The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Andrew Christiansen

Ballesteros wins open, Pross repeats at Loops


Andrew Christiansen

GOING DOWN: Knox Heslop and Nikolas Matousek skate away safely as Parker Schmidt begins to lose it during the junior finals at Maryhill Loops. Schmidt and Sandor Varos collided and went down in the final turn, taking out Dylan Shrimpton and Patrick Wilkinson, as well. Heslop won the race.

Brazilian Max Ballesteros won the open class skateboard showdown on Saturday, edging countryman Thiago Gomes Lessa for an undisputed win in the first Showdown at the Loops. Emily Pross made back-to-back wins in the women's class and Mikel Echegaray Diez maintained his stranglehold on the luge championship.

Track conditions changed greatly from practice sessions on Thursday that featured cool temperatures and a little rain, until Saturday's race day under perfect conditions of sunny skies, gentle winds and temperatures around 90 degrees. This year's race was organized by a group called the Maryhill Ratz. After 10 years of promotion as the Festival of Speed, promotor John Osman called it quits and the Ratz stepped up to hold the event. Many of the Maryhill Ratz come from the Portland/Vancouver area, but also has members like Bradley Cameron, who is from Seattle. According to Cameron, the Ratz began to hold organized "free rides," around 2010. The group rents the Maryhill Loops road, puts up straw bales and hires ambulance support for five events a year. This year's big race was not a cup event, as in previous years, but was sanctioned by the International Downhill Federation (IDF). Cup races award 1,000 points to the winner and sanctioned races like Saturday's race award 650 points. Final ranking for the IDF is based on the top six skateboard races with a maximum of five cup races.

The man who was the lead promoter for the Ratz this year was Dean Orzuna, from Vancouver. Orzuna, one of the original Ratz had an accident during qualifications on Friday and underwent hip surgery in Seattle on Saturday. The rest of the Ratz picked up the slack and the event went off without a hitch.

Windy conditions helped make the course treacherous on Friday. Orzuna's wreck came on what is known as Cowzer Corner, a hairpin turn near the bottom of the Maryhill Loops. A tail wind coming into Cowzer Corner was an issue according to a number of riders. But, overall, the wind may have slowed the pace on some portions of the course and the fast time for stand-up board was 3 minutes, 4.28 seconds, posted by last year's champion, Zach Maytum. The course record for stand-up was set last year at 3:03.62 by Kevin Reimer.

Ballesteros, who is racing out of San Diego, was the open class points leader coming into Saturday's race. He had 1,206 point lead over Lessa, who finished second at Maryhill for the second time, the first being in 2013. "It was a great race," said Ballesteros amid a swarm of congratulatory fist bumps and hugs. "I was in second place for most of the race." He slipped past third place finisher Carlos Paixao through Cowzer, but Lessa took the lead coming into the final turn. "I was outside entering the turn. He was shutting the door outside so I go here," said Ballesteros, indicating a dive to the inside line which took him to the finish line for the win. His next stop is Whistler, British Columbia, a world cup event and the eighth race of the year for Ballesteros, who runs the entire world-wide schedule.

Pross, a marketing and communications student from Vernon, N.J., had a much easier win this year, compared to a near neck-and-neck finish last year. This year's runner-up, Victoria Waddington was also last year's second place finisher in the women's class. Pross commented last year on how out of condition she was after last year's win. This year she said she trained a lot harder and is running more of the circuit events. Pross has won all five of her races this year and took over the points lead with Saturday's win. Pross says she plans on doing this, "Until I am old and broken." She said "it would be cool" to be racing in the Master's class of 40 year old plus racers.

The winner of this year's Master class was an elated Roy Wolff, of Denver. Wolff is an iron worker in his real job, but he says he has been riding for about 30 years. Three years ago, according to Wolff, a group of young riders ran into him at a skate park and told him they thought he could compete in IDF. He credits them for training him and it led to a goal of trying to win an event. He doesn't travel the circuit, but he says he and his family set this as a goal and now that he has accomplished it, he wasn't sure what to do next. "I don't see me quitting, though," said Wolff.

Andrew Christiansen

TIGHT PACK: A tight pack rounds the final turn in the open class championship run with leader, Max Ballesteros holding on for the win.

Echegaray Diez, of Spain, has won the luge every year at Maryhill since it has been an IDF event. The other winner on Saturday was an American, Knox Heslop in the junior class. There were other forms of downhill at the Loops on Saturday. A small class of in-line roller blades competed and there were exhibition runs of gravity bikes and trikes.

The top three places earned prize money for the junior, masters and luge classes with $250 for first place, $150 for second place and $100 for third place. Pross was paid $500 for winning the women's class with $250 to Waddington for second place and $150 to Candy Dungan for third.

The top six were paid in the open class with Ballesteros winning $750 and Lessa taking home $450 for second place. Paixao won $350 for third, Jackson Shapiera took home $250 for fourth, Justin Rouleau won $200 for fifth and Tanner Morelock won $100 for sixth place.

More than 100 competitors from nine countries, including the United States, were entered in this year's race.


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