Paskapoo Downhill Rodeo
Paskapoo Downhill Rodeo
Calgary sits on the eastern edge of the Canadian Rockies. Home of the 88 Winter Olympics as well as the Calgary Stampede, the worlds largest rodeo. It is the largest city in the providence of Alberta with over a million inhabitants. Just outside of town is the Canada Olympic Park. The park has ski jumps, and ice luge course and a downhill mountain course.
The access road to the ice luge course was our course. The road starts off with a hard, tight hairpin, but the speeds our real low. A short straight leads to a left hand hairpin, another short straight to a right hand hairpin. Mid way to the next hairpin is a speed bump. The next hairpin is a left hand turn, to a slightly longer straight with another right hand hairpin. The longest straight leads into the final left hand hairpin, where the DJ was staged. The final turn was a hard right hander, and just before the finish was one more speed bump.
Friday, August 10
Paskapoo will be the first race I've driven too! It is a long drive, about 12 hours or so. I decided to take my time and was planning on leaving Thursday afternoon. My original partner couldn't make it due to work. So I decided to head off alone. I packed my car, and was reaching to open the door to my car when Lee Dansie called me, looking for a ride.
We took off a few hours later and spent the night and morning driving through the Rockies. Unfortunately the weather wasn't good, and rained most of the day. The plan was to try and get to Calgary in the afternoon to hook up with the dinner that was planned. We rolled in the campsite later than planned, the dinner supposedly had already started, somewhere in Calgary, which was still almost an hour away! There weren't many people at the campsite, so we decided to try and find the dinner party. After we got checked into our hotel, we stopped by the restaurant. Only to discover the dinner was canceled, but they were still going to the night club. We couldn't find anyone we knew at the night club, so we decided to head back to the hotel to put our equipment together and get some sleep.
Saturday, August 11
Because this is a single day event, we got up early to head out to the park. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was sunny, but it was also cold. We drove up to the top of the course, where a small parking lot of jammed full of cars and people registering. While there were only a handful of lugers, there were over 100 standup riders. Registration didn't take too long! But of course we still all stood around and waited for events to get underway.
We had our ridings meeting where the format was announced. We would get a few runs of practice in. Once the road was open for practice, we would race down the hill then take the ski lift back to the top! The first event would be street luge to get it out of the way, and then standup. The race format would be 8 man, randomly picked. Each heat would consist of two runs. The first run would race for pole position. The second race would be for a transfer spot.
We start off on our first practice run. Even though I took it easy, I was still sliding out. The road was slippery, perhaps because the chip seal was very smooth. When we got to the bottom of the course we loaded our luges on pickup trucks, then walked over to the skilift. The view from the lift was nice. Despite the hike to the bottom of the lift, we got back to the top before it was our turn, and before our luges arrived. The luges had to take a back route by car, and took the long way around. It is too bad that we couldn't put our luges on the chairlift like they put the bikes on the lift.
My next practice run I ended up hitting one of the speed bumps just ride to shatter the baseplate of my front truck. I hit the red spot on the right. The speed bump had a small lip, about and inch or so high, and I hit it dead on. Unfortunately it was hard to miss the spot as my line coming out of the last turn led straight to the red spot.
Our last practice run we decided to try out the staggered start. The plan was to race 8 wide in a straight line to race for pole position. Then the second run would be a staggered start. The starting positions were about 1.5 meters apart. The course was pretty tight, and there wasn't a lot of room to pass. Most of the lugers already decided we didn't like the 8 wide idea, and after our practice run we decided the staggered start wasn't a good idea either. The staggered start made it almost impossible for anyone to pass. Because there were less than 16 of us, running four man wouldn't take much longer than 8 man.
It was decided to take chase trucks back up the course and run the luge as fast as possible. There were 15 lugers, and I ended up in the three man heat. We took our pole position run, then took our transfer run. I was in second when the guy behind me hits my back end and we both spin out. He gets back on his board first, but I manage to chase him down and overtake him for the transfer spot.
In the semi finals I got off to a bad start, and never got close to the three in front of me. As we drove to the top, we were all talking about the finals and consolation. We got to the top, and the organizers said it was time for the transfer run. Since five of the eight of us still had to do standup, and since we all just assumed that was the transfer run, we decided to forego the extra runs. We would take one more run to finish the race. Chaput was in the consolation but decided to opt out, to get read for standup. Brian Lee, Ross Baradoy and I were in the cosolation, and through the first few turns we were literally touching. About half way down Baradoy and I hooked up, Baradoy spun out and I lost a lot of speed on Lee. I managed to chase him down, I caught him and we crossed the speed bump neck in neck. I think I manage to pass him at the finish line.
It was just after noon and out day was over! We get to watch the standup race for the rest of the day. I went to the exhibition hall set up at the finish line to get some lunch. Unfortunately there were fewer people than last year, the hall was empty. There was a beer garden just outside the hall overlooking the finish line. I watched the first half dozen heats from here. Even with 8 man heats, with over a hundred riders and two heats per round, there were lots of heats.
The last hairpin, just above the mini golf course, had a few bleachers and an announcer. I'm not sure if it was the best corner to watch, but it was the easiest to get to, and had the most room for an audience. As the race was winding down, two separate wedding parties showed up. One had a reception at the bottom of the course, and the other was at the top of the hill.
After getting cleaned up we headed out to the Ranch, were the camp was for the after party. Unfortunately we were charged $10 just to get on the ranch. The restaurant was open and was serving food, but we had eaten before spending the hour drive out. Quite a few people hung out around the bonfire, and a few danced to the live band. The awards were given out along with a lot of swag. The top 4 were paid in luge, and top 8 paid in standup.
The party didn't last too much longer after the awards were given out. Dansie had to work Monday morning, so I wanted to get an early start on the road tomorrow. A few of the riders would hit the slide competition on the morning.
Despite the fact that the race was shortened from two days to one day, and there were a lot fewer spectators than expected it was still a fun event. The hairpin after hairpin course was a lot of fun. But with the small luger turnout even with a $5000 CDN first place price, I don't expect to see luge back next year.
Several riders separated their shoulders.