Killington Day 3: New World Champions Crowned!

With a crisp, clear morning, there was an exciting day ahead: Race Day. An entire year of hard work, culminating years of training, racing and travel, led up to this. The 2017 world champion was about to be crowned. Everybody roused themselves out of bed, brought everything they would need to the hill, and prepared to load up the trucks for morning practice.

Ryan Farmer and Mason Shin gear up for rider meeting and first shuttle. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Unlike the first two days with cloud covered skies, the weather held out for us and the sun was shining bright all day. It started with the standard rider meeting at the bottom of the hill. After reviewing radio protocol and marshal assignments with the staff, Organizer Mike Girard moved on to the rider meeting to review the schedule, flagging and race formats. Fully briefed, it was time for practice.

Rider Meeting. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Mitch Thompson and Kyle Wester hitch a ride. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Chief of Safety and VT local Tom Wilson puts the finishing touches on Tetanus Corner. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

After one all-category practice run, Open Repechage heats started the day. Riders who qualified beyond the 27th position would race for the remaining 5 spots in the bracket. This made for some very entertaining racing. By now, racers were comfortable after 2 full days raging the hill with tons of practice and timed quali runs on Friday and Saturday. Many of the other competitors came to the bottom left turn to watch it go down. All the competitors put it on the line to make their way into the Open Class but only 5 prevailed: Sawyer Kulman, Ryder Hathaway, Cassandra Duchesne and Stephan Vaast advanced via finals, and Kai Salam snagged the first place consi slot.

 

Kai Salam blasts his way into the consis, securing the 32nd Open bracket spot. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

With the Open standup bracket solidified, it was time to move on to Luge, Masters & Women's.

 

Luge Class

Lugers prepare for their race heat. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Killington - aptly known as "The Beast" - is a speed-fiending luger's dream track. With multiple high speed 50-60mph, edge-of-traction, multi-apex sweepers and a challenging bridge section dumping into a Super Straight that more than triples the road's speed limit, it is a truly thrilling run. Lugers sound more like F1 cars as their 6 wheels scorch past you.

 

Chris Hicks and Goat blast off. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

In the luge class we had 10 riders from 3 countries sending it as fast as 83mph down The Beast Of The East. Ryan Farmer from California was in attendance and aiming for the win. It would take a 1st place finish - nothing lower - for Ryan Farmer to launch past Malaysian Abdil Mahdzan and secure the 2017 Luge World Championship.

Tim Koch and Ryan Farmer fly through the bridge, trailing smoke

 

We spoke to Ryan the day before the race to ask him about the track. He said the most notable part was ‘the braking - let alone braking at 80mph.’ His eyes were set on David Dean (ex-world champion) and track veteran Kolby Parks, and competition was set to be fierce.

David Dean leads Kolby Parks, Chris Hicks and Goat through the bridge. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Through 2 exciting rounds, David, Ryan, Kolby and Tim Koch battled into the final heat.

 

Luge finals prepare to launch. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

After drag stripping the 80+mph Super Straight, Ryan and Kolby led the way coming into the final "Tetanus Corner" hairpin. It appeared that Kolby might be able to make the slingshot draft-and-pass on Ryan’s outside, but the overtaking speed wasn’t quite there for Kolby. Ryan managed to maintain his lead through the finish, earning him 1st place for the event and the title of Street Luge World Champion.

Ryan Farmer and Kolby Parks battle high G forces through Tetanus Corner's apex. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

Womens Class

Luge podium - 1. Ryan Farmer 2. Kolby Parks 3. Tim Koch. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Ryan Farmer, luge champ and breadwinner. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

While the women’s class was smaller than we would have liked, it did have one of the best international presences: 8 women from 6 different countries!

Emily Pross pushes out ahead of Sabrina Ambrosi (Argentina) and Cassandre Duchesne (Canada). Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

These competitors were charging down this hill to do their best to give previous Women’s World Champion Emily Pross a run for her money, but it wasn’t going to be easy. In an earlier film run, Emily clocked 64mph by herself. She was not going to give up 1st place without a fight. The first round of racing led way to Emily and Sabrina advancing in their round and Cassandra and Jenni advancing in theirs' after Candy slid into the hay bales losing her 2nd place position.

 

Cassandre Duchesne, locked, loaded and looking badass. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

During the finals, Emily held a very strong lead to secure her win and also her title as the Women’s World Champion.There was also a crash further up on the course with Jenni Shauerte that left her with an injured leg and fourth place. Fortunately her injury was not severe. She remained in good spirits and made it down to spectator corner afterwards to watch more racing.

C.R.E.A.M. Emily Pross takes the cake. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Not only did Emily earn 1st at Killington in Women's and Women's 2017 World Champion, she also secured 9th place in 2017 IDF Open World Rankings. This marks the first time a Women's rider has cracked the Top 10, a very admirable and impressive feat with lots of hard training and determination throughout her voyage.

Women's Podium: 1. Emily Pross 2. Cassandre Duchesne 3. Sabrina Ambrosi

 

Masters Class

This year’s Masters Class at Killington had two competitors (Jeff Molongoski and John Fletcher). Both racers got in heaps of runs throughout the weekend and Jeff held it down with a solid speed throughout the course, winning Masters.

Jeff Molongoski: Rad Dad, Western Mass local, and 2017 Killington Masters Champ gets hoisted by the flannel brigade. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Juniors Class

With 8 Juniors competing, we had a full 2-round bracket to race. Taylor Cook of New Zealand entered race day as #1 junior and fighting to stay atop the rankings. He was skating fast and working hard to maintain his title, but there were other equally fast skaters on the hill that day. The finals came down to Taylor Cook, Daniel Minsky, Bruno Vieira and Christopher Antrum. Coming into the final corner Taylor had the lead, but Daniel maintained the best exit speed and made the pass coming through the finish for 1st place.

 

Adam Westfall helps Daniel Minsky work out the kinks. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Diego Poncelet of Spain (Open) checks out the Junior live stream and bracket updates at the start line. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Minksy, focused en route to podium. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Daniel Minsky charging hard toward first place Junior racer. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Junior Podium: 1. Daniel Minsky, 2. Taylor Cook, 3. Bruno Vieira. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Open

The Open Class was full of epic racing and many surprises. Not only was this a very stacked group of heats with many of the world's top racers, but it was the fastest track on the global IDF circuit this year. Several standup heats hit 69mph (111 kph), and luge maxed out at 83mph (133.6 kph)!

Brazilian Thiago Lessa stalks his countryman Carlos Paixão, gunning for the World Championship. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Even Practice got heavy!  Daina Banks, Aaron Hampshire, Chase Hiller and Thiago Lessa hunt the Bridge apex. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Chase Hiller and Ed Kiefer rip through Tetanus (Spectator) Corner a practice heat. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Josh Evans and Zak Maytum slaying Tetanus. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

One of the first surprises was when #1-qualifier Brennan Bast crashed out in the quarter finals (into the IDF media station - check the live feed) giving room for Emily Pross and Kyle Wester to advance. In that same round, 2-time world champion Carlos Paixão and #2-ranked Mitch Thompson (AUS) were also eliminated, leaving the door open for Thiago Lessa to sieze the World Championship.

 

Top Qualifier Brennan Bast (AUS) looked strong but sadly crashed out in Quarterfinals. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Mitch Thompson (AUS) leads Diego Poncelet (ESP) and Ed Kiefer (US) through the bridge. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Baast, Pross and Wester pop airbrakes after reaching the upper 60's mph, getting ready to slide Tetanus Corner. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Max Ballesteros leads a heavy squad into spectator zone. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

IDF Finish Line utility zone, keeping track of brackets, social media and live stream via 2-way radio and wifi hotspot. Photo: Khaleeq

 

The semi finals had some of the most-stacked heats we’ve ever seen. Just the names alone would strike fear into a would-be competitor's heart: Pross, Wester, Ballesteros, Hampshire, Lessa, Rosario, Hiller, Capps. It was about to get real.

Hiller, Hampshire, Ballesteros and Pross get props from Junior World Champ Taylor Cook for advancing to Semis. Photo: Khaleeq

 

Emily Pross maintaining high cornering speed in a film run (watch on the IDF Facebook page)

 

Semifinalist Emily Pross, Aaron Hampshire and Kyle Wester riding tight and fighting for grip through Tetanus. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Thiago Lessa and Max Capps, aerodynamically clad in quickly-popularized, soon-to-be-disallowed speed suits. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

When the dust settled it was Max Ballesteros, Aaron Hampshire, Tim Del Rosario and Thiago Lessa in the finals. All four racers came into the spectator zone's Tetanus Corner super hot and in close proximity. Thiago led the group and managed to take a smooth entry and exit, securing him not only the Killington victory, but also the new title of World Champion.

Socal shredder Tim Del Rosario, stoked on the Open Finals start line. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Max Ballesteros: In The Zone. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Thiago Lessa fist-pumps across the finish line ahead of Tim Del, knowing that he's the new World Champ. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Thiago Gomes Lessa: VICTORIOUS! Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

 

Dalua congratulates Max Ballesteros, two prominent riders from the powerful and dominant Brazilian downhill contingent. Photo: Khaleeq

 

Carlos "Guto" Paixao congratulates Emily Pross. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Organizer Mike Girard, stoked on the successful completion of his first World Cup; key staffer Bill Monk rides shotgun. Photo: Khaleeq

 

Max Ballesteros receives his trophy board from Mike. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Thiago Lessa atop the Open DH podium. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

Open DH Podium: 1. Thiago Lessa, 2. Tim Del Rosario, 3. Max Ballesteros, 4. Aaron Hampshire. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

After awarding the Open podium, it was time for the final ceremony: World Champions! If you didn't read our lead-up post, it provides some helpful context regarding what was on the line, and how certain top rankings may change. Safe to say, some of those upsets did end up materializing. Ryan Farmer's last-race, must-win Luge triumph sniped him the World Championship, and Thiago Lessa had to finish at least 6 places ahead of Guto in order to win. His 1st-place finish in Open was more than enough to unseat Carlos and crown a new World Champ!

Ready to dish out the new World Champ hardware - Mike and Max Vickers review the goods. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred
The Southern Hemisphere hoists their new Junior World Champ. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred
Taylor Cook (NZ), 2017 IDF Junior World Champion. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred
SoCal strong: the GMR boys bring their top Farmer toward the podium. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred
Ryan Farmer, 2017 IDF Luge World Champion. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred
Emily Pross, 2017 IDF Women's World Champion. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred
Thiago Lessa, 2017 IDF Open  World Champion. Photo: Khaleeq Alfred
2x World Champ Carlos Paixão joins the 2017 IDF World Champions: Emily Pross, Thiago Lessa, Ryan Farmer; Taylor Cook. Not pictured: Damian Gelez, Spain (Masters). Photo: Khaleeq Alfred

 

It was a pleasure to finish the World Cup tour with a strong, confident conclusion with consistent timing, action-packed racing and tons of runs. As a first-time World Cup organizer, Mike Girard is excited to bring back an even bigger and better #KillingtonWC in 2018. We are excited to present the 2018 schedule, which will feature a more developed North American calendar and several new events worldwide.

Thank you to the volunteers, racers, IDF representatives, residents, sponsors, Town of Killington, Killington Resort, Killington Police Department and Regional Ambulance, and anyone else who contributed to such a special experience. Stay tuned for our official event video recap! In the meantime, check out the Killington brackets, 2017 IDF Final Rankings, Day 1 and Day 2 recaps, and lots more at internationaldownhillfederation.org.