Monday, March 29, 2010

FU6 Report

Arguably the heart of the Canadian Flatland community, Toronto’s annual contest pumps new inspiration into the minds of the participants every March. As if the hype from previous years wasn’t enough of an incentive to make the journey, the CFO sweetened the deal for 2010. This event was to be the second stop on Steve Lapsley’s Am flatland circuit. If you haven’t heard about this by now, it works like this. A rider accumulates points throughout the 4-event season. The more events they compete in, the more points they receive. The rider, who’s complied the most at the season’s end, walks away with a boatload of goodies. A brilliant way to entice parking lot assassins to come out and get recognized. With this addition to an already great event, we expected record numbers to show. We were right.

As usual the Friday was set aside to allow riders to accustom themselves to the ultra slick concrete floor, which has been the hot topic for many years. To combat this problem, a pre-emptive strike was made early on and after a mop with a soda solution, things were good. The West was well represented this year with many people making the flight from Vancouver, the greater Edmonton area, Saskatoon and even Winnipeg. The magnitude of just how well they represented will soon be made apparent. Ontario, as usual had their best troops out. Hyped from round #1of the Am circuit, team Pralex was looking well rehearsed. An old face from the Hamilton crew was making new waves this year; Mark “Beefy” Khulman made the best of a large living room in his apartment this past winter and stepped up this year to take on the western foreigners. Making the annual trip down the 401, team Quebec checked in at the front desk - Dub, Francois, Simon, Mike and Steve made their presence felt! Toronto contest veteran Shintaro Misawa brought over a few new faces with him from Japan; Akihiko Takahashi. Takuji Kasahara, Kazuma Nakajima. Having fallen just short in the Olympic hockey game, the United States sent up some of their heavy hitters to take us on at our “second” national sport (I mention this because it might have been talked about more than the contest itself!). Mr. Koit, Steve Lapsley, Will Wolfe, Ron Monis, Bryan Huffman, Tyler Gilliard and Alexis La Grassa, came out hitting hard in the first period. With the stage set for a great weekend, the crowds dispersed into the Toronto night in search of the man simply known as “Yankee Jim”.

The last time the Toronto International bicycle show hosted a “beginner” class was in 1998. From the feedback we received from this year’s “expert” class expansion, 2009 will be the last year this class was neglected. Mr Joey Kyllo decided to try his luck in the new class this year and it paid off for him. Doing it on the front and back wheel, he found himself in 5th place once all the scores were tabulated. Fresh off his honeymoon, Mark Kuhlmann was looking well rested…and practised! He earned his 4th spot with long rolling combos. Battle scars are part of our sport; injuries are never fun but what do you do when they happen? Well, Bryan Huffman jumps in his car, drives to Canada and competes. Three weeks fresh off of knee surgery, he death-trucked his way right into the 3rd position. Though his doctor may not approve, we sure do. Your number 2 guy was Alexis La Grassa. I didn’t have much of a chance to talk to Alexis over the weekend but his riding spoke volumes for him. High-speed is the best way to describe his style. This is Toronto’s first glimpse of this member of team Pralex and I’m sure it won’t be it’s last. I met Bill Gordon last year at FU5. After placing lower then he would have liked, he said the plan was to take it home, ride harder and be back this year. Mr. Gordon is a man of his word. With the music cranked up to “11”, he took to the floor. 360 bar flips, turbine steamrollers, all dialed. He received a first place plaque and an arm full of goodies for his year of determination. Cheers!

Following the expert finals, the “masters” took to the floor. I don’t know if it was Prasheel Gopal’s jumplash combos or his custom “Pralex” underwear that impressed the judges more. Either way, his “awesomeness” landed him in 5th place. Jon Dowker reminded us how it’s done. He locked up 4th by moving all over his bike. Making Saskatoon proud, Brandon Derbowka blendered and X-foot-whiplashed his way into 3rd. During practise, I saw Tyler Gilliard rip a pair of handlebars in half with his bare hands, just because he can! Well, the floor may have helped, but still! During his last run of the final, this guy landed the illest high-speed halfpacker kickflip that we’ve have ever seen. That coupled hang-5’s to opposite, under the down tube pedal steamrollers, had him as the favourite to win. That was until Lord Percy Marshall picked up his bike. After a FLAWLESS qualifying run which had him doing it on the backwheel just as much as the front, the question was would he be able to do it again to keep Tyler from winning it all? Of course, it’s Percy! Nailing a triple turbine cliffhanger, smooth brakeless front wheel combos and a pumped bar-ride (VERY scary to watch), he found himself in the top spot when it was all done.

With only the professionals left to ride on Sunday, many of the competitors decided to hit the town a bit harder than the night before. After a botched diner reservation, we ended up at this dump of a bar where we caught up with Yankee Jim. After settling in, the crowd celebrated the fact that we were all still alive after eating their food.

Sunday morning. Game time. 5th was earned by Takuji Kasahara. On a stealth black bike, his smooth brakeless style to matched the paint job perfectly. I’m pretty bummed that we didn’t get much of a chance to chill out over the weekend but there’s always next year homie! Akihiko Takahasi made the trip to party with us this year. With some front wheel genius and a sick backwheel flip/hop to the front pegs, he was awarded the 4th spot. Cory Fester was on a mission. I talked to him before the contest and his plan was to re-establish himself as a serious threat on the pro circuit. With a sick hovering 360 body spin and an arsenal of backwards halfpacker bombs, he did just that. 3rd place cheque. Mission accomplished. The #2 spot went to Mr. Jean-William “Dub” Provost. This will come to know surprise to people who have been watching recent event results. What is surprising is that this is only his second pro competition! Turbining backwheel combos and high-speed front wheel tricks make this guy one of the most well rounded Canadian riders right now. I’ve wanted to say this for the last 6 years and now I finally can. The winner of this year’s event is Shintaro Misawa. With a stacked pro class, what did he do differently this year? How about a flawless 4-minute run full of combos that should only be possible on the moon? With his antigravity style, Shintaro rolled, flipped and hovered his way to his first professional win! Congratulations my friend.

When an event runs as smoothly as this, you have to give credit where credit it due. First and foremost, the CFO would like to thank all of its event sponsors: Chris @ Core Bmx, Black Pony Bmx,, Rooly Sunglasses and Monster Energy Drink.

Much respect to the organizers of the Toronto International Bike show for letting us do our own thing. Shouts to Steve Lapsley and his Am Flatland circuit for making us part of his plans. Our judges who without a doubt, had the hardest job of the weekend. All the riders who made the judges job so difficult. And last but not least… the random guy (I think it was Brian) who came up to me on the Friday with his mystery solution and mopped our floor for us! Hope everyone made a safe trip home. See you all next year! Cheers.

Chris Pergentile, CFO

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