After a week that saw rain, fog, freezing temperatures, and ever-changing track conditions, it was nothing but blazing sun for the final race of the 2018 downhill season. After slipping and sliding down the track in qualifying on Friday and a relative rest day on Saturday, racers arrived for Sunday's final well rested and motivated to throw down in the Lenzerheide dust. The lack of moisture on the racing surface would also take a toll on the track with bigger holes appearing all over the place, ruts and berms getting blown out, and the once embedded rocks now scattered about in the racing line just in time for the biggest show of the year. Riders who could both handle the pressure of a one day race for all the glory, and adapt to changing conditions on the fly would be the ones to shine on another epic day of World Championship racing.
First up to the task would be the junior women and men, with the future stars of the sport looking to take home the rainbow stripes and bragging rights to close out the season. For the women, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Vali Holl would dominate and that she did by 10 seconds over Anna Newkirk and third place finisher Mille Johnset. The big question now will be whether or not Vali continues on in juniors next season or steps up to go toe to toe with the elites. For the men, it would be a return to form for Kade Edwards who took down Kye A'Hearn and Elliot Jamieson, with the favorite and World Cup champ Thibaut Daprella finishing off the podium. Kade makes the jump to the elite ranks next season and this win will surely give him an extra boost of confidence through the offseason.
The Elite Women's final would be all about Rachel Atherton, who by nearly 10 seconds, showed why she is the true queen of DH. With rumors swirling that she will retire or semi-retire next year means she might just be going out with quite a bang. The heir-apparent to Atherton's crown, Tahnee Seagrave, would take the silver ahead of Myriam Nicole who would take bronze. This has been one of the most exciting years racing in the elite women's field with multiple winners and battles in each and every round, and with talented young guns coming through the sport looks to be in a good place heading into 2019.
In the elite men's race, it would be Martin Maes who would set the fastest early time. One that eventually landed him a silver medal and hopefully silenced some of the haters that have been saying he only won in La Bresse because of weather or pedaling strength. Lots of riders gave Maes a scare, but it wasn't until Loic Bruni came across the line just 0.21 up that his hopes for history were defeated. Times remained super tight and all riders on the hot seat began to squirm as Loris Vergier came close and Danny Hart even closer on his bronze medal run. With only World Cup champ, Amaury Pierron left on track all eyes were glued to the big screen TV in the finish arena watching the Frenchman attack the track. Amaury was close at the first split, but down by almost 2 seconds by the final split before crashing into the barriers. In an anticlimactic cloud of dust Amaury's World Championship dream was over, and Loic Bruni's was realized for the third time and for the second year in a row.
The downhill crowd now takes a few months off to rest, recover, and train for a 2019 season that will be here before you know it.