The downhill scene in Asia has been expanding rapidly and we're hyped to include a race in Korea in the circuit. The Arirang Hill Fest is just under 30 days away - the countdown has begun! The organizers are rolling out the red carpet just for you.
This will be South Korea’s first World Class Downhill Race and they've put in the time to introduce it with a bang. We sat down with event organizer Michael G Goattington to learn more about what we should expect from the event.
Hey Goat! How’s your week been?
Pretty awesome week so far. The weather has turned, Seoul is starting to warm up and the plum trees are starting to blossom, all-in-all it's a beautiful time of year. Especially when you combine it all with excitement around Korea’s debut as a part of the downhill world tour.
So I take it you’re getting excited for Korea’s first IDF race?
A bit of an understatement. I only moved to Korea just under 18 months ago, so I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity help make this race happen. The team at the ISCA are very committed to making the race a success - they are pretty much working around the clock. They’ve garnered support from Jeongseon-gun as well the Korean Olympic organising committee. It is a level of support I only dreamt about when helping organise events back home in Australia.
From the pictures the road looks pretty unique - what are some of the notable features? Do you think the track will make for tight racing?
Maybe you could call it “Korea’s 7-curves.” The top 500 metres of the track is steep. Its roughly 50 meters between the the first two hairpin and you lose 10 meters altitude - so getting your lines right will really matter. If the rider if front you is nailing the apexes it will be hard to squeeze past without putting yourself in trouble for the next corner. Hope we see some chundery foot braking in there just to mix up. But once you’re past all those hairpins the road starts sweeping so dominating up top could just make you draft bait! So yeah I think we’ll see some really tight racing from the top riders.
You mentioned that the race has support from the Korean Olympic Committee and local government, what does this mean for the DH skate scene in Korea? Do you think this will lead to support for more DH races in the future?
Pretty unbelievable right! It is really positive. DH skating is still in its infancy here so it is a great opportunity to grow the sport in partnership with government and community involvement. The community consultation process for Arirang Hill Fest has lead to some pretty awesome outcomes, for example there is a plan to install a push-button traffic light at the top of the hill to facilitate safer free riding!
We really hope that on the back of a successful 2017 Arirang Hill we can build add a second Korean race to the world tour - ensuring riders really do get value for money when they come to Korea racing.
How would you describe Korea’s downhill skating scene? From what we’ve seen, it looks like Asia has been catching the longboarding buzz over the past couple of years.
DH skating is a very new sport in Korea. As many people have probably seen on social media longboard dancing is very popular here. But many of the dancing crews, especially the all girls crews, are starting to branch out into downhill. So DH skating is growing quickly and the rider’s skills are improving in leaps and bounds. The short version is the scene is growing quickly and with all the great hills Korea has I suggest you keep an eye on this place - there will be Korean’s on your podium soon!
Any final thoughts on why international riders should attend this notable race?
We know that attending an international race means spending your own hard earned money. The fact that the IDF has so many riders traveling the world to attend races is testament to the commitment we all have to our sport. Isn’t that why we do this? To skate hills in amazing places and hang out with some of our best friends.
I’m a little off-track so to speak. The pictures of the hill speak for themselves - Arirang Hill is an awesome track. But Arirang Hill Fest is more than just the track. My Han-guk chin-gu (my Korean friends), your new Korean friends, have organised more than just a race. They want you to experience traditional and modern Korean culture. They want you to experience “Arirang” - arguably the soul of Korea.
In short - the after party is going to be unreal. The track is awesome. Now we need you to make the racing awesome!
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