Emily Evans and Mike Molloy raised the standard that was needed to win the 2013 British Outdoor Championships at the Norfolk Ski Club on Saturday 21 September. While Evans was a class above the rest of the field in the Women’s race, Molloy had to fight hard against a previous winner in Georgie Hunt and overcome the lead of his club teammate, Stuart Riches. Evans was fastest on both runs … for the girls race and gave the rest of the field a lesson in speed, movement and taking a fast line to win the British title, on the same slope she won the 2012 All England Title. Sarah Lambden overcame nerves to take second ahead of with Hannah Bozier in third. In the men’s race, Stuart Riches took the lead after the first run but could not live with the blistering second run that Molloy put down from being third after the first run. Molloy took the win ahead of Hunt with Riches taking third place.
Norfolk is a popular race venue with the ski racing community and this was reflected with a strong field in both the male and female races. Evans was always going to be the one to beat in the women’s race despite not having raced that often during the summer. Evans is now a coach with Ambition having stopped racing on the alpine scene only 18 months ago. While the likes of Emily Hopkins, Alice Hales, Nicole Ritchie and Sarah Lambden amongst others have been taking the headlines throughout the summer, Evans came into the final zero point penalty race in the UK (there is still the Irish to go) on the dry matt as a little bit of an enigma – could she reproduce the form that she has shown on the LSERSA regional scene?
The answer was an emphatic yes as she gave the rest of the field a lesson and took a six tenths lead over the rest of the field after the first run. It would have been great to see how both Hales and Ritchie would have reacted to Evans’s run but the way the calendar was set out meant that it was not viable for either to travel to the race. Sarah Lambden was just five hundredths behind Emily Hopkins after the first run but Hopkins was disqualified on the second run at gate 13, handing the runners up spot to Lambden and elevating Hannah Bozier into third place.Â Francesca Lee held on to take fourth place ahead of Ellen Hathway and Sophie Ogden in sixth. Ogden will be looking for a higher placing at the British Indoors next week on her home slope at Chill Factore.
In the Men’s race, the top group of the best fifteen seeded racers was packed with some exciting dry slope racers. While Hunt may have a rich history from the middle naughties on the matting, he has only recently come back to the racing scene. Mike Molloy is now a serving member of the RAF and has little time to train and race full time. Riches is also working full time and spends what spare time he has training others at Norfolk. None of the top three have raced consistently this summer yet when they have raced in the big races, they have shown they still have the class and desire to show those on their way up how far they have to go.
Riches took the plaudits with an immense first run to take the lead by nine hundredths from Harry Hornsby and eighteen hundredths over Hunt with Molloy two hundredths further back. It was close! Chris Corr, Johnny Powell and Gerard Flahive were all under the magic fourteen second barrier and looking to challenge for the win on the second run. The second run would prove who had the nerves of steel!
Flahive was the first of the big guns down and while he claims he has never done well on the Norfolk slope, this was a strong run to lay the gauntlet down for the rest. Powell could not match Flahive and went into second. Corr put in a determined run and posted a faster time than Flahive to extend his advantage over Flahive but with a deficit over the leading the four, would it be enough?
Molloy won the All England in 2012 on the Norfolk slope and knows the slope like the back of his hand. He wanted the win badly. His second run showed the watching crowd just how to do it and he posted a time that was faster than Flahive, faster than Corr but would Hunt, Hornsby or Riches be able to better it …?
Next up was Hunt and while Hunt used to sweep all before him, times have moved on and while it was smooth there were a few small mistakes that scrubbed speed off and he had to settle for second behind Molloy this time. Hunt will be back and talking afterwards, you could sense his enjoyment on being back on the matting and his determination to recapture some of his past glories.
Two to go. Hornsby was the first to go and after the delay gate half way down, things went awry for the student from the Midlands and his challenge was over following missed gate. With a lead of two tenths, Riches had it all to play for. His run was smooth and clean but visibly slower and he dropped into third place.
Ten years ago the dry matt scene was a vibrant race scene with some great fast skiing. On the basis of this race, and the plans for the future, there is a lot of optimism for the surface and its racing scene. Times have moved on and the indoor scene may be luring the top racers away but the outdoor scene still has a place in the development of racers across the UK.
There were age group wins in the women’s race for Lois Jackson (Under 14); Francesca Lee (U16); Hannah Bozier (U18); Emily Evans (U21); Danielle Freeze (SEN) and Melissa Sampson (Masters). The Men’s age groups were won by Thomas Hudson (U14); Callum Witts (U16); Chris Reader (U18); Chris Corr (U21); Mike MOlloy (SEN) and Paul telling (Masters).
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