“G-Mac” Takes The Highlevel DH Race
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This years longboard festival in the flatlands of Edmonton, Alberta went off this past weekend, and blew everyone’s expectations of what an event could be. Lucky enough to happen on the nicest weekend of the year, the stage was set for two days of racing. The Highlevel DH on Saturday and the ROGUE 20km distance race on Sunday.
Racers congregated under Edmonton’s High Level Bridge to race head to head on one of the most unique race course on the canadian circuit. Speeding down a narrow pathway head to head, negotiating tight turns at speeds just beyond the grip of most riders’ boards, this race is one where the winner must place first in every heat they race. Losers are out of the game. Tight racing with a lot of upsets made for an exciting event for spectators and racers alike. Bricin “Striker” Lyons showed up to grace the microphone and bring his F-Bomb, a 23ft motorhome full of hooligans and hardcore partiers, adding a familiar CoastLongboarding flavor to the Alberta event.
Riders such as Wolfgang Coleman, Nick Hurley, Jeremy Banting all poured out of the F-Bomb for race day, putting huge pressure on the locals. Jody Wilcock also graced the course with his presence and stinky style, showing that the old man of the dropdown still had a few tricks up his sleeve, like getting a lift up the hill while everyone else had to walk on one of the hottest days of the year. In grass roots racing, you do what you can. The furthest traveled skater was Robin “The Leg” McGuirk from Portland, sneaking in a DH race before challenging Paul Kent in the next day’s distance push. There are now two racers in the world that can say they have won three of the same races in a row. Jim Ziemlanski, who won the Sullivan challenge four times, with three in a row, and now George MacKenzie, three-time winner of the Highlevel Downhill. Put on by Local 124 Longboards and Skateboards in Edmonton. Second place, was up and coming 40 year old Frank Coté of Camore, riding a Motion longboards “Decker”, third was Sayshun’s Riley Harris and Local 124′s own Tony Graves lost the consolation to end up fourth. With 75 riders this year and one tonne of stoke, you can bet that next year will be bigger and attract a few more traveling hooligans.
Sunday morning the ROGUE race began, named after Edmonton’s famed river-valley trail system, the ribbon of green ultimate endurance race takes a skater through every longboarding discipline. Forested flat sections, tight fast downhills and excruciating inclines push a pusher to their limits. With over 150 competitors aged 11 to 51 the race took its toll on those who “push themselves further”. The ones looking for a beautiful cruise through sunny Edmonton got there wish as they wound their way to the finish line BBQ and festivities. There were two waves of riders leaving the start line at 10:00am, the “front runners”, 20 pushers who were pre-qualified based on reputation and past ROGUE finishing times left with a 30 second head-start. The second wave of 140 riders tried to chase the lead pack for twenty kilometers (12.5mi) to the finish line through the twisty, forested trails of Edmonton’s river valley.
For the fourth year in a row, Paul Kent took the win with a time of 51m 28s , beating the rest of the pack with the power of his mind and his incredible stamina, winning $1000 and a custom Rayne trophy board. Robin McGuirk came in second place with a time of 53m 41s, leaving the third and fourth places available for Riley Harris and Robert Collinge respectively. The day wrapped up with a BBQ and longboard games like hippy jump, limbo, three legged race and jousting. All of the winners of the games were given prizes from the wealth of sponsors that support the event. Rayne, Loaded, Orangatang, Landyachtz, Kebbek, Gullwing, Sector Nine, Haste, Bullet Longboards, Motion Longboards, Darkspeed Slidegloves and Happy Harbour Comics. Local skateshops like EasyRider, Pipeline Surf and Source pitched in along with presenting sponsor Local 124 to put on what people were calling “the best weekend of the year”. All entrants were put into a draw for an iPad2 from cmscritic.com .
With two such unique events in one weekend, Edmonton should be considered a valued stop on your next years race circuit plans. It’s skating at it’s finest in the flatlands.
written by Mike Sanders