This season just keeps getting better and better. Here are five things we noticed from the sidelines as we get stuck into the second half of the downhill season:1. Pierron is the grass turn master
For two races in a row, Pierron has proven that he's the fastest rider on grass turns on the World Cup circuit. In Vallnord, he pulled out a second on the last split alone and in Les Gets he backed it up with a dominant performance and put the men's field to the sword either side of the woods. Commitment, technique and precision all boil down into a rider who stands head and shoulders above the rest of the field on this terrain. Pierron will be a huge threat come World Championships in Mont Sainte Anne.
2. Thibault Daprela could wrap up the overall title with two races to go
After yet another win, Thibaut Daprela has all but guaranteed his victory for the second year on the trot in the junior rankings. He now has a lead of 120 points over Canada's Patrick Laffey in the series with a maximum of 180 points still on offer. One more win at any of the three remaining rounds will guarantee Daprela the title and you'd be hard-pressed to bet against him when he's won four out of five so far this year already.
Surprisingly, Vali Holl actually has a much slimmer lead as Anna Newkirk has been doggedly chasing her down all year. Vali has 60 points to play with and it's hard to see her not carrying it over the line but there's still a chance Newkirk could be battling for a title on home soil at the last round of the year at Snowshoe in September.
3. Vali Holl joins a very elite club
There aren't many juniors that have posted the fastest time of the day in World Cup history. Early in the morning, Vali put more than a second into Tracey Hannah's winning time and was also fastest through the speed trap for what could be the most impressive performance of her already prodigal career. Looking back through the history books, Finn Iles did the same thing at Mont Sainte Anne in 2017 when rain came in halfway through the elite race, but he and Holl are the only two that have been fastest on the day since the junior category was introduced in 2013.
Even further back in time, when juniors had to sink or swim with the elites, Loic Bruni, Troy Brosnan, Sam Hill, Brendan Fairclough and more got podiums but only Sari Jorgensen (Nevegal, 1998 ), Nolvenn Le Caër (Mont Sainte Anne, 1995), Anne Caroline Chausson (Cap d'Ail, 1994) and Nico Vouilloz (Cap d'Ail, 1993) ever won elite races as juniors.
Yes, the conditions will no doubt have helped Holl but it's still an incredible achievement and, if it wasn't already clear, she's coming for medals next year.
4. The final drop blew apart the women's field
Right from track walk, the final drop into the finish area was a big talking point, and with good reason. It wasn't the biggest on course but the landing was flat and took a lot of sucking up. In the first practice session of the weekend, it claimed Rachel Atherton, later on it took out Mille Johnset and then it spoiled Nina Hoffmann's run in qualifying too. In the finals, most of the field elected to roll the drop for safety reasons and just five women sent it. Those that rolled it lost about two seconds and it probably even cost Veronika Widmann a podium spot. It will be interesting to see if it is modified for next year's World Cup and the 2022 World Championships.
5. The French upped their game on home soil
The French have been fast all year, there's no doubt of that, but cheered on by a full-throated, patriotic crowd, they lifted the level even further in Les Gets. Yes, the same three riders were on the podium as in Vallnord but there were another 3 spread through the top 20, making it the most stacked deck we've seen so far this year.
It wasn't just the men though, Marine Cabirou came the closest to winning she ever has and she was joined by another Frenchwoman in the top ten for the first time this year in the form of Agnes Delest. Last but not least, we saw the first Frenchwoman in top three in the junior women's races this year thanks to Lauryn Chappaz.