French Racing FansAmaury Pierron's tutorial on DH racing. Watch and learn.
French gravity racers are on fire
French riders stomped into July with Loic Bruni and Loris Vergier taking first and second at the Andorra DH World Cup. Isabeau Courdurier smashed the women's field at the Les Orres round of the EWS - and that was just the first week of July. Courdurier then won the following EWS in Val di Fassa, and before French fans had time to furl their flags, the DH World Cup was ready to rock in Les Gets, where Thibaut Daprela topped the junior field, Marine Cabirou almost nipped series leader Tracey Hannah for the win in the women's race, and Amaury Pierron put two seconds on Loic Bruni's near-perfect run for another one-two finish - on French soil. Ya think the crowd went wild?
Silences doubts in Les Gets XCO
Whispers that Nino Schurter's dominance of World Cup cross country racing may have come to an abrupt end were put to rest in Les Gets, where the Swiss powerhouse attacked on a brutal climb near the end of the race, destroying the field for an uncontested victory on one of the toughest circuits we've seen this season. Shurter had been bested this year on technical courses, where his skills have traditionally carried him to easy wins - which cast doubts that Schurter could extend his winning streak into his 30's. Well, it seems that it may be a while before the fat lady sings for Nino.
Earns the number 1 plate, breaks the second place curse
Tracey Hannah has regularly posted top qualifying times for two years running. Hannah is in top form and faster than ever, but for the most part, the DH World Cup's top step has eluded the Australian. Tracey's win at Les Gets, however, may have reversed her fortune. She leaves the French Alps with the number one plate and a decent points margin, and with Rachel out of action, she's got a good chance to earn the series title. Knowing Hannah, she would much rather duke out the rest of the season with Atherton in the hunt, but given the nature of Rachel's injury, it seems unlikely. That said, a battle for gold between these two veterans at the upcoming World Championships in Mont Sainte Anne would be a race to watch.
Big White Women's Slopestyle & Veronique Sandler's Freeride Documentary
Women have been conspicuously absent from the pro freeride scene, but that might change soon. Five Ten launched "Vision,"
Chris Seager's documentary which follows Veronique Sandler's journey from DH to slopestyle along with a hand-picked party of fellow freeriders that includes Tahnée Seagrave, Casey Brown, Vaea Verbeeck, and Manon Carpenter. Vision also brings in an equally star-studded male cast in this celebration of digging and riding - a film which should inspire more women to step into the ring.
Likewise, the second season of the Big White Slopestyle Invitational
also inaugurated the first women's competition, won by Stephanie Nychka. The women's slopestyle competition was staged on Big White's "Bronze" course, the same track that is used to qualify male athletes aspiring to get a spot in the weekend's signature "Gold" course, which is an invitation-only event.
No secret that there are a number of women who are sneaking up through the ranks in the world of slopestyle, but their presence has been largely vacant in pro competition. We expect that "Vision" and Big White's contributions will draw more female shredders into the spotlight.
Racers Trying to Stay Healthy
July's injured list takes out some key players
Two of downhill's top names, Aaron Gwin and Rachel Atherton join a burgeoning list of athletes who were sidelined this month. Both report that it is doubtful they'll be back in action anytime soon. Matt Simmonds fractured his eye socket in finals at Les Gets, so he'll be sitting on the sidelines for a while. Adolf Silva broke his leg in a few places after a big crash competing at Loose Fest XL. Ella Connolly's practice crash put her out of the EWS race in Les Orres, which unfortunately ended a charge that began last season with a U21 series title and a podium this year in her first season as an elite. Phil Atwill and Bernard Kerr are out with broken hands, and Monika Hrastnik, who skipped the Andorra DH to nurse an ankle and some concussion trauma, did not race in Les Gets either.
Okay everyone, heal up fast and get back to racing - and for the rest of us, a healthy August!
The Ard Rock Enduro
Weather gods force promoters to cancel race
Bell, Blackburn and Giro
Vista Outdoors lays off 14 employees
The good news is that Vista Outdoors plans to keep Bell, Giro, and Blackburn and revitalize the brands. Originally, the parent company intended to sell them off. The bad news is that Vista laid off 14 employees from the Scotts Valley headquarters who were involved in testing, marketing and design. That's a pricey place to live, so we sincerely hope the people who suddenly found themselves out of a job will find a landing place quickly.