Thursday, 29 April 2010

Downhill Skateboarding, Street Luge & "Team For Ride"...

Meet "Team For Ride"

We are delighted to be involved with this awesomely diverse French downhill skateboarding & street luge team & would like to introduce them, & gravity sports, to you.  The team compete in a broad range of gravity sports, which we try & explain to the dazed & confused amongst you below...

The team members are:

Fabien Prual - riding streetluge and classic luge in competition but also riding skate in slalom, cruising carving ... (2009: #11 in streetluge / #16 in classic luge)

Thibaut Meline - riding streetluge and classic luge in competition and riding skate in cruising (2009: #15 in streetluge / #17 in classic luge)

Quentin Drouault riding - downhill skateboard in competition and also riding in carving and cruising (2009: #146 in stand up)

Phillipe Dupuy - riding downhill skateboard in competition for the first year and also riding in carving and cruising.

Marie Bougourd - the lady of the team, riding downhill skateboard and classic luge and also riding in slalom, carving and cruising. She is a serious opponent on the girl's competitions...

What is Downhill Skateboarding?

Downhill Skateboard riders stand on long skateboards designed for stability and speed, and assume an aerodynamic position to achieve great speeds. Probably the most spectacular of the sports, it offers great spectating especially through corners.

What is Slalom Skateboard?

Slalom Skateboard involves being the fastest to skate through a set course of cones. The cones are set up in a straight line at a set distance (tight slalom) or spread across the width of the road at random intervals (giant slalom). Knocking down cones results in penalties or disqualification.

What is Classic Luge?

The Classic Luge, or Buttboard, is the low-tech brother to Street Luge. Still a form of skateboard on which you lie, the Buttboard is shorter, narrower, uses smaller wheels and has to be made from a single piece of plywood. While not as fast or high performance as Street Luge the Classic is great fun, requires a lot of skill and due to very low costs is a great entry point for beginners.

What is Street Luge?
Street luge was born in Southern California as downhill skateboarders found they could reach faster speeds by lying down on their skateboards. This early form of the sport is now referred to as "classic style" or "butt boarding."

In 1975, the first professional race was held at Signal Hill, California and hosted by the U.S. Skateboard Association. The race winner was based on top speed. The boards used in this race varied from basic skateboards to complex skate cars in which the rider was completely enclosed by plastic or fiberglass. The sport was not commonly referred to as street luge at this time but the term luge was used to describe some participants riding position, lying supine on their boards.  many riders chose to stand & injuries were commonplace so safety rules & equipment continued to be implemented throughout the 1980's - 1990's.  In the early 1990s, some Austrian skateboarders started sitting down on their skateboards on the way back from teaching skiing in the Alps. This activity lead to a classic style street luge race in Austria, riding wooden boards closer to large skateboards than the usual street luge, which is heavier, longer, has larger wheels and more trucks than a skateboard or classic luge. There is now a healthy street luge riding and racing presence in many European countries & over 1200+ active street luge riders in the world. Current street luge stretchers are made from many materials including steel, aluminum, wood, and carbon fibre.

The majority of the street luge stretchers in the world are custom made although commercial models are now available. Actual stretchers designs can vary as the construction rules are very open and allow for numerous design considerations.

Competing in Downhill & Streetluge...

Riders participating in sanctioned racing events are required to wear safety equipment including:
1.Hard shell helmet with chin strap and face shield or goggles

2.Leather or Kevlar racing suit

3.Leather or Kevlar gloves

4.Sturdy Shoes

Race courses are usually held on mountain roads but have been held on city streets as well. Courses can range in length from 0.5 to 3 miles (1 to 5 km) and vary in layout (number and severity of turns). Racing can take the following formats:
1.Single elimination with 2, 4, or 6 racers at a time

2.Double elimination with 2, 4, or 6 racers at a time

3.Timed trials

4.No elimination points system (points for each finishing position in several heats)

5.Mass runs, with up to 20 racers at a time (positions are decided by the order they cross the finish line)

For more information on streetluge, downhill skateboarding & an impressive range of other (slightly madcap) sports in the UK, visit UK Gravity Sports Association.

Team For Ride are using our ceramic hybrid bearings (metal rings, ceramic balls & a high-speed plastic cage) & have found them, to quote Fabien "My feeling: GREAT!

No sensation of resistive torque while I was pushing, great acceleration... I didn't test it on the fastest spot I know, but just on this one I was around 85km/h and feeling great, I don't think that will be this bearing that will slow me give you some idea of the speed we are going and the efforts the bearings are subject to, Phillipe had been officialy recorded over 94 km/h but the three skaters of the team had rode over 95km/h
and the two lugers, Thibaut and me had rode over 125 km/h and I'd like to break the 125 on classic luge wich has never been done officialy."

Quentin is pictured above, competing in a downhill race.  He won the Boarder X race at Lyon last weekend with the aid of our bearings - congratulations Quentin & to all in Team For Ride!
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