Who was better; USA or Europe racers ?

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Glenn S
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Post by Glenn S » Fri Mar 21, 2003 5:11 pm

On 2003-03-21 10:07, John Gilmour wrote:

Well, we all have cyber slalom to try and rank each other.

We also have some history of a 100 cone course. So find a better hill, adjust the cone spacings to suit you, ride today’s new and improved gear, have a huge tailwind behind you. Your work is still cut out for you.

Or you could look at some people who raced on both circuits. We all age- so figure the gaps don't vary by much. This is not a hard and fast rule- but some indication could be drawn. Look at Martin Drayton’s times over the course. Now look at the fastest racers time. What percentage was Martin's time to the fastest racer? You can also do this for Paul Price, Myself, and Beau Brown, and Paul Dunn. No offense to Strouble and crew- but their speeds compared to the speeds of Ridoli, Sidler, Diaz (1st string swiss) are not very close. Some of hte 1st string showed up at a Swiss event, expecting the ISSA spacings but found themselves in a longboard event and left the competition. Hopefully we will see all the disciplines well represented at the next big Swiss race.

Now look at my results, PD's results, Paul Prices results this season. We all won something- here in the USA. But in 1993 neither PD, Myself, or Beau Brown even qualified- in fact we were near the very last....not mid pack- I have the video to prove it. We didn't even make it to the actual competition.

I thought it would be easy pickings...I lost over and over again- more often than not by more than a second in each race.

An American has never won a European slalom race for over 20 years.
I don't know the history really but would like to. Who were the fastest slalomers?

I think I am hearing that the European courses were flatter and tighter. That they did not race on hills like in the USA. And that this might have been a difficulty for the few USA skaters who did travel to Europe to adjust to the tighter courses that were on flat ground.

How many of these European racers that some claim were the <b>"fastest ever"</b> came to the USA and won? Or did only a few USA racers only go to the European contest? And were these racers the fastest that the USA had to offer? Did maybe the rise of European skaters happen at a time when slalom racing was fading out in the USA?

What was the equipment difference between the USA and Europe? Did European racers have shorter wheelbases, different truck and wheels, etc? Was the difference between the USA and Europe as if it were two completely different disciplines?

Let's get to the real facutal history here.

John, could I see some of the video you are talking about?

A few Euro results and rules at the ISSA websites: http://home.delfi.ee/~erikr/ and http://www.pcpal.se/issa/

and in the few Slalom! so far online: http://www.slalomskateboarder.com/magazine/archive.html

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Glenn on 2003-03-25 08:17 ]</font>

Adam Trahan
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Post by Adam Trahan » Fri Mar 21, 2003 8:44 pm

Hey Glenn,

I think Jack has a good answer to your question.

Performance is affected by technology and learned techniques.

A good way to compare performance is head to head racing.

A racers performance in a previous season is just that.

Head to head racing determines who is the faster of the two for that particular race. A history of head to head racing will allow statistics to be presented in regards to each racer and their performance relating to the specific data acquired.

It would be speculation to compare who can beet who given what you present.

Let's let the racers history speak for itself and in the future, we can look forward to "who is the fastest." In particular, the set of participants representing their respective regions will identify what region is producing what percentage in regards to performance reporting.

blah blah blah - ha ha ha

Have fun our there, check out the old Slalom! magazines, there is a whole lot of race results in those little half pages.
On 2003-03-20 18:09, Jack Smith wrote:
Both Europe and America have produced great slalom racers. Attempting to compare racers from different slaom racing generations is futile. It's much easier to do if you are comparing pole vaulters for example, even then you would have to rate the pre-fiberglass pole guys against the post-fiberglass pole guys.

It's similar to those videos you can buy comparing football or baseball teams from different eras, I have always thought they were very lame.

I'm just stoked that so many people are racing at a high level today.

Michael Dong
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Post by Michael Dong » Sat Mar 22, 2003 2:24 am

I am speculating that Luca Giammarco is/was exceptionally fast. Just look at the time differentials between him and everybody else at Trocadero 95'. Keep in mind that these times are for very short courses. Can you say "Can of Whuppass!"

Lets see someone come even close to his 100 cone world record with modern equipment. Now I am imagining him running with modern equipment. Can't wait to see him racing with/against US racers.

Glenn S
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Post by Glenn S » Sat Mar 22, 2003 3:51 am

Yes, the few results(Slalom! issues here, and the ISSA website) that I've seen of contest in Europe show him as being very fast in those races.

I've not seen all issues of "Slalom!". And there are only the three first issues online here. Were all these publications mostly Euro-centric, or did they also cover the USA slalom scene too? I’d sure like to see all issues. How many total issues were there?

In an email a while back, I asked John Gilmour to post a brief history of slalom racing as a whole as he knew it. He replied that he was writing a book on it or something, so he never posted a "history of slalom" post. He wants to sell it to us :wink:

It would be great if we could get a slalom history thread going to cover all regions of the globe to have an overview of what was happening when and were.

Glenn S
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Post by Glenn S » Sat Mar 22, 2003 3:59 am

On 2003-03-21 14:44, Adam Trahan wrote:
Hey Glenn,
I think Jack has a good answer to your question.
Performance is affected by technology and learned techniques.
A good way to compare performance is head to head racing.
So is it that some are saying the the European slalomers had a better learned technique and therefore were faster?
That they had better technology?
Was their racing head to head?
And Adam you are side stepping answering any of the questions that I originally posted. What is the history here?

And Vlad and JG seems to keep posting that the Euros were leaps and bounds ahead of anyone else ever. They obviously do not agree with your comment Adam where you said : "It would be speculation to compare who can beet who given what you present." And what was it that I presented anyway that does not allow you to compare?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: glenn on 2003-03-22 00:12 ]</font>

Henry Hester
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Post by Henry Hester » Sun Mar 23, 2003 1:54 am

<i>Not answering all the questions...</i>

I always thought that the Euros were faster on any course under 6' and that we were faster on anything else. Again, I repeat, Jim Korten was the best TS skater I've ever encountered.

As for GS, I'd say that Gary Cross, Bob Skoldberg, Chicken and John Hutson were probably pretty equally fast in their respective primes. As for where I fit in, looking at my career from an objective point, I would say that I wasn't as fast as I was tactical, effectively eliminating myself from the list of all time FAST GS skaters.

Tactical? Ok, there are situations where the fastest guy might not have the advantage, especially if his head is not screwed on straight. In racing man on man, you only need to beat the guy you're racing, not the whole field. I can't count how many times a faster racer would blow out trying to set the fastest time of the day as I coasted across the finish line. You can ask Cross. Not always is the fastest recorded time posted on the final run.

I just happened to be so engrossed it that I'd figure all the options before the race started. That's why I always freaked when the rules or schedule would change in the middle of an event. "Oh yeah, only one qualifying run, we're running late." <i>after</i> the first run.

One thing good about the race promoters now is that they generally follow the schedule and understand how changes can affect racers who are "in tune".

Etienne de Bary
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Post by Etienne de Bary » Mon Mar 24, 2003 12:20 pm

i bet Jani did not read this. ISSA nor Slalom! ever was Eurocentric (this is SLALOM! website HERE), and, mr Hester, i don't think the 95 "Trocadero" contest was slow nor under 6'.

i'll add that, now that slalom is restarting in Europe, it might be useful to restart a global ranking on objective basis like ISSA used to.

Glenn S
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Post by Glenn S » Mon Mar 24, 2003 6:13 pm

On 2003-03-24 06:20, etienne de Bary wrote:
i bet Jani did not read this. ISSA nor Slalom! ever was Eurocentric (this is SLALOM! website HERE), and, mr Hester, i don't think the 95 "Trocadero" contest was slow nor under 6'.

i'll add that, now that slalom is restarting in Europe, it might be useful to restart a global ranking on objective basis like ISSA used to.
I did not post the original post to cause dissension between European and US skaters. Not at all, in fact I think that competition between “all” of us will be a good thing for slalom as a whole and will help its growth. Competition based on speed is what the sport is about.

My usage of Euro-centric may not have been the best word. But the only “original” printed Slalom! magazines from the 80s and 90s that I have seen, are the first three that are hosted here: http://www.slalomskateboarder.com/magazine/archive.html . All of these seem to just cover the slalom skateboarding that was happening in Europe at the time, not the USA.

Now in 2003 “Slalom! online” is truly global, and we are a brotherhood and sisterhood of skaters that enjoy the same sport. I hope that we see many skaters travel between the two continents for competitions in the years to come.

I guess what I’d really like to know is a timeline history of slalom skateboarding. Only hearing bits and pieces of the history, I am assuming that European slalom took off when it started to die in the States. If this were the case then it would be hard to justify saying that one was better than the other as a whole.

What is the History of slalom skateboarding?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: glenn on 2003-03-24 12:17 ]</font>

John Gilmour
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Post by John Gilmour » Mon Mar 24, 2003 8:01 pm

I chose to compete in Europe because according to publications there appeared to be only 15 guys in the USA slaloming. There were many more Europeans.

Funny thing though. Slalom was hot in the USA then spread to Europe- then dormant in USA for many years with only a few people competeing, European slalom was going well and growing despite no USA scene, Slalom goes dormant in Europe after 1995 with most slalom contests in Latvia, slalom revives in USA 1999-2000, slalom remains dormant in Europe.

Right now Europe is about where we were in early 2001 in terms of waking up people. The UK is going- but we are seeing Italy trailing behing, Sweden waking up, as well as France. it is likely in 2001 that Dieter Fleischer was one of the only Frenchmen that felt like he could practice enough in the few weeks notice he had to make the trip worthwhile.

G.S. (great initials) , it would seem that in order to have a true test of skills Europe will need a little time to get back to where they were. You can certainly see that it took SSS a bit to get where they are now. I figure in a year or two we might see both scenes combine for a good contest. Before we all get arthritus.

Europeans did not only run tight slalom- they also were fast in GS- it is just that they were so ridiculously fast in tight slalom (and by tight slalom I am talking about slalom with typical gates in the 6 foot to 7.5 foot range)that people did not pay as much attention to their GS skills. Mostly the Italians and Swiss seemed to be the faster GS guys. It would figure that their situation was similar to the USA. Pockets of good GS racers occur mostly where there ARE hills to support it. For the USA that means California (large wide underutilized tertiary and secondary roadways) and Colorado (some roadways often closed to traffic seasonally). Italy, Switerland and France all have the ALPS which also many experience seasonal closings.

Simon Levene
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Post by Simon Levene » Wed Mar 26, 2003 1:11 am

Good post John. And, good post Henry.

I agree with a lot of what you've got to say.

I think it's been difficult for alot of the Euro racers to adjust to the FCR style of racing. I know it was difficult for me. I just wasn't geared up for US racing in terms of wheelbase and prep. It was sort of slow motion for me. I'm not saying it isn't valid, because it is! It was just a retro step in my eyes. It was the sort of slalom I would run when I was learning. Now my opinion is changing, and I'm happy to try looser courses.

You might have seen someone like Chris Linford come over to La Costa and not do very well, but he blazes super tight offset slalom. He just wasn't geared up or practised.

It seems to me, that there's a feeling in the US that 'tight' racing isn't valid or is 'boring'. That just isn't the case. I was practising 5.5ft full push staggered today. Albeit on flat, but I was exiting as fast as I was entering. That ain't easy, I can tell ya'. I'll charge that on a hill, too ... I don't care. That's also valid. Brand Hatch this year may just prove how fast, and how tight slalom can be raced on a good hill. At least I hope so. I hope some of you can make it. No cash prizes, probably no ramp starts, just fast, tight racing.

As for who was/is fastest US or Euro... it's impossible to say. Horses for courses and all that. Henry may be right though. Euros sub 6' and the US for anything wider.

Although Henry, I seem to to remember coming over to the states in 89 and racing a course that you set (that I thought was difficult because it was so 'not tight' ... is that 'loose' or 'open'?) and winning against Dunn, McCree, Hollien , Sherman, Roskopp et al.

So, who knows?

Hans Koraeus
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Post by Hans Koraeus » Wed Mar 26, 2003 2:54 am

As Gilmour says it seems like when slalom was hot in USA it was not so hot in Europe and Vice versa. Maybe the coming years will be the very first in history having it going hot in both USA and Europe. The future will tell.

My feeling is that as Hester says there have been two different schools of slalom between USA and Europe over the years. Now I might just be talking crap here but it seems like USA always have had more of a Californian surf tradition as a base wich gave more of a cruizing type of slalom. I mean how many bank slalom contest have their been in Europes skate history. Europe was more flatland style wich gave of course tighter courses but also a feeling that slalom was about who could PUMP the fastest compared to the other school of who could cruize and take the best line.

I personally think the two schools are just as exiting. We have seen in the forum people from the different schools trying to talk bad about the other. When they do that I think they forget about this. Actually there is a third school as well, the English slalom, which is more like motorcycle trial. It's more about making the course at all. I.e. a very technical way of doing slalom.

But to come back to Hesters point that over 6 foot was USA territory and under 6 foot was Europe territory. In large I agrée. So for Giant slalom I leave that to someone else to talk about but for the tighter courses I can't imagine anyone ever have been faster than Gianmarco Luca.

There were many very fast slalomers in Europe and maybe they became so fast because ISSA early on standardized the disciplines so people knew what to expect and could train efficiently. It came to the level that for the best it was not so much the technique but how well trained you where. It became athletical. And many in the top like Sidler, Ridoli, some eastern country racers were very well trained. But Luca where the BEST well trained. This is why Jani had a hard time 92-95 to take them on. He just did not have the physics. Sorry about that Jani. :smile:

The European setup was always Tracker midtrucks and the courses was set there after. And when there was Giant slalom to be run people just took the same boards. Maybe this is why europeans didn't master it as well as the americans did. Just look at Jani in the last FCR World championships. He used his normal tight slalom board also in the Giant slalom. Maybe he tightened up the trucks a little bit but it shows very well how it was. I think that will change for the coming years.

What I understand Luca will show up in the Swiss competition in June and it will be fun to see if he has been able to keep up his shape. He winning over Americans on European courses is not the interesting question for me. The interesting question is how he would do over in the States on american courses.

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Post by Andy Bittner » Wed Mar 26, 2003 12:29 pm

Couldn't agree more, John.

Different horses for different courses.

Jani Soderhall
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Post by Jani Soderhall » Wed Mar 26, 2003 3:24 pm

Very few American racers came to Europe in the 80's. Of the top guys I only remember Jim Korten & Shirley, Keith Hollien, Chris Yandall and John Gilmour. Only John dared to return again and again, and enjoyed it!

At the same time the number of Europeans competing in the US during that period was very limited. Simon Levene won at least one US competition at that time, but rarely raced European contests during the same period.

Summarizing from my point of view I'd say the US slalomers were the fastest in the 60's and 70's but by the end of the 70's some European racers started to become really good, but I think the two continents never really met. Hester, Hutson, Skoldberg was over here for a few demos, races, training camps, but no real contests were held.

In the 80's I believe the Europeans were better as the scene here was in good health while there almost no American contests.
At the World Championships 1986 in Vancouver the interesting thing happened that Frenchman José de Matos competing in amateur class won on a time that was better than the fastest Pro (which I think was Bob Skoldberg). That confirmed to me that the Europeans were faster at that time.

In the early 90's I think we can be sure that the Europeans were the best. And then we all retired. Until the US started it all again towards 99 or 2000.

We're now in the early 2000's and the Americans are ahead after lying low for almost two decades. Great! The latest revival has been very good for the sport and brought many slalomers back onto the board, and new products have come to market, the Internet is helping us spread the word, FCR has put together a very inspiring set of races, and Europe is gearing up for an interesting season as well.

The whole thing happening right now will hopefully inspire new racers and provide renewed life for this sport that we all enjoy so much.

Although it is always interesting to look back in history, let's not worry too much about who WAS the best. We've seen over the last year or two that a racers slalom skills stays within you whether you've been off or on the board for a number a years. This allows us to race together, despite the different "generations", and that's like a dream coming true!

I'm looking forward to race you all this year!

Chris Eggers
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Post by Chris Eggers » Wed Mar 26, 2003 3:37 pm

Yes Jani, that is the spirit!
Let´s not worry what was but what will be and lets enjoy racing and let´s have a good time!
See you in Grüningen (whispering:or is Paris first?)


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