|Wine Country Classic|
San Francisco, CA - July 14, 2001
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
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
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.