It was the event everyone wanted to win, and Dane Hanna raced the perfect final to win the first men downhill race at a World Roller Games.
The mixed results of the time trial made for some unusual early heats in the men's bracket. Heat three had the two top USA racers Chase Hiller and Daniel Engel racing each other. They both progressed to round two and met Douglas Dalua in fighting form. Dalua and Engel moving to the Quarters and Chase Hiller getting knocked out.
The two unbeaten racers going into the final were Harry Clarke (AUS) and Dane Hanna (CAN). No surprise that both of them have insanely good push starts, and it was not just Dane, they were both monstering the other competitors.
The standout country was Australia, although we all know I am a bit bias. They came to Barcelona with a competitive team. They had high altitude training the week before the event in the Alps, and National team leathers thanks to team sponsor @realty. They were easy to follow on the livestream and the team unity was obvious. Their whole team performed above expectation. Out of five qualifiers, four made it through to the round of 16. Zak Mills-Goodwin raced in a stacked heat and young gun Shannon Tully was unlucky to meet Dana Banks, Alex Charleston and Tiago Mohr in the second round. Jacko, Mitty and Harry all made it to the quarters.
It was not just the Aussies who had big representation in the final rounds. Brazil, France and Spain all had big contenders. Óscar Rodríguez won the time trial on Day Three and was storming through the bracket heading to the final.
The fourth skater in the final was Markarian Yanis who beat Tiago Mohr and Mitch Thompson in the semi. Arguably the four fastest skaters all weekend were facing off in the final: Hanna, Clarke, Rodríguez and Yanis.
It would all come down to the start.
Harry Clarke found the worse time to break start. This held up the final and Harry received a warning. This caused a problem for the Aussie. He had used his explosive start to jump ahead in his races, and Dane had been doing the same thing. If he broke again, he would be disqualified. Does he play it safe? Unfortunately for Harry, he had a slight hesitation on the second start, enough for him to pull back before the gun. This gave Dane the perfect start and Harry had to play catch up.
Second fastest off the start was Óscar, no surprise. Dane, Óscar and Harry were so bunched after the first corner, you could throw a blanket over them. The final was the closest racing we had seen all day. The way Harry skated in the final, he was definitely the fastest one there. Dane held his lead the whole way, there were a few shoulder to shoulder moments where if Dane lost his nerve or made a mistake he would have lost the lead. Óscar put the most pressure on Dane the whole way down the track. Harry and Yanis were just trying to find a way through.
It came down to the last big right corner before the finish. Yanis managed to get inside Harry and was now in third. Dane held his inside line and Óscar was trying to make an outside pass. Somehow Yanis lost traction, and for a split second it looked like a big crash was about to happen amongst the first three. Yanis put a hand down to steady himself and it was enough to lose speed and come in fourth. Dane goes wide towards the finishline making the pass Óscar is trying to do impossible. Harry is screaming down the outside. I think Óscar was so focused on passing Dane he forgot about Harry who snuck into second. Dane Hanna wins and Óscar Rodríguez third.
It was an exciting final that had almost everything. Dana deserved the win and Harry deserves the beers!
1st Dane Hanna (CAN)
2nd Harry Clarke (AUS)
3rd Óscar Rodríguez (ESP)
4th Markarian Yanis (FRA)
1st Tiago Mohr (BRA)
2nd Mitch Thompson (AUS)
3rd Yan Bertinati (BRA)
4th Daniel Engel (USA)