Today kicked off the Mt. Jefferson world qualifier race in North Carolina. Before we dive into what happened today, here are a few fun facts about the hill:
- From the top of the mountain you can see 4 different states: North Carolina (naturally), Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia
- There are 700 different species of plants located on the mountain
- In the early 1900s there was a small earthquake in the town of Jefferson which created a large divot in the top part of the mountain
Now that we've familiarized ourselves a bit with the mountain, let's jump into the action. Today we had 15 packed freeride runs with almost 100 riders that were eager to skate. North Carolina Downhill is no novice at running an event and with the support of the state park rangers it was clear that their priority was on everyone having a good time.
The race course features 3 sliding corners with a number of long kinked straights. Although you'd think the straights would create huge opportunity for passing, the kinks make the lines tighter and greater 'blocking' ability for the lead rider. A couple of the corners have late apex bends which make finding the optimal line tricky. In years past we've seen rain on race day, which has proved to be more favorable for lighter riders. It will be interesting to see how they fare in the dry.
Tomorrow we're starting the day with practice runs, then leading into round robin-style 'race to qualify' to seed the bracket for race day. Based on how points stack up, there may also be a repechage second-chance qualifier. There's a strong group of riders here from North Carolina, California, Colorado, Canada, and more. A few of the top contenders we expect to see battling it out in Open are: Emily Pross, Daina Banks, Adam Westfall, Kyle Wester, Nick Broms and Andy Atchison.
Similarly in luge we have a strong attendance of riders from across North America. The midwest, east coast, and Canada have continually had a strong representation of riders that travel to the east coast events; this race is no exception. Spicing up the local action, the worldwide luge rankings race is exciting, with multiple global lead changes in the past months. There is plenty of pressure on Kolby Parks to win; a first place finish could potentially solidify a World Champion status. With the other contenders back home in Europe and Asia, the door is open for Kolby to launch himself into first rank. Mt. Jefferson also kicks off an exciting points battle for the NorAm Luge Continental Championship, with Gravity Fest and Killington right down the pipeline.
Saturday Qualifying, schedule of events:
8:30am - rider check in and safety meeting
10am - practice begins
12pm - race to qualify (round robin heats of 4)
[Potential additional practice if qualifying ends early]
5pm - road reopens to public
Stay updated on the International Downhill Federation Instagram and Facebook as well as the North Carolina Downhill Instagram for updates throughout the entirety of the weekend. We'll circle back tomorrow with another recap and results from qualifying.
Article photos by: Max Dubler