We're still six months away from the first race of the 2018 DH World Cup season in Lošinj, Croatia, but the UCI recently announced a number of rule changes
that will have an affect on the world's fastest downhillers. The biggest change is that the number of elite male riders who will be able to qualify for finals has been reduced to 60, down from 80. This change is in line with what we saw last season, when the number of elite women who could compete in the finals was dropped down to 15, and the number of junior men was dropped down to 20.
The rules regarding protected riders have also been changed slightly. The top five women and the top 10 men from the final 2017 World Cup ranking will be protected, as will the current top five women and top ten men after the first round of the season who are not already protected. Note:
The wording of the rule regarding protected riders isn't entirely clear, and an earlier version of this article misinterpreted the update. A revision to the wording will be completed by the UCI before the season begins.
What's the takeaway from all those rule revisions? Well, one thing's for sure – qualifiers will be more important, since fewer riders will be able to make mistakes and still race in the finals. And while it will be more difficult to make it into finals, the riders that do get there have proven their worth, which should make for a more entertaining event for spectators. Bear in mind that the points required to actually enter a World Cup race haven't changed; it's just that making the jump from qualifiers to the finals has become even more of a challenge.
Along with those rule changes, riders will still not be allowed to wear cameras for the XC finals or for DH qualifying and finals, although they are allowed during training. However, the UCI can make an exception and allow a camera during finals, but that footage must be for the TV production company broadcasting the race.
Finally, there's one more important new rule in the books: