As the Quebecois sky flickered alongside the continuous crackle and booming of thunder there was a strong sense of déjà vu out on the hill today in Mont-Sainte-Anne. Last season the rains took longer to show up, appearing just in time for the top 20 to drop and of course ready for Aaron Gwin to go into beast mode and jet ski his way to victory. At least riders had some inspiration this afternoon as heavy fog quickly turned into the far more aggressive atmospherics of a practice session that will now enter the hall of fame for most horrendous weather alongside other greats like Fort William in 2015.
Unrelenting lightning and torrential rain shut the lift down just as the first batch of group A riders had reached the top. A short respite was followed by apocalyptic rain and while most teams managed one or two tentative laps, the organisers pulled the plug at around 2:30pm and abandoned the practice session, taking all marshals off the mountain. With the conditions eventually calming, timed training was announced with a later start than usual and riders were forced to reapply their soaking gear and get back out there to turn up the heat ahead of qualies tomorrow. Only Tahnee Seagrave and Rachel Atherton turned up from the women's field for the TT session, but neither set anywhere near a race time, while in the men's category Danny Hart landed the first punch of the weekend with a 4:38 in the swamp conditions, just ahead of Bruni and MacDonald.
MSA weather can be topsy-turvy at best, the most we can hope for is a fair fight as Rachel Atherton attempts to stave off Tahnee Seagrave and Amaury Pierron does his best to run away with the series before heading back to the home soil of La Bresse in two weeks time.