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5 Things We Learned from the Val di Sole DH World Cup 2022

Sep 5, 2022 at 7:55
by Ed Spratt  

Jordan Williams set the fastest time of the weekend

Both Jordan Williams and Jackson Goldstone have been in a league of their own for most of the 2022 season with dominant Junior wins as well as regularly threatening the time of the Elite riders. Val di Sole was no different as Jordan Williams beat out all Elite riders in qualifying with a time of 3:40.491. Proving that it wasn't just qualifying where he was fastest, Jordan also set the fastest lap on finals day. This isn't the first time in 2022 that a Junior has had the fastest time on a track as Jackson Goldstone was the fastest rider at Vallnord.

Of course, there are different conditions for riders in Juniors and Elites, but both Jordan Williams and Jackson Goldstone have shown they will have the speed when they move up next year.

The second biggest Elite Men's winning margin in Val di Sole

Loris Vergier's winning run was incredible to watch and the gap of 3.008 seconds back to Andreas Kolb was a huge achievement on the tricky course. Looking back through the history books, Loris' winning margin in Val di Sole has only been topped once before by Aaron Gwin. Aaron's win was a massive 7.85 seconds on the Black Snake against Greg Minnaar in 2012, but in every race since then, the silver medallist has been within three seconds of the win. The Elite Women's win was the sixth largest margin in Val di Sole, but it was Myriam's second largest win on the track at 4.069. Myriam's World Champs win was slightly larger last year at 4.827.

Loris Vergier won this race but it was more than that. His lines and speed were most impressive throughout.

Intense finally has a competitive race bike

The Intense team has had a tough few years with various different bikes and prototypes not seeming to work for its team of riders. Given Aaron Gwin's various team changes and it seemingly not affecting his ability to win, it always seemed odd that he suddenly lost his winning ways with the move over to Intense. For 2022, everything was changed with a completely new frame and design process and it seems to have finally paid off. Since joining Intense back in 2019, Aaron Gwin has only managed to take four podium positions - all of which have been fourth-place finishes. Since swapping to the new prototype, Aaron secured three of these podiums making it the most successful period he has had since joining the new team three seasons ago. Before the new bike, you would have to go all the way back to one of the Lousã rounds in 2020 for his last podium result.
Aaron Gwin is edging ever closer to getting back on top of that World Cup podium.
While he has only been on the team this year, Dakotah Norton also secured a podium finish with a third place in Val di Sole, making it the most successful weekend for the Intense team since the 2017 and 2018 seasons when the lineup featured Jack Moir and Dean Lucas. To find a single better result for Intense, you have to go back to Losinj in 2018 and Dean Lucas' second place there to better the third from Dakotah Norton last weekend.

It seems Intense is finally on the right track with the new prototype and we can't wait to see what another off-season of testing will do to the bike. One thing worth mentioning is we never did see the six-bar prototype Jeff Steber was teasing when we interviewed him earlier this year. Maybe it has been scrapped after the success of the current design or we could see something wild for the season opener in June next year.

Tough end to Junior Racing for Jackson Goldstone

Jackson Goldstone has had one the most successful period of Junior racing in World Cup history as he won both the 2021 and 2022 overalls alongside the World Champs last year. Until the Les Gets World Champs, Jackson had never finished outside the top two in any finals. In his two years of Junior racing, Jackson managed to get nine wins and five-second places. Jackson's Junior racing career hasn't ended in the way he would have wanted with crashes ruining his streak of only taking first or second places. In Les Gets, Jackson took 14th while a crash ending in a broken handlebar put Jackson in fourth in his final Junior race in Val di Sole.
Jackson Goldstone was way up in the splits Sam Hill style before sliding out on the exact same corner and snapping his bar.
Finn Iles' Junior streak just beat Jackson's with 10 wins and four-second places. Interestingly, Finn also never placed outside of the top two apart from in two races, although those were because he did not start. It took Finn a few years to get fully up to speed in Elite as he took his first win this year in Mont-Sainte-Anne, so it will be interesting to see if Jackson can take a maiden win before his fifth year in the big leagues.

A brutal track to end the season

Val di Sole is always one of the roughest tracks on the circuit but this year brought an even harder challenge with the course being in one of the worst conditions we have seen in quite a while. The course was full of holes from the first practice session and the track continued to deteriorate through the finals with even some of the best riders struggling to stay upright through the week. By the end of finals, we saw some of the largest lists of DNS and DNFs all season with seven riders not making it down their final runs after qualifying. Since the end of racing ,we have heard the news that Greg Minnaar has fractured three vertebrae and Laurie Greenland has shared footage of a massive spill that took place during his race run.

While it's great watching riders take on a tough track, we have heard that not everyone was enjoying the tricks the track brought this week and there may be a couple of changes coming for the next time we visit Val di Sole.
Jess Blewitt will be looking to end her season on a high.

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Member since Mar 16, 2017
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  • 167 1
 6. Ed was a good stand-in for Wyn.
  • 11 0
 I was hoping so badly for an appearance by Rob. Great stand-in indeed tho
  • 161 8
 Only pinkbike could get Jackson into the first sentence about Jordan going fastest.
  • 88 5
 But technically, you just did too....
  • 81 3
 Jackson mentioned three times in the Jordan segment; Jordan not mentioned in the Jackson segment. Surely not conscious choices in the writing, but interesting how that happened!
  • 5 0
  • 13 2
 Yeah, pinkbike shows a lot of bias there - Jordan kept him honest all season, there’s a career long rivalry brewing…they both have 1x WC as they go into Elites
  • 17 0
 It's interesting, Dean Lucas mentions this in the latest Downtime Podcast how Jordan has been going about doing the job needed without all the fanfare and hype that surrounds Jackson. Maybe this will play into Jordan's hands, psychologically giving him the advantage of not having to feel the pressure when they both step up into Elites. It is going to make an interesting season. Plus me and my lad found out last week that Jordan is from my neck of the woods and we are super stoked!!!
  • 6 0
 @Istillneedstabilisers: If my brain is working fine,Jackson has been publicized in the media since he was a little kid. Any publicity is pretty good,just look what team took him. I think the guy is really good,but it is like and old man in a young body,he does not talk like a kid and I really do not like that it is a little weird. Finn was almost the same,maybe a Canadian thing hehehe.
  • 7 0
 @Istillneedstabilisers: It interesting, looking back. Finn and Matt Walker were in Juniors together, Finn had better results than him as a Junior, but only just, Walker was right behind him.

They both won their first world cups this year and Walker got his first. Finn got more hype though lol.
  • 2 0
 You can see Jordan trying to fight his way out of Jackson's huge shadow during interviews. Tough spot to be in for him. He's obviously an incredible rider and if he's able to quiet the Jackson-mania around him I'm pretty certain his riding will become the primary focus. Stoked for next season...besides Discovery taking over the show...
  • 135 2
 #6 Camille Blanche is one tough mother f*cker!
  • 21 159
flag hllclmbr (Sep 6, 2022 at 12:53) (Below Threshold)
 She likes the ladies, but there’s no need to bring incest into it
  • 77 8
 @hllclmbr: maybe keep your really weird thoughts to yourself more often
  • 5 11
flag RedBurn (Sep 6, 2022 at 13:57) (Below Threshold)
  • 13 1
 If anyone here wasn't a fan of CamBal, you will be now! She's as tough as tough can get! Happy for her taking the overall.
  • 22 0
 Hockey Player background...
  • 4 0
 @ridestuff: tough as nails.
  • 4 0
 @hllclmbr: seriously,
  • 61 0
 6. Minnaar is happy to be protected going into next year, which I'm hoping means that we get another season of him doing this DH thing!
  • 20 0
 Yeah that post on IG was best case given the scenario. Healing in your 40's is a bit different so hopefully the dudes goat status carries over to his ability to recover. Either way, I'm just clad he can still walk. Scary crash.
  • 10 0
 @onemanarmy: the gargantuan break between last race this season and first race next season will help. Every cloud…
  • 43 3
 Regarding the last comment (the brutal track) doesn't it seem DH in general has pushed the limits so much that it has gotten even more dangerous? The bike technology and rider training has upped the game and it looks to me like the riders have to pin it more than they might have needed to in the past to get a win or a podium? For example, I think Gwin raised the level of performance. Even a Gwin at peak performance wouldn't be destroying this field like he did in the past. Everyone has gotten faster and the bikes have gotten better. I wonder if Gwin, Minnaar or other old timers would agree with that. And what can be done about it? Redesigned tracks? A points system that rewards consistent top 10 finishes vs the current one that is bias towards wins?
  • 94 4
 16% of the field getting injured is ridiculous. IMO tracks could be designed way safer.

Ideally with a bit more tech and a bit less gnar. Maybe aim for bit lower average speed, or just safer high speed sections.

TV producers understandably want speed and large jumps to sell. Build those, but make those sections more safe, and try to have the races won and lost in the turns and tech.

Ideally people shouldn't need to risk their lives on the high speed sections right next to trees or bridge handrails like at Vallnord, or risk dying on an OTB in ultra sketchy chunky parts like at VDS.

Ski racing and moto gp kinda has it figured out? High speed crashes are ok where there are crash nets or massive slideout areas. Not ok when you rapidly decelerate hitting a pine tree.
  • 23 0
 @eastonsmith: Great points. Laurie's crash hitting that tree was brutal!! Even going back to Minaar's crash into that metal pole that split his bike a few years back. What the F*ck was a metal pole such as that one doing ANYWHERE near the course?
  • 12 0
 @eastonsmith: Totally agree with the racing analogy, F1 tracks are designed in a much safer way than in the past, we can still have excellent racing for fans and riders, but with tracks that won't injure such a high ratio of participants.
  • 15 0
 Regarding how rough the track was: In the downtime podcast wrap up Neko mentions that the course builder wanted to reroute some sections to fresh loam but there is some red tape from a forestry commission preventing it.
  • 9 0
 @eastonsmith: I do think track speed has gotten super high. Its as much a symptom of rider skill increases though as it is track layout. These guys are riding the chunky stuff so fast in modern times that the risk of a crash is going to be super high every time. The only way to stop it is to build tighter turned, slower tracks through the rough bits. I dont know if that's a good fun answer though.
  • 12 0
 @eastonsmith: I enjoyed seeing the difficult track, but agree that an injury rate that high is a clear indication that something needs to change. In my opinion high speed sections should be designed so that a crash doesn't result in a rider coming to an abrupt stop. The rider's energy should be dissipated by sliding on relatively smooth ground, hitting a net or large pad, etc. Rocky/rooty technical sections should be designed to be slower speed. The consequences of hiting gnar at high speed can just be too high.
  • 39 1
 I love the Black Snake but the track this year was in the worst condition I've ever seen since I watch or practice DH.

It's always been a rough and difficult track but not impossible for an average skilled rider (I used to train there and I'm certainly not a pro), but in the last few years things have gone really bad.

There are so many reasons behind that, let's just say that you can't expect that the soil you put on the holes two weeks before the race could stay there for long. It was more like a make-up than a real maintenance.

The historic trail builder who took care of the black snake for many years with a shovel and a rake used to start working in March to get the things ready for July/August.

The world cup it's not only a Bruni (who said that was "too much"), Pierron or Minnaar business. There are girls and boys too.
The junior practice was a massacre game. I'm glad that nothing serious happened.
  • 8 2
 @cougar797: slower (for these guys) doesn’t equal slow though. Probably knocking the speeds back a couple % would make things massively safer, and nobody would ever notice as it’d be a different track to before anyway.
  • 4 0
 Reality is that feet of dirt have eroded away from all of the classic tracks. Not sure why the operators don't replenish the dirt in some sections. They don't need to be completely neutered, but filling in some of the holes would go a long way to making the tracks safer.
  • 17 1
 @flowisforpussies: I mean, if they can't maintain an acceptable track, then UCI shouldn't race there. You're playing with people's health here, it's serious business. I thought the track was too much and detracted from the race. World Cup tracks should be challenging, not outright dangerous to riders well being.
  • 2 1
 Every discipline gets faster as time goes on. Technology, training, nutrition, equipment setup, etc - all of the incremental gains within those realms add up to faster times.
  • 13 25
flag IanGilbertoud (Sep 6, 2022 at 12:52) (Below Threshold)
 This is what WC DH is all about, the gnarliest tracks in the world and who is willing to push the limits the most to win. I do not think the track is too dangerous, the speed they are riding it at is what makes it dangerous. Look at the Junior Women and how many less bad crashes they had. Making a "slow" track isn't the answer, it is racing, no one wants to see racers tip toe down the course nor do they want to. Injuries will always be part of the sport, it is up to the rider to wear good protection and ride with in their limits to make it safer.
  • 2 0
 @avgas: well said, totally agree
  • 3 1
 @salespunk: oof -- I wouldn't want to be on the team responsible for hauling in and compacting all of that dirt between the rocks and roots.
  • 4 0
 not sure which podcast i heard it on but apparently since Val di Sole is a bike park now the nature status has changed and there isn't a lot of changes they are allowed to make to the track.
  • 5 0
 @bgoldstone: Same issue many ski resorts in Colorado such as Trestle have, basically 100 year leases on Forest Service land and every trail major update or new trail must be approved and in typical bureaucratic fashion....it can take years
  • 12 1
 The problem is not that the bikes are better or the riders fitter, the problem is that those tracks are pretty much straight so that means fast AF which means that anytime you hit the ground the consequences are huge. Lets have some tigth, windy amd tech DH track again and this won't be nearly as much of a problem. But then it won't be as spectacular, especially to make some bucks selling DH racing to the masses which don't have a clue what they are looking at. A big road gap is impressive to any personne that don't have a clue, a long off-camber corner littered with roots isn't.
  • 13 16
 @salespunk: problem is once again climate change. Dry tracks lead to more erosion. I observe this in many parts of the alps where many tracks have turned to dusty, blown out big ruts that have nothing to do with the once flowy trails they were. Another reason is the higher frequency but with the black snake in such a bad condition I don't think a high frequency from bikepark riders played a role here. The sol just durns into dust and dust flies away.
  • 11 1
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: UCI only makes sure the check clears the bank
  • 4 10
flag fwp39 FL (Sep 6, 2022 at 13:58) (Below Threshold)
 Its Impossible to say with Gwin, He is 34, Professional athletes are not Better at 34 than they were at 24. Not Gwin, Not Sam Hill, Not Nico, Doesn't work like that in DH, or any sport.
  • 4 0
 @fwp39: maybe not physically, but it almost every single instance. The regardless of the sport, your mind is in a better spot and has a vast amount, more of knowledge and professionalism. What you say is true then there's no way. Greg Minaar well that's like Tom Brady would be where they are
  • 1 4
 @avgas: mountain doesnt move when you hit it, they should put padding on all the rocks and roots on track on any section where you can go over 20kph…
  • 5 0
 @IanGilbertoud: I'm not suggesting that we can take all the danger out of it. I do think that a track can be designed to be challenging and exciting to spectate, while also having lower risk of major injury when a mistake is made. I'm guessing this already happens when a world cup track is made. They maybe just didn't get it quite right this time.
  • 5 5
 @avgas: i think it is the last race of the season on one of if not the gnarliest wc tracks and racers are faster than ever and racers CHOOSE to take the risk for reward knowing they have all offseason to heal up, at this point its not about points, its about the last chance of the season, potentially your WC career and they choose to risk it. look how world champs used to be when it was the last race of the season, guys full on sent it and potentially crashed big for the chance at glory or their best result. Just so happens it is the wildest track as well. look at crash compilations from Val Di Sole in 2016, just as bad but no one was complaining. It is mostly spectators complaining because racers got hurt not the racers themselves. I have never blamed the track for any of my crashes I have ever had. They were all 100% my fault at the end of the day. I choose to ride, ride that section, ride that race, that day. No one made me. Finn Iles sat out cause the risk to reward wasnt worth it in his cutrent state. Others took the risk, many talking about how “drained” they were. I know when I get fatigued is when I crash.
  • 3 5
 @avgas: with the changes coming next year the majority of riders will never get to race a WC ever again. Don’t you think some of them knew they would give it one last chance to ride above their limit to potentially do well if it was the last WC they may ever race? No one is saying the Ridgeline that Gee Atherton rode was “unsafe and should be changed” he wanted to go big and sometimes it doesn’t work out. I love all these riders but these are the best DH Racers in the world on the best equipment in the world. I am sure just about every single one had a run down just fine, the same guys that rode down fine one run, crashed the next. It happens. You can play the statistics and numbers game that Cathro put out all day. But to say the track is too unsafe for WC DH and needs to be changed is ridiculous. I hope Greg heals up soon cause I know he will be back next year for redemption on the track he won world champs on and had good runs on this year.
  • 6 1
 @Balgaroth: a slower tech DH series would be sick
  • 1 2
 @bman33: Probably rebar covered in pvc pipe to hold tape markings. But that aside, what are all those tall brown poles with green things growing on them near the course? Why would anyone plant those there???
  • 1 0
 this course is what every trail we think looks like prior to watching GoPro footage of it with your friends” it’s really alot gnarlier than this”
  • 10 0
 @bman33: i saw the junior european champion fly straight into a tree, basically the same crash just hitting the tree full on. We thought he was dying as he laid there, luckily he "just" broke a hand and an arm. I never saw something like this in all the years, maybe its time for changes.
  • 11 0
 @IanGilbertoud: racers said it was scary and the only fun is crossing the finishline in one piece(Danny Hart). I was there and there are many places on course were a fatigued upper body sends you straight into a tree * brutal steps with no run out. Thats just bad.
  • 2 0
 I think you're correct that Gwin and Minnaar pushed the sport to new levels. Gwin alluded to it in his podcast with Levy, he said he'd be surprised if a majority of the riders didn't have a personal trainer and a nutritionist on the payroll. The riders are pushing themselves to get that extra edge. The party vibe of yore has kind of gone by the wayside. Is that good, or bad? I guess that's a personal preference on how you like your DH.
  • 2 1
 @hetfield1: the partyvibe is still there, although a bit pushed to the outer perimeters of the circus. In Val di sole a lot of DH riders had beers after finals and a lot of washed up riders turned photo or roadie were publicly on 420 even on Friday late afternoon.
  • 28 0
 Changing teams never seemed to affect Aaron Gwin's ability to win? 2011, 5 wins with Trek. 2012, 4 wins with Trek. 2013, 0 wins with Spesh. 2014, 1 win with Spesh.

Aaron Gwin not getting on with his new bike was the most talked about subject in downhill for years - and that was when he was in his 20s and still had all his own bones.
  • 11 0
 yeah and the 29er carbon Intense was well reviewed and Moir and Lucas were really pinning it, that season was awesome for Intense. But they had a great team vibe and when Moir got onto Gwins team it was over, so it's probably more mental than the bike.
  • 7 0
 @jzPV: pretty much everything but the frame changed when AG took over. If i remember right Moir said just getting off Maxxis slowed him down 3-4(?) seconds.
  • 25 0
 “The course was in one of the worst conditions we have seen”… is it owned by Vail too?
  • 30 9
 Riders complain the tracks are getting easier, get one that’s harder and that’s too hard. Can’t win.
  • 10 1
 So true ... Maybe they have to speak with Sam Hill about that Smile
  • 11 0
 Both can be correct at the same time while there also is some perfection to be found in Les Gets.
  • 5 0
 @freeridefen: over some tea and biscuits perhaps
  • 8 0
 Its a bit more nuanced than that, tracks can be harder without being more dangerous. Look at tracks like Schladming, and Champery, quite difficult and lots to seperate the riders but less consequence. Riders win in the corners on these tracks.
  • 6 0
 I think what really needs to happen is fresh cut tracks which is what most riders say. They show up at a venue and it’s basically the same track from the last decade plus. Already blown in a lot of places and going to get completely blown over the weekend. These are relatively big mountains - put the tape somewhere new.
  • 20 0
 6. put on your shades before the tears flow
  • 18 0
 How did Greenland walk away from that...I guess he's tough as nails.
  • 13 0
 There were a couple brutal crashes. Syndicate did not have a great weekend outside of Nina. 3 major crashes out of 4 riders.
  • 9 1
 Mad how the top two juniors consistently have times within the top 10s mens elite and we can't get race coverage of them
  • 6 1
 There's always some excuse, regardless of the source for Juniors absurd top speeds being in the T-10 of elites - different conditions / smifferent conditions - I call BS on that for this race. Face - J & J are in fact as fast as any of the top 10 elite men that actually can win a race any given week - period, and faster than the majority of the mens field. Sure - sometimes they do have better conditions (and ride faster) & sometimes worse (and still seem to ride faster) - welcome to racing. That same phrase / idea is uttered about the elites..."oh the track was better during the first X number of runs" - isn't it always getting shredded by the time Top 10 qualifiers drop and they still seem to rage on those "bad" tracks. Is it ever better after 20, 40 or 55 riders? Never.

I don't think this translates into J & J automatic wins & balling in 2023 though - totally different thing knowing your elite vs. Junior. Just saying the excuses for why the JR's are "not actually as fast" has piled up as high and is as gnarly an ideological mountain as Val di Sol is raw. Just admit - just about regardless of conditions, J & J and a few others are among the top 10 riders at all in 2022. Admire it.
  • 10 1
 I agree with most your points, however the rain mid race really slowed the course,( lots of guys talking about it like riding on ice.)

Those guys will win in elite soon, but they had a big advantage in this race.
  • 4 0
 Similar to Gee & Hill in juniors, both instantly up to speed in Elites - it’s a beautiful thing to watch happen
  • 4 0
 @peebeejay: Yeah, and hey - I'm just as much an armchair q-back as anyone (if not less), but it does get annoying that literally every race, there's some explanation why J & J are not actually as fast or something. I just don't buy it. Still - that they will just dominate in elite is not a given. I don't at all buy that they will, just thinking out loud that its probable or possible.
  • 5 0
 @uk-hardtail: I'm down with it - remember those days too, and if they do get right up in there - great and if not - great. It will be what it is. I just wish 2023 DH season would get her sooner. And here's to missing Rob and hoping Discovery doesn't f*** it up.
  • 5 0
 Regarding Jordan Williams and Jackson Goldstone getting fastest times, people only seem to mention track conditions. I feel that confidence from being the top rider(s) in your category helps a lot. Move up to big school and your confidence will surely take a knock. Confidence is everything as some riders say.
  • 2 0
 Why do people feel the need to qualify how fast they are?
  • 3 0
 @Dogl0rd: …so you know what order you start on race day..
  • 10 2
 no words of Girls Racing at all ?
  • 4 0
 There was a sidebar about Myriam. Perhaps there were no lessons from the ladies this weekend? Perhaps they were being all mysterious, like.
  • 6 0
 @handynzl: are they all Pisces?
  • 1 0
 @handynzl: fair !
  • 18 11
 Someone get Jordan a redbull helmet.
  • 30 1
 Nah he needs a monster lid to have a real rivalry.
  • 8 8
 The Intense point seems one of those things that's hard to pin down. Gwin is aging and there were almost certainly some lifestyle changes throughout the more recent years, etc. And Dakotah is a young gun finally finding his pace, so not the best litmus tests for the bikes themselves. Although cranking out new prototypes every event hardly seemed to be the solution but sure, maybe the new process/design has helped.

Just can't say there are ENOUGH riders to set more consistent precedent for how the bikes ride. And that's ignoring the whole not the bike but the rider type narrative.

Could have easily and seamlessly swapped the narrative to "Gwin and Norton relationship paying dividends on the track as both riders earn their best results on the year". Or "track is so gnarly, being a crazy American pays dividends on track that is trying to kill you". I dunno. But like you say, Gwin has won on everything. Even YTs. It's probably not the bike lol
  • 13 1
 Wondering in Gwin's move East (Tennessee I think?) has made the biggest impact on his riding? Doesn't a lot of the WC DH'ers living in that neck of the woods these days...including Norton? Lots of Crazy rocky terrain out there...
  • 30 0
 Just FYI...Dak is not young. He came to DH late. Dude is 30.
At 30, I refused to accept the offer of a Pro card when USA Cycling ended Semi-Pro class because I felt like I was already on a massive decline and my results would only go down. Beer

But Dak at 30 is getting FASTER and people think he's a kid. So impressive.
  • 5 0
 Dakotah Norton is 30. He seems to be hitting his peak, but I wouldn't call him a young gun.

I don't disagree with your other points necessarily as small sample size is always tough, but I will say that no one seemed to get along with the old Intense bike and basically everyone has done better moving off of it (to either a different sponsor or the new version).
  • 12 2
 @MarcusBrody: KENDA TIRES
  • 2 0
 @MarcusBrody: Intense is back!!!
  • 12 3
 @fastford337: Moving out of California is good for any career!!!!
  • 18 1
 @MOLDTRUTH: Not if you're a firefighter.
  • 3 2
 I mean, even if it's 99% the rider and 1% the bike, that 1% is still over two seconds on a track this length, which is pretty significant.
  • 5 0
 I feel like Dak has been coming up for a few years now. He's gotten close a few times in the past and even back on Devinci he was looking great. No doubt the bike is good and it is at least not holding him back. But I would put his success more on his hard work and mindset than on a bike.
  • 2 0
 @fastford337: Its kinda east TN but a bit more west of that (Windrock is NW of Knoxville about an hour) - but its mountain enough. I would chalk up Gwin's recent improvement to being able to ride more in these wetter conditions and - just focusing more on DH vs. the 38 other distractions he got wrapped up in. Either way - just speculating.

I'm in western NC just near Asheville (but not in Pisgah District proper - its sweet and where I cut my teeth in the 90's but waaaaay to crowded for my likes anymore. The former Bailey Mtn Bike park was like a mini-Windrock and apparently a pro rider bought it (which was why it closed as a park). Neko lives in Hendersonville and Luka is in Brevard, so w/ Norton & Gwin (prob others) near KX-ville, TN and hordes of riders learning how badass Windrock is - I think its only gonna blow up more. I've been to Snowshoe and most other bike parks on the east coast but Windrock easily blows them all away in my view - the trails, the vibe, the 2500 ft drops from the top - whats not to love.
  • 1 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: what's not to like? I'm gonna say the best trail in our entire region was converted to a flow trail. And they're gunning for anything else left that resembles a black diamond rating.
"Intermediate Mountains"
  • 2 0
 @blowmyfuse: I hear ya - and I think you're talking about Middle Blue now (?) or are you referring to something in ND? No diss to Shrimper or any of the builders - I've not even ridden that section lately but mostly b/c I'm north of AVL so hitting other stuff that's just as big (2-3000 ft drops) that just has no traffic, and off-radar sites that are pillaging but just not known or a bit more outta the way.

The whole side-walking of the black & double blacks is truly disturbing and while I do get there is an infinite amount of unsustainable stuff most of us have cobbed in and pounded for 10-20 years maybe some of these newer machined trails will grown in & evolve to where they do erode less and become gnarlier (?) Dunno. Hell, I've been riding out there since the early 90's when NO ONE rode there and that middle black section was pretty bad and badly eroding. But the results - stuff like Cantrell Ck - is just Dollywood sidewalks in my view, formerly awsome and now a must-avoid wacky tourist trail.

BTW was it you saying middle black could've easily been alt re-routes of that by hand w/ local vol crews (something) vs. that getting paved? I don't think machines are always the answer compared to the same style of rerouting done by hand to keep the singletrack feel of places like that.
  • 2 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: Probably me who was talking about rerouting by hand. They had the money to bring up all the machines. I just don't think it was an option. I don't want to diss the builders, I believe they were heavily constrained by the forest service.

BTW, you gotta show me these 2-3000ft drops up north...
  • 1 0
 @blowmyfuse: shoot, I got mine at 39. It forced me to get faster for a couple years. Not WC faster, North American faster Smile ..
  • 2 0
 @pisgahgnar: I think I recall that now - and yeah, Shrimpers great - agreed on the FS. I guess in perspective its not a lot that's getting paved, and there's more out there but damn dude - PM me and lets catch up. Will take ya on a northern tour that'll blow ya away... some big climbs but the downs are worth it. I'm a shit climber but love a 15-20min drop (plus freeride areas).
  • 2 0
 Gwin is getting faster because he's getting more out of the bike. He won on a YT because those bikes were dialed. The bike the team everything was to the 9s. Newish team new bike that they basically built from the ground up. He's always had the speed he just needs the setup to put everything together. It looks like things are heading in that direction which is great to see.
  • 1 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: I went to windrock and was pretty disappointed the trails were very blown out and unmaintained. I'm not saying they were poorly built, you could do everything with it built right, but it was just to blown out to get anything out of it. The steep trails were fun and gnarly but def wouldn't go there just for the tech trails. Best bike park has to be Thunder mountain or Killington on the east coast
  • 1 0
 @Julian2: Wild - they are def not poorly built, but it does happen sometimes that trails get nuked because of lots of rain & then tons of riding. The builds are sweet and the pro & other trail builders (Neko & Dakatoh being 2 of them, plus Gwin now, and the main mainenance crew) are no slouches, but it sounds like you hit a bad period which can happen in lots of places. I think you just hit a rough moment - there are always machines out there unless its too wet. I've also never been when someones not out working on something but even then - areas can get nuked because there are so many riders there now (and that shit is highly erodable vs. granitic areas). Geology makes soil makes for different conditions, hands down.

Ive not been since last Fall - and if its wet, that's a def hell no becase that metased / sedimentary rock & soil there is like plaster & will add 2-3 lbs to your bike (and take hours to clean) - plus its just not fun for me.

But thx for the Thunder / Killington plugs - met a couple dudes @ Windrock who said they are baller and I've not been to either yet...I was refering to the southeast.
  • 1 0
 @Julian2: I don't know what your definition of fun is but Windrock is my 100% definition of fun.

Doesn't sound like you own an actual DH bike?
  • 1 0
 Val DI Sole Gwin looked like the old Gwin while ripping his bike over any DH track. I think it is a confidence/mental thing more than bike. In this last race his body and movements were very different than last year,even first race of this season . He looks great again,like he is in the "grace of flow" now,to me it is like day and night change. I think being near other fast riders in good tracks would help a lot,new blood,new way of thinking and renovated energy and ambitions.
  • 2 0
 @homerjm: And he did it with a package of frozen sausage for a left hand from all accounts. If his hand wasn't cooked from a wreck right before qualifying....who knows.
  • 1 0
 @blowmyfuse: I did have fun and I also own a actual DH bike bud
  • 3 0
 @Julian2: well, you said unmaintained and your post sounds like you don't like tech/blown out terrain, which is the whole point of a DH bike. I misunderstood.

To me Windrock is rugged, rough and it's actually quite tame compared to the 100% cut and ride it used to be. But that's what I love. Not much interest in catch berms and things that require dozer and skid steers or the flat side of a shovel to maintain .

Really do love to "let 'er eat" there Beer
  • 7 2
 2023 will be Intense.
  • 6 3
 Point 3 is BS . compétitive bike... lol. Its the rider
  • 3 0
 the rider has improved dramatically under this iteration of the bike
  • 1 1
 @xTwoSnakesx: The rider choose to ride the previous iterations and I'm pretty sure Gwin had tried it before signature. Do you really think he would drop down so much "just because of the bike"? I'd say all the bikes in field are pretty dialed nowadays. I know Gwin is a legend, but even legends gets older and I would really not to blame Intense. Maybe he just needed some time to find back his pace and a recipe to compete with today's kids.
  • 2 0
 Point 6-Loris Vergier did better on a trek than on a santa cruz, and Laurie Greenland did worse than on a mondraker.
  • 2 0
 #6 There was more than 5 things to learn from Val di Sole
  • 2 0
 Let the longest silly season begin.
  • 1 0
 Luca Shaw got second in Lošinj. Not dean…
  • 1 0
 Jackson POV video was entertaining, must watch, he loses his cool.
  • 5 6
 Didn’t Danny hart win by over 11 seconds in 2011?
  • 11 0
 He did, but wasn't that at Champery? They were saying it's the second biggest margin in Val Di Sole history, not all time.
  • 11 0
 @danielfloyd: good catch. Reading comprehension isn’t up to full speed after the holiday weekend.
  • 2 0
 Not in Val di Sole. That was Champery
  • 3 0
 @diegosk: And for the record the biggest winning margin of all time was Chris Kovarik at Fort William with a margin of over 14 seconds.
  • 1 0
 @xTwoSnakesx: Minnaar was 30 seconds back, must have been having a bad day... ...back in 2002 :0
  • 2 0
 @HankHank: Five spots up on Rob Warner, who probably didn't pedal once!
  • 1 0
 @xTwoSnakesx: and sat down for half of it.
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