Since Newtons is coming up very soon and we have a heap of first timers involved, I thought it would be good to post this great article i found written by K-Rimes
As we see the racing scene start to grow and blossom and see the competition level rise to new heights, we are seeing a new motion currently that is based in fun, but has drastic effects for safety and for sportsmanship. There are more and more and people to be careful of for those who are coming up and speeding up, and there are other riders who are skilled but need to be aware of those around them.
We have moved on from days past where certain riders would dominate a heat, session, or even an entire race and now there are riders who are able to mix it up, dice it up, and get right into the action with attempts, skilled though they may be, that can endanger others. To add onto the tremendous gains in skill we are all experiencing, the playing field is becoming more even and overall, more challenging. This challenge can make for some dazzling defeats, and startling wins and passes and that is what downhill is really all about... But these days, some of the passes we're seeing involve riders cutting inside lines that just won't work or won't make sense (unless a proper drift and line is taken), riders grabbing a hold upon another rider and pulling for the pass or even persons giving up their speed to others (so that the boosted rider may make a pass before the line). These are just the sort of thing that we must be cautious about if we're going to keep all happy and most importantly, safe.
Inside lines are a KEY point to downhill skateboarding, as those who are able to make them and have used them know very well. It is one of the few sports in which we can fit two, three, or even four wide going through turns at equal, or in the case of footbraking, differing speeds. Riders who are making inside line passes need to be conscious not only of their directional forward line, but also their outwards direction that can be accentuated, or diminished by proper lines. When one passes on the inside, their line will take them outwards towards the hay, whereas a rider on the clean, smooth line will go from wide, to inside, to outside taking up maximum room in the turn for a minimal amount of time. We're seeing riders who are making unnecessary inside passes (which is especially brutal for those who are taken out by them) as they are able to take out top riders (who arguably have the better line and rights to it).
One way to skate safe in tight areas is to use your hands and body, not your skateboard. When wheels rub, decks get stuck together, or trucks link up inevitably the skater(s) go down. When hands or the body are primary points of contact there is better traction for those who do so as there is another set of wheels to gain traction from (and a body traveling at the same speed to balance with). The same applies to freeriding... Never touch a skater's deck as it is their lowest point thus when moved, has the most leverage over the skater's weight. When it slows down (gets pulled) the skater goes over the front (this is what you see with wheel rub). Use a flat palm when touching riders, never grab!
To pull or to push is to modify the true outcome of your skateboarding vs. those who you are racing with. The leading rider has it and that's it, grabbing and pulling is dangerous for the riders not expecting it and is the lamest you can get for sportsmanship. Be it a qualifying heat or a practice heat, keep it true to skateboarding and your own skills. Pushing a rider forward is a difficult point for most people... Arguably, it is the safest way to race, especially on tracks with only one clean line (Maryhill, etc). As said before with intersecting lines, it is often far better to separate and stay safe. There is a limit to what is necessary and what is judged acceptable and that is up to the judgement of the rider giving the boost, but as far as modifying a person's position with a HUGE boost, that's just hurting the rider that's getting pushed... They didn't earn that speed, nor would they earn the falsified win. Push with a flat hand and only what is necessary to keep you safe.
Along with technique, knowledge, and experience there must be a huge addition to the racer's world known as judgement... Take a look back and gauge your competition, do you really need to take 1st in the heat, or will a solid 2nd keep you in the race equally? These are the things that we all must take into account before and especially during the heat.
Will a pass before a turn gain you the distance you need to use your preferred braking technique?
Will passing a pre-drifter and footbraking in front keep you well spaced in the turn?
Do(es) my opponent(s) footbrake for turns?
What type of line do my opponents take? Does mine differ?
Does my set-up limit me to certain lines (sticky wheels stick, drifty wheels drift)?
What line will a right footer take vs. a left footer?
These are the sorts of things we need to think about before we race... What do the rest think?