Wine Country Classic
San Francisco, CA - July 14, 2001     T   R   S  
San Diego Street Elite

USA Roller Sports (USARS) has created a new fitness section to concentrate on this growing segment of skating. They hired D Miles Jr., the great skating organizer of the Bay Area, to help direct. To promote their launch, the Wine Country Classic PIRS race in Santa Rosa and the Greg Levien Memorial race in San Mateo were brought together to San Francisco's Golden Gate Park Saturday 7/14.

The Polo Fields oval is a 1200m smooth asphalt track about 20 feet wide. A chain-link fence along the inside edge prevents skating too close to that side. (A collegiate ultimate frisbee tournament took place on the field during our races.) The turns were banked slightly, so crossovers were not necessary except when sprinting. The weather was windy and cold, with temperatures never going above 60 degrees the entire day.

The traditional PIRS format consisted of a sprint race and a distance race. The sprint race took place in the morning and was changed from 100m to 1200m (1 full lap). Since there were only 20 men in the World Class division, a single mass-start was run instead of heats.

Two lines eventually formed in the 1200m race due to the strong headwind on the backstretch. The track looked wide enough for a third line, but attempts to pass in this manner failed. Eventually, it all came down to positioning for the sprint in the final curve into the finish line. I don't remember who won, since we all finished in a big pack, but it was a photo-finish to determine all placements.

Our distance race was 14 laps. We all got a good feel for the track from the sprint. Although nobody really wanted to lead due to the wind, the overall pace remained high. In the first couple laps, Grant Foster went on a solo flyer, gapping the pack by as much as a straightaway, but was caught rather fast.

We skated in a single line when going fast, two when resting. The second line was the only way to pass. This was important since, once again, it all came down to positioning for the final sprint. Again, the sprint started entering the final turn. Unfortunately, Norm Kirby was tripped up and crashed into the inside fence (he's okay). That scattered the pack going into the finish line. I don't remember who won, but it was a photo-finish to determine all placements.

Dane Lewis was the total points winner from the sprint and distance races. Julie Glass took the World Class women in both events, lapping the pack in the distance race. Chris Adams won both events in the Masters division.

The Greg Levien Memorial fitness race was 20 laps and was run right in the middle of the day's schedule. I don't remember who won, but there was some sandbagging going on. Check the website for full results once they're posted.

Overall it was a fun day of racing. Although not wide, the track is super-smooth and excellent for spectating. Hopefully we'll see more races at the Polo Fields in the future. They've got to do something about that summer weather, though.


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