Pinkbike Awards - DH Race of the Year 2014

Jan 15, 2015
by Nathan Hughes  
"A phenomenal downhill season from the off, snowballed into one of the most dramatic on record, with each round bringing its own set of signature thrills and spills. It makes sense then that the last three stops for the racing circus were rated finest by the PB panel- Windham with its incredible crowd atmosphere and deadly tight race times, Meribel with it's 100% au-natural track and red hot season finale and last, but not least, Hafjell World Champs; the ultimate 2014 farewell party. We can have only one winner so now's the time to pick a favourite. In the end we had to go with the race that gripped us hardest, the longest and left us just shy of emotionally crippled... near crying into the arms of a loved one or at the first convincing donkey appeal that cropped up on TV. You know, the race that no man or troll will go forgetting in a hurry..." - Nathan Hughes

Pinkbike MTB Awards

DH Race of the Year

Neko Mullaly won the chainless Worlds race.

UCI World Championships, Hafjell, Norway

What can we say about the 2014 champs? It was truly the race that had it all. It had the basics; an exciting track, solid organization, fine weather and decent crowds. Then it had, shall we say 'defining moments' that were positively out of this world and rendered us a collective of babbling messes; riders, media and viewers at home alike. Why? Because things got wilder than one of those American frat parties with the red plastic cups where somebody ends up expelled for twerking and doing shots of de-icer mixed with sick on the internet. Atherton held on at warp with a steady head to stomp gold, Mulally almost did the unthinkable, Hill had his surprise eject in the green on the rocks and as for Bryceland, well that's all water under the bridge now. Elsewhere Manon trumped Rachel by the width of a Welsh pony tail, while Vergier and Molloy tasted the rainbow for the very first time in what was, overall, one hell of a spectacle.

for some it was a brutal day of broken bikes and broken body parts.

How did it get so crazy? Surely it was a case of scores to settle and 'all or nothing' stakes at season's end, on one of the most fierce and unforgiving tracks on the circuit. Whatever the case, we feel sure Hafjell World Champs was one of those solid gold classics our fine mountain bike community will never forget and probably refuse to stop referencing, much to the annoyance of the new generation of future times. 'Son, you don't know nothing till you go sit down and watch the World Champs in Norway from back in the glory days' etc etc. Bam Hill, you've been told.

Ratty giving it full beans into the deep dusty lower woods. He has struggled a little with Norway so far and 9th is further out than expected this morning but tomorrow s a new day. The overall and the stripes double crown still hangs in the balance.
  UCI World Champs, Hafjell, Norway is your DH Race of the Year 2014, on Pinkbike.

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Must Read This Week


  • 79 3
 Meribel I expected

but looking back on Champs it was bloody good so I am in agreement

more French alp circuits are required - - or Austrian -

ps: GET RID OF THAT SHITE TRACK - you have been on the circuit too long already and you know who you are
  • 24 8
 Was a great track, plenty of drama that had edge of seat watching. You didn't get that at the 'SHITE' track you mention. That infamous champery run is still getting played everywhere too.. Simple rule for tracks, if you have to turn pedals more than five times after the start its not downhill its enduro.
  • 6 0
 Think it's good myself to spread the races between the continents, there must be loads of other steep stuff in South Africa (imagine a track off the top of Table Mountain Wink ). What is needed is more world cup races altogether; 10 rounds would be good, guess the running costs would be too much for many teams though?
  • 38 3
 No chain was mentioned in the article. This is unacceptable.
  • 10 7
 chainstay debate has cooled down, so it seems, can we expect chainless debate to emerge? I have read an opinion here that actually riding without a chain made his suspension more efficient supposedly giving Neko technological advantage over the rest of the field... should we then expect chainless prototypes in Val Di Sole?
  • 11 1
 The new chain release device, press button 5 seconds after start gate lol Those frames with large chaingrowth will benefit from this device on tracks where no chain is required...
  • 10 1
 Yes bat-fastard, in this way Ratboy on his VPP chainstretcher would win, as he would land in the middle of Finish area.
  • 10 1
 I agree with @mikecawsey, I think the world cup needs to cover as many continents as possible... It's just a shame that the pedal between the top 1/2 and the bottom 1/2 of the track covers most of Africa!
  • 6 0
 hey I never mentioned Africa ....... ahem.....shhhhhh.

yes I would like to see it hit as many parts of the world as possible, I wasn't trying to say base it in the alps/mostly Europe, what I should have said was more tracks like the alps, raw DH rocky fast, scary tracks, that is what these boys and girls need to push them, meribel, val dis ere? (where tracy broke her femur), etc have been great additions imo
  • 3 6
 @bat-fastard your rule sucks, look at Val di Sole. You could barely get up that hill at the start with just 5 pedal strokes. And noone has ever called that an enduro track
  • 4 0
 it takes about 5 seconds unlike a minute or so like with pmb
  • 14 11
 @bat-fastard "Simple rule for tracks, if you have to turn pedals more than five times after the start its not downhill its enduro."

I disagree. Pedaling should be mandatory in all cycling events (including DH). The problem lays with the tracks not being burly enough for 8 inch bikes to be required (and trail bikes are much more capable now). IMO, DH should embody everything cycling, only pointed down a dirt hill. Steep techy gnar, big jumps, crazy high speeds and even sprint segments should ALL be in a DH track. DH racers are athletes and should be tested as such. If they don't need to pedal it shouldn't be called a bike race. It's a luge.

Make a rule for only allowing dual crown and/or gnar-up the tracks a bit more.
  • 5 3
 @Reverie2Reality nope I'm going to stand by it, a few short bursts out of corners etc and thats it. Any prelonged pedalling isn't downhill to me. I rode my first downhill WC course back in 1999 in Les Gets. No pedalling required even out of the start hut. I' haven't been down Champery as its a fecking cliff and beyond me now, 10 years ago I would of. The ISX European cups are as good. I have rode bike patrol for the Chatel race and the Swiss national too.
  • 4 0
 Would hardline be vocoder es a dh race or more of a dh event. Cause if it is a race it deserved to win. I've never seen a more intense track
  • 6 1
 there is no 'have to' in any downhill track. I think a downhill track that is selected for use in a world cup in this day and age should be a challenge for riders in a positive way. Races should not be won in the sprints; they should be won and lost in places where risks are made to make up time or lose it. That is the spirit of it and that is why i hope ) most of us like it. There should be no rules apart from stay inside the tape. The fastest rider down wins, that is all. What bike you ride does not make a difference to the degree of technicality. To conclude: UCI I approve of the upcoming season's track selection. To take riders to the limit of what they can do technicality-wise is what I personally think every WC should do. Leave PMB and Cairns for the EWS, we ALL want to see tracks that make the best riders in the world grin from ear to ear; like Vallnord and Hafjell.
  • 1 0
 @FlowMasterO it was a rce and an event; but as you said it was a hard track but there was no real suspense involved as a viewer compared to this one.
  • 4 0
 South america has gnarly terrain, as shown in last years EWS, i know they could easily find a suitable track for a UCI DH race, and it could be as gnarly as any other track on this earth, just matters under what intentions it was built. i also thing asia could have some good tracks, although i doubt many are built, but you know you could get some gnarly things out of the Himalayas hahaha. i would like to see more areas on this world used for the UCI DH WC. include everyone, let the sport grow, that way prices could go down Big Grin
  • 3 1
 How about Enduro race on Fatbikes from Everest?
  • 2 1
 lots of people dislike Pietermaritzburg...

but this year,s race was really exciting, maybe cos of the changes. sik mik's runways incredible...I thought he had it for sure.

anyway...lots of pedalling there. maybe it's just me?!!
  • 1 0
 ^^^damn my clumsy cell phone fingers...
  • 1 1
 @jmbrit is the shit track SA or windham?
  • 2 0
 Come back to California please and thank you. Preferably Big Bear. I'll gladly volunteer to help build the trail. Sleep in a tent and eat nuts and berries.
  • 1 0
 As far as I can see, none of you guys have ever organized a single race, and all you can do is complain over and over.
Just because the Everest is the highest mountain on Earth, doesn’t mean it is capable of hosting a dh race.
Just because your local track has 1000 riders per day, doesn’t mean it is capable of hosting a dh race.
You need skilled people in order to organize a race. Also, you need infrastructure and you need money behind everything and everybody, because nobody works for free, even though you probably ride your bike for free.

So, if you didn’t notice yet, races will definitely "materialize" in places where you can find:
1 – skilled people
2 – infrastructure
3 - $$$
  • 3 1
 dzdh - Everest can totaly host a race, dropping off Hillary Step would be awesome, ridge to southern summit would challenge Danny MacAskills movie, then straight down coluoirs of Geneva Spur towards South Col, slalom down Lhotse face and the most incredible Freeride location ever, Khumbu Ice Fall, by which Utah and Rampage are nothing more by a local skatepark. So your 1st point should be "lots of imagination"
  • 3 1
 I believe the Everest comment was sarcasm
  • 3 0
 In a way yes... in another wicked way I know someone who has thought it through down to details.
  • 1 0
 I stand corrected
  • 28 5
 Wait what, no Petermaritzburg?!

We are shocked and appalled, outraged and err... something.

(not really)
  • 16 2
 Well, when UCI makes it easier and less expensive for locations to host then we can complain, but as for now I commend any facility willing to step up and be a part of the series. I'd wager that most places lose money. Yes, it's not the best track but at least it exists.
  • 11 2
 and at least we get to enjoy seeing some pro's in action too
  • 2 0
 @stretchza , well there is that. My mate recently moved back to SA, who said how kak the DH scene is there. Ended up joining the masses and got a short travel 29'er . Hopefully having the race in PMB will get more people in to it.

I still struggle with the fact it's held in PMB ... surely something sick can be purpose built in St Laurie's pass etc.
  • 1 0
 Sorry, I've ben in the UK too long, I meant "Sir Lowry's Pass"
  • 4 0
 There's more to it than just building a track. Read the article from the people in Windham who put on a race. It's a lot of work with little financial reward. They host it because they love the sport.
  • 2 0
 @hetfield1 , I know that very well - but it's still curious place to hold the race.
  • 5 1
 I'll be honest, I don't know my SA geography very well but compared to where I live I'd ride that course any day!
  • 2 0
 @hetfield1 , same, it looks incredible fun (the top anyway) ... but what's fun for me to ride and what's good to watch pro riders on, is two very different things Smile
  • 3 1
 Part of the problem is that The Alps, the Rockies, & even the Appalachians are the product of recent activity, speaking geologically. This means steep slopes, jagged terrain, fun bike riding.

The geography of Africa is incredibly ancient. Anything steep was eroded down 100,000 years ago. Kilimanjaro isn't the only 7000er that you can walk up without cause.
  • 4 0
 SA has plenty of suitable mountain ranges....but because there is limited snow there is no established skiing infrastructure and the areas with suitable mountains are also environmentally sensitive areas and miles away from cities. Have had plenty of chats with the PMB course designer and its not only about the dh track but it also has to accommodate the other disciplines, be accessible to major travel centres and towns. There is possibly a better dh track only 50km inland from pmb ...but it does not meet some of the accessibility criteria imposed by UCI....there are also tracks in Cape Town that do not meet the drop to distance yeah...its not a simple process...and lets not get started on vehicle based uplifts. the fact is that europe and n america work because of the skiing infrastructure that already exists. I still think there should be at least 1 S hemisphere destination every year - Aus, NZ, SA or even somewhere like Chile or Argentina that can be rotated.
  • 2 4
 Maybe I'm missing something but why is there not a stop in the Rockies? Is Whistler not eligible for some reason?
  • 2 1
 Teams have a hard time making it to NA as it is, the only reason we get 2 races is because they're fairly close to each other. They had races at Angel Fire, NM, in 2005 which is on the southern tip of the rockies. But they didn't go to PMB or Aus that year, only south of the equator destination was Brazil. No Windham either.
  • 1 0
 There is plenty of ski lift infrastructure in S. America, but I don't know how much of it is within reasonable distance of international airports. Pietermaritzburg is less than 100km from Durban airport, and Valle Nevado is close to Santiago, but in Argentina it's much more of a haul.
  • 13 1
 meribel was good, but personally over the livestream there weree so many things that went different than expected with hafjell. Meribel had sam hill to win, he won. Hafjell had everyone up for it, then so many favourites had problems... im sure going to remember this one!
  • 5 6
 I'm surprised Cairns wasn't up there, I thought the coverage from that whole weekend was really interesting and you really had no idea who would win the race.
  • 5 2
 i think it was one of the worse to be quite honest... i think for the riders because of the weather they just wanted to get it over with...
  • 5 4
 Cairns was a joke. There was a rocky bit at the top that was pretty good. The 3 minutes of track after that however, they needn't have bothered with.
  • 3 2
 They missed out the notorious (Woop Woop?) Moto styled section where so much action went down. I know Aussies like drinking as much as us Brits but the guy who chose those camera locations should lay off the booze next time.
  • 4 0
 I was at Cairns and it was absolutely mental! All the riders loved the track despite the weather, the crowd was one of the best at any race I've been to! I don't think it was the best of the season, but first hand it was insane!
  • 3 3
 THEN go to somewhere else like meribel or vallnord and witness the real deal Wink
  • 2 1
 Did you walk the track did you?
  • 1 3
 not cairns, ive been to other places like meribel and vlnord but from what i saw cairns only had a few places where there were alot of people (comparing to meribel for example)
  • 2 0
 part of that had to do with the nature of the track, right? Was a freaking jungle out there and hard to get around...or no!
  • 2 0
 That's a great way to judge a track HutchJR... from your armchair and seeing only whatever spots Redbull feels like putting up a camera or two.
  • 1 1
 thats why i said 'from what i saw'
  • 12 2
 from now on they need to always schedule the World Champs as the final race of the year i.e. after the WC is done and dusted. That way you don't have anyone holding back. (although you could argue that Josh might've dabbed his brakes at the bridge if he had to tie up the WC a few weeks later)
  • 9 0
 Hafjell is not closing next year, but the future is uncertain, and what the stockholders say is that they need more people that use the tracks. DH is a growning sport in norway and it will very bad for the sport if hafjell closes. So please like our #savehafjellbikepark facebook pages and most of all visit us this summer

the worldcup winner is the rider that has been the best throughout the season despite the track and weather. I think its good to have different kinds of track in the wc. It very booring to watch football . The stadium they play in is the same all over the world. All the tracks in the wc have pluss's and minus and i think that is good. New tracks now and then is good for the development of the sport. I dont know, but after all its a bike race and bikes have pedals Smile
  • 12 6
 All you SHITE TRACK people need to go raise the $200-$250k it takes to run a World Cup. After you do that, you can build whatever kine track you want provided the UCI approves it? I'm grateful there are a handful of people in the world willing to lose money every year so that we have World Cup racing at all.
  • 10 0
 The tracks are already there, just look at how the ISX cup was run in Europe.. Maybe the problem lies within the UCI WC....
  • 8 1
 I along with most don't need educating on costs etc. although unless you are actually the FD of the resort you wont actually know the cost to return ratios involved and don't come at me with some wiki BS or something from Dirt etc - pretty sure the economy and local resort makes more than it spends. and i've spent the last 5 years supporting and defending PMB I will have you know - but compared to the tracks like meribel etc it is plainly crap, it has had a very long run considering, there are limited dates and the slot should go elsewhere imo - my opinion just happens to be shared by hundreds of thousands of others. I am grateful for WC racing also - but I don't need to pity a venue for putting it on. There are lots ready to step up.
  • 2 6
flag Medacus (Jan 15, 2015 at 9:32) (Below Threshold)
 @jmbrit Hundreds of thousands? Really.... Can you possibly provide the stats to back up that claim?
  • 2 0
 @Medacus look at the article about the Windham world cup. You can also look up the requirements on the UCI website.
Organizing a world cup is a massive pain in the ass financially and logistically. Yes, the UCI is a bunch of rich corrupt a*sholes, but when it comes to organizing world cups, they barely make any money. There's just way more to it than some cameras, yellow tape, drunk Warner, a start gate and "Mr. Tissot" counting down.
  • 2 2
 @fabdemaere Not sure why you have quoted me there mate. I was referring to jmbrits comment where he said "hundreds of thousand of people have the same opinion as he"

I happen to like PMB as it's different and if done right is extremely fast in sections
  • 1 0
 @medacus my bad, thought you were semi-quoting (yes, that's a thing) oldpisgahrider about the cost of organizing a wc. I stand corrected.
Have a good day/night
  • 2 0
 @fabdemaere Also in one interview Warner said he is no longer allowed to have beer in both which apparently used to be minimal standard some time ago Big Grin Things are evolving for sure...
  • 1 0
 @winko there's a vid on youtube of the comment booth from Danny Hart's run in Champery. There appears to be a few plastic cups filled with a golden liquid on the table...
  • 3 0
 @fabdemaere That was in 2011 and still under freecaster IIRC, interview was recent and red bull sets the rules now and I'm pretty sure he is no longer allowed to do that...
  • 6 0
 So excited, I had to poop. Yep, had to switch to cell phone so I wouldn't miss the race.
  • 3 0
 For me it was Mt St Anne and meribel either would have been happy with, the MSA because SAmHill made that step many doubted he could on a legit track thats also supposed to be a big mans track and on flats again whats that 3/4 times hes won theyre now! Insane and awesome, we can all say what of could of, Rat could have won Worlds he smashed himself, Sam Hill crashed, MSA for mine!
  • 2 0
 hetfield1, you are so right about that. Since the bitching was about the track, I limited my challenge to that one aspect of hosting a W.C. Nick and Lori are good friends and I know first hand the amount of work they and a lot of other people put into hosting the W.C.@ Windham for no personal gain of any kind. It all looks easy watching a live feed but if you are one of the people wearing a "special ops" tee shirt, by the end of the weekend you're lucky if you have the strength to lift a full pint glass.
  • 4 1
 I'd put this at a tie with Meribel, simply because there was soo much hype with Meribel and it managed to live up to expectations
  • 2 0
 Fair result i think. Meribel was the best track by far and it was awesome to see Hill take it apart but Hafjell was such an eventful and exciting race. And the award is for race not track.
  • 1 0
 Id like to see a track on the UCI circuit really take things up a notch, for example Dan Athertons recent video from the Hardline contest. Some of the current venues that regularly host UCI DH races should really start to develop some of the tracks to a more technical, scary, ballsy, just ridiculously bad consequences if shit goes wrong kind of level. Also a couple more tracks that take about 5 to 6 min to get down would be nice. Windham is basically over in a flash... 6 mins of oh sh*t oh sh*t oh sh*t, hold on clench teeth and pray for grip is what I wanna see UCI
  • 1 0
 As long as the course is the same for everyone I dont give a rat's hat. Petermeritzberg was sick! It was important to haul ass on that fast section to have an advantage on the long pedally section. They should have that race if they also have Champery. The overall winner in a series with a lot of variety is going to be one bitchin cyclist. Let's not look for one staple type of track. There should be variety in the series.
  • 5 0
 Good shout pinkbike
  • 4 1
 DH Race of the year? RACE of the year. Period. Run of the year too by Neko.
  • 2 1
 gwins rim only run is up there with it
  • 2 0
 Meribel is the best track of course but as a race Hafjell was very exciting stuff Bryce over jump, Mulally 4th? with no chain.
  • 3 0
 Ste-Anne for me. Very imo seeing the return of the King of the Hill...
  • 4 1
 I thought hardline was pretty sick... just not enough people, only me??
  • 1 0
 leogang was a hell of a race, rats first victory, nearly brunis first win until he blew it on one of the last corners, and gwin did 3/4 of the track on just his rear rim
  • 2 0
 who's busted rotor is that in the photo? yellow bike with split pivot rear end (or so it looks..)
  • 2 0
 I wondered that too. It's not a Wilson. Is it a repainted session? What else could it be?
  • 2 0
 orbea rallon.
  • 4 2
 Most exciting race for sure
  • 1 1
 Definite winner right here. These world champs were almost as legendary as the 2011 ones. Also, does anyone know if Hafjell is truly closing?
  • 1 0
 Right, they were supposed to dump it, if the interest is low. Any news about it?
  • 3 0
 Hafjell will not close next season, but the future remain uncertain
  • 2 1
 Applications should be submitted to: UCI; Ch de la Melee; 1860 Aigle; Switzerland.
  • 3 1
 Meribel got robbed!!!!
  • 1 0
 Cairns because it was loose as f*ck!!!
  • 1 0
 I thought MSA should of been in the top 3 this year, ahead of Windham..
  • 1 0
 Meribel was my vote too……FIX ITS A FIX
  • 2 2
 Next year, a bmx track. ok ok I wanted Meribel...
  • 2 2
 RATBOY! Yes you all know what race I'm talking about!
  • 3 4
 Whats with all these bogus Blank of the year awards . Who cares ! Cyclo cross race of the year awards !!!!

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