World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.
Max Presti wins his sixth individual World Inline Cup title. Behind him is Laura Lardani, who won the women's overall title.
Photo: Coni Altherr
Who Was Who and Who Did What ... in the 2007 World Inline Cup
(Bill devotes this week's column to a wrap-up of the 2007 World Inline Cup.)
Number 1 - The WIC King, MAX (Houdini) PRESTI
He won the WIC title for the 6th time. No one else has ever won it more than once! No matter what, it seems Presti will go down as the King of the WIC. In a year, in which Max did not get the most out of his teammates, he had to do much of the work himself. Yet he proved, once and for all, that he has no weaknesses.
Number 2 - FABIO FRANCOLINI
The Powerslide Phuzion skater was unable to win a WIC event in 2007. But he won a world championship (the 10,000 meter points elimination) and finished second place in the WIC. This likable Italian was a model of consistency this year. He was always thereabouts in the races. At 21, he is the heir apparent to Max Presti. Consistency, which he has, is an important factor.
Number 3 - STEFANO GALLIAZZO
The 36-year-old Italian veteran thrived in the new colors of Alessi Powerslide, and once it was established that he was the team finisher, he crept up on everyone to finish third in the rankings. In the last seven races of the season, he finished in the top four, five times! The evergreen Galliazzo is a strong man in the bunch; he is immovable and has the respect of his fellow competitors.
Number 4 - YANN GUYADER
The volatile Frenchman won the Weinfelden and Biel events to prove that his 2006 season was no fluke. Skating for Matter World Inline Center, he was gob struck when he learned that Galliazzo had piped him by two points for third place overall. But with an individual World title under his belt, our Napoleon can go on to new conquests. Both fast and tough, Yann, like Max Presti, can win via the breakaway or the sprint.
Number 5 - LUCA SAGGIORATO
Despite three wins (Zug, Suzhou and Mainz), the Italian failed to finish in the top three and his team missed the title. Now, Luca appears to have changed his priorities to ice. Still the top team set-up man in the WIC, the opposition will breathe a sigh of relief if this dynamic finisher exits the pack in 2008.
Number 6 - PETER MICHAEL
He came to the WIC as a triple junior world champion, notably in the marathon and 20K. And like Alexis Contin, he made a big impact. Finishing first in St. Moritz and Engadine, second in Berlin and third in the teams time trials, this tough and resilient youngster was the revelation in the mens ranks. He is very hungry and always on the look out for the breakaway opportunity. He has a great future ahead of him. Like fellow Kiwis Shane Dobbin and Nicole Begg, he skipped his first year of eligibility as a senior at the World Championships to focus on the WIC, where he established himself as a true contender.
Number 7 - KALON DOBBIN
The New Zealand great was sitting nicely in third in the rankings but missed both Zug and Biel to get ready for Worlds. Then a cruel injury struck him down in Cali. This caused him to miss both Mainz and Berlin. Kalon was having his best WIC year ever with four podium visits. The Powerslide Phuzion skater is still yet to grab that elusive WIC victory. A win — or even the overall title — is within his capabilities. But chasing glory in both the WIC and the World Championships is tough no matter how talented the skater.
Number 8 - SHANE DOBBIN
It's very strange to have to look down the rankings to eighth place before finding the first Rollerblade skater. Shane was in fourth place mid-season. But missing the Biel race and crashing at a pre-race demonstration in Mainz cost him dearly. Rollerblade is usually a well-oiled team machine. But it suffered this year from the timing of Worlds and national championships. In a number of races, it could not field a full team. Shane is considered one of the strongest team support men in the WIC. Recently signed by the powerful DSB ice marathon team, his movement between ice and inline will be interesting to watch.
Number 9 - ROGER SCHNEIDER
The biggest and possibly strongest skater on the planet, this guy's huge size is matched by a giant heart. The tougher the going, the better he likes it. Faced with abysmal conditions in Basel, he (and Scott Arlidge) did the bulk of the work and led Athleticum to victory. In Rennes (the worst conditions I have ever seen for a race with the gale force winds moving metal barriers), he notched another win. Then, in miserable conditions in Berlin, he instigated the final breakaway. Despite a bad fall, he still finished third. Roger seems an exception among skaters who turn to ice. Most of them suffer a decline in inline performance. But Roger, who trained on ice last winter, still won a couple of races this year and was always asking the question of others in the races. Currently, he is in Salt Lake City training for the World Cup long-track ice circuit with a view to competing in inline in 2008.
Number 10 - NICOLAS ITEN
He started and ended the 2007 season the way everyone would like to: as the winner. In between, he had a number of ups and downs — and injuries. No doubt he had to wrestle with a big learning curve skating his first season with one of the big teams (Rollerblade). Regarded as one of the most physically fit skaters on the circuit, Nicolas is another one who thrives on tough conditions. He was 15th overall in 2006. You do not make the top 10 in the WIC without having a good season, which he did for the first time in 2007.
We should mention a word or two about some of the other top 20 finishers:
11th - REYON KAY: He finished 11th after ending 17th in his first season (2006): a great result. Reyon has a knack for getting involved in the right breaks and following the right wheels.
12th - DIEGO ROSERO: He took time off to return to his home town of Cali for the World Championships, only to be sidelined by health problems. His 12th place finish does not reflect his true abilities.
13th - MATTEO AMABILI: He started to show his true ability with some consistent performances in 2007. He's also known for his commitment to team effort and his "never give up" approach.
14th - NELSON GARZON: He proved a very strong competitor in his first season. He will likely be more prominent in 2008, as one of the new breed challenging the old guard for WIC honors.
15th - ELIO CUNCO: Who's that? You may ask. The Berlin-based Italian made the most of his opportunities after stepping up from the German Blade Challenge to the new Citius Berlin team. He is very fast and dangerous in a bunch sprint.
16th - JOSE LUIS CIFUENTES: With three podium visits in his first year, this fleet-footed and very skilled Colombian former world junior champion is a big danger in any race. He is part of the new clan of young WIC hotshots.
17th - D.J. NATION: A dream debut: third in his first ever WIC race, the season opener in Seoul. He finished in the top dozen six times. He is another rookie who shook up the establishment.
18th - WAYNE BEGG: Consistent, he shares something with Max Presti and Yuan Guyader: they all finished in the top 30 in every top class events. After finishing 32nd in 2004, 26th in 2005 and 21st in 2006, he finally broke into the top 20 this year. He is fast, skilled and strong.
19th - MARU CASU: This Citius Skate Team member had a good season considering he missed the Asian races and easier points. He is a former junior world marathon champion. He made an impression this year with good speed and racing ability. He should attract interest from other teams for 2008 season.
20th - FRANCESCO ZANGARINI: Part of a Bont Hyper 1, 2, 3 finish in Mainz. Apart from that, his form was scratchy. It was not a good WIC season for this nimble-footed dancing skate man. He was sick part of the season. However, he picked up a bronze medal at the World Championships in the marathon for the second year in a row.
THE SUPERSTAR: JOEY MANTIA and his solo wins in the big Zurich and Sursee races — he grabbed the biggest prize ever offered in the WIC: a Ssanyong Action car — then had to settle for 109th place in Berlin (in bad weather and with the wrong wheels.)
New Team: A good performance by the new Citius team, which finished eighth in the team rankings.
The rookies - Peter Micheal, D.J. Nation, Cuncu Elio, Jorge Cifuentes and Garzon Nelson, along with other youngsters (e.g., Reyon Kay) all finishing in the top 20 overall.
The veterans: Max Presti, at 32, winning the individual title for the sixth time despite less team support than usual. (I do not think his record will ever be surpassed.) Stefano Galliazzo, 36, finishing third overall.
Italy, with 29 men in the WIC, had seven skaters in the top 20; New Zealand, with 10 skaters, had six in the top 20.
(Women's overall view to follow.)
Copyright © 2007 by Robert Burnson