After John Ozman announced this morning that the Maryhill Festival of Speed would be joining the International Downhill Federation, we got in touch to talk with him a little more about what motivated the switch and what the future of racing at Maryhill looks like.
Tim Cutting: Wow, we were all caught off guard today by your announcement. What happened in the past 48 hours that led you to announce this today?
John Ozman: It was a tough decision, I can tell you it didn’t take 48 hours.
Tim: Maybe we should back up even a little further… What happened in the past year or more that has led you to announce this today?
John: When I started Maryhill “Festival of Speed” in 2006 it was because I saw a need for quality downhill events in North America. I brought on IGSA because I valued their commitment to the sport. Over the past couple of years I saw that commitment go away, come back again and go away again. So I have been in some serious talks with a few close friends in the industry and had to look into what I was trying to accomplish and it became clear that I needed to head in another direction.
Tim: We heard that all these changes are happening so fast that you may not have even had a chance to talk to all of your contacts at IGSA about your resignation yet? Is that true? Do you have words you want to pass along publically to your former colleagues at the IGSA beyond what you put in your press release?
John: To be honest, there were only two individuals that I needed to talk to. One of them is very close to me, I am sure you know, and the other was the same story year after year.
I definitely would like to thank everyone involved in the IGSA for everything they have done, without them Maryhill FOS quite possibly would have been just another event.
Tim: The IDF seems like the organization that’s getting the support of the racers. How important was the feedback of the racers in your decision?
John: A whole lot of things played a part in my decision. I have been listening to the racers since day one of Maryhill. Each year I worked extra hard to improve things and feel the event has a lot of value to the racers. It’s tough making everyone happy, especially on a 2.2 mile road in the middle of nowhere. So the answer to your question, yes, feedback from the racers helped make my decision.
Tim: Who played a role in bringing you over to the IDF?
John: Not sure if anyone played a role, we sort of reached out to each other. They are very excited to have Maryhill FOS on board, as I am happy to be a part of a democratic and accountability driven organization with structured goals and core values.
Tim: We’ve been told the IDF is a federation of race organizers, but all organizations have a leader, do you see a leader emerging in the IDF? Is that a role you think you might be interested in?
John: At this point I am happy to be a part in a small way.
Tim: Ok, enough organization talk… Tell us what your vision is for the 2013 Maryhill Festival of Speed now that it will be a joint venture with IDF.
John: Still working out the details at this point. I can tell you that racers will continue to get 13 or 14 runs a day during practice. I guarantee they will be tired each night, that’s the only way I can settle them down for the night.
I am looking into how we can facilitate the qualifying and race format to be more athlete friendly. It’s a tough task with 225 athletes on a 2.2 mile road.
Your question was about vision; Not am I only looking at 2013 but years down the road. Maryhill has so much potential, just taking things one step at a time. Just look at Maryhill……that’s my vision!
Tim: Any immediate improvements or changes to the event and race that will come from moving to the IDF?
John: Immediate improvements… Come to Maryhill in 2013 hopefully you will see many improvements!
Tim: Thanks John, we will! I appreciate you catching up with us today and helping get Skate[Slate] readers the inside scoop! Best of luck in 2013… it’s definitely shaping up to be a very important year for downhill racing and may very well define the next decade.