Venue: Bathurst, Australia
Date: March 7-9, 2008
The 2008 IGSA Newton’s Playground event kicked off the 2008 season with a big bang and a huge success to the IGSA World Cup Series. The event was held at Mount Panorama in a small town called Bathurst in Australia. This event also represents the first ever IGSA World Cup race to be held on the Australian continent / country.
Event banner hung above the streets of Bathurst made the event quite prominent
Mount Panorama is a well known race circuit among motorsports enthusiasts and is a very nice, grippy, and technical race course. With a downhill race course length of 1.2 km, the pavement is super smooth and immaculate. A lot of people have been raving about this course, making the race more exciting to look forward to. The race, together with many other extreme sports including BMX, wakeboarding, parkour, and parachuting, was held in conjunction with a music festival, featuring top Australian bands such as Grinspoon. This attracted a huge crowd of people and made this event really special and one that you would not want to miss.
THURSDAY, 6 MARCH 2008
My dad accompanied me on my trip to Australia. We took a Malaysia Airlines flight to Sydney on Wednesday, 5 March 2008. Upon arrival at the airport, a local Aussie rider whom I had got in touch with over the Luge Australia forum, Craig Mears and his wife Emma greeted me and my dad and offered us a ride to Bathurst. The journey took about 3 hours.
Upon reaching Bathurst, we checked into a small bar-type hotel establishment. After my dad and I checked into our room, I hopped into Craig’s car and headed to Mount Panorama to confirm my registration, pay my entry fee, and check out the course. I met up with some of my old friends at the registration building such as Will Stephenson, Steve Daddow, Chris McBride, and Marcus Rietema.
Me and Will Stephenson at technical inspection and registration room
Me and Steve Daddow. I first and last met him at Talimena, Oklahoma back in 2003!
Course map of Mount Panorama
View of Mount Panorama from a helicopter
Start area at Brock’s Skyline
Walking the course thru the Dipper with Scoot and Team Green from Canada
If you want to know how steep the course is, here it is right here. Steve Daddow on a test run prior to this race being official on the entrance to Forest’s Elbow, with a gradient of 15%. Yup, 15 percent!
View of Conrod Straight
After we checked out the course, we then headed to the Ox pub for dinner and also for the riders meeting. Met up with more international riders including Bill Smrtic and Pete Connolly. Haggy Strom from ASRA started off the riders meeting with a warm welcome and an opening speech. Everyone was stoked that there was this much level of hype, intensity, excitement, and good competition at the event.
Me (Malaysia), Will Stephenson (UK), Chris McBride (USA), and Pete Connolly (UK) at the Ox pub
FRIDAY, 7 MARCH 2008
The next day, we started off the event with practice sessions in the morning before breaking for lunch. After lunch, we would then proceed with qualifying. Because there was only one shuttle bus to transport all the riders which limited the amount of time we could spend, everyone only managed to get one qualifying run for each discipline. After the qualifying session was over, the times were posted later that night on the wall at the Ox pub where people can check out their times. After checking out my times, I managed to qualify 6th place in street luge and 2nd place in classic luge with a time of 1:05.506 and 1:08.871 respectively. I was stoked!
Qualifying times posted on the wall at the Ox pub
Street luge qualifying times
Classic luge qualifying times
After checking out the qualifying times and hanging out with Chris and the rest of the guys for a bit, we then headed back to our hotel where we called it a night. We were looking forward to the next day!
SATURDAY, 8 MARCH 2008
According to today’s schedule, we would be racing the first 2 rounds of street luge, i.e. the round of 32 and the quarterfinals, as well as the entire bracket of classic luge. We got some practice runs in the morning as usual.
The international street luge field. L-R: Abdil Mahdzan (Malaysia), Chris McBride (United States), Bill Smrtic (United States), Will Stephenson (United Kingdom), Damian Andrey (Switzerland)
Me and the grid girls from Loose Kid Industries, apparently an apparel sponsor. Too bad I don’t even know their names!
Me, a Red Bull girl, and some coffee girls at the main festival site
L-R: Cameron Scott, me, Adam Sparks, and Lee McLaren getting ready at the start for the street luge quarterfinals
Maximum speed (that I’ve ever achieved that has officially been verified by my personal GPS) coming down Conrod Straight
Group photo of the classic luge competitors
The line-up of the classic luge final at the start. L-R: Will Stephenson (United Kingdom), Abdil Mahdzan (Malaysia), Dave Anderson (Australia), Cameron Scott (Australia). As #1 qualifier, Will gets lane choice.
The four of us just after the start and approaching the first part of the Esses. I managed to outpush Will and jostled for position.
Me leading the pack exiting the Dipper. I had no idea how close they were on my tail!
I’m still leading at this point after exiting Forest’s Elbow. As you can see from the photo, Will has already crashed into the hay (tore the ligaments in his elbow). Cam is about to hit the hay directly behind Will at this point (broke his ankle). There is an amazing sequence of photos showing Will’s crash here. Apparently Dave also crashed (he wasn’t injured though) and broke the baseplate of his front truck!
Me crossing the finish line and winning my first ever IGSA World Cup in classic luge. Thank you Marcus Rietema for the photo!
At the shutdown area. Chris McBride took this photo of me. As you can see from my facial expression, I could not believe that I had just won. At this point in time, I still did not realize about the 3-man pile-up crash that happened behind me at Forest’s Elbow and did not know the severity of the injuries!
A top Australian band called Grinspoon came to perform at the festival that night. They’re awesome!
Me enjoying myself at the Grinspoon concert that night with Marcus and some other newfound friends from Australia
SUNDAY, 9 MARCH 2008
The line-up of the street luge final. L-R: Nick Duffield (Australia), Dave Kelly (Australia), Bill Smrtic (United States), Abdil Mahdzan (Malaysia). This is the first time that I’ve ever made it into a street luge final at an IGSA World Cup race and the pressure is definitely high!
Pushing off at the start. I had a pretty good start to match Nick and Dave, but being the worst qualifier of the four finalists and therefore having no lane choice, the racing line entering the first part of the Esses was not really ideal.
Nick Duffield leading at Forest’s Elbow in the final
I am last entering the Elbow. Bill Smrtic actually bounced off the hay coming out of the Elbow almost right in my path and I had to thread the needle between him and the hay at over 80 km/h! That was one hairy experience!
Street luge podium. L-R: 3rd, Abdil Mahdzan (Malaysia), 1st, Nick Duffield (Australia), 2nd, Dave Kelly (Australia), 4th, Bill Smrtic (United States). Just a little story on these guys. Nick Duffield is and has always been Australia’s #1 street luger. I first read about him back in 2001 and he was ripping it up at the big events such as the ESPN X-Games, Red Bull DHX, and Red Bull Down Rio. He was consistently the #1 qualifier and has had lots of podium finishes. Dave Kelly won bronze at the NBC Gravity Games back in 2001. As for Bill Smrtic, he goes a long way back in my history of street luge racing. He was in my heat at my very first race in Bainbridge, Ohio, back in 2001. Over the years, I’ve raced with him in San Francisco (2002), again in Ohio (2002),Oklahoma (2003), yet again in Ohio (2004), New York (2004), yet again for the final time in Ohio (2004), and Switzerland (2006). He has had a lot of podium finishes and he was ranked #2 in the world back in 2003. This is the first time that I actually beat him! Well, he did crash…
Classic luge podium. L-R: 3rd, Will Stephenson (United Kingdom), 1st, Abdil Mahdzan (Malaysia), 2nd, Cameron Scott (Australia), 4th, Dave Anderson (Australia)
I won 300 Aussie dollars for 3rd place. This is the first time I’ve ever won any prize money!
Me giving a victory speech
At the after-party. Me and Anne Harding. She’s part of a downhill skateboarding team called Team Green (of which Scoot Smith, the 2008 IGSA World Cup Champion is also a member), is a member of Coastlongboarding and hails from Vancouver, BC, Canada.
At the after-party. Me and Nick Duffield, the street luge winner. I am so stoked to finish on the podium with this guy. He hails from Adelaide and has a quite thick Southern Aussie accent (in my opinion). Very cool dude!
At the after-party. Me and Pat Brennan, the founder of Team OBR (Ozzie Bullet Rail) and Luge Australia. I first chatted with him on ICQ back in 2000 (before I even left to the US to pursue my studies) and 8 years later, this is the first time that I get to meet him in person! He’s given me a lot of advice when I first got started in the sport, and also helped me out getting ready and making preparations for this event and also during the event!
In front of the course map of Mount Panorama just outside the main entrance into the track
In front of the famous signboard of Mount Panorama that also indicates that no skateboards or street luges are allowed to be riden here. For your info, Mount Panorama is different from the usual motorsport tracks that we are familiar with. On non-race days, this track is a public road since there are houses (and apparently wineyards too!) situated around the track. There is also a speed limit of 60 km/h posted all around the track!
In front of the entrance to the Mount Panorama track
MONDAY, 10 MARCH 2008
After the event was over, I bid farewell to all the riders as well as Craig Mears and his wife since we were staying at the same hotel. My dad and I then hooked up with Chris McBride who had rented an SUV and drove back towards Sydney where we would spend the next couple of days sightseeing.
On the way driving back from Bathurst to Sydney, we stopped at this tourist spot called The Three Sisters located somewhere in the Blue Mountains. The Three Sisters refer to that natural rock formation you see in the background with its distinct three peaks.
At the base of the Opera House
Chris McBride and me having lunch at the Opera House
By the docks with the Opera House in the background
Event flyer for the 2008 IGSA Newton’s Playground
STREET LUGE RESULTS
|Position||Last Name||First Name||Nationality||Qualifying||Points|
CLASSIC LUGE RESULTS
|Position||Last Name||First Name||Nationality||Qualifying||Points|