Kozakov Challenge was a weekend of tight racing

There were a lot of questions after all the racing at the 2019 Kozakov Challenge.

Why were Daina and Harry so far out in front in the final?
How did Daina pass Harry in the final?
Did Chase Hiller do an inside pass in the dirt in the semi final?
How did Emily (number one qualifier) come third in the Quarter Finals?
How did Nick Broms knock himself out of the juniors?
Was it local knowledge that helped Pavel Zajíc beat the undefeated Kyle Martin in the Masters Final? (unknown both Kyle and Pavel have not returned my messages)
What happened in the Luge racing?
Has wheel choice been a big factor this Euro tour?
Should we handicap Emily in the women's division?

That last question was tongue in cheek, I don't really want a handicapped race. I am running out of words to describe Emily Pross and her racing. She was in a different league at Kozakov. The WRG could be described as fairly close, but Kozakov was a blow out, the only way the other women are going to catch Emily is if we tie a boat anchor to her skateboard…and that would only make it an even race.

Why were Daina and Harry so far out in front in the final?
This was answered in the IDF event post. Max Capps said Chase scrubbed at the top of the course, and him and Chase played catch up with Daina and Harry going out to a small lead in the final.

I asked Chase about the start. He said "I blew the 2nd corner which made it hard for me to catch back up after that".
"Just by over sliding it. Daina was unbelievably close to me and I could hear him so when I was sliding I thought he might run into the back of me, so I hooked up to early to not be hit but once I did I had to make another slide when exiting the corner"

How did Daina pass Harry in the final?
Max Heaton summed it up as Harry was draft bait. I asked Harry he said "Was out running them. And Daina got me right before the last right and I couldn’t get the draft back"

Daina's comment was it was a good old draft and pass right into the last corner

Did Chase Hiller do an inside pass in the dirt in the semi final?
Chase said "Just hovering over the dirt. Think I might have put a puck in the dirt tho actually"
My follow up question was; "going for that pass was it 50 50 you were going to make it?"
"Nah absolutely not. I could see the gap was there and knew that if I went for it I would get it without any risk of collision or crashing myself out."
A photographer at the event said they got a photo of the pass, I have not seen it, don't know if it has been posted on social media, if it has, please let me know.

How did Emily (number one qualifier) come third in the Quarter Finals?
I thought she might have scrubbed in a corner, but she said "I was fine in the corners just made a poor decision in passing in the straight"

How did Nick Broms knock himself out of the juniors?
I crashed myself out first corner, then did my best to catch the pack but barely missed them at the finish line"
Nick was on torched wheels on a hot pavement = into the bales!

What happened in the Luge racing?
The key point for luging at Kozakov is having a good start, or drafting someone down the longest straight at the bottom. The track at Kozakov is a bit narrower than other tracks, which makes the start important. It is not everything, but it helps. (more on this below when Abdil Mahdzan talks wheels)

Abdil's summary of the racing
"Kozakov luge was super competitive, for both semi and the final. In the semi, I pushed out in front of Ryan who has an amazing push, he played the draft game and got me just before the last right hand corner. In the final, Mikel and Olivier false started, we reran, then Mikel's hands and mine overlapped on the push and we were behind Ryan."
The common thread that connects a lot of these races is the last right hand corner, that is the place to make a pass that can not be countered.

From what I have pieced together talking to spectators, Ryan got the best start, he raced hard and protected his lead.

Chris' Instagram video at the finishline.

View this post on Instagram

Street luge finals at #kozakov2019

A post shared by chris McBride (@pinkluger) on

Has wheel choice has been a big factor this Euro tour?
The best part of my conversation with Abdil was wheels. He races on Seismic, and this Euro tour the fastest wheels have been Venom Mach 1 Magums, Seismic Alphas and the Cuei Killers.

"I was on the 80.5mm Alphas at Kozakov for race day. In hindsight I should have been on the 75.5mm Alphas, I think they helped tremendously towards my win at Verdicchio by giving me faster acceleration since I stayed out in front and nobody was able to pass me. Chase and I both used the 80.5mm at Kozakov and we both acknowledged that we should've been on the smaller wheel."

My question to Abdil was "You think the faster acceleration is more important at Kozakov than a faster top speed of a bigger wheel?"
Abdil's reply: "I think tracks that have braking points require a smaller wheel in general. The long straight after the last left hairpin just isn't long or steep enough to gain on someone. I tried very hard to draft Mikel who was on a buttboard (higher off the ground), just couldn't gain on him.
Case in point about smaller wheels. I got 58.xx times at Newton's in 2017 and 2018 on a 73mm Speed Vent, and got nowhere close to it this year with a 75.5mm BlackOps Alpha. I think the Defcon Alpha would've been close to 58.xx, or perhaps even able to beat the track record I had set in 2018.
Ryan was on the 75.5mm Alphas at WRG and Kozakov and I think that's one of the reasons he was doing well at those 2 races."

Kozakov Race Results

1st Emily Pross 🇺🇸
2nd Lisa Peters 🇱🇺
3rd Grace Wong 🇳🇿

Left to right: Lisa Peters (2nd), Emily Pross (1st) and Grace Wong (3rd) Photo credit: BTR Leathers

1st Ryan Farmer 🇺🇸
2nd Mikel Echegaray Diez 🇪🇸
3rd Abdil Mahdzan 🇲🇾

Left to right: Mikel Echegaray Diez (2nd), Ryan Farmer (1st) and Abdil Mahdzan (3rd) Credit: BTR Leathers

1st Grégoire Schwab 🇨🇭
2nd Raphaël Waser 🇨🇭
3rd Felix Begaud 🇫🇷

Left to Right: Raphaël Waser (2nd), Grégoire Schwab (1st) and Felix Begaud (3rd) Photo Credit BTR Leathers

1st Pavel Zajic 🇨🇿
2nd Kyle Martin 🇨🇦
3rd Jakub Rod 🇨🇿

Left to Right: Kyle Martin (2nd), Pavel Zajic (1st) and Jakub Rod (3rd) Photo Credit BTR Leathers

1st Daina Banks 🇺🇸
2nd Harry Clarke 🇦🇺
3rd Chase Hiller 🇺🇸

Left to Right: Harry Clarke (2nd), Daina Banks (1st) and Chase Hiller (3rd) Photo Credit: BTR Leathers

Event organiser: Czech Gravity Sports Association
Event website: http://kozakovchallenge.cz
IDF Event page