Monthly Archives: October 2013

It’snowheaven – World Snowboard Day – By Jess Softley

Do you love snowboarding or just fancy trying your hand at a new and exciting sport?

Then the 22nd December is definitely a day for your diary! The World Snowboard Day this year hits 15 different countries across the globe bringing snowboarding to those who had never considered it before, and celebrating with those who love it.

This one day, annual event brings every aspect of snowboarding as key riders throw down some pinpoint techniques to help even the most amateur of riders get ahead in the game. Major labels will also be bringing their best and latest gear and tech for anyone to try out for free!

Those who feel their shredding techniques can rival most will have the chance to compete in a World Snowboard Day contest, and on this season’s snowboards.

However, this celebratory day is not only to promote the ethos and fun factor of snowboarding, but also has a serious note to it.

Organisations set up to help protect the environment will also be there to help spread awareness of the importance the environment has on sports such as snowboarding.

This year, Word Snowboard Day has gone one better to bring in none other than boarding great, Xavier De Le Rue, as the ambassador for their 8th edition. Xavier will help bring back the importance of pure snowboarding and riding for the love of it.

If you would like to find out more information about the World Snowboarding Day, and how you too can enjoy the spoils of snowboarding, please visit the WSD website on http://www.world-snowboard-day.com/

Tagged , , , , ,

Pit Stop – Wrap up in India – By Lewis Brearley

No one else has lead even a single lap of the Indian Grand Prix except for Sebastian Vettel. This year, he heads into the third – and perhaps final – Indian Grand Prix, needing just a fifth place finish to secure his fourth successive world title. But, if you don’t enjoy watching sustained excellence and prefer to call such achievements boring predictability, there’s still plenty of unresolved issues to keep your attention.

Lotus have become the closest rivals to Red Bull’s pace since the introduction in Monza of the long wheelbase E21. This, along with Romain Grosjean’s recent profound upturn in form has led to them being in the big battle for second in the constructors’ championship with Ferrari and Mercedes.

If Kimi Raikkonen can finally get to grips with his tyre issues in qualifying, as he claimed he progressed with at Suzuka, then Lotus could score heavily this weekend. The financial benefits of claiming the second spot in the constructors’ championship would be a huge and timely boost for a team which is running on much smaller resources than its manufacturer backed rivals.

Second in the championship is currently held by Ferrari, but with no podium finishes in the past two races the 10 points they have over Mercedes, and 34 over Lotus is seriously under threat.

As was the case in the past two seasons, Ferrari have struggled with developments to their car as the season has progressed. Their wind tunnel still seems to be suffering from correlation problems and their technical department is in transition from Pat Fry to James Allison’s leadership.

Just with Ferrari, Mercedes have also fallen away from Red Bull’s pace in the second half of the season and are without a podium in four races.

With all the teams now mainly focused on their 2014 cars and bringing only very minor developments, there’s no reason to believe the competitive order will change much for the remainder of the season.

Whatever happens this weekend, whether Formula One will be returning to Delhi is not known. Next year’s event has ostensibly been cancelled due to calendar issues with a return promised for 2015. However, organisers are believed to need government backing if they are to be able to afford to host the event in the future – something the government isn’t very keen on.

Whether or not you like the Buddh circuit isn’t the main point here. If Formula One is to lose its roots in a market of over one billion people after only three races, then that is a profound blow to the sport’s future global audience.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Pit Stop – F1 and Moto GP last Weekend – By Lewis Brearley

Last weekend was one of those rare ones where both Formula One and MotoGP races happened. And at Suzuka and Sepang, the respective championships became a practical foregone conclusion.

In Formula One, Sebastian Vettel took a fifth successive victory – the first time such a streak has happened since Schumacher did it twice in 2004 – meaning his only remaining rival needs to win all four remaining races to even have a chance of stealing it away from him.

Meanwhile over in MotoGP, Marc Marquez took an easy second position finish behind his team mate, which gave him a 43 point lead with three races remaining.

If you only watch motorsport for a close and nail-biting championship battle then this probably leaves you disappointed. However, if you wish to see excellence from people mastering their sports then the 2013 championships are still absorbing stuff.

It has long been the nature of motorsport that some years provide closer championships than others. If you still feel like tuning out of either or even both of the championships, think again because there are many reasons to stick around.

The Japanese grand prix saw Romain Grosjean exorcise himself from the horrors of his previous season with a stunning drive to third place. While last year he ambled straight into Mark Webber at the first turn, this time round he led Webber for the duration of the first stint and was by far and away the best non-Red Bull performer, with Fernando Alonso a 36 seconds further back.

Over in Malaysia, Dani Pedrosa put his long win drought to an end and triumphed over Marquez. Even if Marc was taking it slightly easy with a championship in mind, it was still a great win for Pedrosa, who had looked demoralised in the face of his rookie sensation team mate for much of the season.

One fully reliable gauge of measuring excellence is when someone makes it seem a predictability. Marc Marquez finishing second is a disappointment to some. Many put Vettel’s Japanese victory down to his machine, his RB9 and team preference. They say Red Bull sabotaged Webber to hand their favoured son victory with the hope of sealing another title.

However these conspiracy theorists forget the many obvious flaws in their theory. Such as Christian Horner’s televised quote about liking to see Webber take a win before his career ends. Such as the fact Red Bull weren’t sure which strategy was best even as the race began. Or the fact Webber was unable to look after his tyres as well as Vettel during the first stint, which led to worse tyre degradation. They forget Webber’s lap times on his last set of fresh rubber put him on course to race Vettel in the last few laps until Vettel overtook Grosjean as soon as he was able to, while Webber didn’t and hence couldn’t catch his team mate.

It’s true that the Red Bull RB9 is the best racing car in the world. What isn’t true though, is that Sebastian Vettel doesn’t deserve his forthcoming fourth world championship. As glib as it may be to write, he is one of the greats.

Tagged , , , ,

Pit Stop – Go Nico, Go – By Lewis Brearley

If you weren’t a member of the Nico Hulkenberg fan club before Sunday morning, then chances are, you probably will be now.

The young German driver’s performance in the Korean Grand Prix last weekend was sensational. He used his Sauber’s newly acquired speed to hold off Fernando Alonso in the first half of the race and then defended perfectly against Lewis Hamilton for over 20 laps.

Whatever the world champions tried they just couldn’t overtake the extremely talented Hulkenberg. He knew at which parts of the track he needed to take a defensive position and, equally important, he knew which areas he didn’t need to bother – the tight, technical turns of the last sector for example.

It was arguably his finest race, beating his Interlagos race leading effort last year thanks to making not a single error throughout.

What is certainly not arguable is that Hulkenberg now deserves a seat at a bigger team than Sauber.

He was seriously considered for the Ferrari seat which Kimi Raikkonen instead received. Doubts as to whether Alonso would leave the team prompted Ferrari to choose the big name, safe bet over a rookie.

Hulkenberg was publicly disappointed that he didn’t get the seat he knew he had a good chance of getting. Now however, Hulkenberg still has a big chance of getting a good seat as both Lotus and McLaren are considering him.

Lotus management are known to prefer Hulkenberg over Felipe Massa, but only if the team finally secure the long awaited financial deal with Infiniti. McLaren are also interested in Hulkenberg replacing Sergio Perez, such is the team’s disappointment with the young Mexican. But McLaren are also without a big name, big money financial deal for 2014 and a Latin American driver such as Perez or Massa would attract much more business interest than Hulkenberg.

Also weighing against Nico is next season’s new V6 turbo power train units. These are expected to weigh much more than was previously thought and heavier drivers such as Hulkenberg would bring the total car-driver package close to the minimum weight limit. The teams would therefore have no ability to use ballast to improve the balance of their car and hence lighter drivers, such as Perez and Massa have a second advantage.

Massa and Perez may be lighter and they may be more commercially friendly, but they are both held in less regard as Hulkenberg as drivers, their inconsistency is obvious and their speed is questionable.

Hulkenberg has to therefore rely purely on his immense talent to get a better seat and if Formula One really is a sport rather than a business, he will seal the deal he clearly deserves.

It was noted in this column a few weeks ago how tricky McLaren’s decision about its drivers is. They have a massive new deal with Honda set for 2015 and the partnership is keen to get the best drivers possible to make the team champions again.

They have openly approached Alonso only to be turned away. However, they are still attempting to sign the double world champion. This makes the decision for their second seat even harder. Should they sign a promising rookie to partner Alonso if he returns or should they nudge aside Jenson Button to start their new era afresh and sign two rookies for next year?

The next month is likely to reveal at least some answers.

Tagged , , , , ,

It’snowheaven – Shredding Indoor Style! – By Jess Softley

With the winter Olympics right around the corner, GB athletes will be on a non-stop schedule of constant training and competitions leading up to 2014, and the 19th October will definitely be on their calendar for one reason only. The British Indoor Championships!

However, the great thing about this event is that you don’t have to be a pro to compete, as this event will offer something for everyone.

This year, the competition will be taking place at Manchester’s Chill Factore which holds the longest indoor slope in the UK. Not to mention the incredible set up they are creating especially for the indoor championships, building individual zones, honing in on different skills in each section.

As the final National Championships before heading to Sochi, the bar will surely be set high in the 90 minute open jam session hosting and array of riders, from Olympic hopefuls, to amateur shredders.

These 90 minutes of shredding fun are aimed at encouraging all riders to bring their all, resulting in a final ‘shred off’ at the end, with the best riders taking home the podium prizes.

Also, to allow young riders a fair chance, there will be a separate challenge for them to show their talent on a killer set up in front of the media and spectators. The youth’s category will be judged on both their runs, with the best one counting, in order to determine who will make it into the final 3 podium positions to claim their prizes.

 

Tagged , , , ,

Pit Stop – Korea – By Lewis Brearley

A brand new, high tech new racing circuit, weaving in between hotels, restaurants and gleaming skyscrapers. That was the idea for the Korean International Circuit when it was conceived back in 2009.

However, this grand vision is not what awaits the Formula One circus when it arrives this week for the Korean Grand Prix.

Instead, they will find a barren site on the outskirts of the dull, port city of Mokpo. In fact, when the paddock arrived for the 2011 race, the second ever Korean Grand Prix, they were shocked to discover debris and litter from the race the previous year was still scattered around the circuit.

Every year, speculation is rife that the Korean Grand Prix will be no more the year after, but it is still scheduled to be held again next year, despite the much troubled situation of the circuit.

When the lights go out on Sunday morning however, it’s the circuit itself which will be the only thing on peoples’ minds. The circuit is quite unique, with all the straights being at the start of the lap, and all the technical corners in the following two sectors, and the drivers report that they actually enjoy its special challenges.

The past two races have been won by Sebastian Vettel, and the 2010 race would also have been his were it not for a late engine failure. These are daunting statistics for the rest of the field, and for the first time in memory, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have publicly resigned themselves to seeing the Red Bull driver on the top step of the podium before a car has even taken to the track.

Such was Vettel’s pace at the last race in Singapore, as he stormed away two seconds a lap quicker than anybody else seemingly at ease, that his competitors seem to have surrendered their 2013 title hopes.

But, unfortunate it may be for those craving a close championship battle, they are probably correct to do so. Vettel is more consistent than he ever has been and the symbiotic relationship between driver and his car appears to grow stronger each race.

His level of dominance has caused some to question whether his Red Bull is using a secret traction control. However, with common ECUs regulated and checked scrupulously by the FIA, these allegations are nonsensical.

What is true though, is that Red Bull are using a highly successful engine mapping setting which no other team can seem to fathom. Regulation of engine torque at low speeds is vital to avoid wheelspin and improve traction. Somehow, Red Bull have devised a way to achieve a much better system than any other team.

Completely legal and completely demoralising for every other team. Now charging towards their fourth successive championship double, can any team step up and challenge Red Bull?

It’snowheaven – The Age of the Dryslope – By Jess Softley

Despite the growing decline in UK dryslopes and lack of membership, these once thriving places appear to be primarily responsible for the growth of slopestyle riders all across the UK.

For many British riders, the only way they could seriously pursue their hobbies was to practise on their local dryslope, such as Halifax, Sheffield, Rossendale and Kendal to name but a few.

From these dryslopes has arisen some of the biggest names in British snowboarding, as each generation inspired the next as they pushed their own personal limits to represent their country in European and World competitions.

For each of our current GB Slopestyle riders, their roots as snowboarders and skiers have been an incredible part of making it as a professional. All those ‘one more run’ and weekend dedications have helped them make it to where they are now, and to see these dry slopes in such rough shape really questions whether we are headed into a new era, one dominated by indoor snow domes.

There is no dispute that these snow domes can provide riders with a real experience of what it’s like to ride on snow and help build their confidence before hitting the mountings.

However, those who learnt on a dryslope would argue that by riding on ‘dendex’ and ‘snoflex’ they have actually become better riders, technically. Allowing them to master the art of riding on such difficult foundations before trying their tricks and skills on the real stuff.

The social aspect and camaraderie of a dry slope is what makes riders and builds their confidence as they get to see older and more technical riders and how they approach a slopestyle course. The tight-knit community allows them to learn from others and build on their own skills.

This is something which these large commercial snowdomes may lack, with such a huge volume of riders with lots of smaller individual groups attending at different time. This makes it difficult for a new rider to break into the snowboarding scene.

Olympic hopeful Jamie Nicholls stated he wouldn’t be where he is today without his local dryslope at Halifax and sites one of the older riders, Wayne Taylor as one of his main inspiration to achieve success.

Others such as Katie Ormerod and Em Lonsdale have similar stories of these small, close-knit ‘scenes’ at the local dryslopes, which helped to nurture their talents and maintain their interest.

It’s not to say that the large indoor snow domes don’t or won’t foster similar ‘scenes’ but it may be difficult to see how a young seven year old such as Jamie Nicholls, just starting out in snowboarding maybe afforded the time from the older riders when slope time at the Domes comes at such a premium.

Let’s hope they do and with the increase in these indoor snow domes we can hopefully expect a new breed of boarders and skiers.

Tagged , , ,