Thrill seekers tempt fate
THRILL seekers are turning to Tweed's Burringbar Range for their weekend adrenaline rush, and on Friday the steep winding road cost a 22-year-old skate- boarder his life.
Skate documentary maker Anthony Fricker had his life support turned off at the Gold Coast Hospital on Sunday, and Australia's longboarding community immediately went into mourning.
He crashed travelling at an estimated 70km/h down Tweed Valley way after being clipped by a 28-year-old fellow rider
Mr Fricker's death is an example of the extreme danger the range holds for the luge riders, downhill skaters, cyclists and motorcyclists who regularly take it on.
But it has also led Tweed skate shop owner and keen longboarder Les Gaue to call for a specialised downhill track for the sport.
According to Sergeant Rob Taylor of Tweed Heads Police, there are ongoing problems with motorcycles on the range.
Sgt Taylor said highway patrol officers turned to apprehend a man speeding down the hill at 11am, Sunday, but when he accelerated to a speed of 145km/h in a 60km/h zone, the eight-kilometre pursuit was called off as it approached Murwillumbah.
And just moments later, the same officers detected another motorcyclist on the same road travelling at 157km/hr in a 90km/h zone.
“This is indicative of the bravado of motorcycle riders on the range most weekends,” Sgt Taylor said.
Sgt Taylor said police will now use undercover vehicles and cameras to monitor the road in an effort to stop hooning motorcycle riders.
Evidence of Burringbar Range runs is available on internet video website Youtube, with one luge enthusiast declaring it one of his “favourite runs”.
Mr Fricker was in the process of completing his Longboarding in Australia documentary, which features him and his eight mates travelling around Australia with their longboards.
On his website, Mr Fricker described the documentary as “a mad-dog adventure to skate the cliffs, hills, towns and big cities of Australia's East coast. Crammed into the van soaking up the sunshine, we're all about beers, bands, babes, beaches and board-riding lifestyle.”
Mr Gaue said that while Mr Fricker's death was tragic, it should not result in calls to ban the sport.
“We need to put this into perspective; when people ski and snowboard they also reach these types of speeds,” Mr Gaue said.
He said a track needed to be built for downhill skaters to practise and build skills in a controlled environment.
“There is no real space where these guys can go and ride,”
According to Mr Gaue, safety equipment was absolutely essential, as was knowing your limits as a rider.
“It is just like skiing; you are not going to go and take on a black diamond run when you are a beginner. There is a risk factor in it, but let's minimise those risks.