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The essence of the act of skateboarding, without all of the grinds, flips, and flights, is rolling and turning. In slalom skating, this essence is refined, perfected, and celebrated. The sport of slalom racing played a substantial role in mainstream skateboarding throughout the 1970s with the existence of the International Slalom Skateboarding Association (ISSA) and yearly world championship events. Through the 1980s the sport of slalom racing began to decline in the US with a lack of media attention and the collapse of the ISSA. By the end of the decade the sport had drifted into obscurity with races no longer being held in the US.

However, those that had experienced the thrill of the sport continued to find their own graceful inclines, set up a course of cones, and participate in the sport they loved. In early 2001 ex-slalom pro Jack Smith posted an announcement on the Northern California Downhill Association website ( of a slalom race to be held in the city of Morro Bay, California. Worldwide response was immediate and overwhelming. Etnies, Sector 9, and Fluid Skateboards! stepped up to sponsor the event. Permission was obtained from the Morro Bay government to hold the race downtown on Main Street, and the race was announced as the 2001 World Slalom Championships - the first in the US in over 20 years.

The session on the practice hill in Cambria the day before the race was incredible. There must have been over 40 racers running cones, including guys like Beau Brown, John Gilmour, Don Bostick, Gary Cross, Cliff Coleman, the O'Shei brothers, Joe Woodman, world class longboarder Brad Edwards, and vert skater Ben Schroeder. Englishman Simon Levene, French racer Dieter Fleishcer, and Swiss racers Marius Strobel and Chris Hart added the international flavor. The man himself, "Bad H" Henry Hester, threw together a board from borrowed components and laid down some fast lines as only he can. All the while Ed Economy kept up a running commentary.

By 8:30 am on race day, everything was in place, including a challenging 40-cone competitive duel slalom course set by Mr. Hester. After an hour or so of practice it was time to start the qualifying runs, one racer in each lane. There were 65 entries, but only the 16 fastest racers would advance to the head-to-head finals.

Marius Strobel of Switzerland laid down the fastest run in the preliminaries with a time of 19.519 seconds. Fellow countryman and Indiana Skateboards teammate Chris Hart was close behind at 19.589. Fat City Racing's Gary Cross slid into third with a time of 19.804.

The seeding proved to be quite telling in the first round, as all the higher-seeded racers made it through. By the second round, the crowd of spectators lining Main Street had chosen their favorite racers and were cheering them on. Seventh-seeded Paul Dunn scored a major upset in round two as he took out second-seeded Chris Hart.

In the end, it all come down to Swiss racer Marius Strobel versus American racer Gary Cross. As they made their way back up the hill, Dunn and John Gilmour battled for third place, with local boy Dunn emerging victorious.

As Strobel and Cross entered the starting gates for their first run of the finals, announcers Henry Hester and Hunter Joslin worked the crowd into a fevered pitch. Both racers exploded from the gates, with Strobel grabbing a quick lead and holding on for a .254 second advantage. All that was left now was one run; Cross would need his best of the day to grab the title of World Champion. Once again Henry and Hunter revved up the crowd as the racers climbed into the gates. Cross got the start of a lifetime and pumped his way into a widening lead, flashing across the finish line with the day's fastest time, 18.800 seconds. Cross had done it, making up the difference and posting a winning advantage of 137 seconds and earning the title of World Slalom Champion.

Final Results:

1. Gary Cross

2. Marius Strobel

3. Paul dunn

4. John Gilmour

5. Chris Hart

6. Chris Chaput

7. Andreas Pfander

8. Simon Levene
COPYRIGHT 2001 High Speed Productions, Inc
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Smith, Jack
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2001
Previous Article:FIASCO IN FRISCO.

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