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Eliot Wins all British Final
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Pete Eliot (GBR) leads Will Stephenson (GBR) in the Street Luge Final.  Photo Marcus Rietema

Argonay, France- Amazingly veteran Street Luge racer Peter Eliot from London, England had never earned an IGSA World Cup Series victory prior to the Graveyard Call.  He was the World Cup Series Champion in 2003 but he won that title with consistent top finishes and no victories.

The Street Luge competition was run in a 2-man format in head to head heat races with the winner advancing to the next round and the loser eliminated.  This was the original format utilized in the very first X Games back in 1995.  It was the perfect format for the narrow Argonay race course.

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Yvon Labarthe (FRA) and Pete Eliot take off in the Semi-Finals.  Photo Marcus Rietema

After a relatively easy run to the Semi-Finals Eliot faced Yvon Labarthe (SUI).  They had a close race with Labarthe getting off the line quicker and taking the early lead.  They ran side by side nearly the entire way down.  By the time they reached the final corner Labarthe was leading with Eliot right on his tail.   Labarthe appeared to have the race in hand.  He hit the brakes and dove in.  Eliot braked a little bit later and made a banzai move attempting to pass on the outside.  Somehow he managed to squeeze himself between Labarthe and the straw bales as they exited onto the final straightaway.  As the headed to the finish, Eliot was able to use his superior exit speed to complete the pass, earn the win and move into the Finals.

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Reigning World Champ Matthias Lang is hoping to have a better race in Italy.  Photo Marcus Rietema

Will Stephenson (GBR) had a much tougher run up to the finals.  First he disposed of Abdil Mahdzan (MAS) in the first round.  In the second he faced reigning World Champion Matthias Lang (GER).  The pair rode side by side as they went through the Graveyard Esses.  Coming into the final corner Stephenson had the lead.  On the exit Lang was too close and clipped the rear of Stephenson’s luge sending both of them into the bales.  Stephenson gathered up his board quicker and rode across the line and into the Semi’s.  

In the Semi-Finals Stephenson came up against the number one qualifier and Peyragudes winner Kevin Bouaich (SUI).  Stephenson had a great start and moved into the lead.  Bouich appeared to be faster but his inexperience showed when he tried to make a pass for the lead in the wrong place.  Exiting the esses Bouich moved to the outside to make a pass.  He attempted to force his way inside of Stephenson o the next corner but there simply wasn’t enough room.  The touched and Bouich began to wobble down the course.  He regrouped but by that time Stephenson had pulled away an won the theat.
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Pete Eliot and Will Stephenson prepare for the first All-British Final.  Photo Marcus Rietema

The Street Luge Final with Eliot and Stephenson, was the first all British finale in IGSA history.    Stepenson took the lead off the line and held it till the first hairpin corner when Eliot out braked him and took the lead.  They stayed close through the sweeper and going into the esses Stephenson attempted to retake the lead.  He went by but slid out and scrubbed off all his speed.  Eliot was gone and went unchallenged to the finish.

Rebekka Gemperle completes here perfect weekend

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Rebekka Gemperle on her way to victory.  Photo Seb Dubois

Just over a year ago, Rebekka Gemperle struggled to make the transition from Dirtsurfer to downhill skateboarding.  Throughout the last year she gradually improved her skateboarding skills becoming faster and faster with each event.  On Saturday she surprised even herself when she earned the number one qualifying position in Women’s Downhill Skateboarding. 

For Sundays race she came out ready and eager to earn her first win.  She received a by run in the first round and then faced Dasha Kornienko (CAN) in the Semi-Finals.  After a tough race with Dasha, she came out victorious and was set for her first appearance in a World Cup Final race.  Her opponent in the Final was two-time World Cup Series Champion Bettina Luginbuhl. 

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Kristina Engstrand (SWE) heads into the last corner.  Photo Marcus Rietema

Bettina also had a first round bye and then raced Kristina Engstrand (SWE) in the Semis.  Kristina’s skill have also been steadily improving since her debut win in Eastbourne last September.  Kristina and Bettina had a close race with Kristina eventually going wide and into the dirt at the fourth hairpin. That was all Bettina needed to make her way to the final.

Both women were really stoked to make it to the finals.  Bettina had broken her collarbone while skating in Hawaii four months ago.  Although she was feeling great, she was still trying to be very protective of her shoulder. 

As the two women left the start line, both of them were kicking very hard.  Bettina moved into the lead with Rebekka following closely behind.   They stayed that way until the fourth hairpin when Rebekka moved along side.  Exiting the corner Bettina went wide and dropped one wheel off into the dirt.  She thought she was going to be okay but then her other wheel also went in the dirt and she crashed violently.  Her body flew out of control in front of Rebekka who then had no way to avoid her.  Rebekka crashed hard as well.  They both scrambled for their boards and Rebekka took off down the track first.  She had earned the first World Cup victory of her career.
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Bettina Luginbuhl (SUI) was in obvious pain as she coasted to the finish.  Photo Seb Dubois

In the shut down area both women were in obvious pain.  Bettina had fallen on her collarbone again.  She didn’t feel that it was rebroken but she kept it in a sling and sat out the remainder of the day.  Her plan was to have it checked out by her doctor when she returned to Zurich.  Rebekka had injured her hip in the crash and had a very visible limp.  Fortunately she was able to compete in the Classic Luge and Open Downhill skateboard races.

 Serek Wins Classic

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Michael Serek won his second World Cup in as many weeks.  Photo Marcus Rietema

In Classic Luge,  Michael “The Flying Dentist” Serek (AUT) scored the victory  in Classic Luge with Kevin Bouaich (SUI) finishing second, Yvon Labarthe (SUI) third and Thibaut Meline (FRA) fourth.  It was the only category of the weekend that raced in four man heats.  In the Consolation Final Fabien Prual (FRA) was victorious earning fifth place.  He was followed respectively by Gerg Gerber (FRA), Georg Klotzberg (AUT) and Chris McBride (USA).  The Classic riders were stoked to race the Argonay track in four man heats.

Severine Beats all the Men in Inline Skating

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Severine Christ-Thomas was a very popular winner in Inline Skating.  Photo Tobias Wohrle

Severine Christ-Thomas was only one women in the Inline Skating field and she beat all the men in head to head heats.  First she took out Scott Peer (USA) in the first round.  Then she defeated Tobias Wohrle in the Semis.  That set up a final between herself and number one qualifier Nicolas Varin (FRA).  Varin took the lead and apparently felt he’d left Severine in the dust.  After rounding the final corner he just stood up and felt he could coast to victory.  He had underestimated Severine.  She was about eight meters behind and started kicking really hard off the corner.  There was only about 20 meters (60’) from the exit of the corner to the finish line and she managed to make up all the ground in a matter of seconds.  Severine lurched across the finish line by only centimeters and stole the victory from Lebrun.  At the awards ceremony she received one of the biggest ovations of the entire evening for her hugely popular victory.

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