|The Ultimate Technical Hill
|July 27th, 2011
The Whistler Longboard Festival
By: Lee Cation and Gabe Gwynne Festival
Photos: by Heidi Germann
Whistler, BC - A picturesque Canadian resort town located on the famous Sea to Sky highway in the Southern Pacific Ranges just north of Vancouver, BC. The town is well known for co-hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics and is a mecca for skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, skateboarders and pretty much anyone who gets stoked on gravity.
The Whistler Sliding Centre
Situated in the beautiful Fitzsimmons Valley on the Southeast slope of Blackcomb Mountain. The Whistler Sliding Centre is home to the fastest Luge and Bobsled tracks in the world and the access road that runs along side it is equally jaw dropping.
image of venue
The UNKLE Crew has been eyeing up the Sliding Centre Service Road since it was built four years ago in preparation for the 2010 Olympic games. How could we not hold and freeride and race event down a beautiful mountain road in this resort town? Our application was not the first attempt to hold a downhill event in Whistler; there have been many unsuccessful efforts before our application. You can't just roll into city hall and say ‘We want to shred your road!’ In order to get anyone’s attention you need to be strategic, detailed make contact with the right people and like most things, timing is crucial.
Having onsite power and water was quite a contrast to the raw mountain slopes we are use to (ie Britannia). We even had use of the Olympic start house, complete with bathrooms, showers lounge area and surrounded by amazing glacier waterfalls. The whole area is teeming with wildlife. Black bears and deer were cruising about the venue and seemed quite interested in the action. Riders were having a hard enough time hauling down the technical racecourse without having to dodge bear!
The Race Track One mile of highly technical road dropping over 1000ft with seven 200-degree hairpins and six more equally sick corners for a total of 13. There was such variety on this race hill including high and low speed sections, fast 90-degree sweepers, banked hairpins, kinks and chicanes. The event and particularly the road is the BEST IN CANADA. Pretty much every single rider that attended agreed that it was the best race hill they had ever ridden. We don’t mean your regular tuck and grip hill like Maryhill, we mean OMG am I drifting or can I grip this gnar hairpin action.
On Friday all the racers rolled into town and checked in to their super cheap and cush Athlete Accommodations – the same beds the Olympians soiled during the 2010 Games.
Saturday Saturday was pretty much an all day freeride with bracket-building heats in the afternoon. After a few highly technical wet runs in the morning, the road dried completely out and riders started hauling serious ass down this mountain, figuring out their race lines for the next day. Some riders said they got 16+ runs on the first day, which is pretty amazing considering this is the first year for the event.
Sunday Race Day. We had three practice runs in the morning to get warmed up and then racing began. With thirteen corners to remember, lines were always changing and the type of pavement and speeds made it challenge to rail every corner. The racing started with 4 man heats until the semi finals when it was changed from 4 to 6 man heats. The top 12 riders got slammed into 6 man semi finals and the riding started getting hairy. Controversy brews in the finals when racers starting taking inside lines.
The Open Final consisted of Louis Pilloni, Kyle Martin, James Kelly, Zak Maytum, Alex Tongue and Andrew Chapman. There was an epic pile up in the first hairpin, which Kyle and James managed to avoid. James tailed Kyle all the way down trying to gain ground but it seemed as though Kyle had the win. Coming into the final left before the finish line Kyle still had first place with James right on his ass. Kyle dove into the corner, but left a slight opening for James. James came charging through on his inside, pretty much riding the gravel on the inside of the corner, causing Kyle to come out wide and clip the bales. Kyle, obviously pissed off, tossed his helmet to the ground and flips James the double bird, completely forgetting about taking 2nd place. "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."
Story of the Day
Earlier that heat and after the pile up in the open finals the group scrambles for boards. Zak grabs Louis’ top mount leaving Louis with Zak’s drop board to finish the race on! Louis and Zak managed to steer each other’s completely different set ups down the track. Avoiding another pile-up, Louis took 2nd place, closely followed by Alex Tongue in 3rd.
Junior Finals "The final race was definitely tight up at the top," said Bren Davidson. "Alex Johnson was coming up on me in the first corner and I went out front in hopes of holding on to it. Kelly Carter was hot on my ass the whole time although I managed to break away from him at the bottom." Aidan Lynds and Alex Johnston had a heated finish taking 3rd and 4th respectively.
The Whistler Road is without a doubt the best in Canada and is also currently has the largest spectator turnout in North American Downhill Skateboard Racing. With over 2000 spectators in it’s inaugural year the Whistler Festival will aim to be the largest skateboard festival in North America.
Thanks everyone for an amazing Festival, we would not be able to do it without the amazing volunteers. Specific mention needs to go JP Tondreau, Logan Lavoie, Rob Leblanc, Erian Baxter and Jen McGoldrick. Big shout outs to our Presenting Sponsor Arbor Skateboards and our long time partners Landyachtz, Rayne and Sector 9. We hope you can attend 2012 for a multi discipline, multi venue Festival.
Check out the 2011 event website at www.whistlerlongboard.com or unkle.ca
For more information please contact www.whistlerlongboard.com
Facebook page www.facebook.com/Whistler-Longboard-Festival
2011 Whistler Longboard Festival Official Results
1. James Kelly (California)
2. Louis Pilloni (California)
3. Alex Tongue (Portland)
4. Kyle Martin (North Vancouver)
5. Zak Maytum (Colorado)
6. Andrew Chapman ( Ontario)
7. George Mackenzie (Calgary)
8. Max Wippermann (Seattle)
9. Riley Harris (Calgary)
10. Mike McGoldrick (North Vancouver)
11. Jimmy Riha (California)
12. Graham Collingwood (Kelowna)
Junior Class (16-)
1. Brendan Davidson (Vernon)
2. Kelly Carter (Sydney, Australia)
3. Aidan Lynds (Vancouver)
4. Alex Johnston (East Vancouver)
Masters Class (30+)
1. Lee Cation (Vancouver)
2. Jim “JimZ” Ziemlanski (Nelson)
3. Kelsey Crozier (Nanaimo)
4. Wes “Hollywood” Sampson (Comox)
5. Frank Cote (Revelstoke)