Soldiers Of Downhill 2014 report

I had toyed with the idea of going out to Ohio for Soldier of Downhill ever since I saw Louis Pilloni’s raw run from the previous year. The course looked crazy fun and right up my alley. A super fast, windy road with some technicality, some iffy pavements, and tight racing; what’s not to love?

Adam Persson zooms past the beautiful scenery brought by the changing seasons. Photo: Dicky Nilles

Adam Persson zooms past the beautiful scenery brought by the changing seasons. Photo: Dicky Nilles

The race holds in Bainbridge, Ohio and is organized by their very own local crew: Ohio Downhill Skate.

The hill had been used for many years. It has hosted many different skateboard type events since 1999, when it was home to the X Games. The original race was called “Demons of Downhill” and saw great racing up until 2006. In 2010, Dan Oliver decided to take the reins and bring the gnarly downhill event back to life. This year marked the race’s 5th anniversary under the new name “Soldiers of Downhill”. And with it’s return, it was apparent popularity had skyrocketed.  With well over 85 open competitors, 13 lugers and 5 women, the hype proved great and anticipation was high for some great racing.

Leaving sunny and hot California, I showed up and was blind sided by the gorgeous, but cold, Ohio weather. The signs of the seasons were everywhere. From the colored leaves to the jackets covering everyone’s flesh. All throughout the weekend trees of every colors lined the horizons and the chill of fall kept a constant shiver down my spine.

by Melanie Hartman

Greens were hard to come by as the season provoked warmer tones in the leaves. Photo: Melanie Hartman

I arrived late Friday night and was kindly picked up by some Michigan homies on their way out. We grabbed some awesome waffles and headed to the hill. We arrived around 2am to a gleaming light amidst the campsite. There was a fire blazing and the party was going strong. I instantly sought out the warm blaze to save me from the nipping night time freeze. Once I gathered enough warmth, I headed to my tent to grab some sleep. The party kept raging on long after I finally dozed off.

Josh ''Munkae'' Rolf sights by courtney dandorf

Josh “Munkae” Rolf enjoys the view, rocking his Vegeta themed leathers. Photo: Courtney Dandorf

The morning brought a familiar chill as I awoke in shivers. There had been a little bit of drizzle and dew overnight. Luckily, skater lag was on everyone’s agenda for the morning.  There was plenty of time to adjust to the cold, get ready, suit up, and grab some homemade breakfast served right out of the school we were camping at. Thank you to the lovely family that made all the food to fill our bottomless pits of stomachs. It was a Midwest classic too, biscuits drenched in gravy.

Once everything and everyone was ready, the uhuals started heading up. The road had a few wet patches, but nothing to worry about and nothing that would stop us. We arrived at the top and gathered ourselves to take the first run of the event.

Kai Monroe leads grey helmets TJ Boster

Kai Monroe leads a pack of gray helmet soldiers. Photo: T.J. Boster

What an epic course!  The road starts out in a quick, dropping straight leading into a long flowing left, immediately followed by an off camber, pinching right turn. (Crash corner!) After the right, things get interesting. The rest of the course flowed in a windy straight dropping all the way to the finish. Seems simple, yes? Well things got interesting when it came to the speed plus the roads’ features.  Top speeds were clocked in at 55+ through pure scary conditions.  The road drops and rises in different spots, it has cracks, cuts, potholes, and pavement changes that either kept you on your toes or knocked you off your board.  It was definitely a wobbler for those who hit the wrong spot or lost balance.

Dustin Dixon b4 broken leg by zack fathbruckner

Daina Banks and Dustin Dixon railing right before Dustin broke his leg. Photo: Zack Fathbruckner


oops by TJ Boste

The course was treacherous. Photo: T.J. Boster

10 Specators take risks too by Melanie Hartman

Not even the paparazzi could escape. That’s going to hurt in a bit! Photo: Melanie Hartman

Thanks to the wonderful organizers, racers got the chance to skate from morning to sunset. The day was filled with riders taking runs, figuring out lines, getting into tight packs and battling for drafts.  Once everyone familiarized themselves with the drifts, learned the straight and chicane, and maybe experienced a crash or two, it was time to call it a day.

Man in charge DAN OLIVER by Isaac Cogdill

The main man in charge, Dan Oliver snagged a few runs. Photo: Isaac Cogdill

Everyone headed off in their own directions to do their own thing before the night-time festivities began.

We strolled through the town looking for food. We happened upon a gas station loaded with a full selection of guns; selling everything from semi-automatics to handhelds and some gnarly cross bows. There was a bar filled with unhappy faces, American beers, and a large confederate flag, some dollar stores, and a couple places with greasy, good eats. Once our stomachs were filled, we headed back to the campsite. We were greeted with another roaring party- this time from two places. Pete Croce was raging some tunes from his DJ setup while the fire blazed strong.  Once it hit a decent hour, the party dispersed to the bar to let the neighborhood have some peace and quiet. It was bedtime for those who were serious about racing and not winning the party.

Unimpressed uhual by TJ Boster

The racers mean muggin’ the photographer while trying to hide their secret inner stoke. Photo: T. J. Boster

aerolid run by dicky nilles

Aerolids bloomed in full force. Photo: Dicky Nilles

Race day awoke with more haste.  The uhuals blasted their horns to alert everyone to wake the hell up. It was time to race!  Everyone quickly got ready, grabbed some breakfast and jumped on the shuttles. The day started out with promise as everyone got in a couple practice runs before racing started.  The heats were announced and everyone crowded the starting area with anticipation; it was time.

 vivid colors by dicky nilles

Hints of autumn sprung from everywhere as vivid colors popped against the dreary sky. Photo: Dicky Nilles

Racing was tight.  Once lines were figured out through the first corners, it was a pure draft battle all the way to the finish.  Anyone could take advantage at any moment on the course.  Everyone was ripping and raging through the whole course, and crash corner brought a good amount of entertainment to the spectators. Lugers raged down first, blasting down the road at remarkable speeds.   Ladies were given the option to race as well and offered much entertainment in the form of gnarly crashes and epic pack draft battles.

tight pack Zack Fathbruckner

The ladies raged in super tight battles to the finish. Spectator stoke! Photo: Zack Fathbruckner

As the day crept on, the open heats dwindled until the last four open riders approached the start line.  It was a crazy battle all the way to the finish. The final four, Aaron Hampshire, Adam Persson, Max Wipperman, and Matt Deitch all raged through the chicane making gnarly passes and hitting remarkable speeds.  The spectators were definitely treated to some spectacular racing.

The locals were stoked, the racers were stoked, and the vibes were up in the clouds.



Street Luge

1st David Dean

2nd Bill Smrtic

3rd Kolby Parks

4th Matt Bartlett


Classic Luge

1st Kolby Parks

2nd Joey Yates

3rd Matt Bartlett

4th Tyler Preston
10 Podium


1st Loryn Roberson

2nd Caitlin Yong

3rd Rachel Bagels

4th Rachel Rayne


1st Adam Persson

2nd Aaron Hampshire

3rd Max Wipperman

4th Matt Deitch

What a fantastic race and weekend. Thank you very much to the wonderful organizers behind this event: Ohio Downhill Skate, Dan Oliver, and Sean Graves, you all killed it! Thank you as well to all the wonderful photographers for the amazing pictures, the paramedics for their valued services, Dan Arney for picking my butt up from the airport, Jay Kim for dropping me off, Skittles for being my travel partner in crime, Eric Hoang for being my professor, and the town of Bainbridge for opening your arms to this event and letting us rage on through one of your amazing roads. Thank you Ohio!

by Rachel ‘Bagels’ Bruskoff