The Irish Championships are always a great way to finish off the serious end of the dry slope races. Great hospitality is laid on by the folk at Kilternan just outside Dublin and those British racers that make the trek across are warmly welcomed. With the races the last chance to improve the plastic points for the summer, racing Dublin has always been a highlight of the summer!
In the girls races this year Jenny Davies followed up her win in the All England with victory in day one, the Irish Open and was then pipped by Sarah Lambden, winner of the British Title at Pontypool in September, by one hundredth of a second in the European Open the following day. It is a shame that the top dry slope racers across Great Britain never met this season as it would have been great to see Nicole Ritchie, winner in Scotland, take the challenge to these two English racers. Ritchie has moved back on to snow now.
Alice Hales posted a podium in the European Open having recovered from her crash at the Welsh Open while Nicole Shering, winner of the Welsh Open took third and fourth on the two days. Sharing is definitely one to watch for the future. There was little to separate Shering and Hales in either race as they fought to contain the dominance of Lambden and Davies over the weekend. Oh how the sport craves a central slope in Britain that would encourage all the top racers to attend a British Championship race off!
In the Men’s races, Tom Hales produced the form that saw him win the Zero Point Trophy for the season in winning the Irish Open while the British and Welsh Open winner, David Hatcher took top spot on the podium in the European Open comfortably. Daniel Molloy and Kaigan Witts joined Hales on the podium in the Irish Open while Mikey Knowles and Callum Witts joined Hatcher on the European Open podium.
The racing combined with the hospitality made this a great weekend. The Irish always come up trumps with raising the bar in encouraging more racers to attend. Maybe now is the time for the GBR Series to be revamped to encourage more to attend it. One idea might be to have a four round series that takes the results from the National Championships. With Scotland and Wales having the ability to host Giant Slalom races and all the races being zero penalty races. Maybe adding two more weekends or so could spice things up a little? Just ideas….
As the serious side of the summer racing scene now draws to a close new names have stepped up to be counted: Jenny Davies after winning the All England has made her name on the dry matt races while Nicole Shering has been one of the stand out racers in the girls races and both will be challenging again next summer. It will be great to see how far Shering can also go on the snow during the winter.
In the Men’s racing Declan Huppach has also started challenging in the Overall stakes rather than just his age group. He will be pushed hard by his younger brother Josef next summer. Josef finished fourth in the European Open to make his statement of intent.
Racing is not just for the young and it has been great to see the Master’s category often having more racers than the Seniors in the Men’s races. David Hatcher with three major race wins gave the younger races a kick up the proverbial and will see them raise their game next summer. Ben Clark was another to still be racing on the dry matt, fifth place in the Irish and a podium at the Welsh are testament to his continued participation! More should get back on the matt!
It was great to see Irelands Simon Lyons come back out of retirement at the Irish and still finish in the top six on both days!
Racing is still alive and kicking and more race organisers should take a leaf out of the way the Irish bring the fun into the day!
Picture – two of the rising stars on the dry matt – Declan Huppach and Nicole Shering