The downhill scene in Asia is exploding! In 2017 the Asian leg of world tour saw three amazing races Newton’s, Keeping it High and Arirang Hill Fest. In 2018 we have four races: Newton’s, Keeping it High Seaside, Keeping it High Moonrock, and Arirang Hill.
In 2017 Arirang Hill took us all by surprise.The technical nature of the race track, the infrastructure, and the support were all world class. The event organisers' have promised bigger and better in 2018. We aren’t sure what more they can do, so we sat down with Areum Jung of the ISCA to find out what the team in Korea have been up to.
What do you mean when you say bigger and better?
Last year (2017), was our first year and after the race we sat down and talked about what we did well and what we didn’t do well. Our focus is still on improving everything but we are paying particular attention to our weaknesses. We are really want to bring a professional focus to World Cup Luge and Skateboard racing.
So what have you improved?
From a racing perspective, the most important improvement to mention is track safety.
Last year our race track had a good level of safety - but we still had some nasty injuries. So improving this is an important priority. We’ve added more nets and tripled the number of hay bales - we have 2700 bales to sling!
We also have more marshals and support staff and have improved their training. One of our proudest achievements is athlete insurance.
Hang on, did you say insurance for the competitors?
Yes. The cost of the insurance is included in the entry fee. It covers competitors for medical expenses they incur as a result of an injury during practice, qualifying, or racing. Athlete insurance is a big part of our plan to help grow downhill Luge and Skateboarding as a more professional sport.
Wow that is next level stuff! You’ve also asked riders for some extra information - I’m guessing it is for another big announcement?
Thank you. We are really stoked to announce that we’ve signed a deal with a Korean TV broadcaster to bring downhill Luge and Skateboard racing into Korean living rooms. That's why we are hungry for information.
Is this why you had some tight registration deadlines?
Yes. We need to get athlete profiles to the broadcaster before race day. It is why we cannot accept “on the day” registrations. They need to make all the graphics etc. for live overlays.
So what does this mean for racing, coverage and infrastructure?
The race format will not change, but we will be running to more of a TV-friendly schedule. What this does is give us a very spectator friendly race track. We will have 16 cameras - plus drones - covering the action. Spectators will be able to see it all on the numerous 100-inch LED screens we will have on track. The media presence will also give riders the opportunity grow their fan base in Korea.
Lots of people are asking about the road surface?
The Korean Winter was harsh this year and its took its toll on the road. The freezing and thawing left us with some nasty cracks and lumps. Road workers found the road base wasn’t in good condition and a complete rebuild of the road would be required. This unfortunately didn’t fit our schedule. So some short term measures were taken to ensure we have a smooth, safe, and fast race track.
The lower section of the track has been resurfaced as well. Butter smooth blacktop pavement - kind of makes us a little worried about the extra speed riders will carry into to the last left!
Last year you had some great support support is that still there?
Absolutely. Whilst we do have some corporate sponsors we have received a lot of government support - not only for the race but for the Arirang Music festival as well. The Korean Ministry for Culture, Sport and Tourism; the Korean Tourism Organisation; and Jeongseon county government have all lent support. It is only the second time we are running the event and their support is crucial in these early days - we are very focused on making our race economically sustainable.
What about the after-party?
Buckle up because it is definitely bigger! The line-up for the music festival is still growing as we speak. We’ve invested a lot of energy into marketing this side of the event to bring in spectators and promote downhill skating! Don’t worry Koguryo band will be back on the stage and HARRY from HELL is definitely back on the decks!
Any final thoughts on why athletes should attend the 2nd edition of Arirang Hill?
Just ask anyone who was here last year and they will tell you why. To be a little more analytical: the track is in better condition, the safety is better, we have a broadcast partner and we have athlete medical insurance. Does any other event on the IDF tour have medical insurance for athletes? All for US$200! So the message is pretty much the same as last year - the track is awesome, the support is awesome, and the after-party will be unreal. Now we just need you to make the racing awesome!
Come experience skateboarding and Korean culture all bundled into one amazing race - Arirang Hill 2018.