Track Walk Photo Report: Mont-Sainte-Anne DH World Cup 2018

Aug 9, 2018
by Ross Bell  




Few tracks make your hair stand on end quite like Mont-Sainte-Anne. With a history and heritage not many tracks can touch, it has been the site of drama aplenty over the years. Not least last season when Aaron Gwin snatched a near impossible victory despite a sodden track. The challenge the track poses stretches far greater than the unpredictable weather, however, from death grip inducing straights where bravery is highlighted to tight and twisty woods where precision is key. To tame Mont-Sainte-Anne requires a careful balance of risk versus reward. Who will overcome it this weekend is anyone's guess.

This year's campaign has been one plagued by injuries, misfortune, and for some, triumph. As we arrived into MSA the men's series has a runaway leader in Amaury Pierron, but he has a whole host of hungry riders behind him who have been chopping and changing their places in the overall, race by race. The likes of Greenland, Vergier, Shaw, Brosnan, and Bruni to name a few. Both of last season's big hitters Aaron Gwin and Greg Minnaar have been laid up injured at points but whilst Gwin remains out, Minnaar is back in the midst of things. The big news from the women's field is that Myriam Nicole has returned from her back injury sustained in Val di Sole and is set to 'interfere' with the tight title battle between Rachel Atherton and Tahnée Seagrave. It looks like that one is going to go down to the wire, but which of them will seize the momentum once all is said and done on Saturday?

Talk of some fresh changes held true with the flat-out blast on the ski piste now negotiating a couple of chicanes before diving into some fresh cut in the woods with a sizeable drop thrown in there for good measure. This section will cut up and change run by run with line choice bountiful for those who seek it. It's the same old classic Mont-Sainte-Anne track though, the challenge never changes or gets easier. Although there's not much in the way of a significant pedal it's still a physical beast with little to no letup, riders are taken from one technical section to another by warp speed straights which are technical in their own sense, meaning there's no rest physically or mentally. After a sizeable deluge yesterday the track has been left soft in places, slippery in the woods, and there's also the occasional rain rut thrown in there for good measure. There could be more moisture coming tomorrow, but the forecast for the remainder of the weekend looks to be dry so the racing should be red hot, as long as there's not a repeat of last year's mid-final downpour. Tomorrow we'll get the ball rolling and begin to shape the picture for the scene to come.

The serene St Lawrence River flowing past Quebec City before sunset.
The serene St Lawrence River flowing past Quebec City before sunset.

Quebec s iconic hotel Frontenac.
Quebec's iconic hotel Frontenac.

The whir of electric air pumps on set-up day in the MSA pits.
The whir of electric air pumps on setup day in the MSA pits.

Time to break open the boxes and find out if the bikes survived the trip.
Time to break open the boxes and find out if the bikes survived the trip.

Luca Shaw reporting for duty this morning at the Syndicate pits.
Luca Shaw reporting for duty this morning at the Syndicate pits.

First round podiumer Dak Norton has more than a niggling shoulder injury but is racing here this weekend.
First round podium rider Dak Norton has more than a niggling shoulder injury but is racing here this weekend.

There s not a lot of riders in the pits who aren t carrying injuries. Unior Devinci s Jure Zabjek is back but his pinky doesn t seem to be too enthusiastic.
There's not a lot of riders in the pits who aren't carrying injuries. Unior Devinci's Jure Zabjek is back but his pinky doesn't seem to be too enthusiastic.

If there s one set of forks that need to stay the right way up in finals this weekend we could see a new face on the top step.
If there's one set of forks that need to stay the right way up in finals this weekend, we could see a new face on the top step.

The well greased St Anne machinery that keeps delivering the best riders in the World to the top of the mountain.
The well-greased St. Anne machinery that keeps delivering the best riders in the World to the top of the mountain.

There s no snow but the slopes are far from dormant.
There's no snow but the slopes are far from dormant.

One kinda famous start hut.
One kinda famous start hut.

I wonder how many times this lift has been shot and how many angles are left after 26 years of racing here.
I wonder how many times this lift has been shot and how many angles are left after 26 years of racing here.

Across the smooth wooden decking of the cafe and down onto the cobbles.
Across the smooth wooden decking of the cafe and down onto the cobbles.

The run away series leader Amaury Pierron will be looking to take his 4th win of the season.
The runaway series leader Amaury Pierron will be looking to take his 4th win of the season.

There s sharp rocks aplenty ready to give wheels and tires a beating.
There are sharp rocks aplenty ready to give wheels and tires a beating.

Danny Hart refreshed after some good time at home looking to repeat his 2016 successes.
Danny Hart refreshed after some good time at home, looking to repeat his 2016 successes.

Kade and Rachel discuss their way down from a rock drop up top.
Kade and Rachel discuss their way down from a rock drop up top.

Monika Hrastnik smiling on her break-out season hopefully she can keep a good thing going here for her first time at MSA.
Monika Hrastnik smiling on her break-out season, hopefully she can keep a good thing going here for her first time at MSA.

It s a tough track - even on foot.
It's a tough track - even on foot.

Recent heavy rain has left everything extra lush and green outside the tape.
Recent heavy rain has left everything extra lush and green outside the tape.

The landing of the shark fin in the woods has seen another year of erosion and is now especially savage.
The landing of the shark fin in the woods has seen another year of erosion and is now especially savage.

Amphibious friends are moving in with the extreme humidity.
Amphibious friends are moving in with the extreme humidity.

The upper woods are the usual mix of soft dirt and loosely planted boulders.
The upper woods are the usual mix of soft dirt and loosely planted boulders.

The new rock wall feature will be a make it or break it situation for some and that includes the B line.
The new rock wall feature will be a make it or break it situation for some and that includes the B line.

The Welcome mat to the new bit in the woods tells you all you need to know of what to expect.
The Welcome mat to the new bit in the woods tells you all you need to know of what to expect.

Not the most practical of trackwalk snacks but damn refreshing.
Not the most practical of trackwalk snacks but one of the most refreshing.

The Seagrave siblings are reunited with Kaos returning from injury.
The Seagrave siblings are reunited with Kaos returning from injury.

Track maintenance was working hard to fill in the ruts left by yesterday s rain as best as they can.
The track maintenance team was working hard to fill in the ruts left by yesterday's rain as best as they can.

WynTV on track.
WynTV on track.

The Chainsaw lives on.
The Chainsaw lives on.

A threatening cloud swung by this afternoon and luckily moved right along.
A threatening cloud swung by this afternoon and luckily moved right along.

The tape maze before exciting onto the highway.
The tape maze before exiting onto the highway.

Mick Hannah checking how soft the landing off the drop is before taking the plunge tomorrow morning.
Mick Hannah checking how soft the landing of the drop is before taking the plunge tomorrow morning.

Finn Iles and Miranda Miller investigate the Stevie Smith rock roll.
Finn Iles and Miranda Miller investigate the Stevie Smith rock roll.

Team Canyon scope the classic step-down hip now with a souped up landing.
Team Canyon scope the classic step-down hip now with a souped-up landing.

Quite a bit of work went into the berms on this course. It s a shame they re be rutted out by tomorrow s A practice.
Quite a bit of work went into the berms on this course. It's a shame they're be rutted out by tomorrow's A practice.

Loic Bruni and Tracey Hannah studying the slabs that start on the entrance to the lower woods.
Loic Bruni and Tracey Hannah studying the slabs that start at the entrance to the lower woods.

The rocks in the woods are slick with the moisture hanging around and not looking like its going to go anywhere anytime soon.
The rocks in the woods are slick with the moisture hanging around and not looking like its going to go anywhere anytime soon.

The Polygon UR team scouting the the final sections of rocks on the finale minute of the track.
The Polygon UR team scouting the final sections of rocks on the last minute of the track.

What a smile LongLiveChainsaw
What a smile! #LongLiveChainsaw

Atomic blond Myriam Nicole ready to make her comeback after her back injury in Italy.
Atomic blond, Myriam Nicole, ready to make her comeback after her back injury in Italy.

Team IFR congregating after the fiercely rough exit of the rock roll.
Team IFR congregating after the fiercely rough exit of the rock roll.

Loic Bruni is surely due a big result and there s only 2 races left to get it before it s time to defend the rainbows.
Loic Bruni is surely due a big result and there are only 2 races left to get it before it's time to defend the rainbows.

Quintessential Quebecois rock unchanged from the last years because well it s literally set in stone.
Quintessential Quebecois rock, unchanged from the last years, because well, it's literally set in stone.

Buck the dog keeping away from the sun on this very hot and humid day.
Buck the dog keeping away from the sun on this very hot and humid day.

Canada eh.
Canada eh.


MENTIONS: @natedh9 / @rossbellphoto / @andy9



72 Comments

  • + 87
 Dress code: Black T, denim shorts, long socks.
  • + 5
 I noticed that and thought the black shirts was a funny coincidence, is it possible it's a mark of respect for Stevie Smith, as it's Mont Sainte Anne?
  • + 31
 I've started calling it a Morzine Tuxedo
  • + 2
 Looks like Chuck didn't get the memo
  • + 25
 I wore that getup to the grocery store yesterday. I must be pro
  • + 3
 don't forget the five ten access sneaks, i counted 4 pairs.
  • + 35
 And then there is Finn Iles looking like Roger Federer.
  • + 7
 Not just denim shorts, cut off Denim shorts you stole from the back of your 54 year old uncles closet. The shorts he wore to summer camp in the 80's, to be specific.
  • + 5
 If they're anything like me, black doesn't show stains. Well...except toothpaste...and cheddar. I hate light colored clothing. It only stains.
  • + 5
 @bizutch: Sounds like you need to stop being a slob. Big Grin Wink
  • + 1
 @makripper: Nice! I wore it to work on Tuesday, but substituted the T for a black polo. Still got funny looks?!
  • + 1
 + shaved legs?
  • + 14
 Lot's of 'never nudes' on the WC circuit, who would have known.
  • + 5
 @Waldon83: ain't never a bad time for Arrested Development quotes. Ninja please!
  • + 64
 Great pictures. It really shows how huge those features are. But by race day everyone will go through them like the rocks aren't even there. Every 5th rider should just be a random spectator forced to go down the track to give us context. Just have the life flight helicopters ready.
  • + 3
 I wish there was an "LOL" button. :-)
  • + 2
 @Zhehan: There is... lol Wink
  • + 17
 Rach is pointing at ME. She wants me. Finally my dreams are coming true.
  • + 85
 so was Mr Edwards. Seems you are in for an interesting time.
  • + 17
 @Boardlife69: railing ruts and nailing sl.. lines.
  • + 2
 @colincolin: railing ruts and nailing...uhh....Ducks!
  • + 4
 @colincolin: why the downvotes nobody likes an IFHT referance?
  • + 4
 @Kapricorn: I almost gave you props, but you're at 69 right now and that just seems so right for your comment
  • + 2
 Anyone find it intriguing that Kade2000 is teammates with Ms. Atherton while dating her nemesis, Ms. Seagrave?
  • + 15
 #LongLiveChainsaw
  • + 14
 Myriam wow❤️????
  • + 11
 If you've got socks shorter than mid-calf gtfo saint-anne
  • + 9
 Nice legs on [insert any one of their names here]!
  • + 10
 Nice legs on [iamamodel].
Username checks out.
  • + 9
 Tracey and Loic would make really fast babies.
  • + 8
 But first, they make babies ...very fast.
heh
Wink
  • + 1
 @bizutch: What is this from??
  • + 1
 @philipmcm: it was just a reference to having a quickie. To have babies...you gotta make em. 2 racers doing the deed...gotta be quick.
  • + 5
 It has been HHH (hazy, hot, and humid) in the Northeast for over 2 weeks now, and as the above article mentioned it is going to continue. I can imagine how slick some of those rocks are going to be this weekend. Should be a great race for all disciplines (XCC, XCO, and DH).
  • + 5
 it's just the south east for canada pretty much though lol
  • + 1
 @SnowshoeRider4Life: If there is one reason I hope global warming is averted/a hoax...it's the Northeast black flies. May they NEVER come south.
  • + 3
 One thing that occured to me while reading this is just how closely the female and male team mates work together to find lines. Despite the fact that they don't compete against one another, they still all ride bikes, they still all ride the same track, the same rocks and drops and roots. Teamwork,regardless of sex, at it's finest.
  • + 6
 My F5 frenzy finally paid
  • + 5
 That Steve Smith drop looks Gnarly!
  • + 3
 I know, that's what I was thinking. I wonder what it's like for the average rider. I think I would like to give it a go but I know how those things are. They look rideable but once you are up on them the story changes. I think it's crazy that they have something like this towards the bottom of a race. Racing is different than freeriding because you heart rate is so high, plus towards the end your body is tired and you are so focused mentally that it's easy to make a mistake. Crashing off of that at race speed might have some serious consequences. But the pros make it look so easy as if it were merely a speed bump.
  • + 0
 It’s not as bad as you think. Is only challenging when you’re hitting in during a full run because the breaking bumps at the bottom are pretty ruthless
  • + 6
 I want to pat Buck.
  • + 4
 kade looks more and more like richie
  • + 1
 If you search me this week-end... You can find me along the track with 8in black socks, jeans short, black tee and a flatbrim hat...
  • + 2
 Highlites of the day and of Wyn TV interview is definetely Tahne!!!!!! ohhh my god.
  • + 3
 What's a brother gotta do to get a course preview vid up in here??
  • + 2
 Yeah man where's Grover at?
  • + 2
 I've watched world cups for years but this is the first one I'm actually going to. What do you recommend I not miss?
  • + 9
 Your transport. Smile
  • + 1
 The xc races, and dh practice.
  • + 1
 @RedRedRe: mens xc race is sunday 3pm so that may not happen. Curious if the enduro race will be worth watching. Not sure if any big enduro riders will be there.
  • + 1
 A full gas section just before a sneaky slick turn, best place imo. Jumps yes but not long, you've seen one you've seen all. Technical slow section yes but overcrowed, but must see them all (tomorrow?). Or the final line. No, kidding.
  • + 2
 After the race be sure to go swimming at the waterfall.
  • + 2
 New wasted-fiber cassettes spotted at the Giant pits!
  • + 1
 stoked to see Mick hannah out there but sounds like he's still at like 80%.
  • + 2
 Great job on the pictures!
  • + 0
 I like the non riding photos too. I would like to see more wildlife photos too. But all around they are great.
  • + 1
 Someone pick me up on the way!!! I wanna go to there.
  • + 0
 I feel like there's a better way to describe a shoulder injury than "niggling"
  • + 0
 It's a mother-in-law would use it kinda word for sure.

verb
gerund or present participle: niggling

cause slight but persistent annoyance, discomfort, or anxiety.
"a suspicion niggled at the back of her mind"
  • + 2
 *** Château Frontenac
  • + 1
 @andy9: I hope to see some great panshots!!
  • + 1
 Oooh, Giant Robb Roskopp I
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