Jackson has been quiet on the emails the last few weeks. He has had an epic weekend at Almabtrieb, and has taken some time out on the car trip to France (Graveyard Call) to report his personal account of the weekend’s racing at Almabtrieb. Buckle up, here is Jackson’s race report!
There was no Almabtrieb in 2009, it returns in 2010, and for the big one, the IGSA World Championships.
In my experience of racing in Europe, the Almabtrieb event is always the most fun and exciting event in the line up.
My first Almabtrieb was in 2008 at Jungholz, Germany/Austria (you crossed the border before the finish line) and was organized by the well known Stephan Risch. This year the event was back and was nothing short of amazing. All the riders who came to compete were so impressed by the organization of the event which included a large rider’s tent with a bar, food and great parties.
The hill was definitely World Championship material, it had technical turns with some late apexes, long straights with speeds up to 100km/h and huge fast hairpins that required a lot of speed control to negotiate so you can exit with a solid amount of speed.
The field of riders attending this race was of the best in the world. Crews came from all over the world including the best from Canada, USA, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Brazil and many more. Being at the top of the hill with so many talented skateboarders on one of the raddest tracks in the world was simply a blessing, mixed with hot sunny days and cheap beer I could not ask for a better time.
We had one full day of practice to start with to allow everyone to jam out and figure out the lines on the hill. It was a really hot day and the heat was taking its toll, sapping up everyone’s energy, I chilled out a lot in the shade with the Sector 9 crew at the top of the hill waiting for the last runs of each practice round and had lots of fun jamming out with Louis, Jeff, Evran and also James Kelly.
After a long day of riding and many runs, we called it quits and went back to the campsite for beers. The atmosphere at the party tent was just rad, everyone had a smile on their face, excited to get the qualifying happening the next day.
The first day of qualifying allowed a few warm up runs in the morning followed by a lunch break and then into the long process of qualifying all the riders. As the day went on and the faster riders continued to impress, stepping it up and kept lowering their times. Andrew Chapman held the best time for a while until the top 10 riders kept busting out fresh times and raising the gnar bar. After watching everyone push off the start line going for the fastest time Louis and I were having a laugh at how many people nearly fell off while pushing, and then I found out later that Louis actually pushed himself off his own board when he went for his run. Fortunately for him there was a 2nd chance to qualify for a good starting position on the following day’s qualifying. I managed to post a solid time putting me in the 3rd spot on the first day with James Kelly in front of me and Kevin a solid 2 seconds in front of him. Team Orangatang rounded out the top 5 qualifiers for the first day, really stoked to see the boys keeping the gnar bar raised and shredding it up.
On the 2nd day of qualifying, I opted to sit out and watch. The temperature was high as was the amount of de-hydration. I had already posted a good time and felt confident that my starting spot in the race would be good. It was great to watch the other riders come down the track, I got a chance to learn a few lines and check out the different styles of riding. That night everybody got a good sleep and started to get prepared for the following day of intense racing.
Almabtrieb really stepped it up this year with a racing bracket that allowed 128 riders. This was awesome as so many people had a chance to go for victory and get in the mix. However this made the race much longer than previous races I’ve attended. From the start the heats were stacked, the amount of talent getting around the world these days is extremely high. At the start line I was always nervous because anything can happen in racing and it gets really tough when you have to battle heat after heat with really fast riders. After a few rounds the heat was really starting to take it’s toll and I was getting ready to be beaten so I could sit down and just watch, but somehow I managed to keep it together in the racing, held my lines and picked my passes right and stayed in the game. Once I got to the round of 8 I was back in the zone, stoked to make it through so many heats and got to a place on the bracket I like to call Bonus Round (after the top 8 your then either in the finals or consolidation final) so you have raced every round of the day.
In the Semi Finals I was up against Kevin Reimer, James Kelly and Christoff Batt. Both James and Kevin pushed out like animals and got a good start to the heat. I went into hunting mode and chased down James and got into a good drafting spot before the long straight. A little bit of exit speed mixed with a good draft was a good combination for hauling ass down the straight and getting ahead of James to take 2nd spot behind Kevin and into the final round. From there it was Kevin Reimer, Patrick Switzer, Erik lundberg and myself facing off for the title of World Champion.
Right from the start Kevin was off like a race horse, exploding out of the starting line and into the lead with Patrick followed close behind, and Erik and myself behind them. The pack stayed extremely tight coming into the first few corners and was really exciting to mix it up with these guys, swapping leads and pushing the limits down the track. Kevin held a commanding lead down the whole track with Switzer going for the draft along the fast straight. Chasing these guys down the fast part gave me an extremely enormous draft and I had to make a daring pass on Switzer as he was footbreaking into the last corner. I did not want to mess everyone up with a sloppy footbreak at 90ks, I decided to pick a good spot and throw a mega slide. It was a daring move but then allowed for a chain of events to follow, I scrubbed a lot of speed through the corner and both Erik and Switzer passed me through the exit, however this put two people in front of me allowing a bit of a draft coming down the final section. I felt myself start to pick up some more momentum following them and timed the pass right to take the 2nd place. Kevin just totally dominated and whooped all our asses. He had enough distance before the finish line to look back, stand up, carve twice and fist the air before taking the win. My hat goes off to Kevin, he skated extremely well all day (and has been all year) and is really pushing the limits. He is such an extremely talented skateboarder and getting the chance to race with him at the world championships is truly and honor, well done Kevin!
After the opens were done we all got a chance to hang out and watch the Juniors and the Women’s race. Brianne took another World Championship title with 2 rippers from Norway taking 1st and 2nd in the juniors (Auden Gunnerlussen and Hakon Wegge). Unfortunately young Merrick from didn’t make it to the finals, however he was shredding all week posting solid qualify times and really raising his own level of riding.
Well done to all the competitors who raced this track, it was definitely not a beginners track and well suited the title of the 2010 world championship track.
Big thanks go out to Stephan Risch for bringing back Almabtrieb and giving everyone a chance to hang out and ride at one of the sickest hills in the world with some of the sickest riders in the world.