This year Bikepark Leogang celebrated 11 years since its foundation in 2001. It was arguably the most outstanding year for the Austrian ‘lighthouse’ bike resort in the Salzburger Land. In 2012 the world could hardly ignore the presence of great mountain biking in Leogang: hosting three mega events for almost every mountain bike discipline, Leogang was one of the bike epicenters of this season. It all started with Monster Energy White Style, then the notorious Out of Bounds Festival but the seasons crown jewel was the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships in collaboration with the neighboring town of Saalfelden.
Leogang has no reason to complain about the 2012 season: Most of the year in this idyllic village was dominated by sport. The winter season here attracts skiers from all over the world, however Leogang offers more than traditional winter sports attractions: Every year in January almost the entire freeride mountain bike elite heads to Leogang for the White Style in order to shorten the long winter break and get a taste of what is to come in the upcoming biking season. Year after year it is an extraordinary event for fans as well as for riders due to the unique atmosphere under the floodlights and the frosty-fresh air of the Austrian Alps. White Style is also regarded as an indicator for the progression of the freeride sport itself, currently developing at a vertiginous speed. As an example, this year’s White Style champion Sam Reynolds from the UK was pushed to show nothing less than a double backflip to get on the top of the podium. These kinds of tricks weren’t on any rider’s agenda some years ago.
Of course this spectacular event is coming back for 2013 - On February 1st the world’s best freeriders will roll their bikes on to the snow the seventh edition of White Style.
After having survived another long and hard Austrian winter, once all the frost and snow has melted, Bikepark Leogang opens its gates for the next event: The Out of Bounds Festival in May, featuring: The who’s who of downhill elite at the iXS Downhill World Cup tour, as well as the world’s best slopestylers and dirt jumpers competing on the monstrous 26TRIX course. The unexpected victory of a young Belgian rider - Thomas Genon - is another good example of the progression of mountain biking: Thomas put together an impressive run with a never seen before trick combination – consequently Thomas took home a major part of the 15,000 Euro prize money pot.
In the downhill competition, this year’s world cup overall champion Rachel Atherton handled Bikepark Leogangs famous Speedster course best. In the men’s competition it was South African rider Greg Minnaar who dominated.
Speaking of Minnaar: It seems like Leogang is a suitable course for him. You could read his name in the media again related to Leogang: As the UCI Downhill world cup was the rehearsal for Minnaar, as well as for the Bikepark Leogang, the 30 year old rider crowned his career with the worlds. You could say the same for the eleven-year-old bike park. It is a big honor to get the chance to host the bike universe’s most meaningful event. And a well deserved distinction for the continuous development in the last decade, leading Leogang to a bike site of world-class caliber.
The world championships were not only a historic and memorable sporting event, it was also an incomparable media spectacle within the mountain bike scene. Here you can find some facts & figures about the worlds 2012 in Saalfelden Leogang:
Did you know that...
• the overall budget was more than 1,4 Million Euro?
• more than 43.500 spectators came to see the competitions in Saalfelden Leogang!
• 750 riders from 47 nations were starting?
• 350 journalists from all over the world reported live from the event?
• 50 UCI teams and exhibitors registered for the expo area?
• about 34 Million viewers globally tuned in for the worlds on television (Canada, Norway, Eurosport Asia, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Suisse and Italy)?
• there was a total of 108 hours TV-coverage from Saalfelden Leogang?
• more than 600 volunteers made the realization of worlds possible?
• the Leoganger Bergbahnen registered more than 138,000 gondola runs in Bikepark Leogang, which is an increase of about 24%?
Kornel Grundner, long-lasting general manager and the face of Bikepark Leogang looks back across the season with pride and successful memories: “For us it was an extraordinary year and of course a big honor to be host of the world championships. It is also a testimony of our hard work throughout the last eleven years. It motivates us immensely for the future. But we are not stopping here, next season there will be more big events in Leogang!” Grundner refers to Leogangs next mega event – the UCI Downhill world cup final in Leogang from September 21st – 22nd. Once again, Greg Minnaar will probably return to defend his title in September 2013.