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Newton’s Nation 2013 Report: The Vibe, The Ride, The Stoke

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The Vibe

It’s all about the vibe–that unexplainable mood that radiates through everyone and sets the tone. It can be manipulated but never fully controlled. It determines many things on and off the track, from an individual level to a crowd level, and can make or break any event.

The mood for the weekend that passed was everything you would want in an end-of-an-era race and the start to a new season. Perfect, crisp, cold blue skies, and high levels of ASRA organization saw this year’s Newton’s go down better than ever.

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Micheal English. Photo: Nigel Dawes.

[Un]fortunately due to uni commitments I missed the week leading up to the event, normally spent setting up for the weekend and hating on the town of Bathurst as it continues to screw you on every basic task. The ASRA boys on the other hand were there, stuck in technological hell on a marathon Skype session to try to get the new IDF Tag timing system working during this week. The end result was the transmitters weren’t functioning [or something like that] and being in a three horse town with no major bulk electronics supply store, running a cable from start to finish wasn’t an option. Luckily the standard issue ASRA photocell Tag timing system had been brought along as plan B and Friday’s qualifying timed run was done the old fashioned way – one at a time.

The qualifying seeded all riders into two round robin trees on Saturday dubbed “Quickies” and “Slowies”. All of the quickies went through to the final tree on Sunday, so there was a mix of hard racing with equal portions of chilled runs. The slowies on the other hand battled hard throughout the day to get those spots that would see them joining the final tree on Sunday.

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K-Rimes into the dipper. Photo: Nigel Dawes.

Free of the IGSA format shackles, ASRA could finally implement the round robin format, a format that had been perfected over the last couple of years at our outlaw events. The idea behind it is to give everyone as many races as possible–even down to the first timer. Gone are the days of paying $250, only to not make the cut on qualifying day and be out for the rest of the weekend. The rounds for 120 odd skaters = 140 heats in total on the Saturday (5 races per rider). As we’ve done this track many times, the ASRA crew and their volunteers ran like a well oiled machine and we got through everything by 2:30pm – plenty of time for the top 10 shootout.

It’s actually a pretty good way to wind up the first day of racing. Most people chill around a TV screens at the top watching the riders pushing themselves to get that $1000 giant cheque (and a kiss from a pretty girl at the finish). Stoked to see my buddy Alex Tongue taking it out, but big ups to Micah for holding onto the top spot from the first run until the second last.

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Dalua looking solid. Photo: Nigel Dawes.

By the time Sunday rolled around we had all embraced the over-tired delirium and the layer of skin removed from our faces from the bitter dry wind on Saturday, ready to be burnt to a crisp again on the Sunday. It was time to do what we do best: bang out the rest of the event in style. In addition to the Charles Sturt University live video feed, this year commentators Striker and Blackwood were upgraded with earpieces to let them know what was happening, which notably kicked the professionalism up, as well as giving them a break as the crew cut to interviews all over the mountain. On the start line it was also a new learning process having to talk to the videos guys and time heats between interviews and instant replays so no one at home would miss any of the action.

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Striker and Blackwood. Photo: Newton’s Nation.

The Ride

I got to walk down the mountain at one stage to check the action in person and was blown away by how much faster everyone had gotten since last year. Two years ago Jacko blew everyone’s minds by not breaking at Forrest’s Elbow – this weekend it was standard issue. The first heat I watched from the dipper saw K-Rimes, not even break tuck for a moment before railing through in one of his many, many solid runs which led to his win. His abilities were only rivaled this weekend by his professionalism. The rest of the day was not unfamiliar to last year – finish early and try to convince people to go for a free ride to fill in time. Overall it was an epic three days of well organized racing and crashing and congrats to all the winners.

I spoke about the vibe at the race which was epic. Unfortunately I cannot say the same about the after party. I was debating whether or not to even mention the party but I think I have a theory as to what went wrong.

Our night started after the track was packed up and we headed back to the ASRA hotel room for some casual beverages, food, and dancing. ASRA’s president Haggy spearheaded the in-the-room fun and onto probably the best bus ride up the hill ever. Driven by super volunteer Bruce, the bus partied up the hill, dancing and singing, even pulling up outside the afterparty singing for a while, and then a 30 man (and girl) conga-line into the party… where we were met with slow jams and brawling skaters, a vibe that I had only ever felt back when I was 16 and at an out of control house party.

What went wrong? Well the pre-organised boxing gloves probably didn’t help as the vibe went into an aggressive downwards spiral, but what I think was missing was Team Red Wine. The Norwegian gangsters usually ARE the party, and being a bit older have previously steered the vibe into a fun atmosphere – you guys were greatly missed this year by those of us there that weren’t stoked to fight, have goon poured on us on the dancefloor (more like a moshpit), or trash the facility given to us to party in. Total amateur hour.

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The Stoke

By this stage, you know the results, and have seen a million photos of the podiums and a billion shots of the sunrise from the top of the mountain on Facebook, so I’ll spare boring you again by repeating. Just know that everyone that made the trip out to skate the hill helped push this event to the next level and we were all stoked to be involved and make this event what it was.

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The startline. Photo: Newton’s Nation.

Speaking of being involved, I want to thank a bunch of people for making this event happen. These people turn up every freezing morning to make it happen and only get paid in beer and props, so here are the props:

Haggy Strom – ASRA president, my startline mentor and spiritual guide; Colin Beck – format and scheduling wizard; the startline Lea2 (Robbo & Shapiera) along with Mikki, which made our lives much easier. Our lead corner marshals – especially Kanufi, the calmest marshal on a radio ever. Baz and the resident liaison crew for dealing with the not overly cheerful local residents; Dave Robtec Robbo – ASRA VP, finish line dictator, and timing system wizard – along with his team Hendo, & Tina (thanks for dinner Tina). Ben Perry from Newtons Nation – the most multitasking person on the planet; Bra Pete… for annoying me less this year ;-) Gravy and the whole Charles Sturt Uni video production crew; wordsmiths Striker and Blackwood for keeping us entertained; Super volunteer Bruce Degraaf; Pip Pip Hoary for driving the bus again for another year; big props to Ned Michalk for doing the bulk of the behind the scenes stuff for ASRA in the months leading up and getting the job done all day every day; and to every volunteer that took time out of their lives to come and help us out for no other reason than to stoked all the riders out. Events do not run without you guys.

Also thanks to everyone that watched at home. By tuning in and giving us viewing numbers you help us continue to build the sport and do what we do best: putting on the best races in the world. Hopefully we see you next year – or at Boarder X at the end of this year! – stay tuned.

Cheers,

Trav

Photos courtesy of Nigel Dawes and Newton’s Nation

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