After Saturday's practice, many eager and anxious racers gathered at Windrock for the first Downhill Southeast race of the year on Sunday. A hot and humid qualifying day would leave many racers planning ahead and packing the shuttle line for practice well before the scheduled 9 o’clock race start in hopes of beating the heat. While making their way through packet pickup and into the shuttle line, a mishap with one of the shuttle busses occurred resulting in the truck finding its way into a ditch with trailer in tow. Although it was an unforeseen bump in the road, no one was injured and many jumped in to resolve the situation and free the truck from its temporary dwelling.
Then, the real excitement got underway with a record-breaking 230 racers taking to the course promptly at 9 am. Many had made the comment that the course was quite slick compared to qualifying, and after witnessing many racers wash the front in corners, it was easy to believe them. With a delay due to the shuttle conundrum, many racers were only able to complete one practice run and chose to use that as more of a track walk as opposed to a practice run. Seasonably challenging conditions were to be had due to the greenery that has engulfed Windrock creating shadows leading many racers to find themselves in unseen holes. Despite the tricky and challenging conditions, racers were simply happy to be back between the tape.
After the conclusion of practice, the first slew of racers was up the mountain for their race runs. First up was the Single Crown class, racing on the fast but longer Cat 2/3 course. Jubal Davis on his Yeti would be fastest down the mountain in the category, with Ty Teasdale and Seamus Powell rounding out the podium. Meanwhile on the shorter more rugged Pro / Cat 1 course, the Cat 1 Men 19-39 class was lead by TJ Henson who took top honors, followed by Corey Ross and Jesse Borror. Cat 1 Junior Men was won by Keegan Rowley with Matthew Spong edging out Jack Brown by less than a second in a tight race.
The last racers down the jagged course at Windrock were of course the Pro women and men. Picking up where she left off on Saturday, Frida Roenning would continue her success on Sunday with a time that put her ahead of Kailey Skelton by nearly 3 seconds. Rachel Pageau would take the final spot on the podium.
A full class of 17 racers in the Pro Men's class meant that everyone would have to be on their A-game to be competitive for the win. Dakotah Norton was not pleased with his second-place qualifying time on Saturday, and made up for it, shaving a whole 12 seconds off his run (2:44.03) on Sunday en route to the class win in the much anticipated first race back. Santa Cruz Syndicate rider Luca Shaw would keep Dakotah honest as he also would also improve his time from Saturday by 7 seconds on the way to a second-place finish (2:47.57). Norwegian Isak Leivsson would complete the podium in third place.
The whoops section provides a nice hammering towards the end of the race track
Photography and words by Mack Faint