THe Cathlamet 2013 Boarder Cross event was by far the next step in Boarder Cross Skateboard Racing evolution. Each year the stakes have risen in Cathlamet with more speed, bigger ramps, and more obstacles to maneuver around. This year it was setup on a section of the same road the downhill race is on, which is by far the steepest set of hills in the town. Adding ramps to a fast road seems crazy, however the course was well thought out, and pushed the limits of the riders more than ever before. Starting out with a roll in ramp straight to a banked wall with a kink in it was challenging. A lot of collisions occurred here as riders went for the hole shot trying to get over the cone first and off the ramp. I was lucky enough to avoid getting hung up with other riders, until the finals that is. After that there was a 4 foot high table top jump with landing ramp. Then a long banked wall on the left before the course steered right into a chicane setup with haybails. The section of road kept getting steeper as you traveled down the course gaining more and more speed with each obstacle. The chicane was really fun and allowed only one rider through at a time and often required a stand-up slide to shred a little speed to make it. Anyone who tried to pass here or was side by side usually got pinched out and crashed into a wall of haybails. After the chicane the road opened up and got even faster and more steep as you went down. The next obstacle was 2 foot high roller that you had to sort of decompress in order to not launch off of. If you didn't hit it just right you'd catch unwanted air and be going to fast to recover. After that top speed was achieved before a 90 degree right turn, riders in the final rounds would be tucking at this point to try and reach the last corner first. Then came the most challenging and fearful ramp of them all, the big air table top. 6 foot high launch ramp with 8 foot long table top, and a landing ramp after that. Riders got to practice this before the race, however when the race went down, the organizers pulled apart the ramps making a 4 foot wide opening. You had to clear that or you'd be toast! It was also split in half too so one side was even longer than a 4 foot gap. The strategies were different among racers as some like to hit the bigger one giving them more landing room when they aired farther. And some like myself went for the inside one trying to get less air, just enough to clear the gap. Less air is faster than big air and more hang time. It began to get dicey as riders went for the same side forcing each other to launch very close together in the air. The other main difference in styles was how riders aired, either early-grabbing or ollie airing. Coming from a street skater background when I was a kid, olling over stuff has been engrained into my form permanently. I've tried early grabbing but have never really perfected it at speed. It also seems to take more setup time than just clicking your tail down and sucking up your legs like you do for an ollie. However the riders who have early grabbing down like Will Royce, can do it just as fast as I can ollie. I had Will in my final 3 heats advancing with him against guys like Tyler Howell, Casey Morrow, Ross Druckrey, and Morgan Liam Morgan. Here is a series of photos of Will leading myself and Morgan in a semi-final heat. Like in most boarder cross racing, the course is fast and furious and not a lot of time to pass. However there were opportunities if you were skillful and lucky enough. This course allowed more chances to pass than any other I'd raced before, mainly because it was longer than most. My strategy was to get ahead and stay ahead and if I was in 2nd, stay there and make the course to advance. For the Finals it was Brandon Tissen, Chance Gaul, Will Royce, and I. All of us had a great push into the first banked wall and were very close together. Unfortunately Chance and I got hung up and our boards tangled coming down off the wall. Brandon and Will were gone as we struggled to battle it out for 3rd. Chance was ahead of me most of the way when we got to the 90 degree right turn. Usually I shred a decent amount of speed into that corner to slow myself down a bit before the last jump. However I went for it this time and just railed the corner giving me more speed than I'd ever had hitting the last ramp! It was too much, but I did pass Chance in the air and if I'd landed it I would have taken 3rd. Instead I cleared the table top and lost my board in the air, then going down onto my hands and knees across the finish line for my first and only crash off a ramp for the entire event. What a way to go out, either way I'd would have placed 4th but at least I tried haha. My safety gear saved my skin and I got right up to a cheering crowd, so stoked! Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't, just another unpredictability of skateboard racing in general and especially board cross racing. Brandon and Will had their own battle in front of Chance and I. And Brandon hand the upper had dominating the course all day, he took the win. Thanks for following my experiences racing boarder cross here on the Daddies Woodshop. My best piece of advice to any who want to enter these races is invest in the safety gear and wear a full face like the Predator DH6. And have fun, it's a wild ride!
Post Created: March 29, 2014
Kinked wall bank that you have to ride up on and clear the bottom cone. Was really fun way to start the race. Photo by Eric Hovey.
After hitting a banked wall on the left, the course steering right around some haybails setup like a chicane. I was close behind Will Royce in this semi-final heat. Photo by Wheelbase Mag.
The road is steeper on this second half of the course with a small roller we just hit here for even more speed! Photo by Shawn Reinert.
Throwing down a hand to shred some speed into the last corner, Will with the sweet stand-up slide. Photo by Bustin Boards.
The last big ramp and obstacle to make before the finish line. Hitting this thing was a blast every time. They kept on moving it out with more of a gap for the later rounds of racing. Photo by Eric Hovey.
Two different ways to air on a longboard, both work well. Photo by Eric Hovey.