The Ultimate Rush: Dragon Skate Race

Courtesy of Mark Ratto

Courtesy of Mark Ratto
A Dragon Skate racer flies head-first into the protective haystacks at the conclusion of his race Saturday.

Dude. It’s simple. Start at the top of California Ave, give two kicks on the skateboard and hope the speed wobble gods take care of you.
This might have been the advice a few first-time competitors heard at the third annual Dragon Skate Race on Saturday. Adrenaline seeking skaters became crash specialists on the quarter-mile long downhill course that tested the skater’s threshold for speed. With a fairly straight course, it quickly became a challenge of who can go the fastest and crash the least.
The competition is split into three different divisions for riders: UC Irvine students, UCI Greeks and non-students. This set up provides an even playing field for students and pros alike to have a chance at winning amongst their respective competitors. Jay Kim, the Dragon Skate Race chairman, explained, “For the last two years we just had everyone in one division and the pros were winning all the prizes. But this year we wanted to even the playing field.” Kim is a member of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity who put the race on. The Betas have been working since December to put the event together that will benefit the Prosthetic’s Outreach Program, which is a fitting benefactor, considering this sport puts many limbs in harms way. At the bottom of the quarter-mile hill, is a much needed and entertaining set of hay bails to stop the riders. As the skaters came down the back stretch and passed the timing tape, the only thing going through their heads was how to make the most minimal impact in the hay. Well, at least some of them thought that. With this race being the first time a lot of students were attempting these speeds, not all of them exactly knew how to stop before the hay bails. About one out of every three skaters just accepted their fate and willingly went head-long into the bails at speeds from 30 to 40 mph. From a spectator’s standpoint, it was pretty rad.
However, from a rider’s standpoint, there were some mixed feelings. Lynn Kramer is the number one women’s pro in downhill slalom and said, “It’s a really cool event with the crash factor being so high.” Kramer is a huge supporter of the event and provided the timing technology for the race. When asked about competing in the race she said, “I’m not really down for the straight downhill shot. I’ll get out there when they put the slalom course up.” She might have been one of the smarter skaters of the day.
John Nguyen was one of the many students competing and was excited that he posted the third-fastest time on his first run. How did he stop in his run? “I tried to slide in.” The most impressive part of these extreme athletes was their willingness to go as fast as possible and worry about stopping later. For many, this was just a chance to push themselves as hill bombers. For others this was a great opportunity to fine tune their skills.
Max Capps was one of the non-student competitors and with a leather speed suit fashioned with prison stripes, he was hard to miss. Capps is an aspiring pro and competes all over the country. When asked about the course said, “Well it’s pretty much designed for speed. With the tail wind picking up, the times should be getting a lot faster as the day goes on.” And they did.
Marcus Chang won the UCI men’s downhill bomb with a time of 36.07 seconds. Brion Vigil and Nick Vetty came in very close behind him in second and third. For the women’s downhill bomb, Anna Kwon finished in an impressive 42.82 with her sister Esther Kwon coming in second and Ashley Miller coming third. For the men’s open downhill, Kevin Shore took the top time of the day with a time of 33.33. Max Capps came in second with 33.71 and Roberto Cortez finished third at 34.87. The slalom event had Richie Carasco finishing in 34.02 and Lynn Kramer coming first for the women in 38.88. However, she donated her winning prize to the second place finisher, our own Esther Kwon.
This event is unique and a must attend for next year. Even if you are not a skater, it is one of the most thrilling and entertaining alternative sporting events that Irvine provides.