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Slalom skateboarding

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Slalom skateboarding

Slalom skateboarding is a form of downhill skateboard racing that first appeared in the 60's and 70's and has made a resurgence in popularity in the 2000s. Slalom racers skate down a course marked usually by plastic cones. The racer tries to get through the course with the fastest time, while knocking down the fewest number of cones. Each cone typically carries a penalty of a fraction of a second which is added to the skater's time.

Disciplines

Races can be done in dual format were the racing is a head-to-head match, or in a single lane format where the racer is only racing against the clock. There are five types of Slalom race formats; Super Giant Slalom, Giant Slalom, Hybrid Slalom (a.k.a. Special Slalom), Tight Slalom, and Banked Slalom. The Super Giant Slalom, or SuperG, is characterized by fast speeds of 30-40 mph, very long distances between cones (up to 40–50 feet) and run times of around 1 minute. Giant Slalom is similar to SuperG but is typically smaller cone distances, more cones, and is often time run in dual format. Hybrid or Special slalom is a combination of Giant Slalom cone spacings of 10-15' and tight cones spacings of 5-7' and is most often run head-to-head. Tight Slalom is characterized by very small cones spacings of 5'-7' and has the highest frequency of turns. Tight slalom skaters will pass through 3-4 cones per second. Banked slalom involves skating through a course on banked walls, such as in a skatepark, or in a drainage ditch. Banked slalom is similar to other forms of slalom except that it is almost never head-to-head and the course weaves through a non-level obstacle course, not a street where the other forms of slalom are done.

Rules

The most unique thing about slalom skateboard rules is that skaters are penalized a certain amount of time for each cone that they hit during a race. This penalty time is added to the racers run time. If too many cones are hit during the run, the racer receives a Disqualification. A DQ is often penalized in head-to-head racing with a severe time penalty that is rarely made up in the second heat of a head to head race. Another group of rules known as "Grass Roots" rules may be used to simplify the racing environment. In grass roots rules, racers are allowed to hit a certain maximum number of cones. Below the maximum (often 5 cones) there is no penalty, and above the maximum is a DQ. In all types of head-to-head racing, race order is determined by a qualifying time which determines the brackets for head-to-head match ups.

Equipment

Slalom skateboards are optimized to increase speed, turning, and traction. Slalom skateboard wheels are generally softer and larger than a typical skateboard wheel. This increases the wheels roll speed and grip. Skateboard trucks for slalom racing are often hand machined precision products that include high rebound bushings, spherical bearings, and precision ground 8mm axles. Skateboard decks or boards for slalom racing are generally longer than typical skateboards, and include materials such as carbon fiber and foam cores, to increase board responsiveness and strength.

Racers

Some of the early stars of Slalom racing were Henry Hester, Bobby Piercy, and John Hutson. These skaters won many of the races of the 70's. Since the rebirth of the sport in the 2000, with the organization of the 2000 World Championships of Slalom, put on by Jack Smith in Morro Bay, CA, racers such as Gary Cross, Paul Dunn, and Chicken Deck dominated. More recently the most successful racers were Kenny Mollica and Jason Mitchell in the U.S., and Luca Gianmarco, and Maurus Stroble in Europe for the men's division, the top women racers have been 6 time World Champion Lynn Kramer, former 2003 World Champion Judi Oyama of the (US) Ella Roggero (UK), Kathrin Sehl (GER), and Noemi Reichel (SUI) in Europe. The current fastest men's riders are George Pappas, Martin Reaves, Zak Maytum, Joe McLaren of the (US) and current World Champion Dominik Kowalski, (GER) Viktor Hadestrand (SWE) and Christopher Dupont (FRA) in Europe.

External links

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