Words: JP Gendron
Photography: Constantin Fiene, Remy Vroonen, and JP Gendron
Aussie, Tracey Hannah, has been a top rider in the Women’s Elite DH field for over a decade. This past weekend she won her first UCI Elite Women’s DH Overall Title at the final race of the 2019 season in Snowshoe, West Virginia.
Women’s Downhill racing has come a long way to where it is today- an incredibly talented field of riders providing ever riveting racing and competition. For some time now, the top creme de la creme of Women riders tended to dominate the field. The likes of Anne-Caroline Chausson (9x Women’s Elite World Champion) and Rachel Atherton (5x Women’s Elite World Champion) would blow away the rest of the podium with large time gaps. And no doubt, a healthy Rachel Atherton still has the ability to pull this off today. However, the field has collectively been rising to the competition, making the Elite Women's DH racing better than ever.
2019 saw many ups and downs in the Elite Women's field. Many injuries, many hard-fought battles, and every race a nail-biter. The season started with Tahnee Seagrave taking the win in Maribor, Slovenia, less than a second ahead of Rachel Atherton, with Tracey Hannah and Marine Cabirou just a few seconds back. This set the stage for what turned into the most exciting year in the Elite Women's DH field in recent years. Following Maribor, Rachel took the win on home turf at Fort William, to no surprise. Yet Tracey was only a few seconds back in 2nd place. Injuries plagued the field through the remainder of the season. Simply put, the competition was pushing their limits. Riding the fine line between glory and catastrophe is tough to dance- a balancing act that at the top levels of DH is wild to witness.
The battles between Marine and Tracey through the season have been just incredible. A young gun and true vet hacking it out for the top spot. Tracey showing a determined consistency that ultimately landed her the overall title this past weekend at Snowshoe. And Marine showing the world that she is just getting started. With a healthy field in 2020, along with the addition of phenom Vali Holl, there is little doubt that the Elite Women's racing will be the most competitive ever.
Congratulations to Tracey for her DH Overall Title for 2019! And to the rest of these amazing racers for their determination, hard work, spectacular talent, and admirable sportsmanship.