Words by Mike Girard
On August 7th, 2011, longboarders from 13 different states and 3 different countries descended upon the quaint town of Harvard, Massachusetts for the 2nd Annual Central MA Downhill, Freeride and Flatland skate event. Last year, this event started after an upswell in interest in longboarding in the Central MA area motivated organizer Mike Girard to get a sizable session together. As interest kept growing, I decided to go for it and organize a legitimate event, grass-roots style. This first event with about 50 riders went really well, and after that I knew it had to continue. With one event under my belt, I knew what had to be done and made sure to get started on preparations nice and early.
(Read the 1st event recap on the Loaded blog here: Update: Central MA Freeride Jam
Watch the 1st event video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_fj83iJpkA
The event, scheduled months ahead of time for Sunday, August 7th, was lining up beautifully as the event date approached. The flier, Board or Selectmen approval, road closure, police detail, 72 person shuttle bus, road barriers, cones, course layout, emergency medical services, insurance coverage, waiver, event t-shirts, Loaded blog promo, preview video, 128 person bracket, event format, online registrations and pre-payments were all dialed in. The weather loomed as the only true uncertainty, but the event had been declared rain-or-shine. There was simply too much set in stone to be able to change the date.
Come Sunday morning, the previous days of beautiful weather had disintegrated into a steady stream of rain. This unfortunate weather dampened just about everything but our spirits: we knew the show had to go on. Crew members arrived early to start setting up tables, tents, chairs and other preparations. The rain scared away a fair chunk of the 209 pre-registered riders, but as day-of registration officially opened at 9:00AM, a massive string of riders already snaked across the the street. Staff members set to churning through registrations, distributing event tees, closing down and haybaling the road and setting up cones. By the time the road closed for the first practice heats at 10AM, 131 riders had fully waivered and registered and the big yellow “party bus” was ready to take up its first heap of riders. After an hour to practice the course, dial in setups and adjust push sections to account for the rain’s slowing of the course, all downhillers were shuttled to the start line, briefed on rules, the first heat was called and racing officially began just after 11AM.
Riders line up in front of the registration tents to solidify their spots and get their event tees. Photo by Don Girard
Staffers process registrations at the HQ tent. Photo by Don Girard.
It quickly became clear that the rain would add a significant extra challenge to the course. Riders fought for grip as they battled through the soaked upper course section, which brought them to a flat middle zone with designated push-legal zones. After the push section, riders had one last steep, 40 mph descent to make it over the finish line. The super giant slalom cone setup, more technical than last year, involved a few fairly tough sections. Paired with the slick track, 30-40mph speeds and tight-pack riding, this led to some significant carnage, with bails on almost every heat, especially near the finish line where riders had to navigate a tough left-right, off-camber exchange that forced them to the exterior of the road.
Rob Briggs of NSA put together a nice DH edit from the day’s racing:
Ben DeSnyder’s “DH & drama” video:
EPIC BAIL! After a tight pack shuffle around some of the last cones, rider Clyde Sheppard gets absolutely LAUNCHED into a gnarly bail after some traction issues. A good opportunity to practice some air running. Awesome photo by Nicole Anderson!!!
Here’s a quick clip of the same slam (courtesy of Tryan George):
More fine samples of finish line carnage:
http://youtu.be/qiXLgl-cbw4 Go to 1:40 to see Nick Sharek’s fall that won “best bail.”
http://youtu.be/sX8LgkHLCx4 Jon Kontrovitz wobbles and slams.
6 rounds of men’s dowhill in a 128-person bracket and 3 rounds of ladies downhill later, the podium spots were claimed by some highly talented riders. After a hefty handful of disqualifications, a mysterious tape-induced core melting issue, innumerable bails on a progressively drying course and a shocking last-second pass in the men’s final, the results were:
1st: William Royce
2nd: Will Miranda
3rd (t): Jeff Vyain
3rd (t): Brian Bishop
Best Bail: Nick Sharek
The following video shows just how improbable and impressive Royce’s pass was. Miranda, posed for victory, carried a bit less speed through the last section, as Royce’s tight line, compact tuck and quality drafting allowed him to slingshot past Miranda on the outside. Royce won by less than a board length, driving the crowd nuts! Check it out (video by Serge Berig):
* (Brian Bishop’s core burned out in a freak accident where the push-line tape patch wrapped around his wheel and seized his bearing. Since he was close to Jeff at the time, Jeff and Brian were awarded a tie for third place).
1st: Sara Paulshock
2nd: Laura Nocka
3rd: Cordelia Welch
As the DH dust settled, it was time to move on to the slide jam “freeride” portion of the competition. Staffers sorted all the freeride-registered participants into 3 separate pools of about 25 riders, attempting to keep skill levels constant across the pools. The freeriding took place on the now-dry, slightly less steep alternate freeride slope, as the steeper option was still patchy wet-and-dry, making it too dangerous to freeride.
The riders in each pool were allowed 20 minutes of free-for-all jam time, as judges spread through the slide course kept tabs on the standout riders. After all 3 pools had ridden separately, the judges chose their top 5 riders from each pool to advance to the finals. After a 15 minute final heat, the judges had to come down to what was ultimate a very difficult ranking. The judging was based on riders’ overall riding, rather than just their top runs, and as such the podium reflected those riders who consistently went hard, displayed a large variety of tricks and an ability to land them. Hard wheel and soft wheel sliders jammed and were judged together, as judges accounted for the difficulty and style of the varied styles.The tricks were impressive, and the podium finishers fought hard for their spots. The results:
1. Eric Roth
2. Steve Kong & Norman Plante
3. Bruce Clark
4. Josh Wright
5. Will Royce
Longest soft wheel standup slide: Trevor Granville
Longest hard wheel standup slide: Steve Kong
The men’s podium looks on as 1st place finisher Eric Roth holds his first place complete setup overhead – an Eden Racing Carbon Sparrow riding on custom-engraved Surf-Rodz Indeesz shod with 80a Orangatang Fat Free wheels. Photo by Danny White. (Not pictured – Josh Wright)
Eric threw down a wide variety of impressive slides in all directions, slide shuvit variations, early grabs and highly consistent riding.
1. Jess Corchia
2. Laura Nocka
3. Sara Paulshock
Longest Standup slide: Laura Nocka
Jess Corchia gets tech the way she knows best. Photo by Nicole Anderson. Jess killed it throughout the freeride, throwing down a mind-boggling variety of tech slides and landing almost every single one she attempted.
Awards ceremony presentation brought to you by http://skatetheeast.net.
After freeride wrapped up, those riders who wanted to display their flatlanding prowess migrated over to the Harvard Elementary basketball court to throw down some freestyle. The recently-resumed rain and long day of shredding had whittled down the numbers for the freestyle portion, but 20+ riders still stuck around to show their moves.
1st: Mike Murphy
2nd: Max Harris
3rd (tie): Andrew Gates & Joni Shroeter
We were extremely happy with the event, and we can’t wait to host the 3rd annual Central MA event! The event wouldn’t have been possible without a number of key players that chipped in to make the event possible.
First off, the staff! Several staff members played a key in preparation for the big day, helping coordinate things like insurance, press contacts, porta potties, flyer artwork and more. Special thanks to Garrett Cosgrave and Chris Dyson for the especially big roles they played in pre-event preparation. On race day, the staff were on point all day, doing everything from setup to takedown, judging to marshaling, registering to raffling, and even housing a number of our long-distance travelers. Here’s a photo of the majority of the crew:
(I even had the pleasure of hosting a number of riders to a pre-event pasta dinner and a campground-style lodging. Carb up! And thanks to Luis Marrero for helping me set up the bracket!
To the press! Thanks to the multiple press outlets who covered our event, helping to spread the knowledge and stoke of longboarding.
MANY THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS!!! You all made the stoke, prizes, raffle, hype, and event in general possible. Check out each and every one of these reputable squads and stoke-providers!
Loaded Boards www.loadedboards.com
Orangatang Wheels www.orangatangwheels.com
Eastern Boarder: http://www.easternboarder.com
Original Skateboards http://www.originalskateboards.com
Surf-Rodz precision trucks: http://www.surf-rodz.com
Collegiate Greenscaping http://www.collegiategreenscaping.com
Trophy Life Tattoo http://www.facebook.com/pages/trophy-life-tattoo/151426474914547
Athenaeum Stores http://www.athenaeumstores.com/
Nashawtuck Boards www.nashawtucklongboards.com
Eden Racing www.facebook.com/edenracing
Creative Contact http://www.creativecontact.com
Push Culture www.thisispushculture.com
Earthwing Skateboards http://www.earthwingskates.com
Concrete Wave http://www.concretewavemagazine.com
Soda Factory http://tinyurl.com/ltj6g6
Impaled Longboards www.impaledlongboards.com
Wank-Boarding Longboards www.wanklongboards.com
Lifelong Longboards http://lifelonglongboards.com
Event t-shirts were graciously provided by Eastern Boarder. Photos of the front and back of the shirt can be seen here:
Thanks to the Town of Harvard! The event would not have been possible without the significant support from many Harvard committees, citizens and authorities. I would like to warmly thank the Board of Selectmen for their support in the event approval and road closure procedure; the Harvard Police Department for their coordination, facilitation and mediation before and throughout the event; the Harvard Ambulance squad for their generously volunteered time and prompt on-site medical assistance; the road residents who allowed us to close down their wonderful road for this event; Park & Rec for their help and approval of usage of the Little Common for headquarters; the Bare Hill Rowing Association for their loan of two large tents to shelter our registration headquarters; the School Committee for allowing us to use the HES basketball court for the flatland competition; the Harvard Press for their event coverage and photography; the Harvard General Store for their collaboration; and of course, all the citizens who came out as spectators to support all the talented riders.
Finally, and most importantly, thanks to the riders who came out to share this day of incredible stoke – it was a blast, and we’ll see you all next year! GET STOKED!
Loaded & Orangatang Ambassador