When seasoned riders and journalists alike are calling a track, “One of the gnarliest, ever…”, you know things are looking pretty beastly.
The monster track in Italy this weekend went from rough-but-sick, to how-many-more-runs-do-I-have-to-take-before-I-can-go-home. The holes turned into trenches, and the ruts into ravines. Loose rocks littered the track like beer cans at a house party (how did that one, get over there?!), and the dust filled the air, giving everyone Black Lung almost instantly. No one had it easy this week, from riders, to those track-side. World Championships is always on another level in terms of difficulty and stress, but Val di Sole certainly brought it all to a new level.
The race was won and lost seemingly at the will of the track: some riders crashing out because of the degradation of the lines, and others because their bikes simple thought quitting in the middle of a run was a better idea than continuing on with the punishment. If there was ever a track that was a true test of a rider, and thus forced the true champions to prove themselves through exemplary displays of athleticism and bravery, this was the one – the “Thor’s Hammer” of tracks; only the worthy may wield it, or in this case, win upon it.
2016 was a year to remember, revel in, and savor. Thank you to everyone who tuned into the photo stories this summer, without you, I’m just some dude playing with plastic and glass in the dirt, typing late into the night for kicks and grins. I’ll keep bringing you more fun reading and visuals, just perhaps not this week – I’m going to eat and sleep for the next few days, and not much else! Safe travels to everyone returning home or headed to the next event, keep the rubber side down out there.
To witness Rachel Atherton’s domination in person the last two seasons has been nothing short of extraordinary. Back-to-back World Cup Overall and World Champ wins, undefeated, she has 15 wins in a row, 22 if you count regional races as well. Sublime.
Her fourth Gold, Rachel Atherton, remind us all that winning nevre gets old.
The crowd was losing it’s mind in the grandstands as Danny Hart took his run. When he entered the second to last corner, drifting, I lost mine.
Handing a foot the whole way around, and letting the bike do its thing, he looked calm and focused, knowing the finishline was only moments away.
With the timing system in disarray, when Danny crossed the line, everyone waited to hear from the announceres if he had done enough to go green.
With Aaron Gwin dropping in last, and then blowing up his wheel, Danny Hart had done it: 4 race wins in a row, and his second set of Rainbow Stripes. Stupendous.
This is what pride looks like. Pipo, the track builder, holding up the winning bike.
There was a group of fans sporting chainsaw and other lawn tools, revving the engines red hot above the finish area after the race, in celebration.
Never stop taking phoots of Mick Hannah if he’s approaching a jump in a race run. 19th and stoked with his run, he ends the season with an rad no-hander, much to the delight of the crowd.
World Champs has a special feel to it. Even Warner takes some time to enjoy the Finals, free of his duties.
Veronika Widmann’s nagging injuries didn’t seem to phase her much, as she finished out in 7th place in front of her home crowd. Talk about a high note to end on – very cool.
Who doesn’t enjoy a nice portait of a stanger with great hair?
Sandra Rubesam showed up to World Champs without an ACL, but she cracked on and raced (with a sweet robo-brace). The German National Champ put in a strong ride, but likely played it a little safer than usual considering the recent knee injury. Well wishes for healing up, hoping to see her back and stronger in 2017!
Rockin’ the Canadia side-braid, and keeping her elbows out, George Astle was on form all weekend. She finished in 13th, which is a great building block result for her first year in Elite Women!
Manon Carpenter’s crash in Finals was quite violent, and thankfully, she is more ok than not. With plenty of time to recooperate, everyone is hoping to see her back and strong for 2017.
“Nothing to write home about” was how Connor Fearon described his result. Most people would disagree about that, as he finished in 20th – but when you’re #7 in the World, your own expectations tend to be much more stringent than popular opinion. Great year for Connor, his consistency and speed continue to impress.
Veronique Sandler aka #VeroRAW, spent the weekend heckling track-side and getting some guerrilla footage for the masses to enjoy.
Two shots of Adam Brayton you say? How daring! Nah, mate earned it! Stoked for a deserving friend who pushed all season, and reaped the rewards of hard efforts. Top lad.
First-year Elite, Marine Cabirou had a big weekend, finishing in 4th! Bright future ahead for her..
Miranda Miller had a wicked 2016 season. She showed up, threw down some big results, and did it with minimal support. Knowing she was capable of placing higher (7th at the first split), she wasn’t quite pleased with 10th place – but heading into the off-season, she has a lot of momentum.
It’s been an up-and-down season for Sam Blenkinsop, but results side, his abilities havn’t waivered, and he looks fast as ever. Smiling all week long at World Champs, we’ll see what the off-season brings for him!
Florent Payet, stoked as can be to get Bronze.
Going 13th and 10th at the splits, Loris Vergier has some troubles at the bottom and ended up in 24th. Perhaps not a Top 10 like he’d hoped, but no one is question his talent or speed – racing can be a cruel mistress.
Johnny Cash-approved kit for Worlds, Troy Brosnan kept it clean too. He rode well and mananged 4th, but we all know he wanted the win. He rode with incredible consistency this year with pace to match.
He is always a podium threat, especially when tracks require patience and prescision. Greg Minnaar’s expiernce kept him out of trouble this weekend. and smart riding landed him 7th in Finals.
Jackson Frew start the year strong with three Top 5 finishes. His mid season didn’t go quite as well as he’d have liked, but he finished well with an 11th in Finals.
I was most excited to hear about Magnus Mason’s 2nd place in Junior Men. A well-earned medal, the young Canadia really came into form later this season, and it was really cool to see. Huge positive to end the season on, looking forward to seeing what he can manage in the off-season for 2017.
He had Top 20 splits, which were right in line with his noteable riding, but like many others, Neko Mulally encountered some difficulties with the insane track. He at least paid nice homage to Sam Hill with this inside line through the grass!
Arguably a season to forget, Wyn Masters has some fuel for the off-season fire. With that said, 25th at Worlds after sitting out a big portion of the season with a knee injury is a very strong finish to the season!
“This made the cut?” you may be asking yourself…yes, it did, and for good reason: Laurie Greenland has literally the wildest run in recent memory. To paraphrase Eddie Masters, after the Redbull section, Laurie was crashing…but he never actually fell. He hung it out all, right up to the last corner, where I wasn’t sure if I’d see him ride out from the other side of the corner. But he did, and rode right into the Hotseat, and ultimately into a Silver Medal. What a legendary first year for the 2015 Junior World Champion.
Slightly in disbelef, Laurie Grenland revels in Silver.
To the victor goes the spoils.
Dean Lucas went 4th at the first split, but like many, found the ground in his run instead of glory. Finishing on a strong note in terms of riding form, he heads into the off-season on a positive note.
2016 was one helluva season for Tahnee Seagrave. She started out strong, and fought until the end. Her results tapered down towards the end, mainly becuase of several big crashes. She said to me that she was pushing and trying harder towards the end [chasing the elusive win] and that’s likely the reason for the offs. She’s got serious heart though, and you can bet she’ll come out swinging again in 2017 – she’ll find the top step, it’s only a matter of time.
Not that it was expected, especially after his big crash on Firday, but Finn Iles was without a doubt the favored rider for the Junior Gold this weekend. He rallied and dug deep for Finals, and pulled out the win. Gritted ride fromt he first-year Junior.
What an outstanding year for Adam Brayton. For himself, his fans, freinds, and family, it is a year to remember fondly. 15th at World Champs, that’s a mega end to the season.
Jumping into the light Remy Morton was on a solid run going 6th and 11th at the splits, but some troubls at the bottom pushed him back to 13th; the early morning sessions were always full of contrast and strobe-effect lighiting, making the Junior races extra challenging.
Helluva season for Jack Moir! Outstanding resutls all year long, it was truly a summer of redemption. He wasn’t content with just being at Worlds after a tremendous season, he hung it all out right to the finish, and scored himself 10th in Finals. Like a boss.
Sending it deep, Brook MacDonald kept the fire on even after a less-than-ideal run. A growing year on a new team and new bike, 2017 is looking promicing for Bulldog.
Course tape trailing him like a streamer of discontent, Frikk Hess Bolstad didn’t have the Top 10 run we know we is capable of, but a little style ont he step down was a nice touch to finish out his 2016 season.
Quite the impressive year for Tracey Hannah! For the last race of the year, she looked fiery on track all week. She backed it up with a 3rd place in Finals, which is impressive – riding at such a high pace all week is no easy feat!
16rh place for Josh Bryceland, who in his classic fashion, sat down multiple times in his race run. Legend.
Riding well all weekend after a breakthrough season, Amaury Pierron put in his best efforts, going 11th at the first split, but unfortunately coming off after. He finished DFL, but World Champs is sort of a bonus round for a lot of tiders, and for 2017, we all hope to see the wild Frenchman return with bigger support.
And particularly annoyed by this stage. Frustated, he gathered himself and got on with the day (he was fine by the way) – he went on to finish 50th though!
Max Scharf was less than stoked in this moment…
Emanuel Pombo is a rock-steady racer, churning out consistent results each weekend. 55th for the #56!
What isn’t there to say about Jacob Dickson? Missing a big portion of the season due to injury, he came back in the last two races and absolutely crushed it. 26th this weekend…go on then!
Nik Nesteroff had a great first year in Junior Men. The young American set a great tone for the future of American racing, and finsihing out in 4th this weekend gives him a great results to build off of for 2017.
He might be clipped in, but Marcelo Guetierrez definitely put on his dancing shoes before this run – the hips don’t lie. 18th for the #8, solid way to end the season on a track that was taking no prisoners.
Everyone in attendance was disappointed for Loic Bruni when he flatted in his run. To not be able to properly defend his Rainbows was a real shame. He was in high spirits though, and with some fun vacation plans ahead, is ready to regroup and enjoy the off-season.
Rocking the best plate, Silas Grandy kept it fast and low all week. His style on a bike is highly unique, and so are his line choices – it’s cool to see someone doing their own thing. 60th – not bad!
Charlie Harrison is quickly becoming one of the it-factor riders. 14th at Worlds, the second-fastest American, he’s towing the line well for American racing.
What a fairtale ending to an hugely successful 2016 campaign: Forent Payet, 3rd place at World Champs, at 30 years of age. He’s been putting in steady/fast results for some time now, and this is the real cherry on top.
The knowing look of someone who just watched one of the great races ever. Luke Hontz, jazzed about bikes.