Special Slalom - Sunday 30th October 2022
Words from Jack Meyn - Australian Team Manager
Late start due to winds, and extreme temperature change contrary to the prior 3 days at Villicum Racetrack. Track marshals and race organisers discussed postponing the special slalom until the extra day. After much consideration and discussion between the organisers and riders, a decision was made to go ahead with the event. The cold wind was no problem for the Australian team as they were eager to get wiggling. Winds were blowing, and cones were flying off the track without even being hit by a skateboard. The clouds above tempted the track workers not to bother setting the team tents up. The Aussie spirit was strong again with the team manager and coach Jack Meyn and Neil Duddy helping to set the track and double up cones in the hopes the wind wouldn't blow them away.
By day 3, our riders were familiar with the World Skate format of head-to-head timed racing against an opponent on each side of the course. Day 3 was special slalom,(. ).
Run 1 began, with the winds almost blowing the riders off their course. The clouds above proved no needs for tents and almost everyone not skating decided to huddle down beside the racetracks walls to stay warm. Ryan Nicholls was our first rider on the orange track in heat 2, going head-to-head against Argentina’s own Facundo Quiroga. It was a great start for Pickles, crossing the line with a clean run with 0 cones hit and a time of 22.953. Unfortunately, Facundo received a DQ with an unfinished time. Paul Shaddock took on Joseph Kyle Smith from the USA in heat 5, just falling short of a win with a time of 21.896, 1.86 seconds behind Joseph. Straight into heat 6, Nathan Paff went up against Jonathan Harms from the USA, another familiar name of a USA rider. Nathan had a wheel change after his practice runs which proved to be beneficial for his first heat, as he finished with a time of 20.946 to get the win over Jonathan.
Women up next, and the conditions were not improving in the slightest. Scenes were vastly different from the day before, where riders and workers were hunting for sunscreen, shade and fluids, instead it was doubling up on the jackets and wishing we had a coffee truck on the track. Imi was placed in heat 1 against USA’s Lari-Ann Rupp, another familiar name on the start line for our Aussie girls. Imi had a battle with the wind, and unfortunately hit 9 cones, leaving her just safe of a DQ, however she still crossed the line a whopping 2.203 seconds faster than Lari. Heat 3 of the women’s had Ishi and Isa Ruiz from the USA on the start line. The wind wasn’t helping Ish, and unfortunately 10 cones were hit, ending in a DQ. Ish still gave it her all and looked great through the majority of the track before the wind seemingly took over.
With Run 2 for the men about to start, the wind had not settled. The clouds above were slightly darker, and the doubled-up cones had been taped together in the hopes they would not blow off the track. Many of the Run 2 runs had experienced delays due to the wind moving cones off their marks.
Pickles v Facundo again, with Facundo getting a vengeance on his Run 1 disqualification by hitting just one cone. Ryan had a quicker raw time by roughly 0.1 of a second, but with 9 cones hit, his time was brought to a 24.632, 0.7 behind Facundo. The difference of times and results from Run 1 and Run 2 provide insight to the level of competition under the extreme weather changes. Heat 5 had Paul and Joseph meet again, with our Aussie crossing the line with a final time of 20.676. Congratulations to Joseph for putting up a battle with Australia and crossing the line of Run 2 with a time of 19.261. Nathan Paff was feeling the confidence after his first run up against Jonathan and was eager to get back on the start line for his heat 6 run. He managed to get a quicker raw time than his first run and less cones hit than his opponent meant that he had been victorious in his heat with a final time of 20.960.
By the later parts of the day, there was no change in sight in terms of weather. The wind was not stopping, and it definitely had a mind of its own with its many changes of direction. Racing was difficult but our riders took it head on with no problems. The women’s Run 2 had Imi up on the start line for heat 1. She wished Lari luck and made it through the course with 4 cones hit, leaving her with a winning final time of 23.635, earning herself a place in the quarter finals. Heat 3 had Ishi back on the ramp up against Isa, and it was great to see Ish battle her way through the challenging course, with 9 cones hit she managed to get a final time recorded of 26.657, putting her in 10th place for the women’s. A very big congratulations and well done to Ishi Pang for showing persistence with a smile on her face and giving it her all throughout the special slalom. I am sure the Aussie presence was felt every time she passed the Team Australia tent.
Imi’s efforts in Run 1 and Run 2 earnt herself a spot in the quarter finals. This was exciting for Team Australia as we all got to watch together and cheer on from the side lines. Imi was up against skate legend Judi Oyama from the USA. Unfortunately, Imi received a DQ in Run 1, but gave it her all in Run 2 with a final time of 24.924. Judi ended up with the win and went on to get 4th place behind Latvia’s Eliza Gailite, Anna Gailite and USA’s Lynn Kramer. Well done to all of the riders from around the world for their stellar efforts throughout the Special Slalom day at the World Skate Games.
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