by Ramón Königshausen
“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often. ”
So far, looking back at this year’s racing season, there were a lot more racing incidents, and people getting taken out by others than last year. – A logical consequence of the racing scene getting bigger and more competitive. More and more skaters are competing at a high level resulting in very tightly packed heats and, at the same time, racers are trying to go for almost impossible passes. In racing you can never be 100% sure of what’s gonna happen next, you can only assume what the three or five people around you are gonna do.
Zak Maytum is closing in on an unusal late apex on his slalom board and tangles up with James Kelly that was gonna take him on the inside.
Martin Siegrist in disbelief after Mischo Erban t-boned him while he was throwing an unexpected predrift after footbraking.
In the following video I combined some of this summer’s racing incidents that got captured by cameras. In two of them I was involved myself. I could now start a big explanation of how things went down and how p*ssed I was when I got taken out being in the lead. But instead, let’s look at it from a distance.
What I noticed with most racing incidents that ended in “drama” is that only a very small group of people can put themselves in that situation. Some take it more serious than others, but we know that all of us are there for the fun. After the heat of race day cooled down, we’re still friends. Fact is, if you take racing a bit more serious, you’re trying to be focused and do your thing. Most of the time you’re able to predict or react to what’s gonna happen in your heat, but sometimes something happens that will throw you off guard. Some of us (like you can see in the video) get angry after this happens – but most of the time that anger doesn’t last very long. (On a side note, some one commented on the Greener Pastures trailer and wanted to know if Kyle and James got along on the road trip after what happened at Whistler. – Of course they got along!)
James Kelly goes for a risky inside on Kyle Martin at the DH Race at Whistler
The tricky thing, and that’s what really bugged me about my situation, is that you’re running a 4 or 6 man heat. When the two guys in front tangle up, two (or four) others pass – They have nothing to do with the situation. The two that passed will advance because they managed to stay out of the trouble. The guy that took the other one out might be disqualified. But the unlucky guy that got taken out will still not be able to advance. There is no direct benefit from a disqualification in that case.
Nicolas Robert setting up for the risky pass. – From his perspective I footbraked too much, which might be true… (© Felix Brotzlowski)
How do we avoid these situations? There are mainly thre solutions to the problem of getting taken out or making a bad move. One is to just take it easy AFTER it happend, bottom line. Another one is to SIMPLY avoid crashing: Be smart. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about the fun or the serious business. If it’s about the fun you don’t take your buddy out. If it’s about the serious business, why would you want to risk a DQ? – Third, and what I had to learn the hard way this summer: Expect a risky pass or crash in front of you and try to deal with it!
The (over)heated discussion at the finish line after the incident in the Insul Semi-Finals. (a.k.a. “How not to deal with it”)
Here’s yet a different case that occured during the Semi Finals at Padova Grand Prix 2011 in Italy. Most people that look at this series of photos would probably think “Why the heck is he stealing his board?!” – This how Kevin Bouaich did the right thing:
Torbjørn Sunde highsides off his board leading into the patchy left-right combo at Padova Grand Prix.
As a result Torbjørn’s board is getting in Kevin Bouaich’s way…
Kevin reacts quick and grabs the board, preventing him from crashing too.
Torbjørn starts chasing after his board – Note the pointing finger!
Torbjørn still chasing his board – Note the change of gestures!
Finally Kevin drops the board like a magpie drops a shiny watch.
Looks like Skate[Slate] was right in there!
If Kevin didn’t react quick and grabbed Torbjørn’s board he would’ve crashed too. It was Torbjørn’s fault to crash in the first place, so Kevin had to deal with the board crossing.
Earlier this year in a Concrete Wave interview for Speedboarder of the Year, Kevin Reimer made a really good statement that needs to be shared in this context:
“Definitely I made a push for people to stop taking others out. It sucked for awhile! There were some really ‘fast’ people who just didn’t have the experience. They thought it necessary to take that inside line when it really wasn’t going to work… […] It’s pretty lame, but that’s what you need to do when it comes down to the wire. I’d rather stay standing and have them go by than have us all careen into the hay.”
Last but not least, race officials also play a big role when it comes down to protests. While at Maryhill Martin Siegrist was trying to avoid tangling up with Zen by putting a hand on him and then got disqualified because Zen crashed during his pass, the race officials at Whistler decided not to disqualify James Kelly that took a risky inside on Kyle Martin.
James’ statement about the incident (source: www.skatehousemedia.com):
“It was a little close,” said James Kelly. “There was definitely some heated racing. It was one of those situations where I was coming in hot and had to make room for the pass in the corner and there was a little contact. But that’s downhill skateboard racing.”
Why did I write this article? Obviously because I’ve been involved with of a racing incidents. But moreover this article should help other people (i.e. spectators) understand and make racers think of their racing moves.
Words and photos by Ramón Königshausen
Screenshots by Yvon Labarthe