Rolling up in Kozakov the sun was shining, the tower was still there and the lights of the party tent were more colourful than ever.
The event this year was planned to end on Saturday so the party could be even more epic and the hangover could slowly roll in on Sunday. The little tent village was slowly growing. We started pretty much on time with the free riding on Wednesday. Those who had been here before were just as intimidated of this hill as the ones who took their first ever run down the drop.
Off the start line the road sweeps into a steep speed section and then accelerates the heavier guys up to 90km/h to set up for the first right hand turn. This race track is uniquely awesome and pushes everybody’s limits!
For me, it was the first time going fast after my hand injury. And that’s just what my first day ended up looking like. Go tuck yourself… didn’t quite happen yet. It was by far fast enough without trying hard. After washing off the fear of the day the big welcoming happened. The international crowd gathered in the tent for a czek beer.
Thursday. Riding started surprisingly early again and I felt way more comfortable off the start. The drop is always intimidating but at least I felt good tucking down the last straight to the finish line which isn’t much slower than the one off the start line. Everybody got enough free ride runs in; some were still recovering from the welcoming drinks, others weren’t used to the sun since it is usually rather chilly and rainy in Kozakov. Qualifying started regardless of everybody’s shape.
I didn’t quali too bad and when Vitek from the ThreeHeads came over to ask if the ladies were interested in doing a MoovieCar run, I was ready for anything! Things had to happen fast and so it ended up being an Orangatang run rather than a ladies one. That was the perfect stoke run to feel comfortable again! What a run! Ending with dropping 40kg of the weights that are mounted to the crane arm at the back of the car. 10kg of those flew over the hay into the field… One camera got smashed, sparking as it was dragged along the street. Can’t wait to see for this footage to show up in a video!
The second quali day was fairly unspectacular and not even the rain that was forecast came to check it out. The times were a lot faster than the ones from the first one. Five seconds meant approximately 10 spots; it was obvious that none of the ladies had qualified for the race. But we got to chase some guys in the repechage! Looking at the stacked heats in the race, downhill longboarding slowly becomes more professional and actually qualifying for a race already takes that much more than what it used to.
Other than Luis, a really big Brazilian rider, I didn’t know what my first heat would look like. At the start line, I felt like a midget. Oh well. I pushed off as hard as I could and surprisingly didn’t loose the pack right off the start. That was good; that would mean I actually had a chance to make it through the first round. Winning repechage was out of reach anyways as there were some really good riders who, for whatever reason, hadn’t made it in the top 60. All I wanted is kick some guy’s ass! The extra tall czech buddy took himself out in the right hander in the forest. Sweet, here was my chance to chase Rookie, a not much shorter Quebequois. I hadn’t been so small and straight before in this straight! I got excited because I was close enough to get him before the finish line. All of a sudden he stood up before the right sweeper… this made me stand up too… a little too quick though, and I went down – maybe even faster than I had straightened out before. Oops! There goes my chance, here comes my lesson! It was an incredible run and I had more fun than ever on this road! And, Dr. John won it! There was a horrifying accident that happened during the repechage. Not necessarily the kind of thing we like to talk about, but given the way it happened I feel like I have to mention it here.
There was a guy with a bicycle on the way up the hill. He had just asked a skater about the sport and was informed about what was happening in front of him. As well, he was told to stay on the inside of the road and off of it, as it is narrow enough for four riders in the fastest section of the track. The first heat that came down had one of the juniors crash into the guy with the bicycle, who wanted to watch the race on the outside of the road with his feet and bike on the edge of the it. He had to be transported to the hospital with an open fracture as his leg has been hit by the board. The junior was in shock but other than that, he walked away without any injuries.
The race day started slowly. Warm up, Classic Luge, Juniors… lunch break… Street Luge, Open… When we had our warm up run to finally start with the ladies race, a very dark grey cloud was hanging in the distance and the radio tower was about to disappear in the fog once more. Maxim went to get my rain wheels. And, just before our first heat, all the water fell from the sky that had been forecast for the days before. All at once. Rain race! Anything could happen now. I hadn’t been riding in the rain for a very long time and it felt like my ambition got blown away with the breeze. Finally, I managed to high side and miss the final. Winning the consolation final is… medium cool. But I was stoked to get a few wet runs again and had fun racing ladies that I hadn’t skated with before. Patrick and I finished in 5th. Kevin Bouaiche, a young shy and super talented Swiss rider managed to win his first World Cup race!
The crew had been stoked about not hurting too much after the race. The morning after the party, the situation was a little different. But the party was Kozakov-like!
The ride to Prague was more than worth it. Showers are rare at the race and that’s what we smelled like. After the cleaning program, we went for an epic dinner. Ok, it might have been a tourist trap, but it was definitely a good one! Eating bacon wrapped, tender pork off a sword – not one to miss out on! And luckily, the Hot Peppers was just around the corner. Our Prague activities were covered. We were ready to leave Czech Republic for another year.