ANGIE’S CURVES HIT IT AND QUIT IT The next level of downhill racing Outlaws of Malibu
ALPINE ROUTES Volante heads to the Sierras
MAX BALLESTEROS Brazilian Shredder
13.5 LATE Summer 2013
SKATE SLATE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & DIGITAL DESIGNER Justus Zimmerly
PHOTO EDITOR & CORRESPONDENT Jon Huey
STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER & CORRESPONDENT Max Dubler
STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER & CORRESPONDENT Ari Chamasmany
NEW YORK CORRESPONDENT Adam Crigler
INTERNATIONAL COORDINATOR Dan Pape
SKATE[SLATE] CREW Adam Auger, Billy Meiners, Brock Newman, Jordan Shepherd, Justin Readings, Marisa Nunez, Patrick Switzer, RJ Roush PUBLISHER Tim Cutting
Letter from the editor We’re back with the second round of the .5 edition. Summer is all about events, so there’s plenty of coverage from some of your favorite downhill skateboard races, jams, and outlaws in this issue.
back Europe for a second time(!), and Dan is gearing up for a secret expedition of his own. There’s still plenty more left to this season, so we’re trying to catch our breath when we can by sitting down to collect our thoughts and share some of the best stories thus far.
The crew over here has been super busy running all over the place trying to capture it all for you, so forgive us if we’re a little We hope you dig ‘em. Find some shade, scattered: We are literally all over the map. crack open a cold one, and enjoy these Max just got back from Europe, Jon’s been pages. You’ve earned a break. hopping all over North America, Ari is going – Justus Zimmerly
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Contents 08 ALPINE ROUTES
Volante heads to the Sierras
15 MAX BALLESTEROS
21 HIT IT AND QUIT IT
27 IDF RULEBOOK
Breakdown of the Protected Position Rule
29 ANGIE’S CURVES
The next level of downhill racing
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This page: Brandon Tissen gets sideways on a slope in the Sierras. photo Aaron Breetwor Cover: James Kelly leads Louis Pilloni down Angie’s Curves photo Ari Chamasmany
ALPINE ROUTES Tyler Howell
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Volante heads to the Sierras interview Justus Zimmerly photos Aaron Breetwor
Coming in at just a tick over 14 minutes and devoid of color, Alpine Routes is not your typical downhill skate video. There’s just something about the Sierra Nevada that makes people want to get a little more creative with their skate videos. Blake Smith has been skating those mountains for awhile now, and also happens to be the big dog at Volante who decided to rally the team, head for the hills, and spend a week shredding, camping, and filming the experience. I wanted to know just why Northern Californians consider those hills to be so sacred, so I sat down with Blake to talk about this film project and the giant lumps of granite that inspired it. Blake: Alpine R-r-r-r-routes. You gotta roll the R. Justus: So that’s how you say it. That’s Scottish or Rastafarian? That’s just Sliders, Jah.
Aaron from the Block, a long way from the block 9 [SKS] .5 EARLY SUMMER 2013
So why don’t you tell me in a nutshell what the trip was all about? Shit, I guess the trip really started back in 2008, the first time I went up and skated the roads deep in Northern California and we were just kind of exploring the area. There’s so much potential out there, and so much epic scenery, that we knew we had to do something bigger out there. A couple years down the line I finally felt like we had the right crew, the Volante crew: Eric Jensen, Nick Ronzani, Dave Tannaci, Aaron “AFB” Grulich, Brandon Tissen, Aaron Breetwor doing photos, and Chubbs and myself on video. So we rented a van, had a couple weeks of planning for it, scouted the roads, put the crew together, and we spent five or six days up in the mountains, just kinda playing it by ear, skating these roads, filming as much as possible. Chubbs killed on the hand cam, really stoked on how that footage came out. Generally the idea was
to show both skating these big mountains, being up there doing the skate thing, and then also camping. We were camping by the streams, fishing, campfires every night, it was rad. It always seemed like the Sierra Mountains were the sacred retreat from the Bay area. You must have watched Second Nature. Haha, yeah, and even before that with your Alpine Hammer and Grease videos, it’s where the skaters shredding the streets of SF or the East Bay, they go out there and it’s a sanctuary of big mountain bombing. Sanctuary is the perfect word for it, those roads are sacred to me. I’ve been going up there for five years and it’s a pleasure to be up there. Honestly, those roads are no joke and you really have to be on point, you have to be precise, and aware of your surroundings. We were skating in big packs, normally you’d skate those roads a bit more spread out. For the video’s sake we were really pushing each other. The Bay area roads, SF, Berkeley, mid-peninsula, those are like training grounds for these roads, so we got up there and I’m stoked everyone made it out alive. There were a few instances of road rash and two major bails: Jensen fell at about 55mph and lost all the skin on his ass, there are some funny photos. On a more serious note, Brandon had pretty heavy fall where he narrowly dodged both a car and a 100 foot cliff, and dislocated his shoulder. He was actually OK and continued skating later that day. It’s definitely a good reminder that we’re playing in a roadway and the consequences are real, so if you’re going to go up there, or anywhere really, and skate you need to be on point and know what you’re doing. We had spotters, we made sure cars weren’t coming, but you can only control so much. Otherwise, those roads are beautiful. Each corner is epic, the scenery is epic, you’re skating in paradise. It’s hard to have a bad time up there. I think Dave said on the trip, “We landed somewhere between having a rad time and absolutely killing it.” That sums it up pretty well. Heading for the finish
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What are you doing with the video to push the ball forward, to do something different? You see a lot of brands putting out videos every week and they’re 2-5 minute shorts of someone skating a road, and that’s rad, but with this we were more focussed on trying to produce a film, rather than a quick Youtube video. We spent a lot of time really nitpicking every detail and tried to present it as a rad time, but also an artistic piece that reflects the Volante brand, the skaters involved, and the area. They say you’re a product of your environment, so we were just trying to show this environment, what it has to offer, and how we skate it. I know you’re stoked about the soundtrack, do you want to talk about that? Yeah, totally. Man, we lucked out. The night after the trip, we all got back, we were just beat from skating and camping all week. Brandon Tissen was staying at my house and we were up until 1 in the morning watching footage and listening to music over it. He threw out this one band that he couldn’t even remember the name, he thought it was Spindraft or Spindrift or something, so I typed it into Youtube and the first song was actually the last song we used in the edit, “Red Reflection” by Spindrift, and we just fell in love with the soundtrack. We just watched the footage over and over to the whole soundtrack that night two or three times through. We were just sold on it, like, “Yup, this is it, this is what we’re going to do,” and we ended up using five Spindrift songs throughout the edit and the vibe, and the skating, and the coloring just worked together. We knew right off the bat that we had to use this music.
Lou gets the podium shot with a guest appearance by John Hutson, OG downhill racer and creator of the Hut Tuck. 11 [SKS] .5 EARLY SUMMER 2013
How does the Bay area style translate in the Sierras? It was interesting seeing some of the San Francisco natives like Dave skating a big mountain, ’cause I hadn’t seen it before. Dave crushes in the city, so it was rad to see him killing it out there in that environment and to see all those skills you learn in the city, the more technical skills, translate to big mountain skateboarding where, yeah, you’re moving faster, but everything slows down a little bit, the corners are a little more drawn out. Everyone handled it very well. Aaron and Nick, those guys grew up skating the Sierras and big mountain
roads and definitely it showed. This was also Brandon’s first Volante trip with us, so going into it I didn’t know with his skating how he would handle it with the crew, but he absolutely crushed it, vibed really well with the crew. The video shows, just watch Brandon.
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What’s some of the craziest shit that happened off the skateboards? It was cold. Chubbs forgot his sleeping bag, and the first morning he woke up with his toes frozen over, so after that he and Brandon snuggled in a sleeping bag for the rest of the trip. We melted a skateboard truck. Everything else that happened I can’t really talk about, I’ll just leave it at that. Overall it was a great trip
though. Yeah, it was cold, it was early season. We were there in May and there was still a bunch of snow, you can see it on the side of the road. It’s also tough working, filming, moving up and down the hill at 10,000 feet. That altitude definitely wears on you. Other than that, we were up there having fun. We were on a mission, so everyone was really on point.
Are there going to be more of these in the future? Yeah, we already have more roads marked that we want to go back to, so keep an eye out for Alpine Routes 2.
Jordan Riachi - Steezestoker
photo:Animal House Reference
Max Ballesteros interview Dan Pape photos Vitor Brandao & Manuela Perez Blanco
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Our scene is definitely a global phenomenon. Sometimes it’s a challenge to get into a good conversation and learn about what drives riders to travel all around the world in search of passion that keeps them in “the game”. Due to the never ending language barriers , we don’t normally get to know good people as much as we would like. Finally, after years of watching this guy murder his local scene, I was introduced to Max at a BBQ after Britannia Classic. This isn’t to say that I am only impressed with riders that speak fluent English, but without a doubt it sure makes it easier to get to know someone. I asked Ballesteros for the interview right after his 4th place finish at yesterday’s Maryhill Festival of Speed. Congrats Max, that’s no easy feat. Dan Pape: Let’s start with some warm up questions that have nothing to do with DH skate. Favorite food? Max Ballesteros: I like all kinds of food, but my favorite is home cooked in Brazil, Italian and sushi are also really good choices. Rather rock a beanie or cap? Cap for sure! When Canadians say toque, do you know what they are talking about? Not really, hahaha. It’s a beanie. But a lot of Canadians call it a toque. Can you spread the word that it’s called a toque? Oh yeah, good to know… 16 [SKS] .5 EARLY SUMMER 2013
That’s a new word for my vocabulary, I will spread the word for the Brazilians. Do you have a favorite super hero? Batman, I like how he is a regular guy without unreal powers, but still pulls of some crazy stuff. If you had a private jet, where would you fly right now? To the top of my favorite hill in Europe!! You know, one of those amazing mountain passes… Lords of Dogtown, documentary or Hollywood version? Interesting you asked me about this movie, back then I was a teenager and it got me really stoked to get back on my skateboard… after it came out was actually when I started longboarding. I like both the documentary and the Hollywood version, I think the documentary shows more the reality of their lives and it’s rad to see the testimonials from themselves, but the movie has some good vibes to it that get you amped on skateboarding! Do I really need to pick one? ha-ha… I like both! Tell us about Brazil, exactly where are you from? I live in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. Its one of those towns where everyone knows each other even though it’s the third biggest city in Brazil. It is surrounded by mountains and nature, kind of a laidback lifestyle. My best friends are all skaters so we try to skate almost everyday since we have so many hills around our houses. On
the weekend we try to get to the further and fastest hills. Another thing I have to mention about it is the girls, Belo Horizonte is known to have the most women per square meter in Brazil! Okay, let’s go there now, ha… Do you do any other sports back home? When I was younger I did all kinds of sports, I’ve always been very active in that way, can’t live without it. For me it is like a treatment for the soul!
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I’m sensing you are a humble fellow. But I gotta ask you to brag for a minute. What other hidden talents do you have? Instruments, arts, that kinda thing. Thanks Dan, my family always taught me to be humble and respectful, I think that’s a very important thing in life! So I could say I was an artist for a while, a side of my family influenced me a lot and always got me into that. I had a clothing company a few years back and did all the art and design for it, which was cool but skateboarding caught more my attention. Since then, what I do is the “art” of riding a skateboard.
Jumping back to home topic for a minute. Do you live there because you like it or because that’s where you’ve always lived? I’ve lived there most of my life, it’s where my roots are from… I have tried living somewhere else but I missed my family and friends and had to come back! I like the traveling lifestyle, because I never get bored I can enjoy home and know that soon I will be going to another city and another completely different culture.
Ever think of moving? I have thought about moving, but not sure where to… there are so many amazing places in this world! Where to? My top three places to live would be Florianópolis (Brazil), Sydney (Australia), and San Diego (USA). Why? I love the surf/skate lifestyle, so if I had to move somewhere it would be to a place where there’s a good scene.
I hear ya loud and clear. Trust me, I’m on it. Was your first skateboard a long or short board? A short board. What board was it? It was a regular skateboard from a Brazilian brand called Drop Dead. What was your first longboard? I can’t really remember the name of the brand, but it was a used longboard I got from a friend… after a few weeks of use I redesigned it with a new cut and I painted it myself. I still have that board, my little brother rides it now! What’s your racing set up? Fibretec Flying Pan topmount board, RAD Advantage 74mm 78a wheels, Aera K4′s, Riptide Bushings and Vicious Griptape. Is it the same board that you use for free riding? Some times, but I also have a double kick longboard which is super fun to ride downhill, parks and bowls! How did you place in the Canadian races so far? I believe I had a good season in Canada, I started with getting around top ten in Danger Bay. Made it to the finals in Jake’s Rash and finished in 6th place, semi’s in Britannia Classic got 7th, and Vernon DH I got to another final’s, it was rad. I finished 3rd with a super close finish with my old teammate Patrick Switzer. I just got 4th in Maryhill Festival of Speed. Old teammate? Congrats on third.
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Third by an inch hahaha, thanks!! Yeah Patrick is a great guy, and was cool to be teammates with him in 2011, we both rode for Orangatang and did some traveling and racing through Europe and South America, good times!!! Where are you going next? I’ve been to Kelowna Skylands, then to the World Cup race Angie’s Curves. By the time this comes out I’ll have gone to Maryhill Festival of Speed and then I’m back to Canada for the Whistler Longboard Festival. Oh Whistler. So good. Have you been there before? Would you ever trade in DH Skate for surfing or snowboarding? Last year I was at Whistler, I loved that event, it’s one of the best! Stoked to come back this year. Yeah, I could trade surfing for snowboarding, but doing any of these sports in a regular basis would be rad for me. Because in my home town there’s none of that. Who’s your biggest influence in life both in and out of skateboarding? My grandfather in life and in downhill skateboarding K-rimes. Why’s that? My grandfather was like a dad to me, taught me alot of things for life. And as far as skateboarding, when I saw Kevin bombing Teutonia back in 2007 I was hooked for that ride, now he is a good friend of mine we get to travel and skate together, it’s really
cool to have that opportunity and evolve my skating with him. Thowing a wrench in this flow, what’s your most embarrassing moment? Ufff I dont know, I embarrass my self quite often, I’m a shy guy. What’s your proudest moment? This is a hard one, but I think becoming European Downhill Skateboarding Champion in 2011 made me very proud. Why do you think Brazil produces such great skaters? We Brazilians are very passionate with what we do, things are harder for us so when we are out skating we do our best and never give up our dreams. I guess that’s why there are so many great Brazilian skaters, like Bob Burnquist, Pedro Barros, and Douglas Dalua to name a few top notch Brazilian skaters. Why is your English so good? I mean, it’s right up there. Most people don’t know this but I was actually born in America, my dad has lived there most of his life so I had this connection. When I was a kid I studied at an American school in Brazil and I lived for a year and a half in Atlanta when I was 14 years old, that’s when I really improved my English. Right now it’s kind of rusty, sometimes I have a hard time with the vocabulary but it’s always good to practice my English during travels and get the flow again.
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HIT IT words and photos Ari Chamasmany
QUIT IT 21 [SKS] .5 EARLY SUMMER 2013
When someone mentions the word “outlaw”, many things come to mind. Take Somalian pirates for example. To me, these people are outlaws. Individuals who pay no regard to the laws of civilization. People governed only by their will to survive. I imagine a grizzly looking fellow with a swarthy complexion, unshaven, a bandana tied across the brow, maybe a Kalashnikov slung over the shoulder, bullet straps done up in an X fashion across the body, a crooked looking “Jafar-esque” dagger gripped firmly between the teeth. These are the traits that seem to embody all of the juicy characteristics of an outlaw, maybe even a freedom fighter depending on what part of the world you’re from, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The real topic of conversation here, is skateboards, specifically ones designed to plummet down hills. Now there’s no getting around the fact that in SoCal some of the best places to test the limits of your incline oriented skateboard (and yourself) are in Malibu. Home to a highly concentrated collection of steep inclines and high speed hair-pins, Malibu has a uniquely laid out roadway network that puts eight to ten of some of the most thrilling downhill descents all within 10 to 15 minutes of each other. In other words, a downhill skateboarders wet dream. However, as tantalizing and thrilling as all of these things may be, there lies the unescapable fact that in Malibu downhill skateboarding is largely illegal. So with this said, it brings me back to my original point, the outlaw. An event or an individual who pays heed not to the rules and regulations of civilization, a soldier of fortune, a vigilante, a dissident. While the law dictates that the majestic and serene beauty of the roadways of Malibu must be enjoyed either while straddling a bike, or from behind the windshield of a car, there are some who choose to ignore these mandates. Individuals, who instead of accept the status quo, have broken free of the cage like confines of the automobile, or the cumbersome qualities of the bike. These individuals, outlaws or not, are 22 [SKS] .5 EARLY SUMMER 2013
Tyler Howell, trying his hand at the big air ramp
Disco flair from Daniel Luna 23 [SKS] .5 EARLY SUMMER 2013
Dustin Hampton, floatin’ the heal side behind Pete Eubank.
the downhill skateboarders of the 2nd Annual Malibu Hit It and Quit It Invitational. The concept of this event, originally devised by the recalcitrant maverick who shall only be known as “Dusty”, is simple. Pit thirty-five to forty of SoCal’s best downhill skateboarders against all of the winding corners and curves of the mighty Malibu, while only hitting each road once to keep the heat off of our tail. Like some kind of proverbial Smokey and the Bandit tale of reaping the rewards while running from the law, the Malibu Hit It and Quit It has become a highly anticipated yearly event that not only tests the skill of its participants, but also stokes the fire of thrill and excitement
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one can only get from blatantly disregarding the down hills along side the best that the SoCal DH long arm of the law. scene has to offer is pretty damn epic. And there it is, the allure of the outlaw, the thrill of the chase. While I’m not necessarily condoning civil The tantalizingly charming appeal of renegade. The disobedience, because we do have to remember “just enough bad to balance out the good” kind of that as cool as pirates are they sometimes do kinda situation. Downhill skateboarding may be illegal in kill people, which sucks, you can’t escape the fact Malibu, but it hasn’t stopped the rebellious sport that “illegally’” (quotation finger gestures) blasting from proudly flying its skull and crossbones flag.
words and photo Max Dubler
BREAKDOWN: THE PROTECTED POSITION RULE
As we all know, this year the new International Downhill Federation has replaced the International Gravity Sport Association as the sanctioning body for world cup downhill skateboarding. So far they’ve made three major changes: they’ve changed the world-cup circuit by sanctioning different events, purchased a new RFID timing system for qualifying runs, and changed the rulebook in small but meaningful ways. One of the most significant rule changes implemented by the Federation is the new Protected Position rule, and it came into play during one of the semifinal heats at Maryhill. There are two basic rules for making passes in a downhill skateboard race. First, the lead rider gets line choice. If you’re in front, you get to choose whatever line you want while those behind have to skate around you. Second, it’s the overtaking rider’s responsibility to pass cleanly and without making contact. The IDF’s new Protected Position rule deals with crashes in the final turn or straightaway of a track. Under this rule, your position going into the final corner of a track is protected. If an overtaking rider causes a crash in the final corner or straightaway and the crashed-out rider protests, IDF race officials can choose to let the leading, crashed-out rider advance to the next round. Under the IGSA’s rules, the offending rider would have been assigned last place in the heat and the crashed-out rider would get second-to-last. We saw this happen two years ago in the Maryhill Festival of Speed finals. Martin Siegrist put his hands on Zen Shikaze in the final corner and Zen crashed. Martin finished the race in second, but was given sixth after Zen protested. There was another, similar event during a semifinal at this year’s Maryhill. Max Ballesteros and Kevin Reimer were battling for third place coming into the final left. Max had about a half board-length lead on Kevin and was drafting Thiago Lessa into the corner. As Max started to lean in to the turn, Kevin put the back of his hand on Max’s hip, fully extended his arm and subtly pushed Max backward and off his line. Max slid out and crashed at the exit of the corner. When the corner marshals and event organizers reviewed the photos, Kevin was given sixth and Max advanced to the semifinal. The adoption of this rule is probably a good thing, but could have unintended consequences. If I’m in fourth place heading into that last corner, why shouldn’t I try for a sketchy pass? If I make it, yachtzee. If not, the leading riders keep their positions. Similarly, if I’m leading and I can hear someone coming up to pass at the finish line, I could intentionally rub wheels with them, crash out, and still get first. We’ll see how this plays out in the future. 27 [SKS] .5 EARLY SUMMER 2013
words and photos
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We had arrived late on Friday night to the aftermath of a raging party. Empty beer bottles, tents, smoldering camp fires. It was exactly the kind of scene you would have expected from a camp site occupied by a swath of hyped downhill skateboarders. However, despite the drunken stupor of the evenings exploits, there was an odd sense of tension in the air. Everyone had seen the videos, experienced briefly what it was they were up against. This wasn’t like anything anyone had raced before. There was no denying the fact that the track was something different, something new. So, much like soldiers preparing for battle, participants partied hard, sharing one last night of uninhibited jubilation before they were to set out to do battle with the various high speed twists and turns of Angie’s Curves. The blinding white light of the morning sun coaxed riders from there sudsy induced slumber. The sound of tent zippers and rustling sleeping bags against nylon tent floors signaled the start of mobilization. Practice began at nine, and everyone eager to get to the hill was wasting no time. Roughly an hour later and I was on the course, hiking the hill in search of proper vantage points. Riders posted up beneath tents, donning leathers, tightening axles, kissing talismans, and receiving last rights (not really, but you get the idea). Angie’s Curves was very rapidly shaping up to be one hell of a race. A solid day of practice, sunburn, and an ever busy duo of ambulance drivers later, and day two of Angie’s Curves had come to a close. With the race looming in the morning, racers retired to a quiet night of counting blessings and self reflection. Unlike the previous evening, the campsite on the night before race day was calm. 30 [SKS] .5 EARLY SUMMER 2013
The raging party was replaced by hushed vigils held around hissing gas lanterns. Teams congregated and discussed tactics, lines, where to grip and where to drift. It had been a hellish day of trial and error, but in the morning, it was no holds bar. Everyone knew that if they were going to be in contention for the $5000 dollar first place prize, they had to be focused. Saturday was an early evening. Sunday morning, race day. I fumbled my way up the rocky cliff for a good view of the action. Telephoto lens mounted, I was ready to capture the carnage. Practice runs had started up a little past nine and already Angie’s was beginning to claim victims. With the hiss of spinning bearings and urethane wheels, riders blasted past my location, making their way down the long arching straight and out of view into the high speed chicane section. Every other run however, you could spot the ambulance flip on it’s lights and hurriedly drive off in a cloud of dust towards the bottom. Tensions running high as everyone clambered about to find the nearest course worker with a radio. “Rider down, rider down, send support”. This may have been a skateboard race, but it was beginning to feel more like a game of Russian roulette. As the day wained on and racers began to either drop off the bracket or injure themselves fighting for a spot, people began making assumptions as to who they thought was going to win it. James Kelly had been looking clean through the turns the whole day, rumored to have been clocked at 67mph through the chicane and looking completely committed to all the speed sections, it had turned into a battle between him and the unrelenting Duke Degan. Through the semi’s, and even into the finals, both riders looked so dialed it was hard to see
Team rider perks
who was going to take it. With so much talent on the hill that afternoon, it almost become a question as to who could push it the hardest without getting broken off first. All the riders finishing out may have been of the top notch caliber, but in the end, it was the California kid James Kelly first at the line. Summing it up though, it had really become a race of survival and dedication. All of the survivors knowing full well just how serious of a competition this had just been. So with the race over and the shadows growing long, I packed up my camera and headed back to LA. Angieâ€™s Curves had wooâ€™ed us all into a love affair with the limit. A fiery moment of passion that chided many on, only to leave them hospitalized and broken hearted. The risks may have been grand, but you can bet on the fact that itâ€™s not going to stop any one of the numerous riders who fell victim to her voluptuous lines from coming back for another go next year.
Published on Aug 15, 2013