Photo Epic: Bringing Back the Fun - EWS Whistler, Practice

Aug 7, 2015 at 21:51
by Matt Wragg  
Last year's Whistler round of the EWS was a monster by anybody's standards. With 2,500m of climbing and tight transfer times, for most riders it was a test of fitness and determination - and that's before you consider the descents. More than anything else it was a symptom of a series searching for the balance between professional limit pushing and amateur accessibility - between challenge and fun. Talking to the organisers after it was clear that they felt they pushed things too far, so for this years race the pendulum has swung back in the other direction. This weekend's race might be the least physically demanding on the calendar this year, there are only two transfers to climb (and riders have plenty of time to get them done), with the rest handled by the famous Whistler lift system. Some of this is because they realised that the Crested Butte race the week before was going to be an immense physical challenge for riders, and partly because they want the riders to enjoy the race.

Make no mistake, this is still not going to be an easy race - riders will still cover 50km and the stages are long and technically demanding, but that is what racers want. You are more likely to see riders switching to long-travel frames and forks, coil springs and downhill casing tyres than you are to see a 120mm 29er on track this weekend. Every year the circuit comes here the riders fall in love with the trails anew and this year they have been given a race that lets them focus on just that...

If you don t like the weather in Whistler right now just wait 15 minutes.
  If you don't like the weather in Whistler right now, just wait 15 minutes...

Because it will definitely change.
  ...because it will definitely change.

Practice started in earnest this morning with the riders briefing then most of the field headed up to stage one the longest pedal of the weekend although still only 40 minutes to an hour of climbing .
  Practice started in earnest Friday morning with the riders' briefing then most of the field headed up to stage one, the longest pedal of the weekend (although still only 40 minutes to an hour of climbing).

Darren Kinnaird describing the stages of the EWS to the racers at the rider s meeting on Friday morning.
  Darren Kinnaird describing the stages of the EWS to the racers at the rider's meeting on Friday morning.

More waiting in lift lines than hike a bikes this weekend and no one seems to be complaining.
  More waiting in lift lines than hike a bikes this weekend, and no one seems to be complaining.

For the first time in the summer the Creekside gondola opened today - much of the vertical gain this weekend will be on this lift with stages four and five being accessed from here.
  For the first time in the summer, the Creekside gondola opened today - much of the vertical gain this weekend will be on this lift, with stages four and five being accessed from here.

Where stage one isn t roots it is nothing short of the most delicious loam ever. The trail name may be Hey Bud but a better one might be the Loam Factory .
  Where stage one isn't roots, it is nothing short of the most delicious loam ever. The trail name may be "Hey Bud", but a better one might be "the Loam Factory."

An apt description of stage 1 would be off camber roots and LOTS of them.
  An apt description of stage 1 would be off camber roots, and LOTS of them.

Peter Ostroski making a final check on stage one.
  Peter Ostroski making a final check on stage one.

Nico Prudencio enjoying the loamy dirt that could not be any more different from what he rides at home in Santiago Chile.
  Nico Prudencio enjoying the loamy dirt that could not be any more different from what he rides at home in Santiago, Chile.

After holding the provisional lead before events unfolded at Crested Butte last weekend Anneke Beerten was looking fast and aggressive in practice here in Whistler - surely she will be wanting to show that it was no one off last weekend.
  After holding the provisional lead before events unfolded at Crested Butte last weekend, Anneke Beerten was looking fast and aggressive in practice here in Whistler - surely she will be wanting to show that it was no one off last weekend.

Cecile Ravenal has been on the podium all year but at the defending Crankworx Enduro Champ we know she will be extra motivated for the top spot tomorrow.
  Cecile Ravanel has been on the podium all year, but at the defending Crankworx Enduro Champ, we know she will be extra motivated for the top spot tomorrow.

Nobody throws a enduro bike around quite like Nico Lau. We don t think we have seen him riding with this kind of aggression and confidence yet this season and the long stages here will suit him well.
  Nobody throws a enduro bike around quite like Nico Lau. We don't think we have seen him riding with this kind of aggression and confidence yet this season and the long stages here will suit him well.

Jared Graves through the steep woods that kick off stage one.
  Jared Graves through the steep woods that kick off stage one.

Seb Kemp is once more the mastermind behind the race course here in Whistler and from what the riders are saying he s come up trumps once more.
  Seb Kemp is once more the mastermind behind the race course here in Whistler and from what the riders are saying he's come up trumps once more.

The Trek crew are nothing if not efficient they were the first on stage one by a fair margin and had smashed out a second lap before many of the top riders had even reached the stage.
  The Trek crew are nothing if not efficient, they were the first on stage one by a fair margin and had smashed out a second lap before many of the top riders had even reached the stage.

Rene Wildhaber may be one of the older riders at the sharp end of the competition but many of the younger riders could learn a lot about how to attack corners from him.
  Rene Wildhaber may be one of the older riders at the sharp end of the competition, but many of the younger riders could learn a lot about how to attack corners from him.

Ines Thoma loves it here in Whistler and isn t even slightly scared of the big slick roots that litter the more natural stages in the valley.
  Ines Thoma loves it here in Whistler and isn't even slightly scared of the big, slick roots that litter the more natural stages in the valley.

It s impossible to read Jerome Clementz in pracitce on days when he looks like he is flying he is struggling and on other days when he looks like he is taking it easy he is building steam to destroy the whole field. So we re not eve going to hazard a guess today but surely the 2013 champion is hungry to add Whistler to his palmaires.
  It's impossible to read Jerome Clementz in practice, on days when he looks like he is flying he is struggling and on other days when he looks like he is taking it easy he is building steam to destroy the whole field. So we're not eve going to hazard a guess today, but surely the 2013 champion is hungry to add Whistler to his palmar├Ęs.

With the dense forest riders are passing from harsh sunlight to deep shadow and back again in no time at all. Ludo May knows how to deal with it though.
  With the dense forest riders are passing from harsh sunlight to deep shadow and back again in no time at all. Ludo May knows how to deal with it though.

Florian Nicolai was making the roots look easy today.
  Florian Nicolai was making the roots look easy today.

Tracy Moseley has been dominant all season but could see some serious competition this weekend
  Tracy Moseley has been dominant all season, but could see some serious competition this weekend

Isabeau Courdurier looks faster and more comfortable with each race.
  Isabeau Courdurier looks faster and more comfortable with each race.

Seb Kemp doesn t just help organise the race he s pretty handy at knowing which way yo point a bicycle too leading the media recce through the steeps today.
  Seb Kemp doesn't just help organise the race, he's pretty handy at knowing which way to point a bicycle too, leading the media recce through the steeps today.

While his passport may say he s an Aussie Josh Carlson calls Whistler home and after building momentum all season he has his eyes on a big result this weekend.
  While his passport may say he's an Aussie, Josh Carlson calls Whistler home and after building momentum all season he has his eyes on a big result this weekend.

Never count out Fabien Barel.
  Never count out Fabien Barel.

Ludo Mae negotiates the slick roots on stage three.
  Ludo May negotiates the slick roots on stage three.

Justin Leov comes into this weekend the series leader. While Graves may be the big favourite Leov is no less fit and the physical nature of these tracks will surely suit him well.
  Justin Leov comes into this weekend the series leader. While Graves may be the big favourite, Leov is no less fit and the physical nature of these tracks will surely suit him well.

If there is a jump big or small Iago Garay will boost it. Even if it is the middle of a hairpin corner
  If there is a jump, big or small, Iago Garay will boost it. Even if it is the middle of a hairpin corner.

It s been an up and down season for Jerome Clementz but he is healthy and extremely happy with the stages and race format this weekend.
  It's been an up and down season for Jerome Clementz but he is healthy and extremely happy with the stages and race format this weekend.

Jerome with a long long long way to go on stage two.
  Jerome Clementz with a long long long way to go on stage two.

The rougher the better for Josh Carlson and he looked fantastic through the boulder field that makes up the first part of Top Of The World.
  The rougher the better for Josh Carlson and he looked fantastic through the boulder field that makes up the first part of Top Of The World.

The higher you get the more unpredictable things get.
  The higher you get, the more unpredictable things get.

A season plagued with injury has held Thomas Lapeyrie back but coming off a 5th in Samoens we know he can hang at the front on the long physical Whistler stages.
  A season plagued with injury has held Thomas Lapeyrie back, but coming off a 5th in Samoens we know he can hang at the front on the long physical Whistler stages.

Even on the roughest of trails Florian Nicolai looks as if he is floating.
  Even on the roughest of trails, Florian Nicolai looks as if he is floating.

It s good to see some of the North American regulars like Cody Kelly here racing against all the big guns in an EWS.
  It's good to see some of the North American regulars like Cody Kelly here racing against all the big guns in an EWS.

Tight trees No worries for Nico.
  Tight trees? No worries for Nico Vouilloz.

Martin Maes was so so close to winning here last year and he remains a dnager man again this weekend.
  Martin Maes was so so close to winning here last year, and he remains a danger man again this weekend.

Dan Atherton scoping lines with a classic Whistler landmark off in the distance.
  Dan Atherton scoping lines with a classic Whistler landmark off in the distance.

Kelli Emmett drops into the wooded section of the mega long stage two.
  Kelli Emmett drops into the wooded section of the mega long stage two.

Fabien Barrel dodges trees on stage three.
  Fabien Barel dodges trees on stage three.

Richie Rude on stage two s Top of the World
  Richie Rude on stage two's Top of the World

After two years of destroying the filed on the big final stage of the day it will be interesting to see what Jared Graves can do with three very long stages this year in Whistler
  After two years of destroying the filed on the big final stage of the day, it will be interesting to see what Jared Graves can do with three very long stages this year in Whistler

Dan Atherton working on new algorithems for that prototype Fox Float X shock he s been testing.
  Dan Atherton working on new algorithms for that prototype electronic Fox Float X shock he's been testing.

Marco Osborne putting his WTB Vigilante tires to the test on The Top of World Trail.
  Marco Osborne putting his WTB Vigilante tires to the test on The Top of World Trail.

Ines Thoma dropping into the TOW.
  Ines Thoma dropping into the TOW.

Damian Oton Is racing again this weekend for the first time since Scotland.
  Damian Oton Is racing again this weekend for the first time since Scotland.

Remy Absalon s bike was stolen on Thursday luckily the police recovered in time for practice on Saturday.
  Remy Absalon's bike was stolen on Thursday luckily the police recovered in time for practice on Saturday.

Greg Callaghan abandoned the race last weekend after the first day struggling with a small illness and the altitude his plan was to save his energy and give it all for a good result this weekend.
  Greg Callaghan abandoned the race last weekend after the first day, struggling with a small illness and the altitude, his plan was to save his energy and give it all for a good result this weekend.

Katy Winton has had a solid season this year and has been looking fast this week.
  Katy Winton has had a solid season this year and has been looking fast this week.

Iago Garay knows exactly what to do for the camera he s not scared of launching it into the nastiest of rock sections either.
  Iago Garay knows exactly what to do for the camera, he's not scared of launching it into the nastiest of rock sections either.

Justin Leov is leading the points but hot on his heals is Florian Nicolai and Richie Rude. With long rough and physical stages on tap those point margins could get really wide in a hurry.
  Justin Leov is leading the points but hot on his heels are Florian Nicolai and Richie Rude. With long rough and physical stages on tap, those point margins could get really wide in a hurry.

GT Mechanic Mark Maurissen finally has his favorite energy drink as a sponsor
  GT Mechanic Mark Maurissen finally has his favorite "energy drink" as a sponsor.

Marco Osborne mounting the cut spikes for his giddy up tomorrow. With rain in the forecast and loads of fresh loam things could be a bit dicey. But then again there is a fair amount of rock out there and spikes even cut spikes could be a bit wiggly in some places.
  Marco Osborne mounting the cut spikes for his giddy up tomorrow. With rain in the forecast, and loads of fresh loam, things could be a bit dicey. But then again, there is a fair amount of rock out there, and spikes, even cut spikes, could be a bit wiggly in some places.

What do a bunch of EWS racers do to rest up the afternoon before a big race They watch a live stream of the World Cup DH going on in Windham.
  What do a bunch of EWS racers do to rest up the afternoon before a big race? They watch a live stream of the World Cup DH going on in Windham.



17 Comments

  • + 37
 I'm rooting for safety and good times this go round.
  • + 27
 These photos are proving I'm an idiot for not going to Whistler this year. Also, will there be a 'bikes of whistler ews' - always enjoy looking at the different gear people choose to run with.
  • + 15
 Yes please pinkbike. Bike porn needed!
  • + 11
 Less pedalling, more energy to focus on making good speed on a rough course! Great decision.
  • + 9
 I agree with you 100%. but I think that there should be SOME diversity at the different rounds. Some with longer climbs and some like this years Whistler.
  • + 6
 Was I the only one who thought something was seriously wrong with Marco Osborne's fork for a second before I realised it was a Cannondale?
  • + 8
 lefty's just aren't natural.
  • + 4
 That picture of Nico is soooo dialed
  • + 2
 I swear that every photo I've seen of Thomas riding the Sunn shows its fork using about 3/4 of its travel.
  • + 2
 I am seriously feeling a need to hit some rowdy trail now. And wishing I were in Whistler.
  • + 1
 Wow awesome photos just make me want to jump on a plane and head to whistler. Oh wait I am on 4th of September for 3 weeks lucky me
  • + 1
 Did they adjust the transfer time this year between the stages? Last year a lot of riders disqualified because they didnt make the transfer on time.
  • + 2
 Go go french guys ! :-)
  • + 1
 Nice work on this photo set, guys!
  • + 1
 Great pictures, matt!
  • + 1
 Go Marco!!
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