After two years of rough weather, canceled practice sessions, and cold long days on the slopes on Aanoch Mor the sun is finally shining and the dust will surely be flying for this weekend's World Cup in Fort William. While most seasoned racers have ridden these slopes in a plethora of conditions, to many of the young guns and newcomers it might as well be an entirely new venue in its current bone dry and slippery state.
Who will it suit? Well, you'd be hard pressed to bet against the likes of Greg Minnaar and Rachel Atherton who have dominated here in the past. But we've also seen Manon, Gee, Sam Hill, Aaron Gwin and Danny Hart win or come agonizingly close in recent years as well.
And let's not forget who's missing this weekend. Last round's winner and probably the hottest rider of 2016, Loic Bruni, is sidelined with a broken collarbone which could leave the door wide open for a rider like Gwin to capitalize on the points, as well as allow others to move up a spot or two.
Then, of course, there is Stevie Smith. The rider that will hang heavy on the minds of everyone in attendance this year, and a man whose presence will be felt all weekend long. So it is fitting that the first tire tracks on course, and the first beers raised in a toast at the finish line were put down in Stevie's honor today. 70+ riders strong, the best in the world, all together on one run to remember the legacy and acknowledge the passing of one of the greatest riders of a generation, who was a true friend to the entire downhill community.#LongLiveChainsaw
Stay tuned all weekend for coverage from Fort William.
/ @davetrump / @natedh9