DH Race of the Year: Mont-Sainte-Anne
Talk about a no brainer... it had to be. The Quebecois classic already holds the well-deserved reputation as the benchmark of what is considered rough and physical on the World Cup circuit and it never fails to thrill both sides of the tape. This year was different only in that it was wetter and better than ever before. Quite literally ever. Bearing in mind Champery 2011 was a World Championship event, it doesn't seem unreasonable to stake the claim that this was the greatest World Cup race in DH history.
It's not every day you see the impossible become possible. Once a year would be too often... that's more once in a lifetime territory. In Mont-Sainte, we saw panic and despair in the driving rain turned into pure heroics and nothing less than a super-human performance from Aaron Gwin. Of all the legendary performances we've seen from the man-myth over the last 9 years of his career, we had a new and very clear winner. A man once turned water in wine and it impressed a lot of people for centuries. Well, Gwin turned water in champagne and that was pretty damn cool to see as well. Ironic, really, as he isn't much of a drinker.
More than just one terrific run, MSA had it all. Tahnee Seagrave took a decisive win of more than 5 seconds in the women's, Finn Iles saw off the danger-man, Matt Walker, in the juniors and across all categories we were treated to signature foot-out, flat-out on those ragged high-speed straights and full-commitment, rock-slab sections like only MSA can provide. The rain came down just in time for the men's finals and we thought it was all over until a couple of tenacious Aussies proved us wrong, opening the door to unthinkable performances from the likes of Brosnan, Bruni and Hart to boot. The live-feed went back up the hill, zooming in through the fog towards the red goggles and piercing eyes of Gwin spinning the cranks backwards before the countdown and the rest was history.
So there we have it; one quarter of a century in the business of hosting downhill racing at the highest level and Mont-Sainte-Anne soars above the competition to clinch Pinkbike's coveted award as 2017 DH race of the season. Pinkbike’s Take: