Switzer Rolls to His Fourth World Cup Victory
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The 2011 IGSA World Cup Series resumed for round number five with the WinSport Canada Cup, September 2-4 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Canada Olympic Park, site of the 1988 Winter Olympics, hosted the event on the bobsled track access road. The organizers pulled out all the stops, putting up a $12,000 prize purse and bringing in ColossoVision to provide video production, two jumbo screens and live webcasting. This represented a big step forward for the World Cup Series, by allowing downhill skateboarding fans from around the world to follow all the action. A unique feature of the 1.5- km (.9 mi) race course were two speed bumps. The first was in an upper section of the course and the second followed the last corner at the top of the final straightaway. In addition, the competitors rode the park chairlift to the start instead of the typical buses or box vans.
After a full morning of practice on Friday, the first qualifying run was held that afternoon. Fredrik Lindstrom laid down a blistering run of 1:33.484 to lead the day’s qualifying. Lindstrom, who hails from Stockholm, Sweden, shocked many of his peers with his quick time. He was the 2006 IGSA World Cup Series champion, but he rarely races at the World Cup level anymore due to work and family commitments. Qualifying in second position was Louis Pilloni from Los Angeles, California, with a time of 1:33.798. Kyle Martin from Vancouver, Canada, was third with a time of 1:33.923.
The second day’s schedule mimicked the first, with practice in the morning followed by final qualifying in the afternoon. Jackson Shapiera from Sydney, Australia, set a quick time of 1:28.945. Patrick Switzer was second with a time of 1:29.650. Switzer, the winner of the last three IGSA World Cup races, was looking strong and gunning for his fourth World Cup victory in a row. Pilloni qualified third with a time of 1:29.783. Friday’s top qualifier, Lindstrom, improved his time by approximately 3.5 seconds to a 1:29.822, but it was only enough to put him in fourth place. Still, it was an impressive performance for the former Series champion, who hadn’t raced in nearly two years. Race day was warm and sunny. Approximately 3,000 spectators turned out to enjoy the day of racing, and an audience of around 14,000 tuned in to the live webcast, making this the largest audience to witness an IGSA World Cup race since the X Games back in 2001.
After a tough four-round battle, it came down to the final heat between Switzer, Shapiera, Pilloni, George Mackenzie, James Kelly and Niko Desmarais. Switzer had played it safe in his first four heats with finishes of second, first, second and second, respectively. Only in the final round did he lay his full hand on the table. He pushed hard into the lead from the start, creating some separation between himself and the rest of the field.
Behind him, all hell was breaking loose. Shapiera and Pilloni were battling back and forth. Heading into Seismic Corner at approximately the midpoint, the two riders touched wheels; they both scrubbed speed, but fortunately, neither crashed. The hiccup enabled Mackenzie to move into second ahead of Pilloni, who dropped to third. Kelly also seized the moment to move past Shapiera and into fourth.
As they headed into the final straightaway, it was Switzer in the lead, followed by Mackenzie, Pilloni, Kelly, Shapiera and Desmarais. After safely negotiating the speed bump, Pilloni hit a small hole in the pavement, wobbled and crashed heavily. Fortunately, he was uninjured. At the line it was Switzer winning, Mackenzie second and Kelly benefiting from Pilloni’s crash to take third. Shapiera finished fourth, Desmarais fifth and Pilloni got up to finish sixth. Shapiera commented in his post-race interview that the race was the closest and hardest-fought he had ever experienced. Switzer affirmed his complete dominance of the downhill skateboarding world by winning his fourth consecutive IGSA World Cup race of the year.
After the awards ceremony, IGSA President Marcus Rietema announced that the WinSport Canada Cup has been selected to host the 2012 IGSA World Championships. The event will be moving to early summer and held July 6-8, 2012. He also announced that the Maryhill Festival of Speed will be held June 27-July 1, 2012, enabling racers from around the world to attend both North American events within a two-week period. The 2011 WinSport Canada Cup was a huge success and raised the bar for IGSA World Cup events around the globe. It will likely become the blueprint for big international races in the future.
Written By Marcus Rietema