Leogang 2021 could justifiably be remembered as the 'year of the OTB'. It's certainly not usual to see the best riders in the world flying out the front door with the frequency and ferocity that we did over this past week. Conditions were mighty tough, or at least they started that way. Somehow the weather behaved impeccably for both qualifying and finals, but that meant to race on the ragged edge demanded riders shake off the ingrained caution of 'survival mode' and opened things up to eye-watering pace... and that's pretty quick when you're wearing goggles.
The nightmarish forest section, first rearing its ugly head in time for some terrible late season weather at the World Champs last year, proved itself again to be the make-or-break minute on this track. Or so it seemed until Thibaut Daprela showed the old guard how much time can be made by surfing his front wheel down the hard-pack upper slopes in what was surely the most exciting run of the day. Top qualifier Troy Brosnan would have the last word, capitalising on Daprela's stall in the woods and threading an immaculate line through the forest. Troy's much deserved hat-trick is finally complete with some generous spacing; Vallnord 2017 and Fort William 2014.
Further excitement came in the form of Amaury Pierron's impressive return to the box after injury last season and top performances from World Champ, Reece Wilson and French national champ, Benoit Coulanges. The women’s race was no less wide-open and no less thrilling as we saw Camille Balanche blast the nay-sayers who doubted her victory here last autumn with a decisive win in the dry; albeit following a devastating eject in the final turn for home-town hero Vali Holl. Monika Hrastnik, Marine Cabirou and Tahnee Seagrave rounded out the podium in one scintillating start to the season that leaves us very much thirsty for more.