Stuart Shines in Suffolk Sunshine

There is no better place to watch ski racing in the UK than at the Suffolk Ski Centre on a warm summer day. Perched on that grass bank at the bottom of the hill, soaking up the sun's rays whilst watching skiers negotiate those idiosyncratic contours that make this hill one of the most interesting on the circuit. The only thing that seems missing is the poolside bar and a multitude of Germans fighting for deckchairs at dawn..

Quite what itís like on a bleak day in February is anyoneís guess. However, since the race organisers seem to have the ability to order good weather for this event each and every year, the thought of a Glastonbury-esque GP mudbath isnít worth worrying about. Indeed, whilst temperatures soared and parents took cover underneath sun beaten gazebos the action on the hill somehow managed to be even hotter.

In the girls' race, Emily Evans immediately set about rectifying her defeat in the Norfolk leg of the 2009 series, this time producing a brace of error free runs that produced breathing space from the morning run and doubled her advantage in the later run to complete a relatively comfortable victory. The Chatham racer again proving that, despite her relatively small frame, there is bags of power available when she reaches for the accelerator.

In the male race, Norfolk warhorse Stuart Riches, like Evans, produced the fastest run of the day on both courses to claim overall victory despite Dan Curtis pushing him every single inch of the way. Indeed with Curtis only nine hundredths of a second behind Riches after both runs he can count himself somewhat unlucky not to have added to his hat-trick of Club National wins in Southampton by completing his first overall GP victory.

In the categories Emily Goddard proved too good for the other seniors in the field with Stacey Luck claiming 2nd. Overall runner up Charlotte Davies took the spoils in the Junior 2 category with third placed overall Alice Hales 2nd and Charlotte Gould in 3rd. In the Junior 1 category Caroline Powell placed 2nd behind Emily Evans whilst Charlotte Shrimpton claimed 3rd. In Children 2 an excellent 6th place overall was sufficient to provide Sophie Skipper with the category victory, though 2nd placed Stephanie Davies and 3rd placed Bethany Widdup were not that far behind. In the children 1 category Yasmin Cooper went one better then her runners up spot at Sunderland to claim victory with Isabella Hathway 2nd and Emma Peters 3rd.

In the male categories Andrew Crawford followed Riches home for 3rd overall and runners up spot in the seniors with Andrew Leeson completing the podium positions in 3rd. In Jun 2 an impressive 4th place overall was enough to provide Harry Hornsby with 2nd overall and squeeze Ian Williams into 3rd by the very smallest of margins. Ashley Richards deservedly claimed the spoils in the Jun 1 with James Grant and Max Wheatman following each other home for 2nd & 3rd respectively. In the child categories Norfolkís Shaun Blythe simply blew away the rest of the childrenís field, claiming the older child category win by well over a second and a half. Ambition racer Max Moss proved to be the best of the rest in claiming 2nd with James Gibb in 3rd. In the younger category William Wheeler overturned a first run deficit to claim his second Grand Prix category victory of 2009 whilst Jordan Fellows claimed 2nd and Angus Ives 3rd.

So as the 2009 Grand Prix series passed the half way point, the only thing really decided was that everything was still undecided and just about every racer has something to race for. With this being a seven race series and two of the last three races indoors it would take a brave man (or lady) to claim they know the winner of any category or indeed the overall title. Much racing lies ahead, if itís anywhere near as good as what has gone before then the final half of the season will be worth waiting for.