edit: gerald abram / dropout films
after peyragudes, which was the last race of eurotour 2014 we travelled around spain for a couple more weeks. it was a great time and the perfect ending of the summer. i will upload some pictures and the last part of the travel report soon. enjoy the edit!
edit: marina welsch / dropout films – words / shitty phone pictures: alex dehmel
after the almabtrieb cleanup team finished its work in record time we started our journey towards prague on monday afternoon. like every year most of the skaters meet at the mystic skatepark right in the middle of prague on a small river island. when we got there, the americans were already there shredding the bowl. people got together and everybody had a super fun time.
reini, hertler and the other germans were signed up for the extra freeride day in kozakov on tuesday, so they left for kozakov after skating while dillon, elena and me decided to stay in a hostel for the night to get some shit done in the morning. we were really tired of skating, travelling and cleaning up so we just got some food and then safely fell asleep in our hostel.
after some lurking on free wifi at mcdonalds and doing some laundry we decided to leave the center which was overcrowded by tourists.
two wifi&grocery stops later we arrived at kozakov in the afternoon, right after the freeride session.
most of the riders have already been skating the whole day and were stoked on good weather and many runs.
kozakov is located in the beatiful hilly north of the czech republic close to the town turnov. i’m going to this event since they started as the igsa european championships back in 2009 and hope to be able to return there for many more years. the track is one of the most challenging i’ve ever raced on. the first straight blows you into a dangerous righty at around 90km/h. it is really hard to hit the good line in that turn because you have to break a bit to avoid the hay on the outside but breaking too much will leave you creeping through the next big left hairpin. i’ve seen many scetchy manouvers and crashes there. i’m still not able to get that turn the way i would like to.
after the first right-left combo you’ll face “forest right”. another super challenging turn, thats what i usually do there: i try to break as gentle as possible but in 90% of the cases it will still be too much. the turn is flat in the middle and almost uphill at the exit so i’m creeping out of it like a snail.. the other option would be an approach to grip it without any sliding or footbraking. forget this option if you’re a heavy guy.. you will scrub at some point leaving you either in the hay or in snail-mode. race situations before that corner sometimes become hectic because some people speedcheck the righty and some the left bend before (i think it doesn’t really matter which option you choose as long as you don’t blow ot..) after that one it drops into a banked and steep left hairpin. the exit speed out of that corner has already decided many heats. it is followed by the final straight which has about 1km. the last corner is a slight right bend which you want to take as fast as possible. it’s a lot of fun but asks for all your bravery: to get the maximum speed you have to try to take it with full tuck at around 90km/h.
kozakov is not only known for it’s super gnarly track. the party is legendary and in the last few years it also got really famous among the local kids. they show up for the party in big numbers- cool to see that more and more locals get into the kozakov-thing but it also has some negative effects: the later the night, the more brawls you see between locals or even locals and skaters. also, the organizors told us to take care of our stuff and leave no expensive things in our tents or cars (so where are we supposed to put them, we only have tents and cars =D).
a character who is known for both his ability to shred the gnarliest hills and to party the gnarliest parties like no one else is -who else- master sebastian hertler. he always did really good at this event but something always happened to keep him from winning. this time he was prepared better than never before. he was having a good time, was in perfect shape and the new cult rapture protos which seem to be the fastet and grippiest racing wheel in this dimension arrived just in time. mr hertler won the qualifying with no effort and seemed to be ready to take that win like never before.
the semis were pretty dramatic. juergen gritzer and byron essert (both in first heat) had a bad crash in the last turn (see the last seconds of this video) while hertlers second heat was already started. hertler crashed into the hay but his heat had to be repeated because the crash of byron&juergen caused a red flag. hertler took the opportunity and made it to the finals. the rest is history. big congratz to hertler for his first world cup win!
after everybody sobered up the next morning, our convoi got ready for the most important part of the eurotour: freeriding the alps! i was waiting for this since i started the trip and couldn’t be happier to skate my favourite spots soon. we drove straight south, through austria and into the dolomites, where we spent the first night at secret campsite we found a couple years ago. unfortunately it was raining the next day and we were not able to the morning session at one of our favorite spots. we didn’t want to lose more time so we decided to cross the italian po basin and directly enter the french alps, the best place on earth(that i have seen so far) to do downhill skateboarding.
our first stop was one of the famous big “cols”. i have already stayed there a couple times with ze germans, usually we pitch our tents there for at least a couple days. it is sorrounded by beatiful nature without too many people around and it’s also pretty easy to find a hidden campspot at the river.
we arrived at night and woke up early because we were excited to finally skate that beautiful mountain pass. unfortunately it began to rain when we drove up after breakfast. we did two or three runs until it became to wet to skate safely at a comfortable speed.
we then encountered the fact that we didn’t have any kind of roof or tarp to make a shelter. we started to collect branches and evergreens to build our own camp shelter in the woods. in the end it actually helped to keep the rain away and we celebrated our roofing ceremony with some shotguns! during the next days, the weather cleared up and we were finally able to enjoy the hill at maximum level. before we left, team spoky&kyle arrived at the spot. it is always a pleasure to meet other people from the eurotour along the way. we did some runs together, shared our stories about what happened since the last race, our old camp became new housemates and we headed out.
full run from the last day:
after a bit of scouting for new stuff and visiting some smaller freeride spots (we also went to the “opinel”-museum!) we moved on southwards along the route of the big passes. at the next “col” we ran into a crew of other skaters again. team these and a bunch of other racers have already been staying there for some days and were about to leave to the next spot. of course we had a massive session before they left =)
the next day we ran into the legendary french alps local and good friend seb tournissac. him and his friends knew we were there and visited us for another session. after exploring some of the old ww2 bunkers on top of the hill (it was scary as fu**), seb invites us to his house.
he lives in a beatiful village right at the top of the next big alpine pass, where seb organizes the “bomb hard” freeride since two years. after a long time sleeping, eating and shi**ing in the woods we were super thankful for seb offering us his house. for a couple days, it really felt like holidays: sleeping in a bed, taking a real shower, skating a beatiful pass during the day and going to amazing town-fests at night. BIG thanks go out to seb, his wife and daughter for their great hospitality. i’m sure i will return to this place many summers to come…
the days passed by quickly and soon we had to get ready to drive to the other end of france for the final race of the eurotour, peyragudes..
Almabtrieb 2014 was a big festival for the whole world of downhill skateboarding we tried to capture some of the action and feelings during and in between the race heats.
So lean back, grab some popcorn and breathe some bavarian air.
Thanks to Stephan, Olivier, Eimer, the whole support crew and all the sponsors!
Update 24.12.2014: Unfortuanetly, we forgot to release Alex’ travel report, so here it comes:
leon and me arrived at almabtrieb on saturday night, a couple days before the start of the event to help stephan setting up everything. finally the german steez team was reunited and when matze everybody freaked out because he just returned from the races in north & south america. besides the germans pablo quiles, justin readings and tristan kodors, a bc local shredder who came overseas the first time were there to help with the preparations. under the highly professional supervision of our “cappos” (=bosses) stephan, hertler and olivier we were setting up the course, campsite and party tent quickly while still having lots of fun.
in the following days, more and more people showed up. i was really happy to see all those beautiful and nice people from all over the world again. the forecast promised hot and dry weather and everyone was excited for the race. like every year, the level of the riders increased a lot- you already need a lot of experience to qualify for the race.
unfortunately, the timing did not work so the race director eimer decided to run our beloved format of race to qualify. the top sixteen riders (by 2013 idf rank) were taken out of the qualis and were qualified directly for the top 64 race. i still had to race really hard to make it through in four of our five runs. there were some really tight heats with super fast guys like carlos paixao or tony graves, so i was even more stoked to win all those heats.
the day after qualis was free for everyone who qualified top 60. i really like the system of b and c brackets (basically like repechage) because it gives less experienced riders the opportunity to race a full 64-bracket and the more experienced racers can take a rest and watch the others race. and i really love watching downhill races!
on saturday i got eliminated by tony graves in round two. racing him was already super close in the qualis but this time he won. thats racing! unfortunatley all the germans got eliminated before top 8, the last guy in the race was jakob who crashed himslef out in round three.
in the end, kevin reimer won in front of patrick switzer and jimmy riha. respect guys!!!
after a big and crazy party, supported by dj flo fellner and lots of augustiner braeu, we started to take everything down. after two days our convoi was ready to leave for czech republic. i’m super stoked to have my friends dillon and elena from canada in my car for the rest of the trip. basti would travel with us to kozakov but go home afterwards. tristan, justin and janko jumped in reinis car. i was really stoked for the trip that was about to come up but really sad in the same moment because both pablo and matze, two of my most very important skate friends canceled the trip last minute. i still hope, they might join back our crew somewhere along the way.
in the end, everyone was super happy with the event and left with a good mood. i really love the people in this sport and i am super stoked to meet new cool people every time. it would take way to long to mention everyone here that deserves it. so just thank you to all of you making almabtrieb 2014 so awesome! hope to see everyone next year 😉
special thanks to stephan risch and olivier gires!
Alsace is the name of one of the most eastern parts of france between the rhine river and the beatiful hills of the vosges. in the younger history, it changed from being france to being german back forth for a while, causing that many people there still speak german (what makes it pretty easy for germans with bad french to travel). it is known for good wine, the most famous french beers and for a long tradition in downhill. president greg and his assossciation “adh”(alsace downhill) have been working hard to become the best organized crew in already pretty well organized france. they are organizing events at their event hill, the “climont station” since more than ten years now. the local authorities seem to be very happy with their work, they even repaved the whole hill just for longboarding. this time i was visiting their downhill academy, which is organized by landyachtz europe and the adh. on my way from lozio to almabtrieb i planned to hang out there for a bit and then continue to bavaria with leon (ritter), who was working as an instructor for the camp.
It was late sunday night, when i arrived at the cosy little gravel parking lot that i know so well. it was very silent and there was no trace of the other germans. i was lucky to find some french guys chilling at the party tent. they invited me for beer and safety.
leon and koffer arrived the next morning to set everything up. the camp was organized pretty good, around fifteen students signed up for the first week to learn how to downhill properly. at the first day, they were seperated into groups by their skill level. beginners were sent to a small airfield to practise carving, footbraking and sliding, while the more average riders were practicing cornering and lining on the actual course. after the lessons in the afternoon, everyone was able to enjoy the whole track during some freeride runs. because there weren’t too many people and everything was organized so well (also shouts out to samy cantineni for shutteling like a boss!) we got many runs in a short time.
unfortunately, it was raining non-stop for the first four days, but everyone was really motivated to make the best out of it. we had good food, beers and safeness and often hung out in the party tent until the early morning.
On the second day i visited my friend alex ulrich from dtc, because he lives really close to the event site. he moved to a new place and we haven’t seen us for a while, so we went to strasbourg to have some beers and flammkuchen (alsaces’s speciality; something like a pizza with cream, onions and bacon) and stayed out quite long updating each other about what was going on in the last months. i was happy to have a warm and dry place for at least one night =D
The weather got slightly better by the end of the week and after a couple really nice runs leon and me packed our stuff to leave to bavaria to help set up almabtrieb. i really enjoyed staying at the camp and helping new people to get into the sport. i hope that we will have more camps like this in the future and i think it will help to develop the sport sustainably..
Big thanks tu greg, pierre, koffer, the adh, landyachtz europe and everyone else involved in this great event. now i can’t wait for almabtrieb. there, the real eurotour will start. i will meet many good friends i haven’t seen in a while and we will have a big trip full of racing and freeriding across europe.
…while germanys downhill elite was racing a super tight race on a small pathway somewhere in almost flat northern germany, i decided to start my euro tour with the lozio skateorum idf world qualifying race.
Because i could not find a ride, i took our good old opel yellow flash to his (probably) last big trip. there are some really nasty noises coming from the gearbox but i already drove to southern france and back with it. a mechanic told me that it might last for a bit longer( if i’m lucky). i hope it makes it all the way down to portugal and back before the german championships in insul.
On friday morning i got up at 4am and started my journey. i arrived at the event right after lunch and got three freeride runs down the hill before it started. lozio is located up in the southern alps, not far from the famous lago di garda. i was pretty stoked to race on a alpine road with lots of haripins and technical sections after racing only on full tuck german racetracks the last weeks..
The road was pretty narrow and after the first few sweepers, you were heading into a tigh leftie thats even tighter at the exit at around 65kph. most of the time there was a big wet patch right close before the apex which made it really hard to take a fast line. you might be able to stick it when it’s dry but with the small inside river it was a real challenge and the point where the pack was dividing. after a couple more sweepers you were facing a really tight left hairpin which is almost flat in the exit, making it necessary to push out. if you have pushed hard enough, you were able to slide a bit for the right hairpin which followed after approximately 50m. basically the corners repeated themselves after this point. the second fast left was a bit wider, so it wes no problem to stick it at full speed and the left hairpin was steeper so you did not have to push.
The organizors charlie and wolf did a really great job, trying to do everything for the riders to feel comfortable. good food is obligatory in italy and so it was at the race. the menu included a great breakfast, awesome pasta for lunch and a delicious bbq at night. of course the best cheese, vino rosso and cafe were available at any time of the day!
On saturday we did timed qualifying in the morning and raceing after lunch. i was really stoked to see the italian young guns shredding hard. after two timed runs i was leading followed by giorgio from piermont.
the race was run with a 32 man bracket. again i was lucky to take the first place, too bad that almost all the fast guys were fighting a super close and intense race on a shitty path at the same time..
because the international race was done by saturday afternoon, we could party hard at night and freeride the whole sunday, while the italians were doing the italian champs.
Hung over but happy and stoked i left the event on sunday afternoon. i met many old friends and made even more new friends. it is really cool to see how the italian scene evolved in the last years and i will be back for sure to do some freeriding with my new friends.
Next stop: downhill academy, hosted by my good friends of landyachtz europe and the alsace downhill federation. i will be hanging out there until me and leon leave on friday to help stephan to set up almabtrieb.