Kozakov Challenge – Day 1

Street lugers @ Kozakov 2013
Street lugers @ Kozakov 2013 - Photo by CGSA

It's a chilled day two at the Kozakov Challenge 2013. The world's best riders are assembled at the well-known hill an hour north-east of Prague in the Czech Republic. Days one and two are freeride days, allowing everyone to familiarise themselves with the hill's legendary twists and turns. The weather is fine, the temperature warm and the riders chilled.

The International Downhill Federation's European representatives are already on site setting up and testing the new transponder timing system. The event schedule has been slightly redrafted to take into account riders requests for lots of racing, giving the opportunity for low qualifiers to race too.

The IDF team will run a three-bracket system for the biggest class of open downhill. After transponder timed qualifying, all riders will be ranked, fastest to slowest. The top 56 riders will be allocated to the top bracket, the next 56 to the second bracket and all the rest to the third bracket.

Racing will start with the third bracket. These riders will race each other in four man heats, with the top two in each heat progressing to the next round of heats. The top 8 riders will then move into bracket B. This bracket will race in the same format and the top 8 riders will take places in bracket A. Finally bracket A will race.

Despite sounding complex, this system gives everyone the chance to race and even to get to the final, whilst ensuring that the top seeded racers don't have to work their way through the whole field. It's been universally welcomed here at Kozakov.

Jolanda Vogler @ Kozakov 2013
Jolanda Vogler @ Kozakov 2013 - Photo by CGSA

Race organisers have made some key improvements this year, shortening uplift times and strengthening public safety by cutting access paths through the forest to all viewing points. Kozakov's legendary party status remains and the huge riders tent rocks each night as riders unwind after a hard day on the hill.

Tomorrow, timed runs will commence. Teething problems with the sophisticated TAG Heuer are hopefully behind us. Two top staffers from TAG will be at the event to oversee the system and iron out any glitches.

Some regulars from previous years are not here, Jackson Shaperia and Mischo Erban will not be racing. Newcomers to the hill include Marisa Nunez from Peru. She initially viewed the hill with some trepidation, but after a good first run she found the Kozakov groove and is enjoying the hill.

Who's in line to take top honours? Luge racing looks to dominated this year by Mikel Echegaray Diaz from Spain with Abdil Madzan from Malaysia a clear contender.

Marisa Nunez @ Kozakov 2013
Marisa Nunez @ Kozakov 2013

The women's race will be close and Nunez looks a clear possibility. The men's race is supported by all the top riders from last year's event and its too early to call with any reliability. Perhaps last year's results in this class were a little unusual as Kozakov threw a spanner in the planning by raining on final day. The course was shortened and as time ticked by Patrick Switzer missed his semi final and so took top place in the consolation final instead of having the chance to podium. Perhaps this year he will be able to reinforce his mastery of this hill.

Patrick Switzer @ Kozakov 2013
Patrick Switzer @ Kozakov 2013