Madrid at the 2012 Maryhill Festival of Speed
I just got back from Maryhill and things done changed. There are more fast riders showing up at races than ever before and racing is getting heavy.
The IGSA uses timed qualifying runs to make fair racing brackets. To qualify for the open pro class this year, you had to make it down the hill in three minutes and seventeen seconds, almost seven seconds faster than last year. My 2012 qualifying time, which put me in 67th place, would have put me in sixth in 2008, just behind James Kelly.
As if to emphasize the newfound competitiveness, Douglas Dalua set a new track record on Friday. The very next day, Madrid's Zak Maytum broke it. The next five minutes were tense, as he waited to see if any of the remaining qualifiers would beat his time. While he managed to hold onto it for this year, we'll see how fast people are in 2013.
As usual, the race organizers ran the street luge, buttboard, women's skateboard, and juniors' divisions down to the finals before starting the open downhill class.
At over two miles long, Maryhill is the longest course on the IGSA circuit. In years past, the first round of open racing would see riders spread far apart, as experienced racers opened up big leads ahead of slower riders. Not anymore: first-round heats saw riders in tight packs all the way down the hill, racing hard to the last corner.
As the competition has gotten closer, the competitors have gotten tougher. There were an unusual number of rider protests and disqualifications this year. The Junior I class (eight to thirteen years old) had to be run twice and Byron Essert was disqualified from the Junior II final after coming in second.
By the time it got down to the open quarter finals, everyone still in the running was a veteran racer. One semi-final had the 2009, 2010, and 2011 World Cup Series champions racing three other good riders.
After an interminable wait, they finally sent down the open-class finals. Kevin Reimer, who seems to be having a bit of trouble with pushing these days, stomped on Billy Meiners' wheel at the start line, causing both of them to crash. Reimer quickly recovered his board and got back on, leaving Meiners to scramble down the cliff to find his skate.
The rest of the finals was a close pack run, with Zak Maytum battling Patrick Switzer, Alex Tongue, and Douglas Dalua. Dalua crashed when Tongue passed him in the second repeater. The final three battled to the end, coming through the last 2 corners in a tight pack. When it all shook out, Switzer took first, Maytum got second, and Tongue finished out the podium. Reimer was visibly disappointed, while Dalua and Meiners were angry about having been crashed out.
In all, another fun Festival of Speed.