ROMANIA – TRANSYLVANIA 2K 17. 6 day event, 5+ kilometres of downhill, free gondola rides & 2 days of partying… Romania was an epic event with riders being able to take full advantage of the hill for 6 days, providing skaters with the perfect opportunity to get hyped for the IDF Euro Tour 2017. Taylor Bast sat down with Mitch Thompson to to get all the details.
As a race event, what was your overall opinion of Transylvania 2K 17?
The track was absolutely epic. It was probably one of the longest runs I've ever skated and I was impressed with how well the organisers did securing it with hay bales and fixing up any cracks in the road. Combining the corners of Newton's Nation and the fast straights of Kozakov and Kings Gate, it was basically every world class race track combined into one.
In terms of the race structure, It was organised into Pros and Opens which unfortunately confused a lot of riders during registration. Some riders that had the skill to be in the Pro category misunderstood and registered for Opens instead; however it did give newer riders a larger opportunity to be on podium. An “Open” and “Amateur” category would be good to see next year.The racing was particularly interesting because there was an irregular number of riders in each heat. The first round of heats were 3 man, followed by 2 man semi finals and a crazy 5 man final.
Overall as an event I was really impressed. They managed to include so much, especially for the price. Each rider got 6 days of skating, free breakfast, hotel accommodation and a 5 minute gondola ride to the top of the hill, which meant doing up to 20 runs a day.
You're doing the whole IDF Euro Tour, how have you decided to travel and what would you recommend to other skaters?
Definitely have a solid crew. You're going to be travelling with the same people for a few months so its important to find people you get along with, that have a similar travelling style and budget to you. It's so important to be with a group that chips in evenly and pulls their weight with driving and cleaning etc.
If you have the extra money, I would definitely recommend hiring a camper van. You can pull over wherever you want and have the ability to cook, rest and sleep comfortably. We have a “don't use the toilet” policy in our van, because believe me no one wants to deal with cleaning it at the end of the trip.
What other parts of Romania did you see apart from the race?
We were lucky enough to be invited to the Sweet Spot Skate House by Alex. He has an awesome vision to improve people’s skills in skateboarding, snowboarding, kitesurfing and wakeboarding. He provides them with services, gear and an amazing house to stay at by a lake where anyone is welcome. He's really the driving force behind the Romanian skateboard scene. There are some awesome runs surrounding the house too.
How do you feel you went in the race?
I feel like I raced ok, I came third AGAIN. It's a really hard track to race because after you've spent the entire week free riding, having to put leathers on and get into race mode can be exhausting. It really ends up being not just a race against others but a battle with your own stamina.
I'm really proud of Davis Lanham for winning. He has come such a long way from his first race this year at Newton's Nation. Seeing him go from not even making A bracket, to winning an international race was awesome. And of course, I'm stoked to see an Australian win!
Overall, although there was some confusion regarding race brackets & organisation of heats, the event was run exceptionally well with solid event coverage by All Year Long. 4 free ride days for non racers & an epic 2 nights of partying. The general consensus from riders was that they can't wait to come back next year for even bigger and better event. The consistent runs, hospitality of the townspeople, food, accommodation and solid runs in the surrounding area made the Transylvania 2K17 the perfect event to kick off the Euro Racing season.
AUSTRIA – KINGS GATE 2017
Kings Gate was the brand new race by Big Mountain Skate, set in the Austrian Alps called Hinterstoder. A super technical track, epic campground, great amenities and an unexpected traditional Austrian village party made this event absolutely epic. Ranye rider Mitch Thompson, talks about his Kings Gate 2017 experience with Taylor Bast.
What was your overall opinion of the event?
The event was really well organised, the campsite was right at the bottom of the track which meant it was really easy for riders to change gear throughout the day. This ended up being really beneficial because the weather was so hit and miss. The safety at the start was a bit questionable but the organisers pulled through by ordering a lot of extra hay bales.
For the first two days we only got to do two man runs, this made race day especially interesting because it was the first opportunity any of us had to do 4 man runs.
The weather made qualifying a nightmare because everyone was different. I chose to sit out one run (when of course it happened to be dry) so the qualifying times sped up heaps and there was a lot of pressure to improve my time on my last run.
How did you find racing the track?
The race track was super technical but not overly fast. Because of the tightness of the track it made sliding and gripping corners really gnarly. Racing ended up being really tight. The top two hairpins were quite slow, which resulted in everyone being really packed together. There was quite a large number of crashes from riders bumping and clipping each other; especially in the legendary 'Kings Gate' combo.
How did you find the event when you weren't skating?
I was really stoked that the campsite had good amenities. There were really good toilets and showers (not to mention a minigolf course in town). We were within walking distance of everything which meant a bunch of skaters ended up crashing a traditional Austrian village party one night which was pretty funny.
Unlike other events, the after party wasn't planned, so naturally the skaters took it upon themselves to have one. We made a massive bonfire, blasted music out the rental cars, people were freestyle rapping and most importantly someone managed to convince the owner of the beer stall to wake up at 1am and open up for the party.
Also, I was definitely glad we rented a camper van because I'm fairly certain some of the riders tents got flooded in the rain.Overall this was definitely an event I'd come back for next year.
Despite the weather, Kings Gate was a really successful first event, that will no doubt hold its place in future Euro Tours. It ran exceptionally smoothly, had great location and a super technical track that tested even the best riders.