Featured rider of the week: Will Stephenson


Europe are you ready? The contents of this article will make your mouth water. Enjoy the bad jokes, and go crazy for the CENTRE OF GRAVITY TRACK. The future of downhill skateboarding.

Hey Will, where are you from?
I’m from Clifton-on-Teme, a little village, just outside of Worcester

Is that where you skate?
I skate quite a few hills around here, but also travel down to Gloucestershire and also pop over to Wales a fair bit too for training.

Race training?
Yes, I have raced streetluge and classic luge for 8 years now. I’ve been lucky enough to of raced in places such as: Australia, Brazil, United States, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Reblic, France and Italy.

Do you skate as well?
I’ve only ever entered two DH skating races, one in 2005 and Padova in 2011, I came last both times! I am aiming to improve in 2012!

That’s the spirit! What board do you ride?
Streetluge: Stocker Streetluge with 4 x 65degree 200mm RKP SZ trucks and 76mm Hotspots or 3DM Avilas
Stand up: GMR M-80, 45 degree 200mm RKP SZ trucks and either 83a Landslides or 80a Hotspots.


Nice. What’s the skate scene like over there?
In the UK things are really starting to take off, I remember at events we used to have back in 2004/5 we were “busy” if 15 or 20 people turn up to an event (that’s over all disciplines) but now we are having events where we are easily getting 70+ people to turn upto and will only keep on growing! As for more locally, from 2004-2010 I didn’t have anyone to skate with in my area so I never really skated that much but now we have the West Midlands Speedboarders. (http://www.facebook.com/groups/127506317277072/348621008498934/?notif_t=group_activity) with the core riders: Jack Penman, Allan Fig, Alex Lawerence and Myself, I’m now out most evenings skating with these guys and I’ve improved so much!

That’s great. Do you skate with other crews in the UK?
Yer, I also ride alot with the Southern Banditos as my girlfriend, Liz Kinnish, lives in Eastbourne and I’m down there quite a lot! Also a few newish crews has popped up in the Midalands such as Cheltenham Longboard Crew and the Warwick Uni Skateboarding & Longboarding Society.

We spoke to Liz last week! She’s great. Are you also involved with the IGSA?
She is, don’t know what I would do without her sometimes!(aww) I’m not really involved with the IGSA I just compete really.

Are you helping with Bo Peep or you’re just racing?
I’ll be helping out, I’m not allowed to race Liz says :P

Haha so you won’t race on your home turf! Any other UK freerides this year?
If there’s some organised I’ll probably go along to them

What do you do when you’re not bombing hills?
I do all sorts of different sports such as swimming, MMA, running and I’m also training to be a stunt performer too!

What kind of stunts?
Anything really, but have done stunt work on streetluge and stand up.

Ha! I see you’re also a stand up comedian.  
haha wrong

What is a stand up stunt performer? This site is viewed by under 18s by the way.
oops, I meant stand up as in skating, I’ve spent years lying down on a board!

This just keeps getting worse :- (
nothing wrong with having a passion that involves me lying on my back!

Ha! If we ever have an AllAroundSkate tent at a race, will you help us entertain the skaters? I can juggle and you can be the comedian!
*facepalm* I give up…

Ha. So do you find your MMA training and running help your downhill racing?
From doing MMA my fitness has increased a lot and noticed it on the eurotour this year,even after a full days skating or streetluging could keep on going. I do small competitions to amature rules, but the trainers up at the Trojan Free Fighters http://www.trojanfreefighters.com/ have been great and have really pushed my fitness level up!


So surfing has Richie Vaculik, skateboarding has Will Stephenson. Do you meet many other skateboarders who are involved with other sports to help their racing careers?
haha, I’m nooooo way near as good as him! I think quite a few other people do other sports, a lot of europeans tend to ski or snowboard during the winter.

What was the highlight of the last season for you?
My highlight of the 2011 season for me was in Italy when I had qualified 1st, one of my best friends Abdil “Furlong” Mahdzan had qualified 2nd, and I said to him “I’ll see you in the Final” and when the final came we were in it together!

Awesome! What plans do you have for this season/the future?
In 2012 I’m going to be backing off slightly from competing as I’m running a project to get a purpose built DH track for gravity sports.

Wow! That’s like Downhill Disneyland. Where is this magical place?
It will be! Its going to be in England.

Give us specs!
-1.3km long
-drop of 150meters
-12 Turns
-Inbedded Timing System
-Uplifts via loop road
-closed to traffic

There’s one section where its over 25%, I’ve never ridden anything that steep!

25%! That’s 1 meter of drop for every 4 meters of horizontal motion. Over 25% is FAST AS FUCK! How much of the track is this ridiculous incline?
The first 120 meters. But the great thing is that there’s nothing to hit as we can design out such hazards such as fences and trees etc, so its just open field to end up in.

You’ve designed this whole thing yourself?
Well there’s already a dirt track there for some sections, but the section with all the turns on Jack Penman and I marked out turns and the route with a wheelbarrow full of cones and stakes then tested it on a dirtsurfer, we’ve followed the natural gradient of the hill and thrown in some real challenging off camber turns along with a dipper before a sharp 90 degree turn.

Just to put this in perspective, what is the incline on the fastest section of Teutonia?
I don’t know, but I raced at Teutonia and I think this might be steeper, but not as long so we won’t be hitting 80+mph, but you will be carrying speeds of about 60mph into turns!

Wow. What other facilities will be on the site?
We’re going to have a large port-a-cabin where you can sign in, have briefings etc, toilets, camping, there’s a local cafe supplying meals, small snack shop, and also a couple of 40ft storage containers kitted out as workshops so you can work on your equipment on a bench and not loosing your washers etc in the grass outside!

Can we come skate this wonderland on Saturday?
We’re still going through the planning application, that’s why I haven’t released the exact location, but the local council have so far been very enthusiastic and intrested in the project. We’re along looking for funding, I’m currently going through various grants and loans, but the banks aren’t lending so we might have to do something a little different?!

We breathe European skating, when this is built we will camp there! What can we do to help this dream become reality?
We need to get the facebook page as many likes as possible, so that I can show the various planners, potential sponsors, locals etc that this is wanted by skaters and will be used. We may need some help with funding?

Aside from liking and sharing this page on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Centre-of-Gravity-Downhill-Track/230257010366559, what can we do?
can you lay tarmac?

Ha! Are we going back there? I can’t, but I know putos who will lay anything. When the time for the tarmac to get laid comes, remind me!
ooooooh I will! But at the moment we really need the skate community to rally round, show our numbers and support for this!!

Do you have a blog of weekly/monthly progress?  
Anything that happens I’ll post up on the facebook page, I’m currently working on getting a website up at the moment.

So when the course gets completed, what is your vision for it?
We are going to be able to cater for all skill levels from people wanting an experience day up to world cup races! We’re not limiting it to just skating and luging it is also going to be open for inliners, soapboxes, classic luge, gravity bike, gravity sidecar but basically if it rolls and has no engine you’re welcome! Also with the embedded timing system you’ll be able to change setups, styles, lines and anything else you want to, then be able to compare the the results!

This is a game changer. Do tracks like this exist on other continents?
Not to this extent, there’s a road in France where every 3rd Thursday evening of the month you can ride it. But this will offer a place to train every weekend, evening and then can work on sections of the track as well, so you can work on just the cornering, or sliding or working on top speed etc

What timing system will you employ there?
its a wireless transponder system by Tag Heuer I’ve been looking at and offer the best hit rate and also software.

You mentioned that the track will be open to people who haven’t skated before. Will you have teachers/instructors there?
Yes we’re going to offer teaching/taster days (luge and DH skate) and provide all the safety kit plus a board, then get taught by an instructor. The great thing about this track is that the further up the hill you go the steeper it gets, so the newcomers can start slow and build up their confidence and go a little further up the hill each time they come.

The birthplace of future champions.
That’s something that I’m hoping to see come out of it!

People will come from China/Australia/Mars to skate in England!
That’s what we want, somewhere that we can train and not be interrupted or pestered etc, someone even told me this will be like Mecca for skaters!!

By the most conservative estimates, when will we be able to skate this?
We’re waiting on getting the planning permission, but once that’s granted we could get it built in about 5 weeks, BUT it will be getting the funding together to get it built that will slow us up. I’m aiming for summer 2012 though.

Wow. That’s only 6 months away. Awesome. Hopefully someone reading this just inherited a million euros and wants to donate to this cause, how do they get in touch with you?
Yes please do email me on streetluger@lugeschool.co.uk

Luge school? Do you teach?
Yes I do, but getting locations to teach is very hard, so I decided to just build a place!

Ha! So that was your motivation. That’s awesome. Hopefully this story inspires someone
out there.

Choose 3 numbers between 1-20

I see you’re keen on being our official funny man
too exact?

Just a bit.

Are you regular or goofy?

9 – Favourite song to listen to when you skate
Nothing, I like to listen out for traffic and for people shouting car!

8 – Best board you’ve ever ridden
the GMR M-80

17- Do you prefer skating without socks or without underwear?

19- What is/was your favourite video game
Skyrim or Cosmo.

What’s cosmo?
Little green alein dude off a windows 3.1 game!

Wasn’t he in a cartoon or something?
nah just a little dude, trying to find his parents

Exciting stuff.
It has been an absolute please speaking to you and hearing your amazing plans. The Centre of Gravity track will change the world, so glad to have a Downhill adventureland in Europe. You have all of our support and we will do everything in our power to help this come to life. Riders to riders!
Thank you for your time and see you on the hill!



Discussion2 Comments

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