Southern NSW Street Luge Racers member Nic McKirdy of Batemans Bay has returned from Quebec, Canada after his attempt to break the world speed record for street luge at the 2017 L’Ultime Descente.
The Event took place on La Grande Cote des Eboulements in the municipality of Les Eboulements, a two kilometre course where speeds upwards of 160 km/h have been achieved in several disciplines.
McKirdy was competing for the World Gravity Sports Association world records in both the street luge limited and classic luge classes. Both records were set in 2016 with speeds of 156.17 km/h and 131.65 km/h respectively.
McKirdy’s first impression of the hill was one of disbelief and amazement.
“I’ve seen and ridden down many big hills in my career but I’ve never witnessed anything of this magnitude,” he said.
“You’re doing over 100km/h before you get to the steep part of the track with an 18% gradient for over 600m.”
He said the biggest challenge was preparing mentally for the acceleration once you hit the drop, because at those speeds the slightest movement can send the board on a different course.
McKirdy started slowly on day one, taking his time to learn the best line and adjusting the setup of his boards.
He finished the day in 8th place overall in the street luge category with a new personal best speed of 146.54 km/h.
They’ve just announced the Australian World Cup race at Mount Panorama for next March, so I’ll be competing in thatNic McKirdy
Nic wasn’t happy with the setup on his classic luge and did some work on the board overnight. The weather forecast for Saturday afternoon looked promising with a tail wind predicted and cooler temperatures.
Street luge competitors had a late start on the Saturday, with the longboard and inline riders competing in the morning.
The speeds recorded were increasing and the wind was building as well. McKirdy’s warm up run recorded a speed of 145.35 km/h which was just short of his best from the afternoon before.
He switched to his newly tuned classic luge and held his aerodynamic tuck as tight as he could. The board was stable over the bumps as McKirdy looked past the finish line for a new braking marker to make sure he carried the maximum speed possible through the speed trap.
The run was perfect from McKirdy, as he posted a speed of 149.58 km/h, a new world record in the classic luge category.
McKirdy’s elation was obvious for all at the bottom of the hill.
“I just did nearly 150km/h laying on a 4 foot plank of wood,” he said. “Who would’ve thought?”
McKirdy decided to make the most of the optimum track conditions and decided to change boards for the next run.
He recorded his highest speed of the event on his street luge of 152.54 km/h to finish 11th in the street luge category.
Unfortunately, his classic luge world record didn’t last long, as rival Frank Williams from the United States took another classic luge run and just edged out McKirdy with a speed of 150.41 km/h.
Damian Andrey from Switzerland won the street luge category with a top speed of 163.88km/h.
Three other Australians also competed at the event. Ex-pat Michael O’Keefe placed 14th in street luge, Brisbane longboarder Brennan Bast placed 7th in longboard, while Shaun Condon, also from Brisbane, placed 3rd in downhill inline.
McKirdy said the experience was amazing.
“This event is like nothing else,” he said. “The atmosphere and camaraderie among riders is fantastic as you’re ultimately only competing against yourself and the radar.”
“My goal coming to this event was to set a personal best and possibly give the old record a nudge. To leave as a former world record holder is an incredible feeling!”
And McKirdy hopes to continue his good form into next year.
“They’ve just announced the Australian World Cup race at Mount Panorama for next March, so I’ll be competing in that,” he said.
“I’m also hoping to go to South Korea for the World Cup in May next year.”