World Boardercross Championship, Serbia

On the first weekend of September, Mountainboarders from all over the world took over a small part of Serbia for the first World Boardercross Championship.. ever. Riders from 19 countries have entered to compete.

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The Serbian locals Banovic Slobdan and Predrag Marcivic sculpted and carved a boardercross track which caught out the most experienced racers; the track had more corners than your average river has meanders and the Serbian sun had made it super dry and super dusty. Basically it was fast and awesome.

P1280472Friday hosted the qualifying stages with the plan of whittling down 60 Pro category riders to 32 for the knockout and final stages. The Masters category had 14 riders and the ladies 10, both being reduced down to 8 riders for the final stages. The qualifier consisted of three races for each rider, with a point system awarded to where they placed in the race. The higher the points a rider has, the higher the qualifying position.

It was really interesting to see how riders from different countries have different techniques and different board sets ups; for example the Americans rode with no heel straps on the board, yet somehow managed to scrub speed whilst flying over the top of the rollers. Or the guts shown by the Romanians for keeping upright through the fast berms, despite other riders sliding out on the dust.

In the racing, Team GB’s, Rich Sykes attracted a lot of attention from his biggest fan, Tony Dogga, whilst attacking the track in the Masters category. However it was Diago Anderson (France) who took first place, Leon Dove (Great Britain) second and Serbian local Predrag Marcivic third. Ludovic Faure’s (France) day unfortunately came to an abrupt end when he come out of a berm, breaking his tibia in serveral places. Despite the serious injury, he was still able to make the meal in the evening and greeted with a very warm Mountainboarding welcome and applause.P1280739

The ladies category have shown they too have massive metaphorical balls by taking on such a challenging track, and provided some of the most exciting races out of all the catagories. Serbia’s Senka Basic completed the track fasted to to qualify first, with Chloe Chew (Great Britain) second and Martina Lippous (Italy) third.

The Pro Catagory was, as always, the most exciting to watch. So many riders looked unbelievably quick down the track, despite the track being terrifying. So many riders were showing immense style and control, but Kody Stewart (America) and Arno VDV (Belgium) were definitely my favourite riders to watch. Arno even found the time to style it up when jumping from the road to the second section of the track. Despite this, the top three qualifiers were Tom Donaldson and James Wanklyn (Great Britain) and Marcin Węgrzyn (Poland). Ludovic wasn’t the only rider to be taken away in an ambulance, Matt Gaydon (Great Britain) had a small collision during his second race, causing him to fall awkwardly onto his shoulder and snapped his collar bone. After a quick visit to the hospital Matt was able to return the race track but only to watch the rest of the racing in the pro category.

The riders returned back to the hostel in the evening for a quick few beers and a dip in the pool before a meal in the local restaurant. Despite a day of knockout and final stages looming over them, the atmosphere was laid back and relaxed, yet filled with fun and laughs as all the riders from different countries mingled and made fun of their own stereotypes.

More pictures can be found in the World Boardercross Gallery

 

For most riders, Saturday arrived with a fresh head ready for the racing which was to come; others (such as Jeremey Leafe) not so much, as they tried to shake off the effects from the previous nights partying in the clubs of Novi Sad. With that said, the quality of racing through the finals was through the roof. Today there was an extra category for the future riders of the sport, the Juniors, who were all aged under 16 years old. There was only one race of 4 riders and all 4 of them ripped down the track with a good amount on control. The top three Juniors were Jakub Dukowicz (Poland) in first, Robina Katharina Schellinger (Germany) second Kuba Makutynowicz (Poland) in third.

P1280836The racing for the masters category was full of surprises. With only three races, two semi-finals and the final, it was all to play for. Two Brits, Raphael La Roche and Leon Dove were unlucky in the semi-finals with two early crashes, and Rich Sykes was also unlucky not to make it through to the final. The final race was a clean, but very close and fast race, with the riders grouped up through a lot of the race. In the end Diego Anderson (France) took first place, followed by Predrag Marcikic (Serbia) in second and Dave Stiefvater (USA) in third.

The ladies also only had two semi-finals and one final on the Saturday, but these races were also full of action. The two semi-finals were both clean races and ran fast and smoothly. Senka Bajic (Serbia), Martina Lippolis (Italy), Chloe Chew (Great Britain) and Sonia Nicolau (Romania) made it through to a very exciting final.  During the final race, the fast second corner on the bottom section became very dusty and Senka Bajic slid out on the berm and caused a pile up, bringing every rider to a stop. All the riders made back on their wheels, but Chloe Chew (Great Britain) had hit her head pretty badly after slipping out trying to avoid another rider. It’s a great shame that her race came to an end half way down the track, as she was definitely one of the favourites to win. After all of the excitement, it was eventually Martina Lippolis (Italy) to finish in first, Senka Bajic (Serbia) second and Sonia Nicolau (Romania) in third.

*** I’m just going to mention here, as a side note, that trying to sum up the action during the pro category in words is near impossible, it was incredible. All 15 races were absolutely incredible. But I will try.. ***

P1280783The 32 riders that qualified in the Pro category were spilt into 8 knockout races. The top two riders from each of these races then went through to the quarter finals. Despite the technical ability still being quite widespread at this stage, the racing was still top notch. The one race in particular that stood out to me was one involving Arno VDV (Belgium). Right at the top of the track he had clipped wheels with another rider causing him to go down, hitting his shoulder pretty badly. Despite this he got back onto his wheel and threw himself down the track with more speed and style than I had seen from him in the competition. He managed to pass another 2 riders to place second and make it through to the quarter finals. Mason Moore was another rider who stood out during the racing, also riding with a lot of style that you usually see from Freestyle riders. But he was unfortunate to eventually be knocked out; three Brits, Matt Brind, James Wanklyn and Tom Donaldson, and Kody Stewart (USA) made it through to the Pro Finals, and it would be one of these three riders who will be crowned the best in the world.

The pro final was the most exciting race from the whole weekend, with both crazy overtaking and crashes. Kody Stewart launched himself into the lead with the best start of the weekend for him, closely followed by James Wanklyn and Matt Brind, with Tom Donaldson behind them. James and Matt where practically wheel to wheel through the top section, trying not to collide with each other, but it was James who had the lead when crossing the road and entering the second section of the track. After a lot of pumping through the following corners, Matt Brind managed to pass James on a camel hump feature half way down the track, but Kody was increasing a good lead. In the final stages of the track, after a corner of moonies; James lost traction on the final corner, sliding out and accidentally causing Tom Donaldson to also fall. After a mad scramble trying to get back onto their wheels, it was Tom Donaldson who managed to take third place whilst James got a well respected but unfortunate forth. The bottom of the track was alive with excitement and absolute joy for all the riders, with all the team mates and friends congratulating all the riders.

More pictures can be found in the World Boardercross Gallery

 

After the excitement had died down, all the riders took part in a Freestyle competition on a lonely but big wooden kicker to dirt landing, built specially for the occasion. The riders were judged on their tricks, style and height of the jump by a select few judges. Despite the kicker being built specially, the face of the kicker was damaged and started forming a hole, bringing the jam to an early end. Yet each rider had enough runs to put forward winners for three categories: James Wanklyn (Great Britain) won the Most Stylish with his trademark laid out Backflips, Arno VDV (Belgium) sent himself highest to get the High Flyer award and Matt Brind (Great Britain) threw down a Frontside 720 to win the Best Trick award.

Following the Freestyle jam was the award ceremony, the crowd warmly congratulated all the winners of all the catagories, but most of all Kody Stewart as he was crowned the first ever World Boardercross Champion. The weekend was perfectly finished with an after party at the local bar and restaurant; with a live band and a bit of a mosh pit, there couldn’t have been a better was to finish off the weekend.

More pictures can be found in the World Boardercross Gallery

And if you are wondering what the event looked like in moving pictures have a gander at these couple of edits.

First up Gabor Stiglincz Stiga and Extremesportok crew have put road trip flavoured edit together.

 

 
Then this from one with mic waving from local TV station, international riders chatting the nizz and more dusty mountainboard shunts and BX racin’

 P1280806Happy Birthday Andre La Roche – R.I.P.