The curtain came down on the 2022 World Cup downhill season today in Val di Sole with the overall victors being crowned. As ever we've come to expect a rough and brutal track here in Italy, but this year's incarnation seemed that little more savage with countless crashes and mechanicals; getting your bike and body to the finish in one piece was far from a certainty.
The tightest of the overall battles coming into the weekend was in the junior women, but unfortunately a crash and subsequent injury would take Phoebe Gale out of the running and insure Canada's Gracey Hemstreet would take a maiden title. Hemstreet rounded off her amazing debut season with another commanding win, Izabela Yankova would come second and newly crowned World Champ Jenna Hastings third. The junior men's title was already decided and going the way of Jackson Goldstone but his rival Jordan Williams was fired up, the pair going toe to toe in the junior category for the final time. Unfortunately Goldstone would suffer a final turn slide-out so we never got to see just how close the two would end up, their split times were neck and neck going into the final sector. Jordan Williams was on formidable form this weekend though and his time would stand to be the fastest of the day, albeit a hard comparison to judge the track conditions to the elites. Remy Meier-Smith would sneak onto the final podium spot.
The women's overall was still up for grabs but it would need the stars to align perfectly for either Vali Holl or Myriam Nicole to prise it from Camille Balanche's clutches. As it happened Balanche did just enough to keep hold of her title lead despite her injury and would take home the overall and deservedly so. Nicole would lay down a dominant performance to grab the final win of 2022, Nina Hoffmann second, Vali Holl third, Jess Blewitt fourth and Camille Balanche in fifth.
Towards the end of the women's race and the beginning of the men's the rain began to fall ominously as creeping thoughts of "not again" resounded in the finish area. After a lengthy period of nothing but red lights things began to dry out before really heating up with Bernard Kerr smashing the previous best by a big margin. His time would be good enough for 5th in the end; finally bettered by Aaron Gwin, Dakotah Norton, Andreas Kolb and Loris Vergier who ultimately took the win with one of the best runs of his career. Amaury Pierron would crash out, but had a get-out-of-jail-free card having already mathematically clinched the overall with Iles not starting. That's it that's all folks.