PHOTOS Austin Michels WORDS Nathan Bailey
Firstly, I’d like to quickly introduce myself before I tell what went down in “corntown”, Ohio. My name is Nathan Bailey and I am a downhill skater from West Virginia. West by god (what we locals call West Virginia) may be wild and wonderful, but it lacks a downhill scene. Thus, the few downhillers that are here must hike elsewhere when hankering for the sweet pleasure of a DH event. But us skatin hillbillies ought not fret too much cuz Soldiers of Downhill is just a skip and a hop across the river in Bainbridge, OH. So for the second year in a row I saddled up my donkey, hopped in my cart, and headed for the hills. . . or at least the other hills.
This year’s race featured many newbies to the event, as well some of Soldiers’ veterans who just couldn’t stand seeing the new recruits have all the fun. Those who enlist for Soldiers get a full day of training before heading to battle on race day. To give you guys a solid description of the course, I asked returning podiumist Max Wippermann for the intel:
The track is super narrow, very twisty with lots of undulation (ups and downs). The straightaway can even be about 60mph if you’re fast and you have a double draft. The road dips a lot with ups, downs, and really banked corners. The straightaway, although it is a straightaway, is a very technical straightaway and there’s just lots of interesting places to pass. New this year on the track is the addition of some perfectly blacked-topped patches of pavement that sometimes come at great places and sometimes not-so-great places. Two of the ‘money’ lines on the left hand sweepers are now perfect black top. There’s one patch that has a big rise to it that is probably a half inch rise right at the crest of the roller coaster style whoopty doo and that can throw you off. Be careful. I got some pretty big wobbles there, almost eating it and nearly killing Aaron Hampshire and Adam Perrson. ‘Crash Corner’ is ‘Crash Corner’, as usual. Lots of people eating shit into the bales. – Max Wippermann
I hope all that description gave you a gnarly picture of the course in your head, though it probably isn’t even as gnarly as it actually is.
Action Boardshop and the rest of Michigan Downhill came out in full force this year. Loryn Roberson of Action even won the women’s division! Action’s Peter Croce layed down the funky beats as the resident DJ during the party and at the end of practice day. The rest of the local riders all did very well with Action team rider Matthew Deitch snatching 4th in finals.
Speaking of action, there was all kinds of slippin and slidin into Crash Corner. This is what got the locals whistlin and hootin, or at least it did for me. As much as we all loved seeing the crashes, we were very thankful that the most serious injury of the weekend was only a small concussion—never mind all the sore shoulders of the many haybale-huggers. Ha ha! I took a few runs down the course myself last year and it is definetly no joke and in no way for the faint of heart. Some were able to master the course though—like race winner Adam ‘Thor’ Persson of Sweden. Here’s what the Swede had to say about the event and his win:
Well, first of all I gotta give it to the road, because the road is so out of this world. It’s got bumps, pavement changes, ups and downs, gnarly corners, fast chicanes. Definetly a world-class road. Skating here is more relaxed than a World Cup race, but it’s good to just be here with the homies and to hang out and skate. Good campground too. A lil cold, and ya know I’m from Sweden saying that! Ha ha! -Adam Persson
Lastly, I really want to encourage all you skaters reading this to make sure to Get Rad or Get Lost! It’s important. Ha ha! Skate hard and keep on tucking, go fast or get last, but most importantly have fun. I hope to see you at next year’s Soldiers of Downhill!
1. Adam Persson
2. Aaron Hampshire
3. Max Wipperman
4. Matt Deitch
1. Loryn Roberson
2. Caitlin Yong
3. Rachel Bruskoff
A big thanks to Ohio Downhill Skate, Dan Oliver, the on-staff paramedics, the event course workers, the volunteers, the town and community of Bainbridge, all the event sponsors: Phat Deanz, MuirSkate, Orangatang, Team NoBull, Pantheon, RAD, Sector 9, Gullwing, Detroit Bearing Co; and a huge thanks to Nathan Bailey & Austin Michels for sharing their words and images with us here at Wheelbase showcasing their experiences from this year’s Soldiers of Downhill. Thumbs up all around!