We Landed in Korea 5 days before the event was due to start. Unknowing of how strict Korean rental car places are, we attempted to get one without an international license... This did not work. Thankfully, Rayne homie Brian Choi swooped by and took us to a rad hill about 4 hours away. If it weren't for Brian we would have spent 5 boring days in Seoul, but instead we got to skate some of the best terrain here! Korea has a huge range of hills on offer and the diverse terrain offers new types of skating. We spent 4 days traveling around the countryside with the help of another Rayne Homie: Jaqusang! Be on the lookout for our doubles run down a thane destroying road with a ton of tight drifts!
The race course at Arirang: 8 hairpins, 60 MPH + straights, all on a longboard. Photo Arirang Hill Fest.
I was fortunate to have my parents in Korea, and we met up with them for the drive to the hill. Unlike the skaters that went on the bus we were able to visit the race hill before the event. I was blown away! The hill was one thing: 8 back to back hairpins, a gnar chicane and straight away, but the event organization was next level. No event has ever had this type of organization. The toilets were even built just for this event! There was netting on all the drains and a ton of hay bales. The giant screens and awesome riders area at top and bottom were incredible!
Michael Goattington and Areum Jung from the event's organizing crew kept everyone smiling all weekend.. Photo courtesy of 김민영
The freeride day of the event came through quick, and this would be the first time everyone one else saw the hill. I've never seen so many jaws drop. Everyone was so stoked on this hill! Many people were questioning why it wasn't an IDF World Cup event (should be next year). Everyone's first runs were CHILL. The top was fun, but the bottom straight was terrifying. It was quick and not smooth. With the tight chicane at the bottom as well, the first 3 runs were jesus stance. After a day of skating the hill everyone found their groove and were hitting it hard. We bounced back to camp for an awesome night, with a full size stage and dj it was rad!
Riders arrive by bus for the first day. Photo courtesy of Arirang Hill Fest.
Qualifying day was a day of testing. I was trialing harder wheels to see if they had an advantage down the straight and it seemed to work. Put me into 3rd behind Mauritz and Aaron. The end of quali day turned into a bottom 32 repecharge with 2 spots up for grabs. It was cool to see how racing was gonna go down and it was already getting tight in the repecharge heats. Race day was gonna be tight!
Mitch sticks to the smooth pave. Photo courtesy of Arirang Hill Fest.
Race day was super chill. Opens had all morning off while Masters, Luge, Juniors and Ladies raced off. The Juniors final between Rob Burns and Taylor Cook came down to 0.04sec super awesome heat with both of them stoked! My first few rounds were chill, just push in front and hold a lead. Semis got tight between myself and Mauritz. Following him closely at the top, I had one chance for a move before the straight and took it, but that finish was also super tight. This amped me up for finals where I'd face Mauritz, Aaron and Aussie homie Bassie. The final was intense! I rammed Aaron in the first corner and we both stayed on; then we all stayed close through the hairpins with less than 1 meter between each of us. The straight saw Aaron catch a good draft and take off into first. I was holding off Bassie this whole time and drafting in behind Mauritz when we shot out of the last corner. Aaron got the win and Mauritz held me off by a board length while Bassie came flying past us all after the line. Like everyone one had been saying, it was a very close final.
Semis and Finals from Mitch's POV
Back to camp, and the party began. This drum group brought the house down with a sick performance that was hard to keep up with then came podiums. Now at rider sign in on the form was a question "whats your signature song"? I had no f**king clue so I put down one off the top of my head F**cking Problems by A$AP Rocky. Well turns out that's what they play when they call you up to the stand! This should be a thing at all IDF races!
The podium. Photo Taylor Bast.
Thank you so much to the whole Korean crew.You guys held it down and put on the best event I've ever been too. I'll definitely be back. Thanks to all my sponsors and Rayne Longboards for keeping the dream alive. Seeya in Europe!
Just like the skating, you're bummed if you missed the party at Arirang this year. Better get here for 2018! Photo Taylor Bast.