New to the summer race calendar and squeezed into the final slot of an already congested summer I guess it was always pretty clear that there was little chance of the race full signs going up early. …Â
And whilst numbers were indeed slightly smaller than the organisers hoped for the undoubted success of a fantastic weekend of racing certainly made up for it.
With Saturday’s programme containing an individual championship event and international dual slalom there was much expected of both Chill Factore’s ever impressive race piste and a hard working course crew. And, as usual, both delivered magnificently.
The ladies event witnessed an excellent three way battle between home slope racer Sophie Ogden, Ski:MK’s Amanda Alldridge and Norfolk’s Nia Jenkins. Indeed with under 0.25s separating the three racers and less than a tenth splitting Ogden & Alldridge there was much to fight for in the 2nd run.
First to go was Jenkins, who in setting a time over half a second quicker than any other racer placed down a marker for the two leaders to chase. Ogden was next to leave the gate, producing a blistering run that squeezed 0.1s inside the time that Jenkins posted to claim the provisional lead. Only Alldridge could deny her now.
And deny her she did, matching Ogden turn for turn and gate for gate with a run that fell just 0.02s short of Ogden’s time but sufficiently inside the 0.05s cushion she had built up in run 1 to claim the overall win by little more than the proverbial hare’s breath.
In the male race Matthew Thompson posted an immediate authority on the rest of the field with a time none of his competitors could really get close to challenging. Telford racer Jordan Fellows threatened briefly but an error in the bottom section of run 1 left him in survival mode over the last few gates and placed behind home slope racers Mikey Knowles and Charles Richardson at the end of run 1.
In run 2 Fellows challenged again, producing a super run that was both 0.5 quicker than the racers who preceded him and offering a significant challenge to the three racers following. First to attack was Knowles, whose run looked fast and full of commitment. The clock eventually beat him however with the Chill Factore racer having to settle for provisional 2nd behind Fellows. Next to challenge was Charles Richardson who like Knowles looked quick and clean, however in posting a time that exactly matched that of Knowles the home slope racers was left to settle for a place nestled between his two younger rivals.
Last to go was Thompson and such was his lead he left the gate knowing a clean, risk free run would probably be enough to secure victory. This mattered little however as the Hemel racer attacked again, posting a time almost 0.3s quicker than Fellows and more than 0.7s faster than everyone else. As victories go, this was just about as commanding as it gets.
In an impressively high quality U10/U12 stubbies event Oliver Pollitt recovered superbly from a run 1 DNF with a second run time that proved too quick for his rivals. Scott McIntyre produced a super second run to claim 2nd with first-run leader Elliott Bennett in 3rd. In the girls race Maisy Burton’s 2nd run overcame Anna Caldwell’s mid point lead to claim victory. However Caldwell’s first run time was enough to ensure Nadine Hugec would have to settle for the final podium place.
The international team dual slalom saw a young and relatively inexperienced BARSC representative team eliminated by Wales before they in turn were ousted by England C. The surprise of the competition came in the other half of the draw however as England B magnificently claimed the scalp of England A in a thrilling battle that went to the final gate. And whilst England C challenged bravely in the best of three final they were unable to halt the England B juggernaut and had to settle for 2nd, whilst England A claimed 3rd in a run off with Wales.
Sunday’s Club event, a morning pro-slalom qualifier followed by afternoon knockout dual races was a very much untested format, and not just for organisers.
The jump, placed half way down the Chill Factore slope created great anticipation amongst the racers and more than a few nervous glances back up the hill during course inspection. However, once racing began and racers put faith in their abilities it is was very evident very quickly that the new format was getting a huge thumbs up from those who matter most. The buzz in the start area as nervous racers awaiting their run discussed what was awaiting them with racers returning from their first blast was both refreshing and inspiring. Running in team, rather than seeded, order on a best run counts basis every racer and every run provided essential viewing.
With the morning qualifier concluded and aggregate times calculated, BSA, Ski:MK, Midland and Manchester Ski Racing 1 claimed the top 4 seedings for the afternoon knockout. Seedings that were justified as all four teams battled through the early rounds to fill the four semi final berths. Indeed the early stages provided some really great head to head racing, not least with SZR1 & Ambition giving us that most rare of dual slalom results – a tie.
The semi finals saw BSA overcome a strong MSR1 challenge whilst Midland overturned their seeding with an impressive win over Ski:MK. Run 1 of the best of three final saw a relatively straightforward BSA victory and when Midland lost a ski (whilst narrowly ahead) in race 2 it provided BSA with the ideal opportunity to limit risk and coast home to win. Ski:MK claimed 3rd place with victory in the one run shoot out vs Manchester1.
In the Open Team event the superbly titled Uzbekistan Gong Squad triumphed with PP Snowsports Open in runners up spot and Telford Open in 3rd.
The biggest winners of the day however were undoubtedly the sport itself and indoor ski racing in particular. The day proved conclusively that this is an indoor format that works both from racer enjoyment and operational points of view.
The BARSC Indoor Champs will return in Autumn 2014, expect even more smiles next time.
Pictures from the Saturday are on www.racer-ready.ifp3.com