Highlight of the Year: Aaron Gwin's Mont-Sainte-Anne Race Run
Ever since that fateful rain-soaked race day in 2011, Danny Hart's wild ride in Champery has been the go-to reference for overcoming atrocious conditions on the way to the top step of the podium. That highlight, and Rob Warner's hilarious commentary, are still the benchmark, but this year it was Aaron Gwin's finals run at Monte-Sainte-Anne that won't soon be forgotten.
The rain began before the top ten men had the chance to take to the track, and the race began to shape up like a sequel to Lourdes. But after Jack Moir crossed the line within reach of Dean Lucas's pre-rain run the remainder of the field seemed to find new energy, and best of the best began making their marks near top of the results sheet.
When Gwin dropped in Lucas was still sitting in the hot seat, with Danny Hart's muddy run just .04 seconds behind. Seemingly unfazed by the pouring rain, Gwin stormed down the hill, taking inside lines on the wet, slippery grass as if he was back home in sunny California. When he crossed the finish line, 4 minutes and 18 second later, race fans across the world breathed a collective sight of relief – the clock was green, and once again Gwin had done the impossible; not even Mother Nature's worst was enough to keep him from the win.
As Rob Warner so aptly put it, “That was crackers,” and in recognition of his exhilarating performance, Aaron Gwin is the recipient of Pinkbike's 2017 Highlight of the Year Award.