More often than not Glencoe is overlooked for its neighboring town of Fort William, a few miles up the road where the World Cup and British Nationals pay annual visits. The racing circus will pass in a hurry, briefly acknowledging the mountain as it flashes by in the car window, but with the announcement that National Champs was to venture back to the venue it was well and truly thrust back on to the UK National radar. Deep valleys, weathered moorland, and glacier-carved peaks punching through the cloud. It's easy to see why the area has been the set for so many movies with the likes of Harry Potter and James Bond making use of the almost haunting hills and desolate moors, although this weekend it was the setting for another action thriller as it played host to the 2018 British National Downhill Championships.
The big news coming into the weekend was the list of high calibre absentees, particularly the two ladies battling it out atop the World Cup standings at the moment. Both Tahnée Seagrave and Rachel Atherton took the decision to sit this one out with rest and recuperation the priority with an already intensive schedule taking its toll; this left Katy Curd looking like the hot ticket to take home the coveted Union Jack sleeve. In the men, the key missing figures were the likes of Reece Wilson, Gee Atherton, Charlie Hatton, Brendan Fairclough, and Bernard Kerr... Hopefully, this is just a one-off blip and not a sign of things to come, it'd be a shame to see the National scene slide. That said, there was still an almighty battle with two-time reigning champ, Greg Williamson, looking to defend his title from a hungry cluster of British talent like Danny Hart, Matt Walker, Laurie Greenland, Adam Brayton, and Taylor Vernon to name a few. A tough one to call.
The track was a mix of loose chundery rocks, granite slabs, and steep turns. There was plenty of line choice for those wise or brave enough to scope it out with the track becoming progressively rougher as the weekend went on with some sizeable holes appearing. Despite being a technical and challenging track (which was well received throughout the field) mechanicals and crashes were for the large part, few and far between. As for the weather, well, that was typically 'Scottish Summer' and changing every 5 minutes. Whilst it may have been grey and cloudy most of the weekend it stayed largely dry until the first few riders began to head up for their race runs with a fine misty drizzle dampening the track and producing something the riders had yet to experience. Time to roll the dice!
In seeding Matt Walker and Katy Curd laid out their race run intentions early sending a strong message of intent that ultimately warned off any competition challenging them, both taking commanding victories. Meg Whyte was 8 seconds off Curd in second with Abbie Sloan rounding off the medal positions. After a disastrous seeding run with a big crash, Danny Hart came down first and went into the hot seat before being dethroned by his teammate who was the last man down the hill. Reigning back to back champ Greg Williamson couldn't find the speed to make it three in a row and had to settle for third. Brayton, Vernon, Greenland, Breeden, and Reading all followed in quick succession. In Juniors, Rosy Monaghan took gold alongside Kade Edwards, however, one of the rides of the day has to go to the category below and its winner Luke Williamson with a time good enough for the win in juniors.