Kozakov Challenge IDF World Cup July 2015 – The UKDH Takeover in the Czech Republic
This year saw the highest number of UK riders and media crew ever to attend the Kozakov Challenge. 13 riders and a couple of media guys arrived by plane, car, hitchhike and any other means necessary to hit the gnarliest race and wildest party in Europe. This year there was an extra day of freeride at the start of the event which was an optional paid extra for a limited number of riders. Some cheeky banditos who arrived early and took a couple of stealth runs on this freeride day despite their lack of bonus freeride wristbands.
Practice day 2 commenced for the rest of the UK crew after only a couple of hours sleep from travelling or partying the day before. Gnar was served for breakfast as the 13 stoke tourists stared down the track which has a reputation for being super fast, super technical and outright intimidating. When you kick off, you hit 50mph pretty quickly and have to choose a method of slowing down for the deceptive first right hander that spits you into a sharp, banked lefty. If you survive the first test you get to tuck into the forest and tackle a left kink into a tricky right hairpin. The track slows down a lot at this point and you get to enjoy the woodland spookiness before you accelerate into a corner sequence that pretty much mirrors the previous bends. You really need your pre-drifts dialled for this part. Once you survive the forest you pray for good exit speed and seem to accelerate forever down the straightaway to the finish line, before you get there though, you have to tackle a rapid right hand sweeper half way down. Pack runs dominated the practice day and the non-stop skating and frequent uplift busses meant that you could skate until your legs ceased up.
(UKDH slumber party tent)
Qualifications were timed using the IDF transponder system, recording riders’ times accurate to one-thousandth of a second, it sounds excessive but it really isn’t, even when you are sending over 200 riders from all over the world down the most difficult tracks on the IDF circuit. The UK crew had qualified representatives in the luge category, juniors, womens and A, B and C bracket for the open class, which makes at least one UK rider in every single category! We had a hell of a turn out for our relatively small downhill skateboarding and luge community here in the UK.
B and C bracket raced on the Friday, there were lots of UK riders battling it out, some got lucky and others crashed out, James Woodford was the only person to sustain an injury as his skateboard turned evil and smashed nose-first into his groin. An injury so nasty I won’t expand on… At least he didn’t need stitches like a guy from Sweden who had a fight with his trouser zipper at the party that night!
Saturday was the Luge, Juniors, Womens and Open heats, sadly we had no UK riders on the podiums but everybody learned a lot about racing and everyone was desperate to come back for another year of partying and downhill action at Kozakov 2016!
(Joe Baldwin, Connor Finch and Rachel Bagels working it pre-party)
Riding Kozakov is one thing, but hitting fast qualification times and racing it is a whole different ballgame. The track has so much reputation that it is a mental battle just to convince yourself that you can do it. Here are a few quotes from some of the UK riders at this year’s Kozakov Challenge to give you an insight in what it is actually like to ride this famous race track.
”Kozakov gets bigger and better every year. Crazy parties and crazy riders. The skill level for me was one of the toughest I have seen. Just shows how well others are progressing and how it’s never going to be an easy fight if you want to do well and win. It’s a proper gnarly road which really pushes you as a rider. It certainly earns its right to be called Kozakov ‘challenge”’
”Kozakov challenge was a total dream! it is one of those tracks you see when you first start out in the downhill world. This is what made it so amazing to actually be flying down the track! For me it was easily the best event I have ever been to in terms of the track and the organisation, The track was super technical which is definitely my kind of style with lots of fast drifts. The organisation was amazing, especially with around 15 runs on the first day! oh and you cant forget the party every night!”
“Kozakov Challenge for me was an absolute life changer. Since I started skating I have always watched videos of Kozakov and been given goosebumps by them. So this year when I got the opportunity to go, you can imagine I was ecstatic. Having skated there I honestly cannot fault anything about the event in any way. The best track I have ever skated, good weather, cheap beer, delicious food. Now I am back at home I can think of nothing but either skating there again or moving abroad to somewhere with hills of similar magnitude.”
‘’After joining downhill skateboarding army couple years obviously I came across videos from Kozakov. In those videos all top dogs were talking how difficult, challenging, technical the track is and that to ride it you have to have balls, skills and much more since then it was my aim to attend Kozakov race, at that time I couldn’t even imagine doing the track but you have to have a dream to be able to grow as a rider. Recent couple of years I thought I am not ready for it that’s why I never been there before, I thought I will train more, so I did. I stood on my board a lot, been to quite a few events recent 2 years and thought now I can ride Kozakov! Hooooow wrong I was haha! Now I know that I need to learn how to ride again Most amazing thing about Kozakov is that it exposes every weak spot of yours and I loved it !!! It a real challenge and I like to be challenged that’s how you grow! Looking forward to my come back, stronger, better, faster! See you next year!”
“Little over a year ago I had just learnt how to heelside pendy. I went to a couple of European freerides summer of 2014 and, damn – those girls were rippin! And I wanted to rip with them! So September last year I set myself a very simple goal: be able to shred some sick hills with some of these amazing shredders. Ras took me under his wings and showed me what was possible. The BTR crew and extended shred family went on many a skate trips. We skated a lot, practised a lot, crashed a lot, laughed, cried and ate a lot – and by the end of it, we became like a little skate family. And the standard across the team upped! with improvements in mind, by late spring I still wasn’t sure my level would be good enough for Kozakov, but I decided I would give it a go anyway and Lillehammer proved to be a really good warm-up! When we got to Kozakov and I walked down to the first and second corner – I genuinely thought I was going to be sick. It looked so fast and incredibly technical. And indeed it was. I crashed a lot..pretty much every run. This track exposes all your weaknesses and insecurities, there is nowhere to hide! But you know what – I got to skate with amazing people and some of the top female shredders in the world. The experience was invaluable. I couldn’t ask for more. I can’t wait to race Kozakov next year!”
(Tough time walking up and down the track with strict spectator rules and even stricter marshals!)
(Cam Deegan after he slammed his ankle on forest right )
(Evening slide jam session with Bodhi, James, Oscar, Eddie and Joe’s nipples)