering for position.
Claire Bailey, 15, one of only two girls to compete in the push race, was sure she could make it to the finish line in good time.
“I did it yesterday and it took 16 minutes, but I think I can do it faster,” she said as she nervously awaited the start.
Racers were forced to contend with puddles, low bridges and uphill climbs throughout the race. Several racers were pushing so hard that their shoes came tumbling off, forcing them to stop. But others took the race less seriously as a pair of friends crossed the finish line eating from a box of McDonalds chicken nuggets they passed back and forth.
Bailey, flushed from the effort, crossed the line in 21st place.
“Going under a bridge I got a lot of speed wobbles but I recovered,” she panted. She was happy she was able to at least pass one person on the final stretch.
“At the beginning I felt like I could go faster than anyone.”
The winners got wheels, boards and gift cards. But the race was more about giving St. Albert’s youth a chance to show the rest of the community that they just like longboarding.
“Some adults are looking at longboarding and skateboarding as a negative thing, but they can see it’s really a sport,” said Shaylin Hunter, event co-ordinator. “It’s something the kids enjoy doing and that’s not a bad thing.
“They’re not bad kids because they love to skateboard.” By Peter Boer via St. Albert Gazette.