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Racers from all over the world at Picton’s Gravity Fest this weekend

Picton’s Kolby Parks, and teammate Will Condon, last year’s street luge winner, must do well in competition against Christian if they expect to win the NorAm championship. “It’s mostly about pride,” Parks says. “Last year Will got a little plastic trophy. There’s no money for the NorAm. It’s about pride.”

It’s downhill all the way this weekend for close to 100 world-class asphalt athletes competing for championship titles in the third annual Prince Edward County Gravity Fest in Picton.

Gravity Fest is a sanctioned downhill skateboarding event that is part of the International Gravity Sports Association’s North American Downhill Series. The Prince Edward County Gravity Fest Sept. 15-16 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The race is number six of eight on the NorAm schedule.

It was introduced to the County by Classic Luge Canadian Champion Kolby Parks who has competed this year in Washington and Calgary and previously in France, Italy and the Czech Republic.

“The whole weekend is free of charge for anybody who wants to come out and experience the thrill of watching some of the world’s best gravity racers, including Patrick Switzer, of Toronto and Niko Desmarais, of Montreal.”

Riders have registered from California, Oregon, England, British Columbia, Australia and Venezuela as well as all over Ontario, Quebec and North Eastern United States.

Special for this year, racers will fly their hometown flags during a parade of flags Sunday at about 1 p.m. Fans are invited to win prizes and get autographs from 6-7 p.m. Saturday at the Skate Park at the Picton Fairgrounds.

“We run rain or shine,” said Parks. “Even if it’s raining (but not in lightning). It’s almost more fun from the action point of view as racers must mix caution with speed – especially around ‘crash corner’ at Pitt and York streets. Also, the middle portion of the run has been repaved which will make everything faster!”

Picton’s events begin Friday with on-site registrations and technical inspections. The races are on Saturday and Sunday (York, Pitt and Church streets) and include: Downhill Skateboarding, Street Luge and Classic Luge competitions. An awards ceremony finishes the event Sunday with more than $2,000 in prize money.

Downhill Skateboard, as its name suggests, is a gravity sport that involves a rider, in full protective gear, standing on a elongated skateboard and rolling down the hill. Downhill skateboarders reach speeds of 80kph. This is the most popular gravity sport.

Street Luge is a gravity sport involving an elongated and modified skateboard. The rider, in full protective gear, lies down on the luge board and rolls down the hill in a supine (feet first) position. The rider can reach speeds of 90kph. The rider steers the board by leaning.

Classic Luge, also known as Buttboard, is a variant of street luge. The rider rides down the hill in a supine (feet first) position on a board that closely resembles a skateboard. This is the most accessible form of gravity sport, as it is the most economical.

Profile’s of three of this year’s racers:

Christian Conaway
Christian Conaway is an 18-year-old Street Luger and Classic Luger from Fillmore California.
He attends Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, studying exercise science and hopes to be a physical therapist once he graduates.
Christian has grown up in the sport surrounded by some of the best street lugers in the world including legends such as Dave and John Rogers and Steve Fernando.
His biggest accomplishments so far are his win in Bonelli California in 2011, winning the US National title in the process and his second place finish at the 2012 Maryhill Festival of Speed. At Maryhill he lost by feet to his mentor John Rogers and narrowly beat county native Kolby Parks.
Christian’s racing career has been heavily supported by his loving parents “Big” Steve and Camilla Conaway who attend all their son’s races.
This year Christian is racing for the 2012 International Gravity Sports Association North American (IGSA NorAm) Championship which counts the best five races out of the eight events throughout the year. He is excited to race in the County this year because it will be his first time in eastern Canada.

Isaac Dohery
At 10 years old, Isaac Dohery didn’t have many friends when his family moved to Waterloo, from Owen Sound.
“I was bored of playing PS2 indoors all day and my dad encouraged me to get outside and try something new.”
He suprised Isaac one day by presenting him with a skateboard and Issac used it almost every day for a year.

“After getting frustrated being stuck on not being able to learn how to do a trick for a couple months, I gave up,” Issac said. “About two years later I went back to my home town, met up with some old friends and they were all on longboards, not skateboards. I got on an extra board they had and loved it. The soft wheels and the larger wheelbase of the board felt great and as soon as I got back home I went to West 49 and bought a Globe Mosaic cruiser board.
Everyday he would go carve down the streets on the board. He started watching youtube videos of people going sideways and sliding down hill. He finally bought a decent board online and really started to get into the sport.
“After deciding I wanted to get into competitive racing and downhill, I needed money. I managed to land a job in the Sobey’s bakery and I’m still working there.”
Issac, almost 16, will have his first race at the Prince Edward County Gravity Fest. He hopes to travel around North America to race.

 

Nikolas Desmarais
Nikolas Desmarais is a long-time downhill skateboarder who currently lives in Laurentides. Always distinguished by his trademark orange leathers, the Quebec rider has been racing for nine years and is one of the original riders from the French Canadian downhill scene.
Niko got into skateboarding when he was racing snowboards in the winter and needed some way to train in the summer. He is a kenisioligist and works as a strength and conditioning coach and helps train athletes in a a variety of sports and is taking on a new project this winter by training a snowboard cross team.
Some of his best results are three consecutive wins on the Munnsville New York race and a first at the Winsport Canada Cup. He hopes to unseat two-time champ Patrick Switzer at this weekend’s Prince Edward County Gravity Fest.

 

This Pitt Street cat made an appearance at the last two races. He’s down to eight lives after this 2011 run:

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