KOG 2006 Round 1

     King Of Ground 2006 Stage 1

On April the 8th and 9th, stage one of the 2006 King Of Ground series took place in Fukushima City in Japan. Fukushima is located only one and a half hours from Tokyo on the Bullet Train, but it’s a four hour drive. That’s four hours north, and you could tell by the chilling temperatures and the snowy mountains in near view.

Luckily the contest was indoors, but that did not help much, since the place wasn’t heated. At least for most of Saturday it wasn’t, until a few industrial heaters were organized and things got a bit more comfortable.

The KOG crew had worked out a battle format for the pro finals for this year, and a lighting system was set up on scaffolding around the main riding area, so everyone seemed curious what this event was going to turn out like.

After eight hours of setting things up on Friday, a welcome party was held at a restaurant near the station with the KOG crew, with lots of beer consumed in little time. It seems most people hit the sack in time though, because nobody was late for Saturdays novice and expert classes.

Once again, the level of riding in the amateur classes was very good, quite mind blowing in some cases. That is in part due to the fact that riders actually have to qualify for the pro class at the KOG, so they have to work their way up the ranks, quite literally.

A proper lighting system ...
Anyway, with the odd 90 amateur riders, it took all of Saturday to go through novice and expert prelims. I did not envy the judges! The riders Japanese names are a little hard to remember for my western memory, but I do want to mention that Moto Sasaki won the expert finals on Sunday morning which earned him the right to compete in the pro class as soon as one hour later. Quite cool for him. But let me also tell you that he was not the only expert class rider who would fit right into every pro class at any other contest around the globe.

With only twenty one pros competing and twelve of them going to the battle, surely none wanted to be one of the ten not making the cut. That made the two minute runs in the prelims exiting to watch, but the real excitement was going to start with the beginning of the finals held in a battle format! For this the riders were grouped in threes, according to their prelim results. Each got a coloured sweatband, either red, blue or white. The winner of these first round battles were signaled with red, blue or white flags from either of the judges, according to what their calls were. And only the winner stayed in the competition, actually making it through to the round of the last four. For the out ridden two it meant the end of this contest, which resulted in quite some pressure for those battles. But I guess that’s normal for most contests. It also meant it was going to be only four more one on one battles, the semis, the battle for third and main final. While a battle format does not necessarily guarantee you are going to see the best riding in the final, because some riders get tired or are just unlucky at some moments, it sure makes the contest very exciting to watch and with a darkened venue and light up main riding area, the atmosphere was unreal. A setting that made the true performers rise to the top like cream. An interesting point was the fact that both finalists did back wheel tricks only. Is the back wheel the new front wheel…? Anyway, Takahiro Nishikawa won his first KOG with unreal riding throughout the weekend, especially one looong link at the end of the final battle. Lets hope everyone is going to get to see a bit more of Takahiro in Europe and other parts of the world in the future.

With a few side shows of traditional dancing and a Japanese drum performance, the added heating and great riding, Sunday was a day you should not have missed. Try to make it to stage two in Osaka on weekend of the 29th and 30th of July 2006. And if you can’t make it over there, make sure to catch it on your favorite website!

Mike S was already riding his new frame




1 Kairi Funbiki
2 Yu Uchida
3 Yuya Morita
4 Raiki Yonehara
5 Kouichi Nozaki
6 Kou Yoshida
7 Hideaki Suzuki
8 Kazuki Yoshikawa
9 Keita Uchino
10 Koji Takahashi
11 Masafumi Saino
12 Yurin Hidaka
13 Katsuji Miura
14 Naoto Tamaru
15 Nao Yoshida
16 Kei Takaishi
17 Kazuhiro Masuda
18 Miyuki Dezaki
19 Akira Ito
20 Gun Hagiwara
21 Takeshi Okazaki
22 Masanori Wada
23 Tomoya Sasaki
24 Yoshiyuki Konno
25 Yasuhito Yoshitomi
26 Tomoyuki Hariya
27 Masako Yamamoto
28 Yosuke Minami
29 Kazuaki Kohasi
30 Takeshi Matsunaga
31 Takahiro Kato
32 Yutaka Hasegawa
33 Naoyuki Yoneyama
34 Yoshio Goto
35 Takahiro Suzuki
36 Manabu Nakamura
37 Takuya Takahashi
38 Masaki Tomiyama
39 Emiko Fuya
40 Motohiro Watanabe
41 Toshiaki Sasaki
42 Takahiro Yabuki
43 Kazuki Minakawa
44 Yuki Watanabe
1 Moto Sasaki
2 Keisuke Tanigawa
3 Hironao Doukou
4 Keiji Nakamura
5 Akihiko Takahasi
6 Yoshiki Uchino
7 Masataka Yamamoto
8 Yorimitsu Miyata
9 Ikkou Tanaka
10 Syuichi Osada
11 Tomoyasu Nozaki
12 Kazuma Nakajima
13 Shinpei Hanawa
14 Kazuma Sakou
15 Tomokazu Morinaga
16 Yoshiki Higuchi
17 Keisuke Matsumoto
18 Yoshiaki Mukai
19 Fumiya Sasagawa
20 Toshihiro Mitsuda
21 Yosuke Sakuma
22 Takeshi Hiraguri
23 Yukihiro Kurashima
24 Masato Ito
25 Tatsuya Hori
26 Ryousuke Kobayashi
27 Norihiko Kouno
28 Yousuke Shibuya
29 Taikou Kaneta
30 Keiji Sasaki
31 Masanori Takayama
32 Takahiro Abe
33 Daiki Aono
34 Kenshirou Hori
35 Kazunori Miyamoto
36 Brett Dighton
37 Michitarou Abe
38 Yuki Sakai
39 Shouhei Okamoto
40 Satoshi Ojima
41 Takahisa Mitaki
42 Kouji Touyama
43 Takashi Ishida
44 Yuki Sugimoto
45 Yorihisa Shiota
46 Takahiro Matsuo
47 Masatoshi Karino
48 Takayuki Nakamura


1 Takahiro Nishikawa
2 Kotaro Tanaka
3 Michel Staingraber
4 Youhei Uchino
5 Takuma Kawamura
6 Hirokazu Miura
7 York Uno
8 Hideki Kawai
9 Hiroya Morizaki
10 Shintaro Misawa
10 Shinichi Kiba
12 Yoshihiro Shinde
13 Yutaka Tamaki
14 Seiji Sakata
15 Shinichiro Hara
16 Fumiaki Okayama
17 Tomoaki Nakatuji
17 Moto Sasaki
19 Junichiro Sakamoto
20 Yousuke Yamaguchi
21 Namito Watanabe
21 Takayuki Iwa

Photos: Okayama Jun and Yasuyuki Takeo

14th of Apil 2006 - Michael Steingräber