Hog Hill Open Season Slalom and Freeride 11/12 June 2011

The Hog Hill Open Season Slalom and Freeride marked the start of this years UK’s Slalom Racing Season and once again saw the UKSSA working alongside Alex Ireton

of London Longboards/Newtons Shred to share both the venue and the running of the event. From last year we welcomed back many of our friends from the Amsterdam Slalom Skateboarding  School along with some that were making their maiden voyage to Hog Hill. In all 9 made the journey over from Holland – the largest visiting Team
from a single country I think we have seen at a UK race?

On Friday afternoon Edwin and I (latterly Sam) made our way to the Lambourne End camp site and having narrowly avoided meeting our maker on the M25 during an intense “flash”
hail storm, arrived in time to meet and greet Flavio Badenes, Cyril, Gwyn and Bo Schardijn who were just off into London for the evening. An hour later Bart, Paul, Edwin Drommel and Wouter arrived, pleasantries exchanged and tents pitched and in true British style we adjourned to the pub for food, beer and banter. The last of the Oranje Army, Ernst, Debbie and Jeroen arrived sometime in the early hours of Saturday morning.

After overnight rain and a dull start the sun eventually broke through bathing Hog Hill in its warmth. Vast numbers of riders were arriving and registering for the various events in the entrance hall, outside groups of skaters compared their equipment and talked the talk while waiting for the morning cycle race to finish before the track was ours. Something we have in common with our Dutch cousins – our prime skate spots are on “Bicyclist Territory”!

With the track cleared of cyclists those longboarders and downhillers already signed up began bombing the smooth asphalt hills. Once registration had been completed there was just time for a few introductory words to the assembled masses from Alex and Sam before the fly past that we had arranged (ahem!) for our visitors passed overhead – on its way to Buckingham Palace apparently?

Practice got underway on the very challenging Hybrid course whilst everything else was being made ready. New “toys” were out of the box for the first race too. The Octane Sport F1 style light array starter was looking very swish and had been tweaked a fair bit since I last saw it. This would be the first time it would be used to start an actual race in anger so to speak. The newly purchased PA was providing the riders with some tunes and the organisers with some extra vocal clout. The UKSSA have the tools to do the job!

Louis was still below par, recovering from his ankle injury he picked up during a practice run at Bo Peep a couple of weeks earlier but he took a few steady runs before deciding he would race.

Following the customary riders briefing qualifying got underway. A sure sign of how testing the course was the number of “DQ” entries I was making on the spreadsheet during the first rounds. It was clear however that the Brits would be up against it when Ernst set an impressive first run time of 13.030. Bruno had very stylish run with a time of 13.790, and even battling with his ankle the injured Louis achieved a great time of 13.660. Bart fresh from his podium in Amsterdam recorded another good first run time of 13.740.

The qualifying saw debut race appearances in the Women’s category from Hyde Park regular Emi Suzuki as well as the globetrotting freestyle skater Naomi Grigg, with Naomi even managing a ramp start, watch out Ella!

With first round times in the bag the second round of qualifying really hotted up with the top placed riders trying their hardest to improve on their previous times, in most cases this proved costly in the form of cone penalties. By the end of qualifying the majority of the top 10 riders had failed to improve on their first run times which left Ernst with the top spot, Louis in second place and Bart in third who just squeezed in past Bruno by the narrowest of margins.

We decided that we would run through as much of the racing as we could in the allotted time given that the forecast for Sunday was anything but fair! By the time it came to wrapping things up for the day we had whittled the 39 riders down to the final 16.

We made our way back to the campsite, which on arrival was seemingly overrun with skaters, some pitching tent’s, some gathered around smoking barbeques others excitedly talking of the days skating. For the Dutch and a few of the Brits it was dinner at the nearby pub again followed by Pig City campfire tales and a few more beers before bed.

Alas the weather was not to be on our side on Sunday and although it was dry on arrival at Hog Hill, the wind blew the clouds in and the rain came, and came…..!  We sheltered in the well appointed cycling centre café and decided to wait to see what the weather was going to do, sadly at midday we announced the days racing was abandoned. The Hybrid qualifying
times were therefore used to decide the final results.

Unlike a host of other sporting events in the UK (and Canada he,he!) affected by the weather on Sunday the full downhill racing schedule continued undeterred by the rain which gave  us all something to watch – as well as the Drop DVD that is!
A special congratulations to Bruno – not to be robbed of a skate because of a bit of water he entered the Downhill and ended up taking 2nd place, well done!

(Well done Jensen Button too – now there’s a Brit that likes it wet!)

Thank You Dept:

Thanks to all of the Dutch Crew for making it over – love you guys! Sorry you had to experience so much of the Great British weather.

Thanks as ever go to Michael and Octane Sport for support and sponsorship, to Mindless, Surf Rodz and Dangerous Decks for their sponsorship, to Sam for his organising
and liaison with the Hog Hill and Lambourne End staff, to Alex for running a tight ship and to Seismic and Dan Gesmer for the race spreadsheets. Special big thanks also to Edwin for his all round willingness to help out and to Martin Sweeney for his conehead duties – always good to see you mate, Lastly a big thank you to all that came and made the weekend what it was. Thank You.

Dual Hybrid Results

Timekeepers: Rob Ashby & Louis Selby

(Positions on qualifying times)

  1. Ernst-Jan de Boom
  2. Louis Selby
  3. Bart Brunnikhuis
  4. Bruno Silva de Oliveira
  5. Mike Allison
  6. Jeroen Steggink
  7. Pat Holden
  8. Jack Corpes
  9. Sam Gordon
  10. Ian Sutherland Cranfield
  11. Mmedo Duffort
  12. Paul Brunnikhuis
  13. Jon Merrifield
  14. Flavio Badenes
  15. Paul Coupe
  16. Paul Taylor Crush


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