After the rain caught everyone off guard in yesterday's qualifier, today riders would at least get the benefit of some practice time on the now slippery race track prior to racing. Blue skies greeted everyone to start the day but clouds quickly moved in and it became apparent the track was unlikely to completely dry out. Further complicating setup and tire choice, large sections of the track were dry while others were covered in a thin slime of mud. Having a feel for how much grip could be had on dry roots with wet tires or vice versa would be the constant gamble of the day as riders pushed to find the track's new limits. Once again it would be a World Cup race where nerves, adaptability to react to changing conditions and the ability to change things up on the fly that would make all the difference.
First up were the juniors where Thibaut Daprela and Vali Holl continue where they left off in 2018 by taking the wins in Maribor. Thibaut would put a margin of over three seconds into first-year junior Ethan Shandro while Kye A'Hern would fall just over four seconds back for third. Once again Vali Holl would dominate the field with an almost 10 second lead over Anna Newkirk and Mille Johnset, a podium very reminiscent of the 2018 season.
Clouds began to build just before the women's race but luckily held off dropping any moisture on the rapidly drying track. It would be Marine Cabirou who would set the first fast time with a run that would have gone fastest in yesterday's qualifying round. Next to challenge her would be crowd favorite Monika Hrastnik but her time would come up just short. As soon as third place qualifier Tahnee Seagrave hit the track it was obvious she was on another level, and as her splits came up on the board it was obvious she was on an incredible run. Across the line and straight to the hot seat with only two racers on left on track to challenge her time. First up was World Champ Rachel Atherton who would flip flop between being up and down at each split, making it a nail biter of a run for those awaiting their fate at the bottom. In the end, she would come up just 0.8 off the pace to finish second. As Tracey Hannah steadily lost time at the splits it became obvious the win was Tahnee's, and as Hannah crossed the line in third the deal was sealed. Tahnee is now in the driver's seat as the series heads to round two in Fort William.
For the men's race, the track was back to it's blazing fast and nearly dry self for what would be one of the closest races we have seen in a long long time. With the top five only separated in the end by 1.5 seconds and the top four all on the same second, Maribor kept everyone on the edge of their seat. And none more so than Loic Bruni as he watched his closest rivals fall short by the slimmest of margins. With times so tight riders were pushing to the absolute limit on track and crashes would, unfortunately, keep Loris Vergier out of the mix along with 3rd place qualifier Finn Iles. Last weeks iXS Cup winner Matt Walker stayed on top form to claim 5th just behind Charlie Harrison who would pilot his new Trek to 4th in his first race with the team. Third would go to the ever consistent Troy Brosnan while the top two spots would go to Bruni and Danny Hart respectively. For the tech nerds out there his would also mark the first time a 29/27.5 combo bike has won a DH race, and in this case, that setup claimed the top two steps.
The Downhill World Cup now takes a five-week break before returning to the classic back to back rounds of Fort William and Leogang in early June.