5th Amsterdam Slalom Series – Dutch Slalom Championships, 6th-8th May 2011


The Winners Podium (minus Rob Gerlings)

This years Dutch Slalom Championships was the 5th race in the Amsterdam Slalom Series and was again held at Sportpark Sloten, a 20 minute tram ride from Amsterdam centre. Unlike previous years the British Team was very small this year – just me! It was my first solo trip to a European race but with me being half Dutch it felt like “home from home”!

I flew out on Thursday afternoon and arrived in Amsterdam at around 7pm. Thursday was Bevrijdingsdag or Liberation day when the Dutch celebrate the end of the War. There were flags flying everywhere, lots of happy revellers wandering around and bands playing in Dam Square. I checked into my hotel, a stones throw from the Heineken brewery, before going to check out the local for a few cold Amstel’s.

On Friday morning, after a hearty traditional breakfast, I made my way to the race site via the 2 tram. On arrival I was greeted by the Dutch Crew who were busy getting everything set up. Other racers started to arrive and greet each other as only the skate brotherhood can. Soon the single lane Giant Special (set by Ernst and Dominik) was ready and everything good to go. After the riders briefing and before racing commenced, a minutes silence was observed in memory of Gints Galitis, who sadly passed away in February this year.

Practice got underway and soon became obvious that the course was quite challenging. The first few runs saw cones spraying in all directions. There was a particularly tricky offset which if you didn’t get right would throw you out for the rest of the course. A lot of people not on the “Green” wheels, yours truly included, were having some grip issues especially getting round the offset. I came a cropper on the last cone on my first run in practice when I finally lost my battle with the slidy backend and fell across the line in a crumpled heap. After a few shaky practice runs it was time for qualifying to start. We would each have four runs with the fastest 6 going though to a two run final.

My first run ended prematurely as I four wheel drifted the offset and lost my line. After an encouraging rousing cheer from the other racers, prompted by Paul Brunninkhuis on announcer duties, I managed to get though the course despite some sketchy sliding. Dominik Kowalski, Gustavs Galitis and Markus Roch, were putting in blistering runs whilst local Ernst-Jan de Boom was the first rider to run the course clean. Berliner Ferdinand Lindner was also skating really fast. Paul’s brother Bart was skating really well too, he is a lot faster than he was at Hog Hill last year – Brits you have been warned!

The final was fought out between Dominik and Gustavs with Dom taking 1st with a stonking run of 16.249 with Gustavs in 2nd with a time of 17.358. In a very close consolation round Markus took 3rd beating Ernst (17.421) with a time of 17.367.

After racing was over the Pavel Crew, the Dutch and the Brit decided to make the most of the evening sun and have a BBQ at the race site. Whilst everyone else went off to get supplies Dominik and I stayed behind to keep an eye on everything. We sat chatting about his new signature wheels with Cult (keep an eye out for ‘em soon!), stunt work and The Hoff – but that’s a story for another time!

After the usual meat overload that accompanies all BBQ’s we said our farewells and went our separate ways. As it happened this time around I was the only one staying in the centre. So in true Team GB fashion and after a refreshing shower I retired to my local “Café Mulders” for some life restoring Amstel (and to annoy the regulars with my Dutch!)

Saturday morning saw some new arrivals to the race site, not only the Spanish contingent from Caribbean but about 1500 cyclists taking part in a road race that started and finished by the velodrome adjacent to the track. There were people everywhere and more bicycles than even Sam owns!

The Dual Tight was a fast testing course and again early practice runs saw cones filling the air. After a brief course invasion by a “herd of lost bicyclists” and some shouting and arm waving by Flavio qualifying began. The previous day’s top racers again put in some super fast runs even raising eyebrows on passing lycra-clad cyclists! Try as I might I was struggling to get through the course and worse I was still sliding everywhere! Needless to say I ended up DQ’ing both my qualifying runs – oh well at I wasn’t the only one having a tough time of the course – and after all it was another lovely sunny day!

In the finals Dominik was up against Gustav and the consolation round was Marcus versus Ferdinand. The racing was incredibly fast and furious but once again Dominik, riding his Pavel Speedboat blazed into first place, Gustavs in 2nd and Markus took his second 3rd place in two days.

Sunday brought another sunny day on the hill for the Dual Hybrid race. A number of riders were already talking about the courses, I overheard one say to another in the queue during practice “is it me or is it quite tight?” Once again I found myself battling to keep my line and although getting though went out on cone penalties after stacking it (again!) on my first run. At least I could rest my aching hip and arm now, I have to admit I was a spent piece by this stage Not to rub it in or anything but Dominik even found time to take one of his runs skating switch!

Credit goes to the top ten racers for some incredibly close fought racing. Spain’s Dani Navarro was putting in some fast stylish runs went on to come in 6th place, Ernst despite some great fast racing lost out on a place in the round of 4 to Ferdinand by the narrowest of margins. This time around Dominik would face Ferdinand in the Consolation Round and Markus and Gustavs raced in the final. Both races were incredibly close Gustavs narrowly beating Markus and Dominik taking 3rd place from a very in-form Ferdinand.

The prize giving ceremony saw Dominik crowned as the overall weekend champion; Gustavs took 2nd with Markus taking a well deserved 3rd place. Kathrin Sehl won the ladies title and Gwyn Schardijn the Dutch Ladies Champion. Ernst retained his title of Dutch Champion for another year and Bart claimed 2nd spot and a great performance from Rob Gerlings saw him take 3rd.

After the prize giving there was a 6km push race the surprise result being the two Dutch distance skaters Paul Brunninkhuis and Arjan Koek being beaten by Ferdinand Lindner, winning a Bakaboard of his choice, for his efforts.

I can’t end this race report without mentioning the Junior Races that took place throughout the weekend, with the exception of the Hybrid, they all skated the same courses as we did! The standard of riding was amazing. Flavio and the crew at The Amsterdam Slalom School have done an incredible job teaching these youngsters and it won’t be that long before we see these guys beating established names – the future of Dutch slalom is looking very bright indeed!

A big thanks to Flavio “Flava Flav” Badenes and all of the Dutch crew not to mention all of the racers that made this a memorable weekends racing.

See you at Hog Hill!

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