Photo Epic: Burning Hot at the End - Snowshoe XC World Cup Finals 2019

Sep 8, 2019
by Andy Vathis  


Photo Epic presented by Topeak

What was one of the most intense seasons of cross country racing in recent memory came to a close today in dramatic fashion in Snowshoe, West, Virginia. Evie Richards, on her way back from injury this season took the win in what was her final U23 race, while Ronja Eibl took the overall. Filippo Colombo took the win for the U23 men. The Elite women's race was loaded with back and forths, With Anne Terpstra, Annie Last and Pauline Ferrand Prevot battling it out for most of the race. Pauline would take the win for the day and Kate Courtney would take fifth as well as the overall on US soil. In the men's nine lap race Nino Schurter took a lead and then flatted, giving Avancini the race for a spell before being overtaken by Schurter again. Then in the final lap, Lars Forster made his move and shot ahead for a dramatic win. Nino took the overall, but many will ask what if MVDP had been there? In honesty, you can't win if you don't race. And with that, we put 2019 to bed and wait for it all to start again.

A perfect morning greeted the racers.
A perfect morning greeted the racers.

A different set of stripes drape the course this week.
A different set of stripes drape the course this week.

Time to line them up one last time.
Time to line them up one last time.

The u23 women get off to an early start.
The U23 women get off to an early start.

Laura Stigger took second today in the u23 women.
Laura Stigger took second today in the U23 women.

Loana Lecomte rides the fresh cut to third place.
Loana Lecomte rides the fresh cut to third place.


It s been a long road back from injury for Evie Richards but today it all came together.
It's been a long road back from injury for Evie Richards, but today it all came together.

Pure joy on the face of Evie Richards.
Pure joy on the face of Evie Richards.

Evie Richards won her final race in the U23 category.
Evie Richards won her final race in the U23 category.

Evie Richards Laura Stigger and Loana Lecomte - U23 women winners.
Evie Richards, Laura Stigger, and Loana Lecomte - U23 women winners.

Ronja Eibl Laura Stigger and Evie Richards - U23 Women overall winners.
Ronja Eibl, Laura Stigger, and Evie Richards - U23 Women overall winners.

Another day at the office for Vlad Dascalu. Little did he know a small mishap early on will have him digging deep to make up time.
Another day at the office for Vlad Dascalu. Little did he know a small mishap early on will have him digging deep to make up time.

Max Brandl ready to take the start for the last time this season.
Max Brandl ready to take the start for the last time this season.

Brandl down the rock garden into third.
Brandl down the rock garden into third.

Dascalu went down into the 30s early on from what seemed to be a collision. He managed 4th place and the overall but could have easily have been on the podium had it all gone smoothly.
Dascalu went down into the 30s early on from what seemed to be a collision. He managed 4th place and the overall but could have easily have been on the podium had it all gone smoothly.

Filippo Colombo saw the opportunity with Dascalu out and ran with it. Big win to end his season.
Filippo Colombo saw the opportunity with Dascalu out and ran with it. Big win to end his season.

These top three pulled away and traded spaced throughout the laps until the dust settled.
These top three pulled away and traded spaced throughout the laps until the dust settled.

Best result ever for Canadian Raph Auclair at a world cup with fifth.
Best result ever for Canadian Raph Auclair at a world cup with fifth.

Cullell Estape coming in hot for second.
Cullell Estape coming in hot for second.

Huge respect between these two young riders. Colombo waited for Dascalu after crossing the line to congratulate him on the season.
Huge respect between these two young riders. Colombo waited for Dascalu after crossing the line to congratulate him on the season.

No easy task at 4848.
No easy task at 4848.

Colombo Cullell Estape and Brandl for the U23 men s podium.
Colombo, Cullell Estape, and Brandl for the U23 men's podium.

U23 men s overall - Dascalu Colombo and Cullell Estape.
U23 men's overall - Dascalu, Colombo, and Cullell Estape.

U.S.A.
U.S.A.!

She s been at the top of her game this season. Today was no different.
She's been at the top of her game this season. Today was no different.

Anne Terpstra looking to finish 2019 on a high note and this track suited her well.
Anne Terpstra looking to finish 2019 on a high note and this track suited her well.

Bec McConnell warms up for one last showdown.
Bec McConnell warms up for one last showdown.

The crowds were out to cheer on their favorite Americans.
The crowds were out to cheer on their favorite Americans.

The start of seven laps for the women elite.
The start of seven laps for the Elite Women.

The women s field roaring up the first climb.
The women's field roaring up the first climb.

Courtney out front for the first lap.
Courtney out front for the first lap.

Mcconnel kept Courtney at bay and rode into fourth.
Mcconnell kept Courtney at bay and rode into fourth.

Pauline rode a brilliant race once again.
Pauline rode a brilliant race once again.

Annie Last began working her way up early and secured third by the time it was all over. This was her best result this year after some inconsistencies.
Annie Last began working her way up early and secured third by the time it was all over. This was her best result this year after some inconsistencies.

Lea Davison was on a tear to eighth place.
Lea Davison was on a tear to eighth place.

Pauline on the gas in the freshly cut bit.
Pauline on the gas in the freshly cut bit.

Annie Last had her best race of the season finishing third.
Annie Last had her best race of the season finishing third.

Terprstra led near the end of the race and it was almost a done deal.
Terprstra led near the end of the race and it was almost a done deal.

An elated Pauline Ferrand Prevot takes another win.
An elated Pauline Ferrand Prevot takes another win.

Great show from these two.
Great show from these two.

Another dramatic win here in Snowshoe for PFP.
Another dramatic win here in Snowshoe for PFP.

Terprstra definitely felt the pain of being so close only to be edged out at the very end.
Terprstra definitely felt the pain of being so close only to be edged out at the very end.

Great ride from Last on a well deserved third.
Great ride from Last with a well-deserved third.

Kate Courtney takes the overall for the USA.
Kate Courtney takes the overall for the USA.

Overall secured.
Overall secured.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot Anne Terpstra Annie Last Bec McConnell and Kate Courtney- Women elite winners.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot, Anne Terpstra, Annie Last, Bec McConnell, and Kate Courtney- Women elite winners.

Kate Cournety took the over all on home soil in what has been an incredible season of racing.
Kate Courtney took the overall on home soil in what has been an incredible season of racing.

Viva America
Viva America!

It s going to be a long day.
It's going to be a long day.

Lars Foster is about to go down in history.
Lars Foster is about to go down in history.

Nino has got the overall in the bag considering Van der Poel is missing from this round but a win would be ideal nonetheless.
Nino has got the overall in the bag considering Van der Poel is missing from this round but a win would be ideal nonetheless.

Men s start through the village.
Men's start through the village.

The men set out on 9 brutally fast laps.
The men set out on 9 brutally fast laps.

Prime spectating spots are key when you spend the day partying in the woods.
Prime spectating spots are key when you spend the day partying in the woods.

Nino Schurter had a hell of a race. Flatted took back the lead and then finished second to team mate Lars Forster. Nino took the overall.
Nino Schurter had a hell of a race. Flatted, took back the lead, and then finished second to teammate Lars Forster. Nino took the overall.

Schurter in the thick of it with the usual rivals.
Schurter in the thick of it with the usual rivals.

Avancini joined his teammate on the podium and in fourth. Strong ride for him but he knew he made a few mistakes.
Avancini joined his teammate on the podium and in fourth. Strong ride for him but he knew he made a few mistakes.

Lars Forster in the Forest of West Virginia.
Lars Forster in the Forest of West Virginia.

Foster putting distance between himself and Fumic on his way to find Nino.
Foster putting distance between himself and Fumic on his way to find Nino.

Good day for Stephane Tempier as he closed out the podium.
Good day for Stephane Tempier as he closed out the podium.

Maxime Marotte on his way to third place.
Maxime Marotte on his way to third place.

Massive win for Foster after attacking Nino late in the final lap to take the win. What a day of racing indeed.
Massive win for Foster after attacking Nino late in the final lap to take the win. What a day of racing indeed.

A Scott one - two. No bad blood between teamates.
A Scott one-two. No bad blood between teammates.

A hard day at the office. many felt the burn.
A hard day at the office. many felt the burn.

Most who made it in with the chase group came through with a proper layer of dust worn into their faces.
Most who made it in with the chase group came through with a proper layer of dust worn into their faces.

Snowshoe sure put on a show for us.
Snowshoe sure put on a show for us.

The dusty and loose condition couples with the lack of atmosphere made this a difficult task.
The dusty and loose condition coupled with the lack of atmosphere made this a difficult task.

Lars Forster Nino Schurter Maxime Marotte Henrique Avanacini and Stephane Tempier - men elite winners.
Lars Forster, Nino Schurter, Maxime Marotte, Henrique Avancini, and Stephane Tempier - men elite winners.

Another jersey for Nino.
Another jersey for Nino.



66 Comments

  • 22 1
 It's a track that produced great racing - what's not to like? Okay, so it might not have been the most technical, but you need a variety of tracks, they can't all be gnarly & technical. This offered something different - and was great watching on RedBullTV.....
  • 13 0
 Snowshoe is classified as a "Hardwood Rain Forest", believe me this past weekend was a rare dry occurrence. I've seen xc courses there that were basically mud bogs. Lots of big roots in that forest and lots of places for water to sit and bucket on the ground.

So it looks like the course was designed for bad conditions which is common there.
  • 7 3
 As an American maybe I am biased, but I felt this course was one of the best of the season and the video coverage was even better. Hopefully they have the race here again next year and if so I plan to attend. Awesome season and stoked to see the sportsmanship especially amongst the women. Pure class.
  • 7 0
 No US stops on the WC for next year, but I think the last few US races (Snowshoe & Windham) have represented well with some really entertaining races. Would be really rad if we could a race out west somewhere. There's really nothing like being there in person. I was living in upstate NY when Windham was on the circuit and it was such a blast.
  • 1 0
 @bkm303: West Coast? If people are already criticizing Snowshoe for lack of technicality, just wait until there's a XCO at Bonelli....lolol.
  • 1 0
 @Jamminator: I get that this is a stereotype, but it's not like techy, rocky, steep terrain doesn't exist in the Rockies/Cascades/Sierras... If any of the major resorts wanted to build a WC track I'm sure there are plenty of options. It's not like Windham NY was widely known as an amazing riding spot (they barely had a functioning bike park the first year), but they built a pretty legit DH course from scratch and taped the XC course through some steep woods and loose rock outcroppings. Windham still isn't much of a riding destination but the races turned out great.

I'd go so far as to say the quality of trail riding in the area has almost nothing to do with the quality of an XCO course, because you're going to have to widen things up and build sections from scratch anyway. Snowshoe is kind of a case in point - there's great techy xc/trail riding in the area, but due to weather and logistical concerns the course was routed elsewhere (or at least that's what people are saying).
  • 1 1
 @Jamminator: What does some janky urban Socal trail have to do with WC DH? West of the Mississippi has endless parks that could be used. Snomass alone has over 1300m lift access vertical drop. Snowshoe has what, not even 450m?
  • 7 4
 In a tight race I wonder how many seconds could be gained by having a dropper post. Being able to maintain a proper bike position in steep and technical sections. Retaining energy from not fighting the bike with nearly straight legs and a seat in your gut. Yeah, yeah, they can outride me blah blah blah. It's not me they need to worry about though. It's the guy making up seconds in the rock garden that can also hang in the power sections that they need to worry about. I want courses so technical in the future that dropper posts can't be avoided.
  • 9 3
 Yes a dropper post could safe you a couple seconds maybe on the technical stuff but most of the race is spent climbing and carrying the weight of a dropper post is a deal breaker for most people.
  • 4 8
flag PapaStone (Sep 9, 2019 at 4:48) (Below Threshold)
 That's why they have enduro and downhill racing...so everyone can drool over the dropper posts.
  • 8 0
 I used to think this as well but having watched this race in person any advantage gained through the technical sections would be lost in the time it takes to raise and lower the dropper. These guys are pedaling right up until a section that would warrant a dropper and are right back on it afterwards.

I agree that there should be more/more difficult tech sections though.
  • 4 1
 @epicprone: whoa there, using logic and reason is going to get you called out by the experts hereWink
  • 2 1
 With good geo you don't necessarily need a dropper. I don't have one on my hardtail and have never thought that I need one.
Though I do on my Full sus but I ride way steeper and more Enduro/DH stuff on that.
  • 1 1
 May used a dropper on the short track race on Friday which used part of the same course
  • 4 0
 While the dropper post with dropped hips cornering/decsending style is faster on the descents, it also takes noticably more energy than the straight leg XC style. My guess is straight leg style helps them rest a bit even if it's slightly slower. Nino is the top racer in the world, I garauntee he's done timed testing with a dropper.
  • 5 0
 Almost everyone of the factory racers has the option of running a dropper and at other times during the season some have, Nino has so do you really think that professional racers at that level wouldn’t use anything at their disposal that they thought would give them even the slightest advantage smh.
  • 4 0
 @dthomp325: Exactly this, straight legs is exactly how you rest in a race like this. You lock your legs with a high hinge and can rest all the major muscle groups. Especially on these courses there isn't much of a break so you have to get it in those sections.
  • 1 4
 @raphauclair: Got it, droppers weigh too much for road races.
  • 2 3
 @PapaStone: I've ever seen a dropper post in a DH race. I don't drool over dropper posts, they make sense for trails that are more technical than a CX course.
  • 2 6
flag mtbgeartech (Sep 9, 2019 at 10:18) (Below Threshold)
 @epicprone: I didn't get to see it in person, wish I would have. While watching the riders plod and plop through the tech sections on TV I couldn't help but think they'd benefit from a lower seat post, but if 80% of the race benefits from not having added weight I get it. IMO it is unfortunate that a racer who is the best climber but a middle of the pack technical rider can win races. I also watch MMA solely for the technique and don't really enjoy watching people get the snot beat out of them so...

I don't identify with XC racers very much so I don't find it that interesting. They're amazing at racing bikes on this type of course and I definitely appreciate that. Much more than road races which I don't identify at all with. Again, I can appreciate the hard work and level of competition but it's not at all interesting to me. My girl Jolanda can shred a DH section and climb like a scared squirrel. That's why I'm a big fan of hers.
  • 3 0
 @mtbgeartech: "Got it, droppers weigh too much for road races."

right.... MSA is a road race then? You see a lot of droppers in the front of the pack in that race?

"a middle of the pack technical rider can win races"

Please tell us which of the leaders are middle of the pack tech riders.... Nino and the crew are god-tier bike handlers.
  • 1 7
flag mtbgeartech (Sep 9, 2019 at 12:53) (Below Threshold)
 @bkm303: Yeah they carve those road turns really well.
  • 1 0
 "In a tight race I wonder how many seconds could be gained by having a dropper post. Being able to maintain a proper bike position in steep and technical sections. Retaining energy from not fighting the bike with nearly straight legs and a seat in your gut"

XC racers have been starting using droppers on some technical tracks. The thing is it wasn't worth it on this particular one as all downhills were straight lines. Droppers only really matter if you have to take corners. When it is straight you just choose your line at the top and just hang on to the handlebar until you reach the bottom, no need to move around the bike.
  • 1 3
 @opignonlibre: I smell what your stepping in brother. Makes sense to me!
  • 3 0
 There were not any descents long enough to warrant a dropper in this race. Plus you couldn’t push on descents without risking a flat. I just put a dropper on my xc bike though and am very happy with that decision. But I ride to have fun not to win races.
  • 2 0
 @mtbgeartech: "I want courses so technical in the future that dropper posts can't be avoided."
----
Then there would be longer climbs than we already have, and you'd be bitching about the longer climbs being boring...
  • 1 2
 @Jamminator: You're probably right. I guess I'll never fully appreciate XC racing then.
  • 3 0
 @Jamminator: people could just not try to turn XC into downhill. I know it's a crazy thought.
  • 2 0
 @clink83: but check this out - I bet if we just didn't time the climbs at all they'd be forced to run dropper posts! And longer travel! And slacker head angles! REAL mountain bikes!

Seriously though, I've used a dropper in all the XC races I've done... it helps but I'm always too gassed to really descend the way I would on a trail ride. And I've definitely been smoked by guys with fixed seatposts riding the same tech features. It's just a skill you can learn like anything else (I mean.... we all used to ride with fixed seatposts, right?).
  • 1 0
 I think that there’s a balance between speed and stability on the downhills with the trade off being the added weight of the dropper and heavier tires/wheels or the higher risk of flatting.
  • 3 0
 After reading these comments I'm probably alone here, but I have really mixed emotions on the course. When I first walked along most of the course very early morning, I was somewhat disappointed because I felt it wasn't totally representative of East Coast MTB (which is my bias as someone who raced Snowshoe several times in the NORBA days years ago). My two biggest disappointments were that the course never really went down the mountain side, it stayed primarily up top, and there was a significant lack of wooded singletrack (with no one section of woods being longer than about a minute). Obviously this is because with the newer age short tracks, you can't exactly have the track drop down to the lake on a 4km loop, plus tracks now have the double tech zone/feed zone setups which forces course designers to keep the track compact. It wasn't the most technical track, but like we saw Sunday and throughout other venues, the least technical tracks tend to provide the best and most exciting racing. So in that respect it's a bit of a trade-off. Less technical also means more higher speeds and lung burn...so less tech doesn't necessarily mean 'easier'. All said and done, great XC course, but probably not going to give racers a full taste of East Coast MTB. One thing I loved was having the start/finish right in the middle of the village. The buildings created an artificial valley when the crowd roared and it was super cool; much better experience and crowd vibe than when the old courses were entirely on the backside of the village. By almost all accounts from what I saw in DH and read about online, the DH seemed like a huge success... brilliant racing and the riders eventually warmed up to the track. I do wonder if Snowshoe ever makes it back onto the UCI calendar, could it be a standalone DH venue?
  • 5 0
 Such a wonderful teamwork for Scott-Sram. And no team order, true MTB spirit.
  • 5 0
 Was really cool to hear in the interviews that Avancini let Max Marotte finish ahead of him so he could qualify for the 2020 olympics (once he realized he wasn't in contention for the win). The team duel was super fun to watch!
  • 4 0
 For whatever reason, I find the women's division to be so much more interesting to watch. It's hard to explain why: the men are so much faster.
  • 3 0
 Probably because on any given race day, there's over a half dozen women that can win the race. With the mens, it's pretty much one or two guys that are the favorites and the predictability makes it unexciting.
  • 4 0
 Nothing about Jenny Rissveds ? She was definitely in the mix before a flat
  • 4 0
 With how far bike technology has come it really sucks that keeping air in the tires, while keeping weight down, still hasn't been figured out yet. I guess many riders took the gamble to go with very light weight tire setups with how many punctures there were.
  • 5 2
 Unfortunately, the Specialized tires let her down. She looked strong before the flat.
  • 4 0
 @pcassingham: racers choose between using a more resistant tire or reducing rolling weight as much as they are able to do it... that's why some racers were saying that they used beefier tires and more air pressure in Mount Saint Anne, since it was the most important race in the season, and nobody would risk a good result there.
  • 3 0
 Agree: Jenny was looking strong and if it wasn’t for the flat she was heading toward a top 3 finish if not 1st. Really impressed with how she is riding and looking forward to her results next year. Also, ridiculous how far she had to ride with the flat! Hopefully her and the team learned from the mistake(s) and will reduce the risk of a recurrence. She looked angry about the flat, so even though she said her focus is not totally on winning, she is getting the competitive spirit back again and enjoying it this time around. ????????
  • 2 0
 I would be shocked if Jenny isn't signed by one of the big sponsored teams for next season!
  • 1 0
 looks like Pepi's tire noodles saved the day for Nino though
  • 3 0
 @taprider: I was wondering if he was running an insert, but then in the interview he said it was just a slow leak so idk. Do you know for sure if he's running pepi's?
  • 1 0
 @pcassingham: It's not that difficult to figure out: less weight = less protection.
  • 2 0
 @formula411: Currently yes, but in the future not necessarily. Make the tire out of something other than rubber, maybe some material not created yet, take air out of the equation and rely on some type of latice structure to give consistent feel all the time and no risk of punctures.
  • 3 0
 @DrMaturin: I think you meant to say you think Jenny's team will sign a big sponsor for next year. ;-)
  • 3 0
 Too bad about Jenny's flat tire and Jolanda's illness. That would've been an amazing four way photo finish.
  • 1 0
 Batty's taken a huge number of L's this season. From Trek signing one of her top rivals from last season, to the loss of over $20K in funding from the Canadian government.

What's her next move?
  • 1 0
 She's under contract until end of 2020, so same team all next year. Opening round in Nove Mesto is a must win for Olympics, so change is probably doing a completely different spring prep.
  • 1 0
 Funny that the people who were actually at the race have a much different opinion of the course than the folks that watched on TV.
  • 6 7
 Great photos, Max Brandl by the way is a vegan athlete and german U23 champion. Plant power FTW Smile
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