In hindsight it was predictable; Thiago Lessa is dominating the 2018 race season, and he never looked like losing here at Verdicchio Race. He qualified first, won all his race heats, and there was always a sense that whatever the hill and the competition threw at him he would have a ready solution, and the skills to implement it.
But this track is no doddle. Thiago was perhaps the only rider to skate it flawlessly - everybody else struggled to avoid making errors on the slippery technical corners on the second half of the track. In the final he pushed out in front, with Pepe Laporte behind in second, and Emily Pross third. Daniel Engel battled his way into second place after Emily Pross made a heroic pass on Pepe to briefly take second spot before overcooking a corner in an attempt to catch up to Thiago's draft, and instead sliding into the hay. Pepe had to settle for third.
No heroics were needed by Emily in the Women's event, where she led from start to finish. The real action occurred behind her; the battle for second place was the hottest action of the day, with the lead changing on almost every corner. In the end it was Cassandra Duchesne taking the second spot after Lyde Begue slid out in the final corner. Lyde got back on her board just in time to claim third against Rachel Bruskoff.
Abdil Mahdzan led for most of the Luge final, but made an uncharacteristic mistake on one of the last corners, and Kolby Parks pounced and held on for the win. Will Stephenson and Andrej Ilič battled each other into third and fourth place respectively. The race for the Luge title is wide open this year; Kolby and Abdil have the front running, but Will is also in the running.
Nick Broms had dominated the Juniors all weekend, but it was Cole Trotta who crossed the line first, with Nick trailing behind, shaking his head ruefully. Both riders have made a big impact this European race season.
At the other end of the age spectrum, Nico Desmarais convincingly won the Masters category.
Live streaming is always the most desired thing at every event, and at Verdicchio this year a reasonably affordable solution presented itself in the hands of Yvon Labarthe. Drones have been used in the past, but this time the speed and battery limitations were minimal, and the audience was able to follow the entire track with just one drone. There's a sense that decent quality affordable streaming has finally arrived.
Many thanks to Federico Barboni, Roberto Mascara, and the entire crew from Jesi. Verdicchio Race is a beautiful event, with spectacular scenery and the warm hospitality of the local Italian skate community.