Alex Yoong

My soap box about motorsport mostly and other bits and pieces

The biggest discussion subject of the first two races of the season was not so much the racing, but the sound of the cars as they thundered around the race track. Mainly that there was not quite enough “thunder” compared to previous years. But before I wade into the “are the cars loud enough?” debate, lets talk about the technical changes for this year that contributed to the reduced decibels of a Formula 1 race.

In a bid to make Formula 1 more “greener” (although how green a sport can ever be when it travels around the world in great big jumbo’s remains to be seen) and therefore more applicable to car manufacturers around the world meant that the whole power train was completely changed for 2014. We must also bear in mind that the three engine manufacturers in F1, might have not stayed in the sport without these changes. Renault would definitely not be here.

Before this year, F1 cars had been using the high revving V10 internal combustion engine. Plenty loud enough, plenty fast enough but there were some drawbacks. They have been around a long time (with an actual freeze of engine development since 2007) and the technology of these engines was getting a bit long in the tooth, not to mention its petrol guzzling capabilities. F1 is firstly – in my opinion – about technical innovation and it was decided that it was time for a revamp. To introduce a whole new set of technical regulations that was cutting edge and more efficient (green).

Enter this year’s 1.6 litre, V6 turbocharged engine, with an energy recovery system (ERS) that is twice the power of the KERS system that used to be in F1 last year. I think it’s quite a sexy unit; I love cutting edge technology such as this. It’s also immensely complicated to get on top of, as the engine manufacturers will attest to.

One of the hardest things the teams have been facing is to understand how to get all the systems of the new power unit to work together. Firstly there is the new turbo – we haven’t seen a turbo-powered car since the late eighties – to get on top of. Then there is the ERS, which has never been done before. Think of it as a hybrid system on steroids. It actually recovers power through two power units that then either stores it into a battery or sends it straight back into the drive train for extra power. Following me still?

So one of these motor generator units is called the MGU–K, which harvests the kinetic energy lost under braking. It recovers this power through the rear axle of the car. The second motor generator unit is called the MGU–H, which harvests heat energy from the exhaust gases. Now both units can either store the energy recovered (or harvested if you like) in the energy store (battery), or transfer it back to the drive train for more power. The MGU – H can also be used to spin up the turbine in the turbo to decrease turbo lag.

I hope you can see how much more sophisticated the power unit is for this year. And we haven’t even touched on the control systems that control all these things to try and produce the right amount of power at the right, and more efficient, time. Lets leave that for another article with a smarter writer that understands it better.

Suffice to say, the smaller engine for this year will produce less power, although the turbo will help quite a bit – about 650hp without the ERS. But once the ERS is used, then the overall power will jump up to just under 800hp, which is pretty similar to last year’s power. But get this. It does it with five times more torque and 30%-40% less fuel. That’s pretty darn impressive to me.

Okay so now let’s turn our attentions back to the sound debate that has been raging around in the news. For me, beauty is all about excellence, and in motor racing’s case, that’s about speed and lap time. And you get speed and lap time through technical excellence/innovation. That’s how it’s always been in Formula 1 and I hope that is how it will always be.

What we have now is a Turbo that exhaust gasses have to travel through which restricts the sound of the car. But more importantly those gasses spin a turbine, which gives the car back more power and torque. So when I think of it that way, and I think about last years cars, I now think, “gee, that’s a huge waste of energy”.

And I have to say I kinda like the new sounding engines. You can make out the distinct differences between the engines and I personally think the quality and variety of the sounds is fantastic.

This years F1 car may make less sound, it may have lost a unique selling point, but it is technology at its very best. And for me there is no sweeter sound than that.

Kimi Raikkonen

Image : the Ferrari growling, whistling and whirling into the distance Through turns 1,2 and 3 in Bahrain pre season testing.

Mercedes show class in a complete performance at Sepang with a one-two finish for Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

I actually enjoyed the race on Sunday. It wasn’t a classic but nonetheless it was enjoyable to see how the race panned out and to see the different strengths and weaknesses of each of the teams.

Mercedes AMG Petronas achieved here in Malaysia what they threatened to do at the season-opener by dominating the circuit with a fabulous one-two – Hamilton won ahead of team-mate Rosberg and it was no less than they deserved.

As one of the only two true manufacturing teams – Ferrari being the other one – where they build the engines as well as the chassis, they were expected to be ahead in integrating the power unit and chassis.

But then, I don’t think anyone expected to see them this far ahead, though.

They have hit the ground running from the first day of pre-season testing and have not only been quick but quite reliable as well, the only hiccup being Hamilton’s retirement in Australia which is understandable as no team has been entirely trouble-free in the new Formula One era.

Even the tyre management issues that Mercedes seemed to have on Friday was not a problem in the race on Sunday. It’s a good indication for them that they were able to address those issues swiftly whereas last year, it seemed to be a bugbear for them.

Having said that, I’m not too sure how much the drivers had to push in the race. They seemed to be driving within themselves, such was their pace advantage. For instance, Hamilton’s fastest lap was a whole second quicker than the next team.

Moving on to Red Bull, one positive for them was the fact that their car seems to be able to match Mercedes for overall downforce. They were just as fast in the middle sector, which is all about high-speed cornering, and you only go quickly there if you have plenty of down force. So at circuits like the fast-flowing one in Barcelona, I think they will be right there.

It was the first and third sector with their long straights where Renault-powered Red Bull were losing four-tenths of a second (each) to the Mercedes. This seems to indicate that while Renault were making inroads into the early advantage that Mercedes enjoyed, they are still quite a way off.

At the end of the first split speed trap, Vettel was consistently 10-13kph slower than the Mercedes duo.

I didn’t consider the official speed trap because that’s in the DRS zone and when it’s activated, the two teams actually show similar speeds. I believe that the Red Bull cars just take longer to get there and therefore bleed time.

Ferrari won’t be too pleased at being below Mercedes in the pecking order. They are clearly not quite as quick as Merc power in a straight line and I do not believe they are as bad as the Renault-powered teams. But they do not seem to have a quick car and losing half a second to Mercedes in the middle sector tells me that they will be beginning to have concerns about whether they can bring enough aero updates to close the gap.

My star of the show – other than race-winner Hamilton – was definitely Nico Hulkenburg. Force India do not seem to have anywhere near the sort of downforce of the top three teams (his fastest middle sector is actually 1.5 seconds slower than Hamilton’s) and so he should not have been fighting Alonso for fourth place nor finishing just 20 seconds off the podium.

He really is maximizing everything that is available to him.

Feel the force, indeed.

 

Heya guys, I’ve started doing video blogs now to supplement the coverage we do on Fox Sports. So please check it out. You can go to may Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alex-Yoong-F1/321970735905 or www.racematelive.com for even more detail on the inner workings on Formula 1.

Here is another pre season review. Jeez, enough already.

Anyway its on Race Mate Live, check it out. Or don’t.

http://www.racematelive.com/alex_yoong_review

Pre-season testing took on more significance this year, than any other year. With the biggest technical changes ever to be seen in Formula One, it was crucial for teams to be out on track testing their new machinery before the start of the season in Melbourne, Australia. With only 12 days of testing available, the pressure was on and it wasn’t really surprising to see some teams and engine manufacturers slip up.

There were 4 days of testing in Jerez, before the circus moved to Bahrain for the remaining 8 days, split into two rounds of 4 days each. I was in Bahrain for the first 4 days and got insights into the new machinery.

Every year we see some changes to the regulations but this year they have been quite extensive. We have brand new 1.6 litre, V6 turbo charged engines replacing the 2.4 litre V8’s from last year. Also, the Energy Recovery System (ERS) has twice the power of the KERS from last year. Hence, with the ERS playing a far bigger role in overall horsepower from the power train as a whole, getting it right would be very important. Efficiency would also be key this year with only 100kg of fuel available to each car to make it through the race. Bahrain was perfect for pre-season testing, it being one of the hardest tracks on the calendar for fuel consumption and it was inevitable that teams and drivers had to drive conservatively on the race simulation runs to make the required distance. Most drivers I spoke to liked this technical challenge and it will be fun to see who can make the most of the subtleties of the new format.

Aerodynamics for the last twenty years has been the over-riding factor in making a quick Formula One car, especially since 2007 when engine development was frozen in a bid to save costs. With the new power trains, an engine development war is about to break out again thereby putting the microscope on the manufacturers to get it right.

Out of the three engine manufacturers, Mercedes has been a class above the rest. They covered the most distance and all 4 teams running their engines looked quick. Williams and Mercedes-AMG Petronas looked the quickest on low fuel and also very handy in the race simulations. They should be right up there at the sharp end come Melbourne. Force India showed a good turn of speed too, but they looked to be about a three quarters of a second off the pace at the end. While Mclaren started the pre season tests strongly, by the end of the test, they seemed to be struggling a bit. By my estimations, they are looking to find about a second in pure pace over one lap. That’s presuming everyone was running fairly similar fuel loads during the low fuel runs.

Ferrari had a reasonable test as far as mileage was concerned but it seemed that they were also a wee bit off the pace, with some insiders estimating they being  up to a second off the times set by the Williams and Mercedes. Personally, I’m not quite sure where they are. There is a buzz in the paddock that there may be a bit more to come from them.

The other Ferrari runners struggled a bit with Sauber not quite on top of their brake by wire system. As for Marussia, they had pretty bad reliability issues and did not do anywhere enough running to feel confident going to Melbourne. However when they did run, the car didn’t look too bad and I think they have made steps forward pace wise to get closer to the midfield. However, there will be big question mark on whether they could finish the first few races due to the lack of testing mileage.

The big surprise of the Pre Season was of course Renault. They had cooling issues and to get their ERS to work reliably. Red Bull suffered the worse as their tight packaging meant they suffered from over heating more than other Renault runners. Their car looks quick but I’m not sure Renault can give them the performance they need to challenge at the front. And it may be this way for the first 4 fly away races.

Of the Renault runners, Caterham managed the most laps and I think they will feel quite confident they will be able to get to the chequered flag in Melbourne. And with all the teams having reliability issues of some sort, a finish may even net points.

Toro Rosso, had a miserable start to the pre season test but had a pretty good last two days. Not really sure where they will end up but they seem to have a handle on the Renault systems a bit better than their big sister, Red-Bull Racing.

And I think the wooden spoon for the pre season has to go to Lotus. They missed the Jerez test and it cost them dear. Even when they were in Bahrain, they still clocked the lowest mileage of any team. Making it to the chequered flag would be an amazing result for them in Melbourne.

 

I know its been ages since i updated this. I actually started a journal – note book and pen – which has been quite interesting. Other than making my hand cramp, its been an illuminating experience. Emotions shine through much more in the hand written word. Anyway dear Website, i can’t cut and paste from paper and quite frankly i wouldn’t want to. Too many intimate details being recorded that would be scandalous or incomprehensible to an anyone except my mind.

This year has been a unique one. I don’t think I’ve had as relaxed a year since i was 17. My whole adult life until 2013 has been push push push and its been really good to concentrate on things such as relationships, being late, reading and socially, less accommodating.

I moved house over a year ago too and that was such a good idea. The new place is bigger, freer and a truer reflection of me. Except the Dog in it. That canine is not me. But i still have Tux, my 8 year old cat. He requires no love, except cuddles and that is a truer reflection of me.

On the professional side, racing in for Audi around Asia has been fun and a bit painful too. More fun than pain and i hope they think i did a good job for them. Also doing the pundit work for Fox down in Singapore has been fun. For the first time since i started doing it 6 to 7 years ago, i actually think i’m getting reasonably good at it.

Anyway, since its Formula 1 this weekend, i thought i’d post my preview to the race here too.

 

Preview United States Grand Prix

Well Abu Dhabi was another Steam roller by Sebastian Vettel as he won his sixth race on the trot. We now head to another typically modern Formula One circuit and the first of a two-stop trip in the Americas.

The United States Grand Prix last year was its inaugural race and universally considered a big success. With it being in the south of the USA, lots of spectators made the crossing from central America to fill the city of Austin to add to the excitement and atmosphere.

It’s also a pretty good track to drive. The drivers all speak highly about it and of the challenge in getting the perfect lap. So while it may not make it right to the top of their favourite list, such as Suzuka or Monaco, its still pretty high up there.

The first sector is the most challenging. The first corner goes up so steeply that you can only see sky in front of you before brake hard for a tight left hairpin. It’s also incredibly wide and as Sebastian Vettel acknowledged, very difficult to know where to place the car under braking. After the first corner, the rest of the first sector is all high speed and you need total commitment as well as a balanced car to get it right. This, like the first sector of Suzuka, is what makes driving a F1 car so euphoric.

The second sector then involves a couple of medium speed corners that lead onto a long straight sandwiched by two hairpins. This is the main DRS zone and best overtaking area on the track. When tyres start to go off and traction out of the preceding hairpin is lost, this straight is where drivers will be vulnerable.

The third and final sector is a very technical sector with slow and medium speed corners. Placing the car on the right piece of tarmac and being very precise with what you do with the brake and throttle will find you chunks of time. Vettel and Hamilton were supreme through here last year. Not only in qualifying but in the race as they adapted best to the changing grip levels.

With both championships sewn up, most of the attention will be on the battle for second position. Mercedes and Ferrari are close together on points in the constructor’s table and a moment’s inspiration or loss of concentration could be key in this fight. With Mercedes proving to be the quicker car at the moment, I think there will be more tension in the Ferrari garage to have a perfect weekend from an operational point of view. Only perfection will win them the runners up spot in that championship as their car simply is not quick enough. Especially in qualifying.

In the driver’s championship, Alonso has pretty much wrapped it up as the driver in third; Kimi Raikkonen misses the last two races in this year’s championship after under going back surgery.

The other main talking point about this weekend is whether Sebastian Vettel, our quadruple World Champion can actually win his eight race in a row to beat the previous record held by Michael Schumacher. I’d like to think we could see one of the other drivers give him a bit of competition this weekend. Perhaps one of the Mercedes or Grosean, or even his team mate, Mark Webber. But the fact is, he is at a different level right now and I can’t see anyone challenging the young German.

 

 

Wow, been a long time since i touched this. Well i guess its appropriate to then do it with my guide to this weekends Bahrain GP again! A whole year later :p.

Preview Bahrain Grand Prix

Bahrain is another modern F1 circuit like Shanghai and Sepang with a touch more dust and track surface heat to contend with. When the track has cleaned up the grip is good and the surface smooth. With good grip comes more wear and with the heat, we expect medium to high abrasion. There are also more slow corners compared to a typical purpose built track which means brakes are used hard. There are 4 times a lap where you brake from over 300kph.

Slow corners also mean you will need good traction out of it and we expect that the rear tyre wear will be more of a factor compared to China where it was front axle dependent. With a few long straights it is also quite demanding for the engine but not as bad as say Monza or Montreal.

With the soft tyre wearing so quickly in China, Pirelli have decided to bring the medium tyres to Bahrain instead. With the hard tyre there as well, the wear should not be as bad and we should see a mixture of 2 and 3 stops in the race instead of nearly everyone trying to three stop ala China.

So far this year tyres have been tricky to manage, and the headlines have been about qualifying being less important due to having to save tyres for the race. This may be true to a certain extent but essentially qualifying is still a very integral part of the race weekend. Imagine if Alonso had qualified 9th instead of 3rd in China. I think the traffic would have ruined his tyre life and he would have found it very very difficult to win.

Ferrari will be going into Bahrain full of confidence and while Alonso did a good job of out qualifying his teammate for the first time in China, you still got the sense that he could have done a bit better on the Saturday. Essentially he lost 3 tenths of a second to Massa in the first two sectors on his Q3 lap before nailing the last sector. If Alonso does maximize his Saturday and qualifies on the first row, I think he will be very difficult to beat.

Next up has to be Red Bull and Lotus. I think China was slightly unusual for Red Bull and I expect them to change it around and be right in the hunt for pole. Kimi did an exceptional job in the last qualifying session, but I think he was flatted by others such as Red Bull not maximizing their Saturday. I think Lotus still need to work on the Qualifying a bit. But a bit like Alonso, if Kimi is on the first two rows, they will be right in the hunt for the win.

Mercedes is the one I’ll be watching, they were so impressive in China all weekend until the race. They will be fighting for pole again but I think the problems of being able to be quick enough on Sunday, so that they can put less energy through their tyres will still be there. McLaren will also be closer to the top four teams but perhaps still not quite in the hunt for a podium yet.

Expect the mid pack to close up a bit and it will be fun to see Force India, Sauber and Torro Rosso mix it up for best of the rest. I would not be surprised to see Force India even mix it with the top 5 teams as I think this track will suit them. The other mid field team, Williams is still struggling and pressure will be on their Rookie, Esteban Gutierrez to preform after a bad performance in China where he crashed into Adrian Sutil.

Talking about teammates and pressure, there will be a few of them under pressure to perform. Massa, Grosean and Perez are all drivers who have been very underwhelming on race pace. They need to try and sort out how they manage their tyres to try and be there for the entire race instead of just the beginning when their rubber is fresh.

Whatever the case, its great to have 4, possibly 5 teams all with a chance to be fighting for the win. Expect another cagey but extremely close, hot race this weekend in Bahrain.

Its been awhile since my last post. F1 has started with a bit of a bang this year and i think we will have a cracker of a season. Personally, my life has been pretty busy and hence the lack of activity here. Actually learned to cook the other day (well, blend is more accurate really), and no damage so far. Might try it again next year.  :p

Anyway, the below is my preview going into the Bahrain GP. Catch us all on ESPN Star Sports :)

There will be a few unknowns going into the fourth leg of the 2012 Formula 1 season. A lot has been said in the media over the past few weeks about whether F1 was actually going to make the trip to Bahrain after it was cancelled last year.

And the real truth was that no one really knew if anything would happen until the Monday after the race.

So let’s not discuss the political implications, and instead focus on the racing.

The circuit is about a kilometer less than when we raced there two years ago and the only data teams have will be from the refueling days when cars ran a lot lighter over the course of a race.

It will also be the first time Pirelli will have been to Bahrain and this lack of previous data, should mean that we will see some teams getting the setup and strategy right and some who may get it horribly wrong.

Bahrain has 4 major breaking areas from over 300kph and this will mean brake and tyre wear will be an issue this weekend.

Tyre wear was the big talking point in Shanghai with most people, including myself, believing that Mercedes would have issues with their rubber and that Nico Rosberg would struggle to match his qualifying performance.

It was a nice surprise to see that this was not the case and Rosberg drove superbly, managed his tyres beautifully and dutifully won the race in style.

It was the first pole followed by the inaugural win for Mercedes since 1955 and it perfectly illustrated how open this season will be.

In my view, this year’s championship will go down as the most open and competitive of all. The mid-field teams have never been closer to the front teams and with only 3 tenths of a second separating the top 10 going into Qualifying 3 in Shanghai.

We should see more surprises as the year goes on. We have already seen Sauber finish 2nd at Malaysia and I expect them to go well in Bahrain too. Another mid-field team to watch out for has to be Williams. Their race pace has been good all year and if they qualify well, they will be a true threat to the top four teams.

When I say top four, I mean McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and Lotus. Ferrari I omit at the moment as they are still struggling for pace and it will be no different in Bahrain.

They are keenly hoping that the big update package planned for the following race in Spain will deliver the performance they desperately need.

Especially Massa – he delivered an improved performance in Shanghai but he is still struggling against the fantastic Fernando.

Perhaps the updates planned by Ferrari, will give him the confidence to deliver the performances that we know he is capable of and thus keep him employed at the Prancing Horse.

Happy New Year!

Its the first day of the Chinese new year and a time for visiting. Today i decided to visit my home town, Kuala Lumpur.

The factories close down, the air clears, the buses, cars and trucks disapear of the road. This is the day she looks her best and i wanted to see her on my bike.

So here are a few pics of my ride around the city.

Bukit Bintang actually empty of cars for once

Chinese New Year is just not complete without a Lion Dance

Loving the blue sky

Loving the sky line

Check out the completely clear roads in the reflection

 

SEA Games

No comments

Happy New Year.

Its been a nice break over the holidays and to catch up with family time. Work with Caterham F1 and ESPN Star Sports has been a bit full on in 2011, but after a nice break, i thought it was time to update this site on whats been happening.

In between emails and travelling, it’s been a priority to give more time to the boy (Alister). This divorce stuff has been difficult on him and the Father (me) needed to devote more energy in supplying quality time.

One of the activities we have started, has been to take diving lessons and go waterskiing together. The boy loves the water and even though diving has been restricted to the swimming pool, he can’t get enough of it.

As for waterskiing, its actually been very cool for me personally. Last time I skied was in 1997 and in the excitement of getting wet again, my Sister persuaded me to commit to compeitive waterskiing in the South East Asian (SEA) Games. (The last time the sport of waterskiing was in the games was 1997 and also the last time I actually put on a pair of skis).

I was 80kg at this point and it was becoming hard to breathe when I tied my shoelaces. So getting back into a routine of training appealed to me. I hate working out just for the sake of vanity, but training for competition got my juices flowing. A lot.

Trick ski taking bite out of right shin

So that was in June/July and man oh man was I dumb. I had forgotten how time consuming training was. Waterskiing like all sports involves a lot of practice, or in this case time on the water. And time is not a luxury I have

The other thing i forgot is how tough the sport is on the body. It seemed every time I got on the water, it would end with a new injury. I blame it on the fact that I did not have enough muscle tone and not age as some people unkindly suggested.

Due to the “lack of muscle tone” (and not age), I also developed an allergy to the water in the Putrajaya lake where we skied. This is the first time I have ever been allergic to anything and it involves turning my nose into Niagara Falls. It’s freaking ironic and no exaggeration by the way. After a days skiing, I would have to spend the night with a towel over my pillow due to the constant flow of fluid leaking out of my nose.

It was good that a friend introduced me to one heck of a strong anti histamine that reduced the crap coming out of my nose.

Niagara Falls

Not completely, but enough that I could actually breath and therefor sleep. But bad because it’s on the banned list of drugs in the International Olympic Council. Oh well, who needs sleep anyway?

Did I mention my Sisters?

Lets start with little big Sister (Pipa) or LBS for short. After giving birth to two daughters, she went back to skiing 3 years ago and it her fault I started this madness. Then there is little small Sister (Aaliyah) or LSS as I prefer to call her. LSS is 8 and is a bit of a phenomenon. Despite her young age and the fact that she only comes up to my knee, she is very talented and fearless.

You know, one of those very annoying skiers that learn a trick on their first go.

Anyway, back to introducing Tournament Waterskiing. It basically involves three disciplines.

The first one is trick sking. Due to her age, LSS only does tricks as it is not so hard on the body compared to the other two disiplines. Tricks involve rotations and flips within two 20 second periods. This is the discipline closest to Wake Boarding, the main difference being you can do toe tricks, which involves doing rotations with one foot strapped to the handle.

Aaliyah (LLS) doing trick sking

Then there is slalom, which involves the boat going through a course of buoys. The skiers have to slalom behind the boat on a single ski while going around all the buoys. The skier that can manage the most buoys at the fastest speed and shortest rope wins. LBS has become quite good at this lately as she just won the Asian Waterskiing Championship in this discipline.

Pippa (LBS) doing slalom

Jumps involve a skier cutting out on two skis and hitting a large ramp at speed. The competitor that goes the furthest wins. This ones fun as you often end up hitting the ramp at 110kph. It’s hard on the ole body, but the sensation of flying is pretty cool. Jumps demands total respect of the ramp though, as you can imagine the repercussions for getting this one slightly wrong

Jumping

Skiing really seemed to collapse at the end of the nineties in South East Asia but recently has started to revive, with more and more people doing it, especially in Indonesia, hence the inclusion into the SEA games. I used to do it competitively as a kid before I started driving and the fact that there were hardly and three event skiers in Malaysia anymore, resulted in me getting picked to go.

So anyway, i had one warm up competition, which was the Asian Waterski Championships a month before the SEA games. Suffice to say it was shit. I skied like crap, Tricked under 1000 points, did not clear my first pass at slalom, etc. I was freaking frustrated and despite putting in the time and effort, the progress was not there. In the heat of the moment, i even told LBS to forget it and that i was not going to the SEA games. Once i had cooled down however, i realised i was being unreasonable in my expectations. So we continued to train as much as we could, with me joining both Sisters at 8am every morning.

The games took place mid November in the city of Palembang in Indonesia. I ended up missing the first familiarisation day as I was flying out of Singapore after commentating on Formula 1 the night before, but luckily there was one more day of familiarisation before the competition, so it did not penalize me too much.

The SEA games in Indonesia have been plagued by reports of bad organisation, but in all honesty, I did not see that in the Games Village. It was clean and the organisators tried to make it fun for the competitors. There was even a music concert every night that went on from 7 to 10. The athletes of all the 11 countries that make up South East Asia mixed very well and there was a pleasant atmosphere.

On the first day of competition, all three events would go through the preliminaries with the finals on day two. I was grateful for the first day as it was still hard to get my “game” head on and the prelims allowed me to work on that. Sking is very tough mentally as there is no room for error. If you make a small mistake it is often impossible to recover. I skied reasonably well and made it through to the finals. Not as well as i hoped but better than the Asians a month before. LBS and LLS skied well and made it look easy. Although LBS did look a bit nervous in Slalom as she was easily favourite to win.

Elvis entertaining the Athletes in the village every night

Day 2 started with a lot of drama. LBS let the favourite tag unsettle her and she fell on her second pass in slalom. Not good as she was expected to go a lot further. Fortunately for her, the other strong skiers did not do too well either and her score tied her for first with Sascha from Singapore. Because there was a tie, both of them had to ski again. LBS was fortunate to get this chance to atone for her earlier mistake and did much better. She skied to a new SEA games record of 1 buoy at 13m, and another gold to add to the one she won back in 1997 in the same discipline.

This seemed to inspire me and i skied beyond my expectations. 4 buoys at 14m was a result i had achieved in practice (infrequently), but with so little competition training my form was very inconsistent and the result was beyond my expectations. I got the Silver and i wore a huge smile for the rest of the day.

On to tricks and LLS skied to her full potential which netted her the gold! Aaliyah Yoong became the youngest ever winner of a gold medal in SEA games history and we were very proud. She was unfazed despite the big occasion and i am still incredulous about her performance when i think about it now. LBS also skied well in what was her weakest event to snatch the bronze.

In 1997, i had managed to get Silver in this event and i thought i had a good chance for a medal again. It was so hard to predict though, because with very little rotation tricks in my run, i had to land both flips to have a chance. I got one but not the other and my toe run was very sloppy. I finished 4th with around 2000 points i think. Much better than the Asians a month ago but not really good enough. It was exciting in a way because i had no idea how i would ski every time i got into the water.

We then had the jump final, and there was plenty of drama there too. Two skiers ended up leaving the water on stretchers and it really illustrated how dangerous Jumping could be. LBS was sking with a bad knee that she has had for years and jumped conservative, but still managed the Silver. I had a great time too and really enjoyed the Jumps and managed another silver. Unexpected as i had not been jumping well, and it was fortunate that i was hitting form just at the right time. 40m was a good 5m further than the Asians a month earlier.

Tricking on the final day

The final day of the competition was for the overall medals, where skiers would have to do all three events again to see who was overall the best. LBS skied well and snatched the Gold easily. I again had a very good day and skied beyond my expectations. Especially in Tricks, where i landed both flips to finish with a score of 3000 points. This was the platform that allowed me to just win the gold by a narrow score.

Great fun, good training, unexpected results and best of all, i lost 7kg :)

Pips (LBS) and i cheesy posing with our golds