Kozakov’s 10th birthday; Historic, World-Class Racing with a Heavy Finish

The 10th anniversary of any downhill event is a rare, special occasion; the 10th anniversary of a legendary event like Kozakov is truly momentous, deserving of great celebration. Fortunately, Kozakov is something of a specialist when it comes to celebrating, and they delivered and exceeded the lofty expectations of downhill racing excellence and epic partying. 242 racers from 28 countries across the globe descended upon this beautiful track to throw down and figure out who's fastest.

Riders congregate at the start line area, a short hop away from just about everything you need at Kozakov. Photo: Lada Nayevo / CGSA

Kozakov offers a truly special experience, with every need catered to in one location. Speaking from experience, once you arrive at the hill, you never need to leave “the zone”; camping, food, party tents, riders meetings, timing tent, brackets, slacklines, massages and merch are all situated right at the starting line. As first time Kozakov'ers, we knew to expect a massive tent and rowdy parties. What we didn't realize was that it's all atop a beautiful country mountaintop, with panoramic vistas as far as the eye can see, and potentially the most reliably beautiful sunset spot (replete with DIY golf driving range and watermelon punchbowls).

In addition to badminton, boules, and ping pong, the party tent area also featured two oft-used slacklines.
Photo: Lada Nayevo / CGSA
Event dining level: Patrick Switzer barista. Photo © Lada Nayevo / CGSA
Many riders congregate at the sunset spot every night. Photo: Mike Girard
Every night, IDF reps Mike Girard and Colin Beck had an 8:30pm pre-riders meeting Meeting with Organizer Honza, right-hand man Berry, and Head Marshal Vincenzo; this night, we decided to conduct it in view of the sunset.
Photo: Mike Girard
Organizer Honza and crew soak in a nice one. Photo © Lada Nayevo / CGSA
In the words of Colin Beck: "Kozakov is a big tent." Photo: Lada Nayvo / CGSA
The rider campground is a short morning stagger away from the start line. Photo © Lada Nayevo / CGSA
Lots of bracket display management at the start line, for easy reference. Photo: Mike Girard

Based on qualifying and B & C brackets, we knew to expect tight race heats, and Finals heats were tighter than the pickle jar you have to ask your dad to open. Described by some as “European Maryhill but faster,” multiple heats were decided by hundreths, or even thousandths of seconds. The closest heat saw Cam Brickenden cross B bracket [semifinals] .004 behind the first place rider, Jasper D'Haene. In the case of Emily Pross' Open A bracket quarterfinal, the margin between 2nd and 4th was a mere .02 seconds.

Speaking of Jasper D'Haene - he, along with Tristan Fort and Robbie Larock were kind enough to conduct a livestream for our Facebook page. You can rewatch that below:

Kozakov Downhill Challenge 2018 Finals - Livestream

Rewatch the intense livestream action during the Luge, Juniors, Women's, Masters and Open divisions at #KozakovChallenge! These are the fastest riders out of a field of 243 total registered racers.Thumnail photo by Duck Vader #IDFracing #KozakovChallenge2018

Geplaatst door IDF - International Downhill Federation op Zaterdag 21 juli 2018

4-pack stacked heat. Lucas Poulain stalks Oscar Escoin. Photo: Lada Nayevo / CGSA
Cam Brickenden trails Jasper D'Haene by .004 seconds, with Vincent Bapst .02 seconds behind. Cam would go on to advance to A-Bracket. Photo: Colin Beck / IDF

LUGE [Bracket]:

Lugers get ready to drop in. Top qualifier Abdil Mahdzan of Malaysia leads the pack. Photo: Mike Girard

Luge has rich history at Kozakov, and 2018 fielded a deep fleet of supine speed demons. Spaniard Mikel Echegaray Diez' prowess cannot be overstated in the Luge category; he has set track records and won podiums all around the world, including multiple Kozakov #1 finishes. After winning everything there is to win, Mikel made the somewhat cocky pronouncement that he would be racing on a classic luge, effectively handicapping himself against a division of 100% drop-tub street luges. The statement was clear: I know I'm the fastest, but can I still be fastest on a Classic Luge? After qualifying in third place it definitely seemed possible, and Mikel didn't fail to deliver. He now has the unique title of First Luge Champion On Classic Luge. Hats off to you, Mikel.

Czech racer Andrej Illic was knocked out after a contentious attempted pass on Abdil, but he took it home in the Consis. Photo: Duck Vader
Tight luge finals racing! Photo: Duck Vader

Excellent footage of the luge finals at Kozakov Downhill Challenge. Tight racing at the 10th anniversary event, with a...

Geplaatst door IDF - International Downhill Federation op Maandag 23 juli 2018

Luge Podium, with Mikel taking top honors on a buttboard. Photo: Duck Vader

Results:

  1. Mikel Echegaray Diez (ES)
  2. Kolby Parks (CA)
  3. Will Stephenson (GB)
  4. Abdil Mahdzan (MY)
  5. Andrej Illic (CZ)

JUNIOR [Bracket]:

Cole Trotta impressed us at Transylvania and at Kozakov qualis; his fast skating had him in contention with the top Open division skaters despite his young age. The Junior bracket has lots of talent, and the racing showed it, with shoulder-to-shoulder heats decided by slim margins. In the end, the US would claim the top 2 spots, with Antoine Carlotti grabbing third and two Czech locals repping hard in 4th and 5th.

Junior consis. Photo: Duck Vader
Junior Finals; Nick Broms taking the inside while Cole hunts for a line around him. Photo: Duck Vader
Junior Podium. Photo: Duck Vader

Results:

  1. Nicholas Broms (US)
  2. Cole Trotta (US)
  3. Antoine Carlotti (FR)
  4. Jakub Vit (CZ)
  5. Lukas Pleva (CZ)

WOMENS [Bracket]:

It's no secret that Emily Pross has definitively emerged as the fastest female skateboarder in the world, but in 2018 she's launched herself into contention for a top-3 ranking in Opens, with a decent shot at the 2018 IDF World Cup podium. At Kozakov, she qualified 100 places ahead of the next-fastest Women's racer; in a field of 28 women, that is no small feat. In a demonstration of downhill supremacy, Emily absolutely dominated the Women's bracket from Heat 1 through Finals, with a tighter race for the remaining podium spots. Lisa Peters (NL), Cassandre Duchesne (CA) and Lyde Begue (FR) rounded out the Top 4. (Big thanks to Lisa, who heroically tracked down just enough GoPro mounts for us to POV film Open semifinals & finals.)

28 deep - an awesome showing of Women's Downhill at Kozakov 2018. Photo by Mike Girard
Women's consis, with Sabrina Ambrosi tracked closely by Susan Heine. Photo: Duck Vader
Emily Pross way out front in her final heat. Photo: Duck Vader
Lisa Peters (NL) leading the race for 2nd place, with Cassandre Duchese (CAN) and Lyde Begue (FR) in pursuit. Photo: Duck Vader
Women's Podium. Photo: Duck Vader

Results:

  1. Emily Pross (US)
  2. Lisa Peters (NL)
  3. Cassandra Duchesne (CA)
  4. Teresa Gillcrist (US)
  5. Anne Poursin (FR)

MASTERS [Bracket]:

With time comes age and power. Brazilian OG Douglas "Dalua" Silva knows this well; he has been a force on the Open downhill circuit for many years, and has recently graduated to the Masters division. He appears poised to dominate this field of wiser, slightly more rickety racers, and took the win with a commanding margin. Czech rippers Jakub Rod and Pavel Zajic (one of only three 10-year Kozakov veterans) filled the remaining podium spots, while Pete Connolly raced fatigued after advancing all the way through both Masters and Open. There are consequences to being old and fast, but we're proud of your impressive feat!

Master Consolation Finals - Niko Desmarais (CAN) couldn't quite cling to the lead against Philip Renners (DE). Photo: Duck Vader
Czechstralian Jakub and 10-year Kozakov'er Pavel follow behind Dalua in the Finals. Photo: Duck Vader
Dalua, way out front in Finals. Photo: Duck Vader
Masters Podium - Photo: Duck Vader

Results:

  1. Douglas Silva (BR)
  2. Jakub Rod (CZ)
  3. Pavel Zajic (CZ)
  4. Pete Connolly (GB)
  5. Philip Renners (DE)

OPEN [Bracket]:

The Open division was potentially the most impressive demonstration of skill and precision racing we've seen. To qualify and advance through a field of nearly 200 Open Skateboard racers takes more than luck; Kozakov's track requires strategy, experience and deft passing to earn the top 2 positions in every heat. To help settle rider protests and showcase the race action, we have invested in a fleet of GoPros to capture Open Semi, Consi & Finals racing. We look forward to sharing the footage with you, and hope to continue expanding the initiative!

Charging up the GoPro fleet. Photo: Mike Girard

Open Skateboard Semifinal A, Kozakov Challenge WC 2018

Open Skateboard, Semifinal A: Kozakov Downhill Challenge 2018 #IDFracing WCPOV: Tristan Cardillo (CH); Other riders: Carlos Augusto Correia Paixão (BR), Arthur Spuhler (CH), Pete Connolly (GB)As a massive field of nearly 200 Open Skateboard competitors narrows down to 8, Semifinal A pits the #1 Qualifier Carlos "Guto" Paixao against two Swiss riders, Spuhler and Cardillo, and Masters crossover (and current Skateboard Top Speed World Record Holder) Connolly of England. Bracket: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/10Btx4Kh1wU6m7jfNR7SxnIgKvAcGqnU3JzCxYdZeCOw/edit#gid=5

Geplaatst door IDF - International Downhill Federation op Woensdag 25 juli 2018

Open Skateboard Semifinal B, Kozakov Challenge IDF WC 2018

Open Skateboard, Semifinal B: Kozakov Downhill Challenge 2018, #IDFracing WCPOV: Brennan Bast (AU); Other riders: Thiago Lessa CUEI (BR), Pepe Laporte (BR), Tiago Mohr / Downhill Skater Semifinals, reserved for the 8 fastest racers from a field nearing 200 riders strong. Thiago advances comfortably to the finals, while Brennan, Pepe and Tiago put on an impressive display of grit as they duke it out for 2nd.Bracket: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/10Btx4Kh1wU6m7jfNR7SxnIgKvAcGqnU3JzCxYdZeCOw/edit#gid=5

Geplaatst door IDF - International Downhill Federation op Woensdag 25 juli 2018

The Brazilian Storm continues to be a dominant force in the world of downhill skateboard racing. Validating their #1 and #2 qualifying times and their #2 and #1 2017 IDF World Cup rankings (respectively), Carlos "Guto" Paixao (BR) and Thiago Lessa (BR) aced their respective sides of the bracket, finishing 1st in every heat up through and including Semi-Finals. Four of eight semi-finalists were Brazilian, and it would have been foolish to bet against Brazilians holding the top two spots. In the final straightaway, 2017 2nd-place finisher Brennan Bast (AU) hunted from 3rd position, with Swiss ripper Tristan Cardillo behind him after advancing through a tight semi-final (video above).

Open Consolation finals, feauturing Arthur Spuhler (DE) followed by Tiago Mohr (BR), Pepe Laporte (BR) and Pete Connolly (GB). Photo: Duck Vader

 

Approaching the 2nd-to-last high-speed right kink, Thiago roped in Guto and made a daring, clean pass on the outside. He exited the corner with his wheels on the white line, skimming the edge of the road with no room to spare. Guto made a swift move to dive back into Thiago's draft, but oversteered, sending his wheels into the grass. This led to a horrendous high-speed crash, as Guto's line sent him at high speed into a roadsign post. Fortunately, his body broadly impacted the haybale protecting the base of the pole, but the deceleration and potentially catastrophic impact raised major concern. Ambulances were hailed, and Guto was ultimately transported by helicopter to the nearest major hospital. There's a lot to be said for muscular strength and its role in protecting the skeletal system. Miraculously,  Guto came away from the crash in severe pain, and with some internal bleeding, but with no permanent injury, and is on track to make a full recovery. We wish him the best and commend him on a spectacular demonstration of racing skill. We can't wait to see you back atop many more podiums!

Open Finals: Guto and Thiago, the proverbial thunderheads of the Brazilian Storm. Photo: Duck Vader
Bast (AU) and Cardillo (CH) trying to rope in the world's fastest racers in the Open Finals. Photo: Duck Vader
Open Podium. Get well soon, Guto! Photo: Duck Vader

 

RESULTS:

  1. Thiago Lessa (BR)
  2. Brennan Bast (AU)
  3. Tristan Cardillo (CH)
  4. Carlos Paixao (BR)
  5. Tiago Mohr (BR)

All qualifying times: http://bit.ly/kozakov2018qualis

The IDF would like to warmly thank the organizers, racers, event staff, photographers, corner marshals, start line marshalls, members, spectators, food vendors, bartenders, and everybody else who contributed to make this a memorable, enjoyable experience. See you next year!

 

Happy 10th birthday, Kozakov - thanks for celebrating with us! Honza (organizer) with author Mike Girard (IDF).