Cozy in the middle of the north island of New Zealand is the wonderful Mt. Ruapehu; one of the destinations on this year’s IDF race schedule. Holding close to the beautiful scenery of the island and the enchantment of a fast and smooth open road, Mt. Ruapehu Gravity Festival enlightened the downhill scene as an event not to miss. And of course, the inner nerd in us all wanted and frothed at the opportunity to shred down one of the mountains of Mordor from the Lord of the Rings. With the freeride already being an annual event, the local scene was ready and buzzing; though this year would include Mt. Ruapehu’s first ever sanctioned race. With news of the IDF getting involved, the competitive fire in everyone ignited. Not only would everyone get to enjoy and skate the mountain with friends, but also get to rage down and compete for top dog of the volcano.
Drawing close to the road on the venture down from Auckland, the mountain welcomed us with dense fog and freezing temperatures.
Early morning of the freeride day rolled in with similar weather conditions. For the first time in months, the mountain hailed some questionable conditions to host a skateboard race, but nonetheless, the event would go on!
Everyone gathered for registration, gear in hand in the early morning cold and fog. Hiding from the weather inside the welcoming café, most racers crowded over hot cocoa, coffee, and breakfast to warm their souls. The organizers ushered in the event with a warm pep talk.
Many brave souls approached the start line in anticipation of the first run. The freeride rolled through with many strong skaters battling the elements, taking runs and enjoying their time on the mountain. The local New Zealand ladies all proved their strength, as no adverse weather conditions would stop them from skating. Wellington local, Grace Wong, Auckland local, Lee Ling, and South Island visitor, Elissa Mah all spent the whole day taking as many runs as they could. The conditions only worsened as the day rolled on. The rain overcame the mountain with more ferocity to the point where runs ceased and the event stopped for the day. A few hours after the day’s activities, the sun finally showed up, livening up the weather. Many skaters took this as the opportunity to gather in some dry bonus runs before the sunset. Making sure to use this one chance, everyone took it easy, staying within their lane and enjoying the, now open road all the way to the bottom. Once the sun set, everyone dwindled back to their cabins and hotels to sleep.
The next day rolled in with solace as the weather seemed even worse than the day prior. The temperature set in colder, the rain poured down harder, and the fog continued to embrace the mountain in a thick cloud. Being the first day of the race, and the day devoted to practice runs and time trials, skaters decided to adorn their leathers and embrace the mountain with ferocity. Everyone took all the runs they could during the inclement weather, hoping for the sun to eventually make an appearance. Rain roared into hail and the fog thickened, but the sun finally came out to let in a couple dry runs before the days end. Hope of a dry race day filled everyone until, late into the night, the rain and hail thundered down the hardest of the whole weekend.
The morning of race day approached the mountain with no sign of sun. The weather roared down offering interesting conditions for the racing to come. A solid continuation of rain, fog, and cold echoed in the air reminding everyone of the previous days. Hustle and bustle was on everyone’s agenda to get things going before the weather could worsen.
The day started with a couple of practice runs to warm up. Open heats immediately followed and rolled through to lunch. The sun teased us through the clouds, only to finally make a guest appearance. Thanks to convincing words and all the skaters secret desires, the organizers decided a long lunch could be taken to allow the road to dry up before final racing. Juniors charged off the line in their final as the opens dwindled down to quarters and semis. The ladies raged down for a couple fun runs before the final race heat. Alongside the open semi’s, the ladies roared down for their final, offering gnarly racing to all the spectators. The open final soon followed with intensity, as the racing was super close. What a pleasure it was to race the road in the dry sunshine to finish off the event. And what a gnarly final to witness. The guys all railed each corner with intensity, crossing the finish line neck to neck.
1st- Connor Ferguson
2nd- Byron Essert
3rd- Tony Graves
4th- James Kelly
1st- Rachel Bagels Bruskoff
2nd- Elissa Mah
3rd- Maga McWhinnie
4th- Lee Ling
5th- Grace Wong
1st- Tyron Knight
2nd- Jack Tumai
3rd- Jayden Howarth
Thank you to everyone who helped make this event a wonderfulexperience!