Morning fog was shrouding the hill first thing this am, but sun was peaking through, and the track was tacking up...Every rider had sand and gravel sticking to the thin clay covering their tires--a good sign that come go time, the track be running fast.
Sam Hill and Troy Brosnan, checking lines in practice
Troy in practice this morning.
Manon Carpenter's chain getting a bit more lube...
"A girl's gotta be ready to race in her best"- Rachel Atherton scrubbing her shoes clean before donning the UK National kit for her run at the title.
All systems go: Dougie "Fresh" Hatfield tightening down Josh Bryceland's rotor bolts on the back up wheels before practice.
The sign of a good morning for a race mechanic: an empty service center. The Fox Racing Shox crew telling war stories about the girls in the bar last night and laying bets on the races to come later in the day.
Brook Macdonald tried to relax before his run. This isn't easy for most racers, but extra hard for Brook. Relaxing isn't something he does well.
Monkdawg working over Gwin's brakes first thing this morning before practice started. Official word is that the prototype brakes Gwin's been using since last winter failed after a some hard cornering - Shimano engineers are tearing into the brakes to determine what went wrong. These are prototypes, though, not production, so the guts are a bit different than what everyone else is running. Gwin was offered the production brakes as soon as they became available, but favoured the feel of the prototypes over the production versions; my guess is that he will be on production brakes in Norway for the World Cup Finals.
T-minus 0:01:49 til go time.
Holly Feniak has never raced a World Cup, but came to Austria to win. Mission accomplished!
Tahnee Seagrave givin 'er...but coming home 8 seconds down to Holly.
Loic Bruni is leading the Jr Men's World Cup overall this year, no real surprise that he won here.
I swear for a second Richie Rude went Houdini on the course and slithered his bike around the course pole as if his entire body and the bike were made of rubber. It was the damndest thing I've ever see a rider do.
The track was firming up nicely by the time the elite women were rolling out of the gate. It was still soft in the first corner, and in a few patches down lower in the woods. But overall, it was looking good to go for the big kids.
Morgane Charre was hot out of the gate and kept the pace high, coming home 1.199 seconds ahead of Ragot. While not totally unknown, she's had good results before including a podium in Val di Sole this year, no one was really expecting her to win here.
Ragot on track for a second place finish.
Manon Carpenter won Worlds at Champery last year as a junior, and it looks like she's just going to keep going. On the podium in South Africa before an injury in Val di Sole took her out for the next few races, it will be interesting to see how she does in Norway. Third place here today.
A fair number of riders and wrenches speculated that Rachel's back troubles and her rolling the start in timed training yesterday was nothing more than a mind game she was playing on the competition. Wonder no longer: +5.894 and off the podium on a course that suited her to a "T".
Miller time! Miranda Miller dropping in to do some berm smashing. While Miranda ended up 17th spot, there were three Canadian girls in the top 10!
It's the World Champs, after all, and seeing nations like Iran represented was pretty damn cool. "Bikes" is a universal language.
Kazakhstan. Not a country known for producing DH MTB racers... But with deep roots in cycling. 20 year old Alexandr Zubenko was +2:52.207 off pace, but damn--the fact he raced here at all was pretty damn cool.
Keeping it low: Joe Smith skimming the tables on the way to second woods.
Logan Binggeli dropping into first woods.
Big mountains, big crowds, big racing.
Super fans were in full effect from the top of the track to the bottom. This was perhaps the loudest, most boisterous Worlds since Fort William and the legendary Scottish crowds.
Bryn Atkinson and then Sam Dale set the early fast times today. After the first 80 riders it was Dale, Atkinson, and then Johannes Fischbach on the hotseat, all within a second. Steve Peat looked to be having a good run, but crashed and it was over. Florent Payet came down fast, -2.27 to move into first and push Fischbach off the hotseat. Then it was Markus Pekoll's turn, he couldn't beat Payet, but he moved into 2nd +1.5 back, and then we were in the top 20. Cam Cole had a less than inspiring run, and then it was Troy Brosnan on track. His first race back after his injury, and he washed out in one of the first corners, a hard crash, possibly injuring his shoulder. Troy was followed by Justin Leov, riding in the last race of his career. Not a top finish for him, but a solid end to 10 years of racing. Marcelo Gutierrez down with a time fast enough to put him into third spot on the hot seat, and then it was Andrew Neethling, sending it huge over the jumps up top, and looking fast through the motorway. Fastest at the first split by half a second, he got sideways on the wooden berm and it was over. Blenkinsop down and into 4th spot +2.14.
Bryn Atkinson cruises through the crowd for his best result this season, not a bad place to do it!
Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas has been moving up the ranks, and his 10th place finish today will definitely be a good confidence booster. You can be guaranteed his coach and manager, CG, will be celebrating with him tonight!
Needles was fast at the top and looked like he was on his way to a podium finish when he washed out on the wooden bike park berm and almost went off track. It cost him at least 4 or 5 seconds, more than enough to take him out of contention
Mick Hannah was fastest in timed training yesterday, and he went through the first split -2.6 up, looking incredibly fast, down to -1.9 at the second split, he finished his run -2.087 to take the hot seat with a 3.23.93.
Hannah hugging the fence in the final woods section of the track
Steve Smith, second to Sam Hill at Mont Saint Anne in 2010, and pinning it here on his new Carbon Devinci Wilson. Down by 1.5 at the first split, he absolutely poured it on in the woods to be fastest at the second split, and then almost a second up at the finish with a 3:23.004
Marc Beaumont looked a bit slow at the top, didn't send it over the big jumps, and it showed at the first split, +2.95 and then +5.8 at the finish for 14th place at the end of the day.
Josh Bryceland stayed low over the first big jump and then sent it over the second, only a second back at the first split, he looked really quiet and fast but went down in the woods, pushing his front tire up out of a corner. After his crash at Worlds last year he's got to be feeling a little discouraged...
Damien Spagnolo is always a threat, and had a great result at Worlds last year. +1.4 back at the top split, +1.7 at the second split, not fast enough. +2.645 at the finish. Good enough for 6th place at the end of the day though. Stevie Smith still in the hot seat with 5 riders left.
Sam Hill pinning it through the top, only +0.8 back at the first split and then into the woods, +2 at the second split, this was not going to be Hill's day, +2.192 at the finish, 4 riders to go.
Brook MacDonald won the last World Cup in Val d'Isere, but he's not known to be a pedaler. He was +2.5 back at the first split, and then a few mistakes in the woods put him +3.55 back at the second split, this was not going to be his day. +3.6 back at the finish, and he ended up in 8th spot.
Gee Atherton came out of the gate not looking overly fast, but looks can be deceiving. He cased the first two big jumps but then sprinting hard along the motorway he was fastest by a second at the first split, then fastest buy 1.062 at the second split. Finishing 0.633 ahead of Stevie to move into the hotseat and crush Smiths dreams.
Greg Minnaar hasn't won a Worlds since 2003 and was giving her everything at the top. Greg knows how to pedal and he was up by -0.516 at the top split, then held it together through the woods to be -0.5 at the second split, and -0.581 at the finish and into the hotseat, with only Aaron Gwin left at the top.
Unfortunately Aaron Gwin suffered a major mechanical at the top, and was forced to roll down the course, leaving Greg Minnaar with the win. While Greg's win was very well won, we can't help but wonder how Gwin would have done given a full run.
Brake trouble? Crash? World Champs chances in the rubbish bid? Screw it...Gwin throwing down a signature move not seen on a finishing straight since his debut at Mt St Anne a few years or so ago.
Greg Minnaar soars to victory in Leogang Austria at the 2012 World Championships. "Things started to get emotional for me when I saw that Aaron wasn't going to be able to beat my time."