Venue: Jungholz, Austria
Date: July 11-14, 2007
This year, there would be 4 IGSA World Cups in Europe. The IGSA World Cup tour would have kicked off in Sweden, but that event was canceled. The next World Cup would be the Almabtrieb World Championship in Jungholz, Austria. This event kicked off the 2007 IGSA World Cup Series.
After we loaded our luggage into his huge Nissan van, we started our drive to Jungholz. We stopped at a Migros supermarket to stock up on some food and water. The food sold at the supermarket was a lot cheaper than buying it at other convenient stores. After stocking up on groceries, we then proceeded on to Jungholz. To get to Jungholz, Austria, we had to drive through Germany since Jungholz was located right at the edge of the German-Austrian border.
We finally arrived at the course in the late afternoon. It had rained earlier that morning, so the course was wet when we got there. In fact it was still drizzling. After waiting for some stand-up riders to finish coming down the hill, we drove up the road behind the bus that transported the riders up the hill. The road looked challenging, with a few hairpins at the bottom, followed by a fast straight section at the top.
After driving up the race course, Nino then dropped us off at the Hubertushof guesthouse which was only a 5-minute walk away from the start line. I had already made an online reservation so we were assured of a place to stay. The guesthouse was really nice and comfortable. The proprietor’s wife Antonia showed us to our rooms and where breakfast was served in the morning. The guesthouse is basically a bed & breakfast, and this is my first time staying at a place like this.
I then proceeded to put my luge together and try to get in a run or two on the wet road, just to familiarize myself with the course. After getting in one run, the practice runs ended and everyone was dismissed. My dad and I then went back to the guesthouse to relax and prepare a light meal from the groceries we purchased earlier. We were so tired after the 12-hour flight and 4-hour drive that we went to bed early that night.
THURSDAY, JULY 12
We woke up to a nice breakfast consisting of muesli, fresh crisp bread, omelette, oranges, milk, tea and coffee. After breakfast, I got suited up and took my luge to the start line. The road was still wet this morning. We started off the day by doing a group exercise. After warming up, we proceeded to get in 3 practice runs on a wet road before lunch. After lunch, the road started to dry up and more riders were hitting the hill and getting some practice in. I think we got 3-4 practice runs after lunch.
FRIDAY, JULY 13
Today is qualifying day. I managed to qualify in 18th place with a time of 1 min 45.038 secs, about 5 seconds slower than the top qualifier, Loic Zaccaro. Later that night, I went to the restaurant located after the long straightaway and before the first left-hand corner to join Marcus, Chris, and the rest of the Americans for dinner. We had putinschnitzel, which is basically roasted chicken, served with salad and fries. And as usual, Chris and I had our Cokes served in a large glass, although there was no ice! Thank god it was still chilled though.
SATURDAY, JULY 14
Today is race day. The organizers decided to run a supermass (6 riders per heat) bracket for the street luge race, even though we didn’t have 48 racers. Most of the race heats in the first round (Round A) only had 4 racers, which means that you only have to beat 1 person in order to advance to the quarterfinals (Round B). Loic Zaccaro was top qualifier and only had 2 other racers in his heat, so essentially all 3 of them would advance anyway.
In the first round, I was up against Gauthier Dekyndt, Yvon Labarthe, and Jorge Sousa. Gauthier had a very strong push, and I could only push fast enough to stay behind him. Yvon stayed behind me for the most part at the top half of the course, then passed me on the long straightaway. Gauthier easily won this heat. Gauthier, Yvon, and I advance to the quarterfinals.
In the second round, I was up against Gauthier Dekyndt, Yvon Labarthe, Riley Meehan, Nicolas Filiatre, and Chris McBride. Gauthier again won the holeshot, followed by Nicolas and myself, whilst Yvon dropped back behind Gauthier. Riley and Chris were still pushing off at the start and cruising behind the rest of the pack. As recollected by Chris, he was behind all of us, and said that we were essentially a train, everyone drafting behind each other. After taking the series of hairpins at the bottom, and setting up for the last right-hand hairpin known as the Carousel (named after the Carousel at Hot Heels, although the turn is not that similar), Nicolas went wide into the hay. I was going wide as well, but not wide enough to hit the hay, and the next thing I know is that my left leg hits Nicolas in the shoulder, essentially kicking him and causing to tumble some more. He was already off his board and on the road at that time, and then I see this haybale rolling down the road next to me whilst I managed to stay on my board and continue riding towards the finish line. Apparently this rolling haybale was actually a haybale that caught on top of Nicolas’s luge during the crash! I finished this heat in 4th. Gauthier, Yvon, and Riley advance to the semifinals.
After the semifinals, it was then the consolation final, followed by the final. The French swept the top 4 places at this race, as Gauthier was victorious over the SC8 team. Even though Loic Zaccaro was the #1 qualifier, he did not have a good push at the start and was beaten by his teammates Sebastien Tournissac and Jonathan Blottier who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.
After the race was over, my dad and I caught up with Chris McBride for dinner at the same restaurant we’ve been going to over the past 3 nights. Then later we headed to the tent to catch the awards ceremony where they handed out the trophies to the winners.
SUNDAY, JULY 15
After the whole event was over, my dad and I waited for Nino Zeke to finish packing up and gathering the rest of the skaters who live in Zurich who were also going to hitch a ride back. The next few days were spent sightseeing Zurich with my dad before we parted ways. My dad was going to visit my sister in Nottingham in the UK whereas I was to continue on my journey to the Alpspeed World Cup in Thun, Switzerland.
Some of the photos used for this race report are courtesy of Sven Von Schlacta and Marc Dean. Thanks for the photos guys!
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