Aulanko race report

The 8th of September marked ”the 2nd (not so annual) no kooks, downhill jam”. The first time this race took place was in 2010. Julia Jansson and myself (mainly Julia, as I was touring Europe at the time) went to the trouble of organising the event as a sanctioned event. Although it went well in 2010, there were some complications which arose on account of Government requirements for closed roads. For 1, the number of volunteers left sitting around in the wet was far more than practically required. For 2012 it was decided that we would go back to the roots of downhill skateboarding and have a good old fashioned outlaw.
Aulanko is one of my favourite places in Finland. It is a small town, surrounded by a forest and steeped in history, both Geological and Sociological. The reserve where the road is located is stunning. It is full of dense, green, forest; lakes, birds, mushrooms and all the rest of the gang. Around 1880, it was owned by a very wealthy Swedish Colonel named Hugo Starderskjöld. He set about building himself a little slice of paradise. He built a large lake in the centre of the reserve, a lookout tower, pavillion and even a granite castle. When he died in 1931 he left the area to the city and it is now a popular spot to visit for people from all over Finland.
Anyhow, that’s enough of a history lecture. I am probably wrong about it all anyway. It’s a cool place! One of the best features about it is the road being a one way circuit through the reserve and the cars travel downhill, meaning that you have a very small chance of meeting oncoming traffic. There is always one moron out there though who can’t read a sign. This makes hosting an outlaw incredibly simple. Only 2 volunteers were used, one at the start line and on the entrance of the carpark which is about half way down the road.  My heat would always be sent first and then I would sit on the finish line for the remaining heats, calling the results.
The road itself is not super technical or even super fast. It begins as a reasonably long straight which might get you to 50KM/h. Following that is a mellow left hander and then almost straight into a similar right hander. From there the finish line is a decent tuck away down a weaving ”straight”. Finns use a technique after winters of scraping ice of the roads with a big machine. The machine is strong enough scrape large grooves in the road as if Wolverine had been dragging his claws along as he walked. In the last section, as well as drafting, you also need to make a decision of whether to follow the racing line which is rough and wavy or, following what is left of smooth road but taking average lines. The road is narrow enough that it is not the be all and end all, but it can certainly make a difference.
In 2010 we had a very wet event. Lots of slipping and sliding all over the place. When the road is wet it becomes slow enough to easily push out of the last right and maximise speed for the final straight. This year all looked well regarding the weather. It wasn’t until the night before that doubts started to pop up in the weather bureau’s mind and we were left guessing the entire drive there. It was wet, very wet and also very leafy. Thinking back on it now, I might actually prefer the road wet for racing. It makes things a little more interesting and you can’t rely solely on drafting tactics.
All up I think we had 24 racers and not one kook amongst them. Originally a 32 man double elimination bracket was the game plan but with the lack of numbers we needed to divert from that. Still, everyone got at least 2 race heats each which was the goal so it wasn’t so bad. The racing was tight and hectic. We had thrills, spills and close calls. Crashes on the straights, off the push, in the corners and everywhere else. The level of riding in Finland has improved 100% since 2010.
The Finnish scene is remarkable in the sense that there are really no accessible downhill runs to be skated, especially for those living in the South (which is most). Still, the Finns have creativity pouring from them and they will find places locally to hone their skills and learn what is necessary. This gives them a unique style and makes them very fun to skate with and learn from.
At the end of the day, Aussie Finn Ville Hietala took the gold (100€ in the bank for him). He was closely followed Pasi Saastamoinen and Lasse Mäkelä. The favourite to win all day was a young fella from Turku named Alexander ”Aksu” Emelianov who ended up in 4th place after crashing 30 meters from finish line. All in all Helsinki lost the day with 3 from Turku in the top 4 and then Ville from jyväskylä. Helsinki will be out for blood next year!
A big thanks to Ulla and Julia for lending their hands, couldn’t have done it without them. Jonno from Decent Hardware for throwing some shirts into the mix to stoke people out with! Also a big shout out to who have been going way beyond the requirements when it comes to supporting the local Finnish riders (myself too!) and Finnish events. You are a champion Karl! Of course big thanks to the riders for showing up and not leaving me by myself in the rain. Happy end of season Finland, enjoy the winter and we will skate again in 2013.Daniel ”DH” Whores.
Photos by Ville Rapeli

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