The World Championships of Slalom Skateboarding, Stuttgart 2012

By Rob Ashby (with thanks to Paul Price) 

Team GB (L-R, Bruno, Louis, Paul, Rob & Paul Coupe)

Whilst the Olympics were beginning in London another Team GB, Comprising of Paul Price, Louis Selby, Rob Ashby, Paul Coupe and “honorary Brazilian Brit” Bruno Silva De Oliveira were jetting off to Stuttgart for this year’s Slalom World Championships.

The first day of the 2012 Worlds got underway on Friday at Scharnhauser Park, Ostfildern (about 30 minutes outside of Stuttgart by train) beneath clear blue skies and 33 degree heat but alas this wouldn’t last! Unfortunately like the European Championships in Riga before this was to be a weekend marred by very heavy showers.

Following a warm welcome from Robert Thiele, his crew and the City of Stuttgart qualifying began for the Tight Slalom.
In the Women’s Division relative newcomer Olesya Naumchik of Russia was keen to build on her recent performance in the Euro’s, alas she took a nasty fall in one of her final heats.
Lienite Skaraine was then left to battle it out with Kathrin Sehl, but cone penalties were to be Kathrin’s undoing leaving Lienite to take the title. Olesya bravely fought back and took third place in the consolation round from Eva Jedlickova. The under 12 Junior Division was won by up and coming Dutch rider Melle Stolk, one of Flavio’s students from the Amsterdam Slalom School, who put in a solid performance – one to watch out for in coming years? In the 12-16 Juniors the racing was really fast and furious. After some very close heats it was Pavel protégé Vincent Kitzhöfer that took the first place, with Czech Vitek Hromadko in second. Anna Tehza and Max Thiele took third and fourth respectively.

The men’s group was cut straight to a round of 16 and this started started under overcast skies and just as things were really hotting up going into the round of 8 the heavens opened causing the days racing to come to a premature end. This meant that in the end qualifying times had to be used to determine the final standings for the Tight. Despite the changeable weather which meant some runs had a strong headwind, some had no wind at all the times were incredibly close, nowhere more so that in the Men’s Open Division where just 0.96 seconds separated the top 16 riders! Bruno was the best of our bunch qualifying in 17th place.
That night following a very late supper we made our way to the After Party at the Stuttgart Skateboard Museum.

After heavy overnight rain and a very wet start to Saturday the Hybrid qualifying began much later than scheduled back at ScharnhauserPark.
Some timing issues delayed proceedings and things were further compounded when another heavy downpour halfway through the second qualifying runs bought things to an abrupt end – seemingly for the day!
Following an extended lunch break Robert announced that the completed first run times would be used to decide the final positions for the Hybrid. However with the sun now shining through and starting to dry out the track the racers decided with a show of hands that they would prefer to wait for the track to dry and complete the second qualifying runs. The earlier wind having dropped away times were a lot quicker in the second session of qualifying. As per the previous days TS there was again no time for head to head racing in the Hybrid. Therefore in the Women’s Division Kathrin Sehl took the Hybrid title from Olesya Naumchik and Lienite Skaraine took the third place spot following a protest from Olesya regarding cone counts.
After some very intense, fast second runs it was Joe McLaren that won through to take the Men’s Hybrid crown with a time of 12.70 with Viking Hadestrand (12.83) in second and after a long absence from the racing scene the returning Henrik Wadsten (12.89) took the third spot. Dominik Kowalski just missed out on a podium place by the narrowest of margins with his time of 12.93. 

Paul Price and Josef Stefka – 2nd run Hybrid Qualifying

Sunday again began with rain, we made our way slowly to the Giant Slalom location which was starting to dry as we arrived. The organisers had paid for the road to be closed which was bad news for the dozen or so cars still parked there. Before long we were being treated to a display of “how to prepare a hill for a race” German style; Burly policemen were dashing around the hill pointing and shouting and generally making themselves busy towing all of the parked cars away!

Preparing the GS hill – taking out the trash!

With the road now cleared of cars and rapidly drying things were starting to look promising, the course was ready and the substantial midday crowds had started to gather at trackside.  After a quick rider briefing the Giant Slalom got going although with over 120 racers doing  a practice run and two timed runs it took a considerable time. Unfortunately I took a heavy slam on my second run when I un-weighted too much on my back foot and lost the rear end. This sent me sliding down the hill using my helmet, shoulder and hip as a brake. Winded and feeling a little shaken at the sight of all these faces looking down at me I stood up, picked up my board, held it aloft in my left hand and acknowledged the cheers from the crowd. By the time I had got back up the hill it was obvious that things were not quite right and after being examined by the doctor an ambulance was swiftly summoned to take me to the nearby hospital. One broken collar bone and a suspected partial fracture to the shoulder blade later I left the hospital in time to re-join my teammates, the SK8Kings/Axe Army Crew and Team Sweden for dinner. (Note to self don’t order steak when you only have one good hand to cut it with!)

Rob, 1st GS run (Photo by Michel Dupont)

I obviously missed out on prize giving ceremony and subsequent shenanigans so if you want to know what happened please ask someone that was there! The full results are available to see here:

 We could have done better if the courses had been more suited to the tight slalom we practice, but the courses were very open to cater for the children, women and open racers. Easy courses made the times very close. Also our ramp starts need work, as this was where at least half a second could be made up. Critical when only 0.5 of a second could move you up 10 places! See the qualifying times to see some really close race times.

There are still upcoming major slalom races in Grenoble, The UK and Mallorca – we are looking forward to a return to sunny skies for these races – Please?


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