Monday June 25 was the date I had been living towards to since the beginning of 2014, when I confirmed my travel arrangements to fly to the US for the first time with just one purpose; to race on the legendary Maryhill Loops Road.
Shortly after that I extended my trip to include Whistler as well, so I was looking to a 2 week NorAM trip. I was booked on a 7 am flight out of Amsterdam via London and Dallas and after being on the road for 27 hours, I finally made it to Portland where I was picked up by fellow luger Frank Williams.
We left Portland on Wednesday morning so we arrived shortly before the opening of registration. We had our gear checked and got the desired Maryhill tech stickers. From there we loaded up in the U-haul and went up the hill for the first run of the day.
It’s hard to describe the feeling when you’re on the starting line for the first time, looking down on the track you’ve been waiting so long to ride but I can tell you it’s a very good feeling :)
The road hardly has any straight parts, just long winding corners which are flowing into each other, so it’s not a really fast track (max 70 kph) but it’s technical. It’s corner after corner. You have to line your deck up properly to make it through the corners in a nice line. A smooth line is essential here.
We booked a hotel, just across the state line in a small town which was nothing more than a big truck stop; 4 motels, 3 gas stations, a McDonalds and that was about it. The benefit of this was, we were closer to the track than the motels and camp site where most riders stayed. I was rooming with another luger; Matt Bartlett who had to leave suddenly during the 2nd night, because his wife was going into labour. He’s now the father of a baby boy. Congrats Matt !
Now I don’t know if it had anything to do with our next door neighbors, which was the entire Rayne crew, but his son’s name is Corbin Rayne Bartlett. Needless to say our neighbors loved every bit of the name. They should hook Matt up with a Rayne mini for when his kid comes of age (hint, hint).
We did two nice days of freeriding/practice and the weather was perfect, not too hot (like in 2013) and definitely not too cold. Friday was qualification day. The IDF timing system had been repaired shortly before Maryhill but somewhere in transit to the US, something must have gone wrong because something had broken inside the decoder for the start line, so we had to revert to ASRA’s photo cell timing. Very unfortunately because this meant we only could do one timed run due to time constraints. This sucked hard, I can’t deny it, but seeing the circumstances I was glad it was not race to qualify. We did our timed runs and I managed to set a 9th time, which was within my goal of getting within the top 12 (who would qualify for the finals).
Saturday morning started with classic luge finals. I wasn’t able to setup my classic luge in time, so I couldn’t race. I did follow the classic final on my street luge with a gopro on my helmet, but those guys were fast and halfway down the track I was behind and when I touched some hay in Cowsers corner I was too far behind to see them properly.
Next up was my round, street luge, so we went up the hill for a practice run. All went well, until someone crashed in front of me, throwing a hay bale in the middle of my line in which I crashed full speed (there is no braking at Maryhill). I bruised my ass cheek a bit and I immediately got flashbacks to Kozakov last year where something similar had happened and that I wasn’t able to race properly on the race after that.
Luckily it wasn’t as bad as Kozakov but it still hurt. So when we then went up the hill again for our first elimination round, I wasn’t in perfect shape. I was up against Mikel Echegaray, Chris Hicks and Torey Norell. I had no illusion of beating Mikel and Chris, so Torey was my focus but it just wasn’t meant to be. I pushed of hard, but not hard enough. Mikel and Chris were gone and Torey was hot on my ass and after Ambulance corner he overtook me and I couldn’t draft him anymore, so I was out :( Racing continued and in the end Abdil Mahdzan took the win, followed by Mikel, Chris, David Dean, Mike McIntyre and Keith Henderson.
Then it was on with the open skateboard rounds, for riders qualified 49 and up. Rounds ran smoothly with some close finishes and after 2 96-man brackets the final bracket was set for the Sunday.
The tension was noticeable. Patrick Switzer was looking for his fourth win, Douglas Dalua had been training hard after being absent for a year and he was clearly gunning for it, or was it Kevin Reimer bringing the win home. If you hadn’t seen it, you can watch the entire final run here.
In the end it was Dalua who took the win (spoiler alert :) ).
After that all awards were handed out and that was the end of Maryhill 2014. We drove back to Portland for 2 days of R&R and to get ready for Whistler. Here we will probably have full internet access so expect a whole lot of live updates.
Click here for the results of Maryhill.