Wet weather wreaked havoc today in an almost carbon copy to last year's qualifying here in Val di Sole. Overnight thunderstorms and lingering rain this morning had left the track treacherous in places but bone dry in others, meaning it was a tentative start for the riders as they explored the grip levels under patchy blue skies and sun. Later in the afternoon rumbles of thunder began moving through the valley once again, just as the elite women finished their qualifying runs the forecasted rain arrived. The sky was only spitting at first, then the deluge came.
The juniors had some slightly more pleasant conditions for their qualifying runs. In junior women, it was Vali Höll who reigned supreme again in front of Mille Johnset and Anna Newkirk. Looking at the splits, it seems like Höll lost some time towards the bottom section of the track. When compared to Johnset, she still held on to take the win by 2.5 seconds but her margin was as big as 6.5 seconds at second split. Whilst in the junior men it wasn't Daprela atop the list, he'd crash up top whilst half a second into the green, opening the door for Candian duo Elliot Jamieson and Seth Sherlock to lock out the top spots with Zak Gomilscek slotting into third.
The elite women's qualifying session was slightly less hectic than the men's which would follow. The top two in the overall matched their position to their number board with Tracey Hannah clawing out a one and a half-second advantage over Marine Cabirou in 2nd. Cabirou will have to come from behind tomorrow but that is most definitely within reach as she searches for that first WC win. It was a good showing from the Italians on home soil with Veronika Widmann in 3rd and Eleonora Farina in 4th, albeit a sizable margin between them. Camille Balanche bested Emilie Siegenthaler for the 5th spot whilst Nina Hoffmann slotted into 7th after a crash in her run. Expect her to move up a few positions tomorrow.
Hectic and somewhat confusing would be a good way to describe the men's session. Whilst it did rain for the early riders, their conditions were certainly more favourable as the track quickly deteriorated with the worsening downpour. There were red flags, reruns, crashes aplenty, lightning strikes, and to top it off a broken-down gondola. There are a few big names that are making the most of their protected status - Connor Fearon, Luca Shaw, Eddie Masters, Mark Wallace, and Dean Lucas all got caught up in the carnage but will take to the start tomorrow. All the chaos caused by the weather made for a wild top 10. It was the UK's Joe Breeden on top followed by Davide Palazzari, Faustin Figaret, and Forrest Riesco whilst Brook Macdonald and Amaury Pierron put down great runs in the wet to go 5th and 6th. Completing the top 10 were Jack Reading, Francisco Pardal, Johannes Von Klebelsberg, and Laurie Greenland. The usual suspects were a little deeper in the pack than normal but you can expect them to surge forward tomorrow with the weather forecast more settled for race day.
: @natedh9 @andy9 @rossbellphoto @davetrumpore