Junior Racing Domination
Two names that are continuing to stand out in junior racing are the Canadians Jackson Goldstone and Gracey Hemstreet. Both riders have been dominating the junior field with Snowshoe granting both of them four wins in 2022.
For Jackson, this was his third win in a row. With his string of victories, he is now just over sixty points clear of Jordan Williams in the overall meaning we could see the overall title wrapped up at Mont-Sainte-Anne, a very special achievement if Jackson can do it.
Gracey Hemstreet could also wrap up the overall in Canada as she is currently 40 points in the clear. Gracey will have to fight a bit harder to take the series title at her home race, but with four wins, a 2nd, and a 3rd place, she has the skills to do it.
Camille Balanche is Unstoppable in the Mud
Just like her previous performances in the muddy steeps of Leogang Camille Balanche proved once again that she is in a league of her own in the mud. Not only did she make the tricky track look easy she also apparently didn't crash the whole weekend. With a track taking out or at least stalling most riders in their final runs, Camille was able to put together an almost completely clean feet-up run to win by a sizeable four seconds against Myriam Nicole.
Camille's win in Snowshoe backs up an amazing five in a row qualifying victories with three wins in 2022. These incredible results put Camille 230 points in the lead for the overall; if she can win another qualifying and Myriam Nicole qualifies in third then the overall for 2022 will be all tied up before finals even begin.
A Great Weekend for Continental Tires
Snowshoe didn't just deliver great racing it also brought what is probably the best weekend ever for Continental tires with three Elite men on the podium and a second-place finish in the Junior women's race for Aimi Kenyon.
While we normally see podiums dominated by the likes of Schwalbe and Maxxis, it was interesting to see the new tires from the German brand doing so well in the mud. With the great weekend for Continental we saw career-best finishes for Bernard Kerr, Andreas Kolb and Ronan Dunne.
Amaury Pierron is a Race Winning Machine
The Elite Men's race was one of the wildest of the year, with a fine line between a potential race-winning run and disaster. As we have come to learn this season Amaury Pierron is the master of riding on this edge and he bested the drying track to take his fourth win this season. With this feat Amaury also becomes the fourth Elite man to ever win four World Cups in a single year, with Mont-Sainte-Anne and Val di Sole still to come we would say he could be bettering this record.
Looking at the times for Amaury's race run he only took the lead in the final splits with a second split result of 12th and the third split coming in 5th. Both of these splits were sections with some of the worst conditions with Amaury setting blistering times in the safer upper and lower splits. Looking at all of the top four riders, their final positions were all reached at the fourth split with no changes down to the line.
Snowshoe is Wild in the Wet
So far we have only seen dry and dusty World Cup races in Snowshoe with many people saying it was lucky the track wasn't wet. Finally, after three previous races at this venue we got to see just how tricky the course can be. You know a World Cup course is hard when even the top qualifiers are being bucked all over the track and even putting a foot down is not the end of a potential race-winning run.
The tough conditions did bring out some interesting line choices with Dakotah Norton riding a wild line through the double drop that looked incredibly fast, and we don't think anyone else even attempted the line all week.
Where Were All the Riders?
Riders on the start list at each round so far in 2022:
While it is great to have World Cup races not just in Europe it is difficult to get over the clear lack of riders attending last weekend's World Cup race. Across all of the categories, we saw decent to significant-sized drops in numbers. The junior women dropped two riders from the previous lowest numbers and the junior men were missing seven. In the elite women's racing, the numbers dropped below 30 for the first time this year with only 20 riders actually on the start list. The elite men also dipped below 100 for the first time in 2022 with 93 riders, this is 54 riders off the previous lowest number.
With the news that next year we may see only 30 riders in finals and an even more international race calendar, it's hard to see how this will be worth it for the riders with a clear gap in the number of riders being able to race in North America.
Elite Women - Rd1: 33 // Rd2: 31 // Rd3: 31 // Rd4: 39 // Rd5: 35 // Rd6: 20
Elite Men - Rd1: 153 // Rd2: 147 // Rd3: 180 // Rd4: 164 // Rd5: 149 // Rd6: 93
Junior Men - Rd1: 61 // Rd2: 54// Rd3: 71 // Rd4: 80 // Rd5: 64 // Rd6: 47
Junior Women - Rd1: 14 // Rd2: 15 // Rd3: 18 // Rd4: 22 // Rd5: 19 // Rd6: 12