2020 Pinkbike Awards: Performance of the Year Nominees

Dec 17, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  


Best Performance Nominees


2020 was a year when every single performance counted. There were so few chances for athletes to rescue some positives from a barren year that they all went hell-for-leather at any opportunity. More than ever, they were battling nerves, pressure, fatigue and inclement conditions alongside the usual fearsome competition from their peers. For us spectators, it was enthralling stuff. The victors were generally unexpected but no less worthy as they adapted to the unusual circumstances and rose to the top in entertaining style. We've looked back at the tantalizingly short season and picked out some of our favourite performances of the year.








Why he's nominated
You can't keep a good G.O.A.T down. While it would be silly to ever write off Greg Minnaar, we don't imagine many people would have predicted him earning a win as we rolled into Lousa in October. This was the same Minnaar we watch week in, week out - cool, composed and deadly fast. On Lousa's techy, unfamiliar track, it was his languid style that translated into winning race pace and he delivered the most popular World Cup result in a long time. Minnaar also extended his own records for being the oldest World Cup winner and win number 22 took him two further ahead of Gwin in the all-time wins list.








Why she's nominated
With races being 15 minutes long and taken nearly at an all-out sprint, one mistake in short track cross country will almost certainly cost you the race. Unless you're Evie Richards that is. Richards had never ridden short track before this year, but she quickly established herself as the woman to beat in this discipline in Nove Mesto. Race 1 was a comparatively run-of-the-mill affair with Richards beating out Pauline Ferrand Prevot in a sprint finish, but it's the second race for which Richards is nominated this year.

Richards was near the front for the whole race and started to push on in the penultimate lap so she was in a perfect position at the front as the final lap started. However, the tarmac start/finish straight led right into a hairpin and Richards slid out. Within seconds, she was back on her bike but also back in ninth spot with some of the world's fastest racers to overtake to win. That didn't phase her and a frantic battle back to the front saw her clean sweep the series in a sprint with Pauline Ferrand Prevot.







Why he's nominated
Just how good can Johansson get? At the age of 21, he has rocketed to the top of the slopestyle ladder and is only getting better seemingly every time he steps on a bike. That was no more clear than at the first Crankworx Slopestyle of the year in Rotorua. In the heat of competition, Johansson was laying down World Firsts such as triple oppo-whips and finished with a huge 360 windshield wiper. Johansson completed the Double Crown in Innsbruck to cap off an unbeaten year. The scary thing is, he's only going to get better.









Why he's nominated
When lockdowns hit, plenty of riders set themselves personal challenges to keep them occupied. For a lot of them, it was Everesting, climbing the height of Everest (8,848 metres) in one ride. Well, Tiago Ferreira didn't stop there. Not only did he do Everest once, he did it twice and then kept going. In the end, he ascended 17,753m [58,244ft] in 24 hours. The amazing feat that has now been certified by the Official World Record Association as the most climbing done off-road in 24 hours on a bicycle.







Why he's nominated
Caveats have followed Reece Wilson around his career for years. When he first podiumed in Fort William, it was because he was a local rider, while in Leogang there were claims he only won because he was used to riding in the mud. We're here to tell you that there's far more to this rider than the place he was born. Despite only riding downhill for 7 years, he has already risen to the top of the sport through natural talent and a lot of hard work. Plenty of other riders from wet climates took to the Austrian mountainside that day but none came close to Wilson's battling time. Simply put, Wilson was the best rider on the day in one of the toughest downhill races in recent memory. His run in qualifying in Maribor was the icing on the cake to prove he had pace to burn this year too.







73 Comments

  • 128 7
 Reece Wilson, surely. He was on a completely different level to the rest of the field that day.
  • 15 0
 Was gid
  • 28 1
 Reece: Best run that day

Emil: Best run of ALL TIME
  • 1 0
 So so braw!
  • 3 1
 As usual, the Brits are dominating DH, especially in wet condition.
  • 1 0
 @Ba1rog: Our local racing scene is just incredible, if you want to race there are about 10 each month. So more people have speed i guess.
  • 54 2
 I saw Minnaar first and thought, Yeah, Hell Yeah... Then kept scrolling. In short, they all deserve this one.
  • 24 2
 Minnaar's performance wasn't anything uncommon, as a singular performance. He's obviously a lock for the "Lifetime Achievement - DH Category" award, but for a singular performance, I favour Evie Richards for the nearly impossible mid-race comeback or Tiago Ferreira for a thoroughly incredible world record - only 1272 m shy of the climbing record on pavement!
  • 24 5
 Come on, this is Pinkbike. I bet 95% of the readership has never heard of either of those two until today. Including me.
  • 11 3
 @jaame: Now you have. So, what do you think? They're all amazing, but there is riding outside of the DH course tape! Razz
  • 3 8
flag jaame (Dec 17, 2020 at 5:30) (Below Threshold)
 @R-M-R: I guess... I've heard of them but I'm too apathetic to actually research said achievements to get a feel for the greatness of them.
The everesting thing sounds pretty good, but I wonder how many people could do similar if they wanted to. I think it's fair to say that to win a men's world cup downhill race you have to be pretty special. That would be the decider for me. Is that guy who did the everesting thing actually an elite athlete, or just the only person crazy enough to try it? Would he hold the world record if there was a stacked elite field of riders all trying to win the event on the same day on the same course - or is it akin to the word record for the highest number of peas picked out of an inverted 18" dustbin lid while riding a donkey blindfolded in 120 seconds? I mean, I've seen some pretty pointless Guinness world records where someone has set a world record so obscure as to make it pointless.
It's got to be Minnaar for me. It's hard enough to win one race, let alone 20-odd. The more races you do, the older you get, the probability of winning again gets lower and lower. To win so many races and to keep winning at such a grandpa age (relatively speaking) is an amazing feat. Especially considering the strength of the field and the perfect weather conditions.
  • 4 1
 @jaame: I am definitely more up for the down and think while Greg is always impressive Reece's performance this year deserves it. That being said trying to Everest once in a day puts you in pretty elite territory, doing it twice is pretty amazing. It is not my cup of tea, but you can't really question whether Tiago is an elite athlete. That was proven soundly by him.
  • 2 8
flag jaame (Dec 17, 2020 at 9:58) (Below Threshold)
 @vertex66: I don't know anything about him is all. I think Reece Wilson's performance was a real upset. We all know he would not have won if it was a dry track. He's a very talented rider. Definitely world class... But it will go down as a Matti Leihikoinen moment when the best man didn't win. I don't mean any disrespect in that, although it probably sounds disrespectful to some people and I am splitting hairs. Purely from a third party perspective, Reece Wilson probably won't ever win another race at the top level so for me it's an upset rather than a great performance. Like Anthony Gobert winning a world superbike race on that PoS Bimota just because it pissed down and he was the only one that started on wet tyres.
That said, my opinion is my own only and am fine with others' opinions differing.
  • 3 0
 @jaame: how do you factor in his qualifying results at the next WC race in the dry then? I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of Reece on the podium.
  • 1 0
 @jaame: I see where you’re coming from, because to even qualify for a WCDH is a feat in itself reserved for only a few dozen riders each year. However, at any given race, some one will win by virtue of there being a race that day. If there’s rain, mud, ice, or a sudden loss of gravity, of the the riders to drop in will be the winner. To say that their performance is historic is tautological — its historic by virtue of there being a race and someone winning it. With a world record, you have to be in that same fraction of a percentage of elite athletes that could even complete the thing, but there is no “race day” on the calendar to guarantee a winner that day. If you do break a record, there is no guarantee that it will ever be bested. Something like that is massively impressive. Of course, all elite athletes are massively impressive in their own right.
  • 1 4
 @riish: as I say, he is a very talented rider. Confidence is key and his confidence was riding high after the win. That explains the qualifying speed. As I said, it's splitting hairs. He got the win, confidence went up, a little too high evidently. It happens. I'm not trying to piss on him. I'm just being objective. The win was an anomaly in my opinion. If he wins again I will be happy to have my mind changed.
  • 3 0
 @jaame: The thing is, the track wasn't dry so Reece won. Regardless of whether or not you think he would have lost on a dry track, he still won on the day so i don't understand your argument at all
  • 1 4
 @EllisAbrams: I guess my argument is that his win was a result of luck more than skill. That is not to say he is not highly skilled and hardworking. He is both of those things, but he got lucky on that day - in my opinion. I don't know him, don't dislike him or like him particularly. That's my objective view, and that's why I don't think he should win this award. But if you totally disagree with me and you think he should that's fine too.
  • 3 0
 @jaame: If it's your view, it is inherently subjective. We also all know its fine to disagree with you. The point is that I, at least, don't understand what makes him lucky. Everyone else raced that day, and he put up a time that was three seconds faster than anyone else. When no one else was up to the task, he blew the doors off the field and the track. He performed, and the rest could not. Gets my vote
  • 1 1
 @TheLookingGlass: the stars aligned for him that day.
  • 25 0
 Emil's domination this year and the actual run it self where on another level. Get's my vote for sure.
  • 14 0
 Just a heads-up Pinkbike, if Reece doesn't win this, then there needs to also be a "Best performance that wasn't on the live stream" category for him to take.
But maybe the mystique makes it even better.
  • 2 0
 I assume red bull have the actual footage from his entire run on hard drives somewhere, even though it wasn't shown live. Has it ever been released?
  • 6 0
 @mountainsofsussex: I'd expect they would have checked for additional footage pretty swiftly after the event, so perhaps the cameras in the woods were not running on the earlier racers.
Now, if there were a Missed opportunity of the year award...
  • 1 0
 @chakaping: just imagine being that cameraman stuck on a freezing wet hillside: "yeah boss, it's pretty chilly up here but I got some great footage of him.. what?... you didn't have the tape running? *#&*%!"
  • 11 1
 Unless you were watching it, it's tough to understand how scary Evie was in those short track races. The wipeout/recovery they mention was unreal, but she immediately became the woman to beat in those short track races this year.
  • 1 0
 Evie is crazyyy, I saw the replay on red bull tv and literally started screaming when she wiped out and then started screaming even more when she won!!!!
  • 9 1
 When I saw the title I instantly thought of Evie Richards, so glad she was included.
  • 6 1
 Me too! Well done Evie.
  • 9 0
 Greg Minnaar
  • 1 0
 If he won that second one I'd say most def.
  • 4 1
 If Wilson gets nominated because "Simply put, Wilson was the best rider on the day in one of the toughest downhill races in recent memory"; then shouldn't Camille Balanche be nominated too?

(and before I get the comments about the flag, I'm a Brit not Swiss!)
  • 3 0
 Oh my god, go watch Emil's run and set the playback speed to .5! I initially did this so I could try to comprehend everything that he was doing but Cam MacCaul's voice at half speed is HILARIOUS!
  • 3 1
 Evie, 100%. When she went down on that final lap, I don't think anyone thought she could recover to a podium position, let alone win the short track. One of the greatest races I've ever seen.
  • 4 2
 Why is a performance based solely on a race basis? There have been some killer edits this year that demonstrates awesome performances by athletes.
  • 3 0
 For sure, van steezeburgens edit "wild west" should have put him in the mix
  • 1 0
 There's probably a "Sickest shreddit" category in the pipeline
  • 2 0
 The "Best edited performance" award comes out in February, once they've cut it up to make it presentable and added music that half of us hate/love.
  • 3 0
 I think because a race is a one time performance as an edit is awesome but it can take many shot to get it right, unlike a race.
  • 3 0
 @ybsurf: Thats actually a good way of looking at it and totally agree. Just thinking of all the crazy performance edits (Gopro contest, Fest series etc) that dropped some jaws, just thought they would be in the mix.
  • 2 0
 to be fair, Emil wasn't racing
  • 1 0
 @pmhobson: yes, but you would still call it a performance
  • 1 0
 @Curse-of-the-foot-long-sub: totally. never suggested otherwise
  • 1 0
 @BenPea: hopefully they do an edit of the year award because this year had some bangers...
  • 5 0
 EMIL!
  • 3 0
 The video of Wilson:
"Video unavailable
The uploader has not made this video available in your country."
Stupid Geoblock Frown
  • 2 0
 Hi @korev, if the video is not available in your country, you can watch Reece Wilson Race Run (BBC Coverage)
  • 1 0
 @dolores: cheers Dolores
  • 3 0
 Tough choices here! Great to read about some of these I wasn't familiar with.
  • 4 2
 Henrique Avancini winning the first ever world cup for Brazil and hiting the top of the ranking doesn't count to be on this list?
  • 4 0
 what about matt walker?
  • 1 0
 Danny Hart must be sore about that hey. It must be a little salty at the Hart household. Walker has won the overall despite never winning a race. Hart won three on the bounce in 2016 and still didn't win the overall. That's got to be annoying. It would annoy me that's for sure.
  • 1 0
 So much good racing this year. I was also stunned to see Isla Short take 5th at Worlds. I think the look on her face said it all.
  • 2 1
 Omitting Loris's back to back wins for rounds 1 and 2 seems quite the omission. To me that's quite a bit more impressive than Minnaar's win (which was damn impressive.).
  • 4 1
 Why no PFP?
  • 1 0
 Fair point. She absolutely dominated this season. She was so good that it was boring.
  • 2 0
 @pinkbike please change the 2019 on the top Big Grin
  • 2 2
 If Emil gets any better, they're going to have to hire an auctioneer to narrate slopestyle events just to keep up with the combos!
  • 1 0
 It's not that hard... just add table to the end of every trick.
  • 1 0
 All they need to say "a run full of gnar"
  • 1 0
 Emil Johansson for showing just how many tailwhips and barspins you can do before it becoming boring!
  • 2 0
 Reece Wilson, end of story, and the start of one ????????????
  • 2 1
 Tiago!!!!!!!! What a legend! Former world champ and Euro champ !
  • 2 0
 It's a shame there is a bias against endurance riding because if you take out the bias, that 24 hour performance has to be the best thing done this year. It's insane. DHers win and lose all the time, sometimes by tenths of a second... But I'm not sure who would come within the shadow of that 24 hour climbing record.
  • 1 0
 "That didn't phase her"
But did it faze her?
  • 2 0
 reece
  • 2 0
 Got to be Reece
  • 1 0
 EVIE! EVIE!
  • 1 0
 Tiago.
  • 1 0
 NO VIDEO IN ITALY!!!!
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