[August 27, 2011 by Rob Ashby]
This years British Open Slalom Championships attracted the biggest European field at a British for some considerable time. Riders representing Holland, Germany, France, Sweden, Czech Republic and Spain as well as an "adopted Brazilian Brit" and an expat from New Zealand.
Members of the UKSSA formed a small "welcoming committee" and made our way to the Lambourne End campsite about 3 miles or so away from Hog Hill on Friday evening. The Dupont Family where the first to arrive followed later by the Dutch representatives Edwin Drommel and Bart Brunninkhuis, after a few drinks those that weren't eating on site went to the local pub for dinner with our guests. We were joined at the pub by Eddie Spearing who was over visiting from New Zealand and had hot footed it up from Taunton for the weekends racing. Fed and watered we retired back to the campsite and our tents.
On arrival at Hog Hill we were greeted by Donald Campbell, and the rest of the German crew. The 6 man strong Czech team had also arrived on the hill as had Sweden's Peter Klang who like Eddie had travelled up from the West Country with his family from their holiday in Cornwall. Our entrant from Spain was Alvaro Feldman, a very stylish young racer who had made the journey to the race with his father in support.
It was great to see Mick Reiss up and about after his recent bout of illness. Mick had agreed to act as official course setter for the Hybrid and the GS. He set a good testing but open Hybrid course which made for some really exciting close racing.
After the rider's meeting and a run through the Octane Sport "F1" style light array starter system qualifying for the 44 riders began.
Tomas Fiala of the Czech Republic being the only rider to break the 10 second barrier took the top qualifying spot with an impressive time of 9.985 seconds. Robert Thiele came close with his smooth 10.00 run and was followed by the Dupont's Michel and Christopher with very close times of 10.100 and 10.180 respectively. The top two Brits were next with our "adopted Brazilian Brit" Bruno Silva de Oliveira 10.300 and Louis Selby 10.320.
The number of racers and the time extension on the track closure negotiated by Sam allowed us to run A, B and C groups in the allotted time. Chief timekeeper Paul Keleher and I were keen to run the C group as it allows everyone to race. Many of us have travelled to races only to be denied a race due to time or the bracket being cut to 16 or whatever so it was important for us to get everyone racing.
Due to the sporadic nature of the English summer weather we decided to run in the order of A, B and C. Racing in the A group was fast furious and very close with some riders going through into the round of 8 by the narrowest of margins. Louis went through against Berliner Ferdinand Lindner by just 0.02!
The Czechs continued to impress with three of their riders through to the round of 8. However by the round of 4 it was the Dupont's who were the dominant force. Michel Dupont was paired against Robert Thiele and Christopher would face Tomas Fiala. The racing was intensely close but it was not to be for France's foremost racing family. Tomas went into the finals by 0.46 and Robert by even less 0.35. This meant a father versus son consolation round between Michel and Christopher. In their first run they both tied - raw times of 11.69 with one cone each - incredible racing! But it was a case of experience over youth with Michel winning by just 0.19 and securing 3rd place. In the final Robert couldn't have run smoother with his two fast, clean run's the undoing of Tomas who take 2nd.
We had a few of interruptions in proceedings during the running of the A group these were largely rain related but we did have one minor timing problem which took a while to rectify and I apologise for not communicating that better to our European visitors - we have noted it for next time!
In the B Group the Brits fought hard against the fierce European competition, with new boy Jon Merrifield making in to the round of 4 to face Czech Pavel Holec whilst Eddie Spearing would take on Frenchman Vincent Tanguy - the only visiting French rider to skate at both Brands and Hog Hill in the same year! Unfortunately for Jon a DQ on his second run saw Pavel go into the final against Eddie who had beaten Vincent by just 0.08. It was to be Pavel who came out victorious despite a great second run from Eddie; two clean fast runs saw him take the top podium spot.
The C group saw some very close competitive racing, the wind had died away and some of the times were not that far off that of the B group! In the round of 4 Pig City rider Tony Lord would race Germany's Markus Kaffke and Tim Neal would go up against Trevor Baker. Tony just scrapped past Markus and into the final by just 0.01. Despite a good clean second run by Tim he just lost out to. In the consolation round Markus "The Eagle" Kaffke inched past Tim to take 3rd place even finding some time to go rolling around "off piste" in the undergrowth the other side of the finishing line!
In the "All England Final" Tony took 1st place from Trevor by just 0.07 seconds - yet another close finish in a great day of racing!
The Sunday weather forecast was for showers which in summer could mean anything so we were keen to start running the GS as soon as possible in the morning to ensure enough time for us to be able to run the Super G in the afternoon. After checking that everyone had had sufficient practice and Pavel announcing its newest recruit - Bruno - to the team the GS got underway.
The GS course had been set by Mick the previous day and was tighter than previous incarnations we have run and featured some testing offsets that caused plenty of slide action on the steeper section of the hill. The wind kept coming and going and played a significant part in the times recorded.
Times were displayed on the "Top Gear" inspired leader board - always a good visual aid to rider's progress.
With runs complete it was Czech Dalibor Danhel who held on to the lead emerging victorious with a time of 20.42 from Robert Thiele 20.49 and Ferdinand Lindner 20.78. The highest placing Brit and therefore British GS Champion was Louis Selby with a time of 21.12.
During the interval and swapping over to the other hill for the Super G the sky darkened, the rain came and we took shelter in the café. Edwin had bought his copy of "Rolling through the Decades" which was duly put on for the sheltering rider's education and entertainment - I didn't know that there were still skaters out there that haven't seen it yet!
As is often the case in England the rain got heavier and so brought an end to any hope of staging the Super G and a premature end to the days slalom racing! There was nothing for it other than to bring prize-giving forward which would allow our visiting racers an early departure so that they could make their way home or go sightseeing in London Town.
A big, big thank you to: Michael and Octane Sport for Ramps, Timing, sponsorship and schwag, Donald and Pavel for support and the T-shirts supplied to all slalom racers, Pogo, Lush for prizes, Alex and Newton's Shred, London Longboards and Dangerous Decks for co-organising the event with UKSSA. Thanks to everyone that helped marshal, or put things in vans or helped litter pick. Thank you to Ian Coles and his team at Redbridge Cycling Centre and to Sylvia and staff in the café for keeping us all fed and watered all weekend. Thanks also to Rob and Mel at Lambourne End Camp Site for putting us up (or is that putting up with us?). Finally thank you to all of the racers that came from far and wide, for those of you that had never been to Hog Hill hope you enjoyed the experience? Now that you have seen and ridden it we hope to see you all again soon.
Hybrid Slalom Results
1. Robert Thiele, CZE
2. Tomas Fiala, CZE
3. Michel Dupont, FRA
4. Christophe Dupont, FRA
5. Bruno Silva de Oliveira, GBR/BRA
6. Louis Selby, GBR
7. Josef Stefka, CZE
8. Dalibor Danhel, CZE
9. Peter Klang, SWE
10. Petr Janousek, CZE
11. Ferdinand Lindner, GER
12. Mike Allison, GBR
13. Bart Brunninkhuis, NED
14. Mmedo Duffort FRA/GBR
15. Sam Gordon, GBR
16. Donald Campbell, GER
1. Pavel Holec, CZE
2. Eddie Spearing, GBR
3. Vincent Tanguy, FRA
4. Jon Merrifield, GBR
5. Martin Hoppe, GER
6. Alvaro Feldman, GBR
7. Ben Williams, GBR
8. Pat Holden, GBR
9. Edwin Brockman, GBR
10. Paul Taylor Crush, GBR
11. Rob Ashby, GBR
12. Ian Sutherland Cranfield, GBR
13. Sam Slaven, GBR
14. Paul Coupe, GBR
15. Jason Martin, GBR
16. Paul Keleher, GBR
1. Tony Lord, GBR
2. Trevor Baker, GBR
3. Markus Kaffke, GER
4. Tim Neal, GBR
5. Luke Baxter, GBR
6. Richard Norbury, GBR
7. John Nicholas, GBR
8. Nigel Allgood, GBR
9. Dave Hillier, GBR
10. Dominic Barette, GBR
11. Terry St George, GBR
12. Johnny Rehab, GBR
Giant Slalom Results
1. Dalibor Danhel, CZE - 20.42
2. Robert Thiele, CZE - 20.49
3. Ferdinand Lindner, GER - 20.78
4. Michel Dupont, FRA - 20.92
5. Josef Stefka, CZE - 21.08
6. Louis Selby, GBR - 21.12
7. Petr Janousek, CZE 21.13
Tomas Fiala, CZE - 21.13
8. Christopher Dupont, FRA - 21.24
9. Bart Brunninkhuis, NED - 21.25
10. Sam Gordon, GBR - 21.49
11. Mmedo Duffort, FRA/GBR - 21.82
12. Bruno Silva de Oliveira, BRA/GBR - 21.88
13. Peter Klang, SWE - 22.06
14. Vincent Tanguy, FRA - 22.10
15. Eddie Spearing, GBR - 22.30
16. Alvaro Feldman, GBR - 22.33
17. Ben Williams, GBR - 22.42
18. Pavel Holec, CZE - 22.67
19. Mike Allison, GBR - 22.80
20. Rob Ashby, GBR - 22.94
21. Paul Taylor Crush, GBR - 22.96
22. Jon Merrifield, GBR - 22.97
23. Jason Martin, GBR - 23.24
24. Sam Slaven, GBR - 23.48
25. Ian Sutherland Cranfield, GBR - 23.44
26. Tim Neal, GBR - 24.00
27. Jack Taylor Crush, GBR - 24.78
28. Richard Norbury, GBR - 26.01
29. Terry St George, GBR - 26.74
DQ - Paul Coupe, GBR
The Super G was cancelled due to the typical English summer weather!
British Championships (Highest placed British racers) - Results
1. Bruno Silva de Oliveira
2. Louis Selby
3. Mike Allison
1. Louis Selby
2. Sam Gordon
3. Mmedo Duffort
Wipeout Award (British Beef!) - Miles Murphy
13th Place Award (Hybrid qualifying) (Pogo Deck) - Bart Brunninkhuis
Special Award (for Marshalling) - Alec Keleher
Special Award (for outstanding catering services) - Sylvia Brown, (centre cafe)