This past weekend Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis hosted the iXS International Rookies Championships 2016 together with the third round of the iXS Rookies Downhill Cup. Both races and numerous side events at the Rookies Festival made this weekend another highlight of the season!
The first weekend in August annually takes young talented riders to the Rookies Festival in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis and over the last three years the event has already become a beloved tradition. By focusing solely on younger riders and rookies in general, the Rookies Festival especially addresses families and what venue could better suit this purpose than the family-friendly village in Tyrol that not only offers a variety of activities for families, but also has its own bike park! Therefore, more than 200 riders from 17 different countries made their way to the Kona Rookie Games in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis this past weekend together with their families.
After introducing the Rookies Championships three years ago, the event now has become an established and fixed part of the annual iXS agenda. Similar to the proceedings of the international UCI championships, the iXS International Rookies Championships open the international stage to the younger categories U13, U15 and U16. And as this is the only event of its kind, it annually lures young riders from all over Europe and even from other continents to Austria.
Unlike the traditional races that usually start on Friday, the Rookies Festival already starts a week early with the Rookies Camp. With only 30 seats the camp was fully booked in nearly no time and the 30 riders who made it into the camp were provided with the full downhill rookie package, including different courses and workshops, as well as a team of technicians and loads of fun.
On Friday a first training session and the seeding run for the iXS Rookies Cup should then officially have opened the race weekend. Unfortunately, the weather once more took its toll like so many times before this season and all the downhill activities on Friday’s agenda had to be cancelled due to heavy rainfall. Instead the festival was opened with a pump track session in the evening.
Paula Zibasa (LAT - M9 Racing)
On Saturday the weather had improved a little and it was finally time for some downhill action. In the morning the riders tried to adjust to the rather wet conditions during their training session, but it turned out that the rain did no harm, but rather improved the overall conditions of the track. There was, however, one steep and extremely muddy section that did cause some serious problems and ended more than one rider’s dream of reaching the podium this weekend.
After the seeding had been cancelled, the current rankings had to be used to determine the starting order for the iXS RDC race run in the afternoon. Then, all eyes were on the youngest riders of the U13 and U15 categories that included 75 riders who are not yet allowed to participate in other international races. At the end of the day Moritz Netzer (AUT - Dirty Devils / U13) and Gabriel Wibmer (AUT - Ride Free Osttirol / U15) succeeded and Wibmer even set a time only 9 seconds slower than Saturday’s best time of 3:30.601 minutes set by Simon Rus (SVK - DH Positive Partizanske / U19).
Gabriel Wibmer (AUT - Ride Free Osttirol)
On Sunday the weather finally was at its best again and greeted the riders with warm temperatures and a bright sun shining from a blue sky. After a last training session the day began with some competitions and categories that were not included in the iXS International Rookies Championships like the Family Challenge, which crowned the fastest team of young riders and their parents.
Awards Ceremony Family Challenge
After that the iXS International Rookies Championships were opened by the U13 category. Ike Klaassen (NED - Santa Cruz SA) once more succeeded and defended last year’s title setting a best time of 3:53.013 minutes. Atis Scerbinins (LAT - M9racing) and Henri Kiefer (GER - MTB Club Mehring) completed the podium.
Ike Klaassen at the Red Bull Hot Seat
In the U15 category a field of 50 starters fought for the title, but in the end Gabriel Wibmer (AUT - Ride Free Osttirol) celebrated another victory with a time of 3:30.856 minutes that even would have landed him among the top 10 in the U17 category this weekend. Chris Cumming (IRL - Nukeproof Factory Racing) finished in second place wit a gap of only 6 seconds, followed by Leon Widhalm (AUT - Specialized Mountainbiker.at) in third place.
Valentina Höll (AUT - Höll Racing) once more dominated the U17 female category, which wasn’t exactly a surprise. But this year, the competition was stronger than ever with Mille Johnset (NOR - Atherton Racing Academy), who already won the British downhill series in Fort William. With a small gap of only 7 seconds Johnset finished in second place, followed by Paula Zibasa (LAT - M9 Racing).
Valentina Höll (AUT - Höll Racing)
In the U17 category it was once more a neck-on-neck race. At the end of the day Adam Beaty (GBR - Keswick Bikes) dominated the extremely exciting race with the day’s best time of 3:21.397 minutes and celebrated the first international title of his career. With a 1.6-second gap Mika Hopp (GER - Race and Style Woinem) took the silver medal, while it was bronze for Atle Laakso (NOR - SK Rye) this time.
Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis has once more proven its worth for the downhill discipline and especially for the young riders and their families. An event like this definitely qualifies as the highlight of the season and we can’t wait to return next season!