Eyes were to the sky and devices locked to the radar as pit chatter centred around who put the snowmobile in the Lusty tent and whether the forecast rain would arrive in the morning or as the forecast read – hold out till late afternoon.
The Commencal Australian Open Downhill is a 3.5km 370 vertical metre race starting at the top of the Kosciuszko Express, it takes in the famous fire road, before entering the technical descent to the village and big waiting crowd.
All week the weather was hot, fine and sunny but come late morning on race day a band of rain rolled in dropping 5mm across the track, it was then a change of tactics as all week riders had trained on a dry, loose dusty track.
The showers added a tacky layer to the dirt giving most categories prime track conditions, but as the pro men’s were set to jump the rain settled in, holding up racing until the storm passed.
It was an all-star line up in the pro men’s with the waiting crowd keen to see how the world’s best handled the slippery Aussie track. Troy Brosnan made the most of the conditions, sliding into top spot making it a four-peat, this win makes Brosnan the most decorated Australian Open Downhill winner. He rode the course in 5:30, just a pedal stroke ahead of Australian Harry Bush with French rider Loris Vergier in third.
“It was a really muddy race, it was hard to keep pushing and going hard. I had a good run but it was tough. To race in the wet with so many fast guys here and win, I’m wrapped” said Brosnan.
In the pro women’s it was a great welcome back to Thredbo for Tracey Hannah, she took the win in a 5:52, around five seconds ahead of Sian A’Hern with local Tegan Molloy rounding out the podium.
“So good to spend the week here, I’ve missed it so much. I haven’t been for a while so to be able to chill in the off-season and come to this race is awesome, I loved every minute” said Tracey.
For the world cup riders Cannonball Festival is a great start to training for their season ahead, so they were taking it easy on the rain-soaked track.
“That was wild, you start to think the dirt is ok and the rocks are grippy then you hit a clay patch, so different to what we have been riding all week. As this is the start of our season I was happy to get down in one piece and get another Cannonball under my belt” said Josh Carlson
“I struggled to train in the dust and race in the rain, I got a bit sideways so I pulled it back a little, it was super fun actually” remarked French Enduro rider Yoann Barelli.
After six years of the Australian Downhill, the record books still show that only two people have won the event in both the men’s and women’s categories. Troy Brosnan and Andrew Crimmins have four and two wins respectively. Local rider Tegan Molloy and Tracey Hannah now share equal wins in the women’s category.