Speed rounds off excellent season with Irish Open win

Craig Speed returned to the scene of his first National Title victory to record another race win with his clubmate Toby Case taking second. Aldershot made it a lock out of the podium with Harry Evans taking third. Michael Knowles and Callum Witts rounded out the top five.

The Ski Club of Ireland put on a very welcoming and fun event that draws many British racers over to Kilternan Dublin each year. Tucked away behind a film set is a slope with a very steep top section that builds momentum very quickly.

The Irish Open Championship is the last realistic chance of the season to lower points for the top seeded racers. The first course set had wide aggressive offsets on the steep but the rest of the course straightened out to the finish with relative ease.

On the first run, Dan Molloy with a high bib number, was in the lead for the majority of the run. Michael Knowles of Manchester Ski Racing was the first to beat Molly’s time with a very clean run.

Immediately after Knowles was Pendle’s Callum Witts, who’s wide footed stance suited the top part of the course. Witts crossed the line with the exact same time as Knowles, which meant they both shared the overall lead for the time being.

Five racers later was Aldershot’s Harrison Evans. The under 18 skier was very aggressive throughout his run and used the space in the course to his advantage. Evans was the first male skier to break into the 13 second mark and took the lead.

Evan’s lead didn’t last long though. Aldershot’s Toby Case was up next and he perfectly executed the course with impeccable timing and line. The Under 16 racer crossed the line and took the lead by 0.25 seconds.

The first run wasn’t over yet though. Craig Speed of Aldershot attacked the course with real determination and didn’t put a foot wrong. His strength and power drove him over the line with a lot of momentum. Speed took the lead from Case by 0.29 seconds.

The second run had a fast top section with a hairpin set on the steep. A long under gate and big distances between the turns towards the bottom, meant it was going to be a fast course.

On the second run, Knowles managed to beat Witts by five hundredths of a second, to finally split the two on the overall standings. Knowles was in the lead with three racers left to go.

Evans was up next and he continued to ski with an aggressive approach. The Welsh skier was rapid through the combinations and chucked himself through the finish with a very impressive time to take the overall lead. Only Case and Speed were left at the top of the slope.

Case was yet again smooth and technically exquisite, but the long distances between the turns didn’t suit his style. Case couldn’t beat Evan’s second run time but still took the overall lead on combined time. It was just Speed left to go!

Much like his first run, Speed didn’t hold anything back on the second run. The Aldershot racer was direct with his line and had powerful skates and pushes. Speed crossed the line and extended his time over Case to 0.44 seconds. Another stand out performance by Speed after a great season.

Speed and Case have been tightly matched in recent races, but it was Speed who topped the Irish Open this year.

Age groups were won by Joseph Compton (Under 14, 20th), Toby Case (Under 16, 2nd), Harry Evans (Under 18, 3rd), Craig Speed (Under 21, Race Winner), Michael Knowles (Senior, 4th) and Fiach Cooling (Masters).

For full results click here

Picture Craig Speed winning in Wales in early September. Credit Racer Ready – all rights reserved

Peter Davies