Fort William Downhill WC 2015: Wet Willy - Practice Day

Jun 5, 2015
by Nathan Hughes  
Wet and wild hardly begins to describe the extremity of today's highland practice session... Plastic-wrapped riders trickled down the legendary gauntlet in dribs and drabs, leaning into gusting wind and blitzing downpours while desperate media clung to the shelter-free, Scottish tundra in attempt to continue to capture the action. The rains arrived as forecast almost exclusively for the Fort William area, supplied by pretty ferocious winds that now threaten to put tomorrow's practice and qualifying entirely on ice. Those in attendance of the BDS last month need no reminder of the painful consequences of high winds, but rather than repeat the format of a half lap with pushing up or shuttling it appears a fairly unanimous vote from team managers and others at the helm to rather postpone all action to Sunday, as the course for qualification must remain the same for finals. The results of a dramatic sounding, early-morning, 'crisis meeting' will determine the schedule, so here's hoping for a calmer turn to keep things as they should be and let this gnarly version of a classic play out to the fullest...


After spening 7 hours in the pouring rain and heavy wind it s hard to imagine that this was actually the weather we woke up to this morning.
  After spending 7 hours in the pouring rain and heavy wind, it's hard to imagine that this was actually the weather we woke up to this morning.

High winds drove the rain sideways today but they weren t strong enough to shut down the lift.
  High winds drove the rain more than a little sideways, but thankfully they weren't strong enough to shut down the lift and stop play.

Ragot beginning her day at the MS Mondraker pit with the fanciest plate on the hill.
  Rain or shine, it must be a nice feeling to start the day with the fanciest plate on the hill. Yellow number one, fastest rider on the fastest team.

Emmeline ready to roll in the new Adidas roll-off system.
  Emmeline Ragot's helmet ready to roll with a new Adidas prototype roll-off system.

It was bright and dry somewhere today but that somewhere was definitely not on the slopes on Aonach Mor.
  It was bright and dry somewhere today, but that somewhere was definitely not on the slopes on Aonach Mor.

CRC videographer Salva Moreno with dual cameras dressed apppropriately.
  CRC videographer, Salva Moreno, fully prepared with dual cameras dressed appropriately. As it turned out, one couldn't be prepared enough.

Out of the gate at into the grey with the pink. Tahnee piloting the copparide Devinci that could be yours.
  Out of the gate at into the grey with the pink. Tahnee piloting the #copparide Devinci that could be yours.

Emilie Siegenthaler battles the high wind at the top of the track just moments before the dark clouds and rain moved in.
  Emilie Siegenthaler battles the high wind at the top of the track just moments before the dark clouds and rain moved in.

The fog rolled in and reduced visiblity to about twenty feet. When it receded the heavy rains kicked in.
  The fog rolled in and reduced visibility to about twenty feet. When it receded, the heavy rains kicked in.

Moses moments on every turn... Fort William weather can be unfriendly at the best of times but today really took things next level.
  Moses moments on every turn... Fort William weather can be unfriendly at the best of times, but today really took things next level.

Umbrellas were the photogs best friends until the wind picked up and started tuning them all inside out.
  Umbrellas were the photogs' best friends until the wind picked up and started tuning them all inside out.

There were brief respites from the rain when the skies lightened up but until 3PM it was just a general deluge.
  There were brief respites from the rain when the skies lightened up, but until 3PM, it was just a general deluge.

Mick Hannah muscles through the massive holes that have developed in the new bog section just below the first woods. If the sun ever does come out this section will get really nasty.
  Mick Hannah muscles through the massive holes that have developed in the new bog section just below the first woods. If the sun ever does come out, this section will get really nasty.

The morning started off with a light drizzle. By noon we might has well have been gathering animals two-by-two.
  By noon, we might as well have been gathering animals two-by-two.

It was all shorts n t-shirts from here.
  It was all shorts n t-shirts from here.

Wet wasn t even the word for the media crews stranded mid-highland deluge in gale-force winds. Ian Lean gives his left eyeball some shelter from the rain.
  Wet wasn't even the word for the media crews stranded mid-highland deluge in gale-force winds. Ian Lean gives his left eyeball some shelter from the rain.

Can Dean Lucas build on his impressive recent form spurred on by the return of former champ team mate Stevie Smith
  Dean Lucas goes to war. Can he build on his impressive recent form, spurred on by the return of former champ team mate, Stevie Smith?

Rachel Atherton wasn t on the gas today and she was last in timed training. However that means she will be going full-out on Sunday.
  Rachel Atherton wasn't on the gas today and she was last in timed training. However, that means she will be going full-out on Sunday.

Wyn Masters getting aggressive in the top section.
  Wyn Masters, getting aggressive in the top section.

Bryceland slipped out in practice and smacked his arm pretty good but his foot was fine and he quickly got back to it.
  Bryceland slipped out in practice and smacked his arm pretty good, but his foot was fine and he quickly got back to it.

Ratty shaking off the crash with a quick grimace.
  Ratty, shaking off the crash with a quick grimace. He would also be ending his day with a bit of a bang.

Brook MacDonald leads out junior colleague Laurie Greenland over some slick bedrock.
  Brook MacDonald leads out junior colleague, Laurie Greenland over some slick bedrock.

Mike Jones sporting the 3 plate is looking to back up his open round podium appearance again this weekend in Scotland.
  Mike Jones, sporting the #3 plate is looking to back up his open round podium appearance again this weekend in Scotland.

It was a trash bag kind of day today in Fort William. Heavy rain cold temps and stinging wind meant a lot of spectators and media were caught out from not being prepared.
  It was a trash bag kind of day today in Fort William. Heavy rain, cold temps and stinging wind meant a lot of spectators and media were caught out from not being prepared.

Stevie Smith is back. He was out in A group practice but the number 87 plate kept him out of timed training.
  Stevie Smith is back. He was out in A group practice, but the number 87 plate kept him out of timed training.

Stevie Smith skipping toward the mid-track deer-gate like a muddy red and yellow... deer.
  Smith skipping down the river towards the mid-track deer-gate .

The heavy rain has kept the thick mud at bay but that hasn t made it any easier for riders to keep their vision clear.
  The heavy rain has kept the thick mud at bay, but that hasn't made it any easier for riders to keep their vision clear.

A forty minute course hold had some pinned down under their umbrellas for a Tinder break. Tinder wasn t working though so they switched to Grinder.
  A forty minute course hold had some pinned down under their umbrellas for a Tinder break. Tinder wasn't working, though, so they switched to Grinder.

Gee Atherton wants nothing more than to win in front of friends and family here in Fort William.
  Gee Atherton wants nothing more than to win in front of friends and family here in Fort William.

Jumping out from the void. Visibility was impaired on several levels today.
  Jumping out from the void. Visibility was impaired on several levels today.

Emmeline Ragot won here last year and she already has a win for the season under her belt. Will she repeat come Sunday
  Emmeline Ragot won here last year, and she already has a win for the season under her belt. Will she repeat come Sunday?

Harry Heath sucking it up near the top.
  Harry Heath, sucking it up near the top.

Last time Marcello Gutierrez made the top 10 was at the brutal Cairns round last year. Maybe he can find another top result in the wet come Sunday.
  Last time Marcello Gutierrez made the top 10 was at the brutal Cairns round last year. Maybe he can find another top result in the wet come Sunday.


Thibault Laly took second in timed training for the junior men.
  Thibault Laly took second in timed training for the junior men.

Aaron Gwin was seventh in timed training today. Will he make a repeat of his performance at Lourdes or will teammate Brosnan have the fastest time here at Fort William
  Aaron Gwin was seventh in timed training today. Will he make a repeat of his performance at Lourdes, or will teammate Brosnan have the fastest time here at Fort William?

Loic Bruni looks fast composed and very comfortable in the 1 plate.
  Loic Bruni looks fast, composed, and very comfortable in the #1 plate.

Andrew Crimmins popping off the first jump. He was fifth in timed training today.
  Andrew Crimmins, popping off the first jump. He was fifth in timed training today.

Manon Carpenter sporting her new Monster helmet was fastest today in timed training for the ladies.
  Manon Carpenter sporting her new Monster helmet was fastest today in timed training for the ladies.

Tracey Hannah is riding Fort William with an aggression we have not previously seen from her on the Fort William track.
  Tracey Hannah is riding Fort William with an aggression we have not previously seen from her on the Fort William track.

After a rough start to the season in Lourdes Casey Brown is looking fast here in Fort William. We all know she has the speed to get on the podium so long as she keeps it together in her race runs.
  After a rough start to the season in Lourdes, Casey Brown is looking fast here in Fort William. We all know she has the speed to get on the podium so long as she keeps it together in her race runs.

Dean Lucas dips below the fog just above the midway point on track.
  Mark Wallace dips below the fog just above the midway point on track.

Mich Hannah had a bit of bad luck at the end of the day dislocating a finger and possibly damaging some ligaments in the process. He was off to the hospital straight away but is hoping a little tape will be all that s needed to take care of things.
  Mick Hannah had a bit of bad luck at the end of the day, dislocating a finger and possibly damaging some ligaments in the process. He was off to the hospital straight away, but is hoping a little tape will be all that's needed to take care of things.

Joe Smith just dominated the steepest track in the UK at the BDS. Look for him to keep that kind of pace this weekend alongside yougster Mike Jones.
  Joe Smith just dominated the steepest track in the UK at the BDS. Look for him to keep that kind of pace this weekend alongside youngster Mike Jones.

Mondraker s Markus Pekoll looked pinned in the wet rides the 81 plate after his rib busting crash on the steep chute section at Round 1 in Lourdes.
  Mondraker's Markus Pekoll looking pinned in the wet, riding the 81 plate after his rib-busting crash on the steep chute section at Round 1 in Lourdes.

Brendan Fairclough up to speed and looking fast as he drops into the foggy cloud layer that filled in much of the wide open upper slopes today.
  Brendan Fairclough up to speed and looking fast as he drops into the foggy cloud layer that filled in much of the wide open upper slopes today.

Brendan Fairclough with the kind of plate number we ve all been hoping for full day-glow in the murky swampland of Aonoch Mor.
  Full day-glow and a solid 7 plate for Fairclough in the murky swampland of Aonoch Mor.

Remi Thirion sending it into the steep rock section up top.
  Remi Thirion, sending it into the steep rock section up top.

Remi Thirion was on fire at Lourdes all weekend prior to his flat in finals. While 10th place is Remi s best result at the Fort his wildman skills could surely take him all the way to the top steps.
  Thirion was on fire at Lourdes all weekend prior to his flat in finals. While 10th place is Remi's best result at the Fort, his wildman skills could surely take him all the way to the top steps.

Brosnan clearly won t let this track title go without a fight stomping a TT run
  Brosnan clearly won't be letting this track title go without a fight, setting some blistering pace with a 4:47 in today's TT.


Danny Hart knows how do dress or the horrendous Scottish weather and certainly isn t one to let cold and wet conditions faze him.
  Danny Hart knows how do dress or the horrendous Scottish weather and certainly isn't one to let cold and wet conditions faze him.


Tahnee Seagrave drops into the slick rock garden as the worst of the rain began to fall.
  Tahnee Seagrave drops into the slick rock garden as the worst of the rain began to fall.

The infamous Scottish Dust is flying through the air in abundance this weekend
  The infamous Scottish Dust is set to be flying through the air in abundance all weekend


Remy Thirion gives the thumbs up as he heads out for timed training.
  Still thirsty for more? You betcha. Riders, media and superfans alike will be back in the thick of it tomorrow, fingers crossed on the lifts!



62 Comments

  • + 99
 "Tinder wasn't working, though, so they switched to Grinder"

Aaaaaahhahahahahhahahahahha

That is, hands down, the funniest Pinkbike picture caption I've ever seen.
  • + 1
 That was hilarious, I kinda wondered if the older folk on here might not get it right away tho hahaha
  • + 23
 Had to google Grindr. SWEET!!
  • + 21
 i hear scottish tinder is legendary
  • + 8
 So 'Americanwetdream' (??) you like Grindr?
  • + 1
 Grindr. Wtf Smile ))
  • + 9
 Then you went for a cheeky nandos?
  • + 0
 There isn't a Nandos in Fort Bill but if there was it would be the cheekiest of all the piri piri meals
  • + 75
 Did the UCI ban summer in Scotland?
  • + 10
 I think they must have , we had the hottest day of the year yesterday in the south
  • + 33
 You can tell it's summertime in Scotland as the rain is warmer.
  • + 7
 To be fair we have had a particularly crap start to the summer up here this year. Haven't seen any sustained dry weather since April! It's actually starting to get a bit depressing.
  • + 24
 "did monster energy let go ratboy?"

It looks like it. Probably because he's boozing it up in most of the This is Peaty films as opposed to drinking their fizzy, tooth-dissolving, super-concentrated-sugar syrup, obesity juice.

Booze is the healthier option.
  • + 8
 It seems stupid for Monster to drop him the season after he wins the overall WC.

Maybe Jager could sponsor him?
  • + 10
 My guess is HE left monster, didn't want to promote a product he didn't use/like. Can't blame him Big Grin
  • + 5
 Danny Hart looks like he is also off RockStar
  • + 4
 And Manon joined them ?? whats going on!??!!??!?!
  • + 4
 only red bull keeps loyal to their athletes
  • + 18
 I wanna see SikMik on the podium again. It's been too long, he's such a rad, humble and nice dude! If you ever see him, go up to him and see for yourself. Just had to add my 2 cents on the Wink
  • + 3
 First thing I thought was, "Oh Nooooo, you've got to be kidding, not again!!" His bad luck streak is killing me - I can only imagine how he feels. So true drjohn.
  • + 13
 Good to see you have almost as many pics of the women as you do the men.. Bring on race day, may the force be with them
  • + 13
 Please bring back Rob Warner quali chats. I'm just gonna leave that there.
  • + 8
 So many Marzocchis - makes my heart happy. And some Bos and a Manitou in there with the usual Foxes and RSs. Not sure who the favourite is if it's wet, but I wouldn't count out Atherton or Hart. Gwin - probably not if it's sloppy. Glad Ratty is OK. I would never bet against him even with a couple of falls and a bad ankle. Dude has the proper attitude for racing.
  • + 7
 If Fairclough doesn't get a great result this race, I'm going to go down there and kick his BMW
  • + 4
 Always love these race photos, but specifically loving that photo of Mike Jones this time round.
  • + 5
 Brilliant images. Well done guys!
  • + 5
 ooooo the suspense !!! mother nature you are FUN !
  • + 3
 The rain makes the midges horny
  • + 2
 Far out those are some awesome pics from some pretty dedicated photogs.. especially that one of Tahnee Seagrave!
  • + 2
 Awesome shots. Video just doesn't prove the track as upslope stills do. A few typos/proofread helps
  • + 4
 Looks like loads of fun!
  • + 1
 Look after my bike Tahnee!!! Omg, so hoping I win it, so hoping Tahnee wins on it too
  • + 2
 Could have sworn bryceland was on monster? wheres his stickers?
  • + 1
 What a bud luck for Mick Hannah, every season sth bad happens to him. Heal up!
  • + 3
 Fantastic shots.
  • + 0
 Atherton, Hart, Bruni
Oh wait that's Vital MTB...
Either way, I like Gwin (I own one of his old Yeti frames after all) but he's never done well in the slop.
  • + 2
 now i understand why they call him sick hannah...
  • + 2
 Oh boy, wc. Just in time for finals.
  • + 1
 Have to agree with Alias530.... Tinder/Grinder comment was the funniest I've read on PB!
  • + 3
 cool shots
  • + 0
 How come Stevie was in group A practise if he had the 87 plate?
Group A is only the top80, right?
  • + 1
 "Tinder wasn't working, though, so they switched to Grinder"
well then
  • + 1
 copy... Maybe, BRRAAPPPPPPPPPP
  • + 1
 I wish I was there... :/
  • + 0
 What's the 50/01 about?
  • + 2
 Think I read somewhere it refers to the mix ratio for alcoholic drinks.
  • + 1
 did monster energy let go ratboy?
  • + 3
 Gas oil mix for 2 strokes.......
  • + 1
 I know what it means but I don't know why it's relevant... this is MTB, not MX.
  • + 1
 copy..... Maybe BRRAAAAPPPPPPPPPPP........
  • + 2
 Davidsimons has it right!!
  • - 2
 England summer)))
Cool shots, so atmospheric!
  • + 7
 Its Scotland you donut
  • - 2
 Ok, UK. I just saw photos from mobile w/out text.
  • + 3
 Haha to be fair England looks like this for most of the year so no wonder you got confused!
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