2017 Women’s Category Review by Sabina Edwards

 

BDSL 2017 Podium - WomenWhen the BDSL began in the latter half of 2015, I attended a couple of events and gained a few points which took me to the top of the leaderboard in the Women’s category. Those early months were really just a trial to see how the league might shape up but I quite liked earning points doing something I loved already. I decided that in 2016 I’d have a really good bash at more events but life got in the way and I only managed a couple in the entire year! I did, however, get to the first AGM and volunteered myself onto the committee. With fresh zeal, I decided to get to as many events as possible, although this time, more as a supporting committee member than anything else. But … those points!… I just like them. I think maybe I’m a tad competitive?

In 2015/16 there were 10 women competing in downhill skateboarding events here in the UK – in 2017, however, there were just 4 of us: Hermione Pearson, Ann Marie Philip, Anna Carter and myself.

I missed the very first event which was Brianne Collective‘s Abercynon Race but we were well represented by Hermione Pearson (Skate to Escape Unit). Unfortunately, Hermione didn’t get to the rest of the races here in the UK as dates clashed with her other exciting skate trips abroad.

Hermione Pearson at Velefique – Photo: Sacha Romero

Tregaron Freeride was my first event of the year. This was a weekend event; freerides on Saturday and races on Sunday. I’ve only done this hill once before and have never managed to get around both corners successfully! This year was marginally better than previous, even though the weather was its usual changeable self. For me, the best bit was when, due to a few riders oversleeping and not turning up, I managed to qualify – so thanks for that, lads! ;-)

Ann Marie Philip at Tregaron Freeride 2017 – Photos: Tony Brider

Bleek Race, another from BC, occurred in August and, I have to say, though this was the fastest hill, I loved it! It took a while for me to realise I could grip the corners with only one bit in the middle where the speed got a bit hairy resulting in copious and unsuccessful attempts at Colemans to shut down a bit – or a lot, as it happened – right into the verge!

September saw another old favourite from BC, Summer in the Valley aka Sheepy. It was basically a disaster for me as we got lost and arrived later than hoped. I did manage to add a Women’s run in on the end and went down the hill once, literally just for the points – I had turned up, after all! I sessioned one of the corners for a bit and then because it just got so wet, windy and cold, we shoved off home.

For the first time, the Gurston time trial event appeared in the BDSL line up this year. Always a good event! Because it is a very fast and slim hill, with a tricky chicane and camber, riders go down one at a time so you are really competing against yourself to improve your own personal best. I certainly did, so was well chuffed with that! Ann Marie totally smashed it with a BP of 1.26.62secs. My own BP is 1.28.59 but that day my best time was around 1.34secs. To give some point of reference, the more experienced riders were getting sub 50secs – it gives us something to work towards, but we were both very pleased with our achievements. :-)

Rumble at the Peep has got to have been the highlight for me as this has been on the bucket list for years! I never, in a month of Sundays, thought I’d ever go from the top! I did, multiple times and I loved it – oh, my days!! It doesn’t matter about the slipping and sliding along the way either – I pushed off at the start line and landed after the finish line … whatever happens on the hill, stays on the hill!

Sabina Edwards at Rumble on the Peep – Photo: Kai Menneken

And finally, Bolsterstone. A very small turnout, a sweet hill, grippable so I didn’t have to worry about my rubbish speed checks and I just enjoyed it! Took 3rd on the podium too!

Bolsterstone podium - Photo -Sabina Edwards, Louis Smallwood and Oscar Taylor – Photo: Thrill Magazine

Apart from Sheepy, where I pretty much demanded a ‘solo’ women’s race because I’d travelled so long and so far to get there, missing the open heats, I was the only women racing in the other events. Hermione raced in Abercynon and both Anna and Ann Marie took part in the freeride element at Tregaron where Anna sustained an injury, cutting her attendance short.

Anna Carter at a previous Bo Peep meet – Photo: Sabina Edwards

My hope for 2018 is to see more women on the hill. Of course, I love having ranked 4th in the opens and have no issue with just racing with the lads; they made me very welcome, are encouraging and helpful. However, I miss riding with the grrls; there’s a special something about the skate sisterhood :-) What I found to be a beautiful thing, though, was that the hosts of these races had produced prizes for the women’s category races, working on the assumption that women would attend and take part. I don’t think there was a specific women’s race at any 2017 event in the end due to lack of numbers and I wasn’t willing to take the prize by default, suggesting they be kept for 2018. The fact that they catered for us is very uplifting and, may I say endearing. I look forward to seeing those prizes finally being presented to a women’s podium this year.

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BDSL 2017 Season Review

Here are a few words to summarise the BDSL’s first full season, along with videos to give you a taste of each track.

Abercynon – by Ed Carter

A defiant start to the season as a soggy day became one of the best attended BDSL events of 2017. Many rolled the dice with the weather but nobody seemed to feel they’d lost out as relatively technical corners demanded the best from UKDH riders to negotiate the wet.

It wasn’t just those on boards shining through the grey backdrop; minutes racked up as a spotter can be the measure of a skater. Blind corners make a handful of watchful eyes essential for safety. Helmets off to those who endured more than their fair share of trench foot.

The wetter the course, the more the cautious are rewarded, occasionally giving the less experienced a fighting chance. Competitive riders prepared to play on what was looking to be something of a level playing field. Road width, coupled with the weather made even two person heats quite a spectacle and the season started with the return of familiar faces to the podium. Ras Sarunas Rasalas in third, Jonny Braund second, and Aaron Skippings first. Naturally, Aaron matched his stand-up result in the luge too with Gareth Chamberlain, then John Lee close behind. With Abercynon kicking off 2017 the standard of racing was set high from the get go.

Tregaron Freeride – by Jack Patten

Tregaron Freeride, AKA Tregz, is rightly becoming a staple of the UKDH calendar. A challenging, yet beginner friendly closed road with uplifts and camping right next to the track, what’s not to love! Much to our surprise, Saturday began with dry weather and riders spent the day (re)familiarising themselves with the track.

The weather deteriorated overnight so Sunday morning’s practise was on a wet track which gradually became patchier throughout the day meaning some riders decided to change their wheels part way through racing. The luge field was the largest of the season and racing was incredibly tight with several late overtakes thrown into the hairpins. Aaron and Gareth topped the podium once again with Ben Bewley close behind in third. As the semis approached, misty rain began falling, the uplift van gradually emptied, the crowd swelled, and excitement levels grew. The skills of the remaining riders were tested to the limit with the ever-changing grip levels but Kurtis the consistent Canadian came out on top, followed closely by two of the UK’s most elusive yet skilful riders, Olly Goodwin and Joe Baldwin. Make sure you put Tregz 2018 in your diary on the 16th and 17th of June 2018.

Gurston – by Ed Carter

Gurston is a rare and tricky beast by UK standards. Given its function as a hill climb track, the lack of traffic on gravity sport days gives a blissful break from the need for spotting. However, a cushy row of railway sleepers, set into the grass bank on the first right, still give plenty of food for thought. Pick your line carefully because a wrong move will certainly see you spat out onto the field or swiftly skimmed across the grass towards the sleepers. Take it steady, and you’re in for a game changing day of whizz-plankery.

Obviously you go nowhere without a helmet or leathers. For those who do find themselves on the side-lines, the day is still far from wasted. The time trial format of Gurston demands rapid skating and heavy braking. Like “holy sh*t was that an earthquake or Pete Connolly’s foot hitting the ground” type braking. This was the order of the day, Mr. Connolly’s thunderous stomping prompting his shoe to leave smoke trails to victory with a best qualifying time of 53.75 seconds. Vandem skate shop continued to be well represented on the podium with Chris Vanstone (53.78 secs) in second and Jonny Braund (54.50 secs) third.

Bo Peep – by Ed Carter

A fittingly glorious day in 2017 for hurtling down a ribbon of concrete into a tree. For first-timers, Bo Peep is best thought of as a fruit ‘n’ nut bar. It appears tasty on the outside but once you bite into it you start to notice the nuts (startling undulations in the surface of the road). You don’t let these perturb you because you like the overall experience. Then you choke on an oat (that corner). You hold on for dear life and eventually make it. By the time you’ve finished you’re pumped to be alive and, quite frankly, fancy seconds.

After tentative wanderings up the initial part of the straight to test the hefty lefty, so fondly dubbed “Carnage corner,” uplift drivers pulled through to ensure racers got full runs in. Initial wobbles over surface consistency had now calmed just enough for some solid heats. The purple leather-clad arse of Ben Stainer brought up the rear of the podium in third, Jonny Braund grabbed second and the black and gold bullet that is Aaron Skippings made off with first. In luge, Peter Elliot barrelled into first place, with Gareth Chamberlain, then Paul Trice bringing up the rear. Join us for more of the same in 2018.

Bleek – by Jack Patten

A personal favourite hill of mine and a great place to push yourself to speeds of 40mph and over, with the possibility of speeds exceeding 60mph (even in the wet).

The remote and elevated location means the weather is rarely perfect, hence the name, but even in wet conditions high speeds and tight racing are possible. There is no shortcut up the mile long track so an uplift van was very welcome, as was the shelter and body heat of the other riders on the way up. Due to the speed of the track racing was done in two-man heats but this didn’t detract from the excitement one bit. Despite the track drying steadily throughout the day a continual stream flowed across the track just before the air-brake zone into the bottom chicane. As the racing progressed riders fought tighter and tighter draft battles on the top section with several close overtakes into the chicane, seemingly not fazed by the aforementioned stream.

The consolation final was a close fought affair won by Oli Slaughter against the battered and bruised Josh Monk. Completing his clean sweep in the final, Kurtis Dawes took top spot once again followed closely by Jonny Braund. The luge field was relatively small because few people braved buttboarding at such speed but Aaron was unfazed as ever, taking top spot followed by Gareth and Oli Slaughter.

Fumble in the Valley (FITV) – by Ed Carter

As the BDSL 2017 season came close to its conclusion, one couldn’t help but wonder how we’d lucked out(ish) with the weather for much of it. Then it was time for Sheepy and we found where the rain had been hanging out since Tregaron. The river of sheep filth had turned the course into the Welsh edition of Total Wipe Out. A “heats then pub?” approach to the situation was swiftly adopted.

With practice runs mainly consisting of trying to make it down the hill without your board being washed away, race time came around fast. Few lines were held, some riders having to remount their boards metres from the finish line in a desperate dive for victory (yours truly). However, the day still ended up with three big grins taking to the podium (picnic bench). Brianne Collective’s Tom Campbell stood in third, with a chuffed, slightly confused Ed Carter (me!) in second. The jammiest grin was Jonny Braund’s, back in first place, claiming the top spot in the BDSL stand-up rankings for 2017.

Check out the event details for FITV 2018.

Bolsterstone – by Sabina Edwards

Hosted by Bank Lane Bad Bois (BLBB)’s Oscar Taylor, this regional event is now in its second year and comes fairly late in the season, enabling a few final BDSL points to be acquired before the year end. Located just outside Sheffield, Bolsterstone is a short 1min 30sec run with speeds topping out at just over 40mph and grippable corners, in the dry, creating extremely tight and exciting racing.

However, this year, due to a hiccup at the petrol station, the Shinnie cab of riders didn’t make it, resulting in only 6 riders taking part. The first couple of hours were spent freeriding and getting used to the fall of the road, the sweep of the curves and the sweet left/right chicane. Louis, Oscar and I went through to the finals with podium going to Louis (1st), Oscar (2nd) and me (3rd). In the luge, Andy Speight, Dreek Speers (Team Sp8Boards) and Dan Ravenall competed with Andy taking 1st place, Dreek 2nd and Dan 3rd on the podium. Also, a vital part of any open road event, appreciation must be given to marshals and Jen Taylor did an awesome job. The amazing scenery of the Peak District and the incredible views from this hill all go to making Bolsterstone one of the most fun hills in the BDSL calendar.

After an exciting year racing in 2017 make sure to join us for the 2018 events!

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BDSL 2018 Points System Changes

With the 2018 BDSL season fast approaching, we thought we’d fill you in with one of the most important changes made to the League since the 2017 AGM, Points.

Since the number of BDSL sanctioned events went down last year and will likely stay the same for the time being, we’ve now decreased the amount of events you need to attend to get maximum BDSL points for the year overall.

Last year consisted of taking your best 3 National results (3x 1000 = 3000 Points if you won all 3) + your best 3 Regional Results (3x 650 = 1950 if you won all 3). This meant you had to attend at least 6 races (3 National, 3 Regional) to get your maximum potential points. Not many riders managed to make 6 events, hence the change for 2018.

For the 2018 BDSL season, we’ll now be taking your best 2 National results + your best 2 Regional Results. This means riders only have to attend a minimum of 4 events (2x National, 2x Regional) to get their maximum potential points.

We see this change making the BDSL much more competitive, as more riders will be in contention to win overall, not just the riders that attend every event.

Shot by J Patten Photography.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

See you all on 31st March/1st April for FITV (Regional) & Gated Hill Time Trial (Regional) Double weekender!

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BDSL 2017 AGM Minutes

Embedded below is the minutes from the 2017 BDSL AGM:

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BDSL 2016 Roundup with Data Dale

Words By Dale Goodwin with Photos by Will Edgecombe and Bodhi Keen.
2016 has been the first full year of the British Downhill Skateboarding League and what a year it’s been. Without question, races have had far better attendance than Outlaw races in previous years and the quality of racing has definitely improved within the UK scene.
Without question, the most dominant rider this year has been Pete Connolly and we thought we’d take you through an analysis of his season. There were four National races this year, starting off with ‘Fumble in the Valley’ at Sheepy in Wales. Pete narrowly missed out on the Final, but instead won the Consi Final to take 5th. But in the other three National races, Tregz, Bleek and Bolsterstone, Pete was dominant, taking 1st in each, despite some very close finals with Chris Vanstone & Bodhi Keen at Tregz and Bolsterstone respectively.
As for the Regional races, Pete didn’t manage a flawless score, but still obtained the highest Regional score of any riders, with 1st at Gurston Time Trial and 2nd at Slide Path-fect & Hog Hill. The only rider to come even close to Pete on Regional points scored, was Oscar Taylor, just 43 points behind after 1st place at both Hog Hill & Hits Outlaw then 9th at Dale’s Fumble.
Big Congratulations to Pete, but also to all the race winners this year!
Next year’s racing promises to be even more fierce and competitive, with lots of top UK riders promising to attend more BDSL races. In my opinion, any of the riders who’ve managed a Podium this year, could challenge a top 3 finish in 2017, these riders being: Ras, Tom Campbell, Luke Batchelor, Oscar Taylor, Dale Goodwin, Chris Vanstone, Lewis Taylor, Aaron Skippings, Bodhi Keen, Alex Clark, Olly Goodwin & Pearse D’Arcy.
The younger riders are also getting themselves recognised as forces to be reckoned with. Ruben Loosmore took the Win in the Juniors this year, but also placed 5th (Consi Final Win) in Open at Tregz, which was arguably the most competitive race this year. Ruben also would have placed in the Open top 8 if he’d just attended one more Regional. Richie Rogers also has potential next year, after being the closest to beating Aaron Skippings at Abercynon Outlaw, he placed 8th. Richie would have also been in the Open top 10 if he’d attended one more National race.
As for the Women’s, we’re hoping more Women attend races next year with Hermione Pearson on top all year. After podium finishes at IDF races around the World this year, Jenny Schauerte could definitely challenge if she attends a few more races.
As we look to 2017, the initial events calendar is looking very interesting, with lots going on behind the scenes to bring new races in and improve the running of all future events. If you want your voice to be heard, be sure to attend the BDSL AGM on Saturday 3rd December at 3pm @ Roll for the Soul, Bristol.
~Dale
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