The inaugural day of many here on the mountainside above Maribor went off without a hitch in idyllic conditions. Although the leaves may be hanging by their final threads, the pleasant autumn feel under blue skies was a most welcome contrast after the disastrous atmospherics athletes faced back in Austria. There were also some familiar faces back at it that we haven't seen for the best part of a year. Those who didn't get their chance to do battle for their country in those deep muddy trenches of Leogang; Gee Atherton, Adam Brayton, Mille Johnset and Kade Edwards to name a few.
As anticipated, this hard pack track is fast in the extreme. The undulating terrain is like a haggard, high-speed pumptrack to the world's fastest. It’s well worn in the entire way down and appears not to have felt a shovel since the opening round of the 2018 season. While a healthy collection of roots and jagged rocks reach out ready to grab at wheels that find themselves a little off line, by the end of the day sneaky doubles were beginning to emerge and the classic pulls were starting to come easy for some. Keep in mind, however, that once again buckets of rain are waiting in the wings for qualies and possibly race day. That will certainly change how riders approach the more natural sections, those untrustworthy off-camber roots in particular. It’s about to get loose in Slovenia.