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By Hanna Jonsson

What’s the one thing I miss most about living in England? That's easy  – dual slalom races in Endcliffe Park with the This is Sheffield crew.

What’s better than sliding sideways against your mate racing dual slalom? Photo: Petri Paananen

Moving back to Stockholm a few years ago I realized that racing in this part of the world meant serious business. It’s all good to be serious but where was the fun? Where was the “I’m gonna smoke my mates racing down some flat grassy turns” spirit? This had to be changed. So together with my friend Lina Skoglund we set out on a mission – to create the Scandi version of the This is Sheffield Dual Slalom races.

Two years ago we had a very tentative bunch of about 16 riders who made it out that grey November day two years ago. Last Sunday, we had triple the amount of racers, all sliding their way down our main ski hill in Stockholm.

By now, Lina and I have pretty good routine setting up these events – Lina’s the pro-hook-up-marketing-manager and I am the (wo)man with the plan. Our dual poles (that we bought from a farm shop for electric fences two years ago) have taken a few beatings. I have no idea how many have seen an early death due to excessive sliding, crashing and out of control racing, but rounding up the few that are left, together with some basic stopwatches, two walky-talkies and a notepad for writing down times, we were once again ready to go!

Me just about to finish my quali run whilst Lina and Maria stood for the timing. Taking turns meant we all got a chance to race!

Last Sunday was ‘slightly’ different to our last dual race in April – glorious sunshine and summer heat had been washed away by November rain and grey skies. We couldn’t have been more excited – it was perfect dual weather! The flat, wet, grassy corners meant we were up for some slip-n-slide racing...and crashing.

Jimmy keeping her sideways. Photo: Petri Paananen

Just as we’d finished setting the course, riders arrived. As practice started, more and more people were walking up the hill to join in on the fun. Families, girlfriends, boyfriends, kids – everyone was there to race, watch, cheer, take photos and help out. It’s cool to see that the concept of ‘mates races’ really had gained some momentum. We saw some very excited old faces (the riders who ask months in advance when the next race is) and we saw some slightly more nervous first-timers. What’s so great about this concept is not only that it’s easy to organize but it is a race for everyone – beginners or experts, men and women, young and old. We had every category represented. In fact, we had so many riders, we had to create a second race.

When I say everyone is welcome, I really do mean anyone with two wheels and a helmet. Even if you're on a Foes Weasel with BoXXer and v-brakes from the mid-90’s! Photo: Patrik Rising.

Practice saw some entertaining racing, awesome crashes, and plenty of sketchy riding. As the track got more and more bedded in it also got a lot slipperier. It was turning into a proper slop-fest, and in instead of those tentative Swedes I saw when I first moved here, there were smiles, crashes and banter everywhere.

Game face was on in practice as well as during the race. Here Calle and Alex battling one out. Pic: Petri Paananen

Qualifying divided the racers with the fastest 32 in the A-race and the less-experienced riders in the B-race. It was tricky not to get over-excited and slide out in the first few corners. First rounds saw some spectacular crashes. One guy even missed the last pole and rode straight into the timing-crew. It was carnage on two wheels and people were loving it.

Björn giving it his all. Unfortunately it was a bit too much and he crashed out in the first round. Photo: Petri Paananen

As people were getting knocked out, the faster racers remained and created exciting and tight racing! Riders raced down at full-speed, often out of control and sprinted past the finish line, inches away from me and my stopwatch and eventually we finally had a winner!

Lina sprinting her way into an impressive 4th place! Pic: Petri Paananen.

Yet again, in true Swedish spirit of equality, our spectacular prize table was anyone's game. The Top 3, Niel Arnold, Daniel Rivera and Jimmy Nyman, got to pick a prize first. Then it was all down to the luck of the draw.

Thanks to a couple of poles, bit of organization, and a bunch of stoked bike riders, last Sunday was anything but grey! Spirits were high, crashes were everywhere and racing was on! Thanks to Lina for awesome teamwork (as per usual), Maria Nyholm for always giving us a helping hand and everyone who raced, cheered, helped out to make it such a good day. Also, massive thanks to our sponsors POC, Bikester Sverige, Addnature, Houdini, FiveTen and Kask of Sweden!

See you next time?

This is Stockholm. Photo: Patrik Rising.

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