Posted by Editoress on 08/8/14
Qualification runs took place this afternoon ahead of tomorrow's World Cup Downhill at Windham, New York. A brief rainstorm yesterday evening did little to slow the fast conditions, which, due to the short 1.51km track, made having a clean run critical for advancing to the final.
Women's Downhill Qualifying
It was initially announced that 30 women would to the final, and with 32 starters most were assured of advancing. Officials decided to reduce the number of qualifiers to 20, however, which impacted a couple of Canadians.
Micayla Gatto (Pivot Factory DH Team) was the top Canadian qualifier in seventh, less than a half second ahead of national champion Vaea Verbeeck (Intense/GoPro). Less than five seconds separate them from the fifth-placed qualifier, a difference that will be a challenge to make up on a track that takes less than three minutes to run.
Qualifying in 11th was Revelstoke, BC, resident Casey Brown (Bergamont Hayes World Team) who used qualifying as a training run. "I messed up the top pretty bad but the rest of it seemed to go okay." Riding at about 80%, the 24 year-old admitted that there was "definitely room for improvement."
After not qualifying last weekend at Mont Ste-Anne thanks to a pair of crashes, former national team gymnast Jaime Hill (Juliana Bicycles) was able to turn it around today with a 15th place position. "This is another weekend so you hope to forget about anything that happened last weekend and just start from a clean slate."
"I was a little bit sloppy in some sections and conservative in others but I stayed on which is much better than I did last weekend," related the Pemberton, BC, resident. "I'm looking to clean it up in some spots and hopefully improve my position tomorrow."
Kristen Courtney and Jenny LeBlanc missed out on advancing to Saturday's final. "It wasn't my best run. I messed up in the rock garden a bit," confessed LeBlanc, a welder from Caledon, Ontario, who now has two World Cups under her belt. "It's a step up in competition. It makes you ride harder."
Elite Men Downhill Qualifying
With over 140 riders vying for 80 spots, a clean, quick run was a priority.
After a slow start to the season, Remi Gauvin (PerformX - Commencal) appears to have turned a corner, setting the standard for Canadians with a 31st place qualifying run.
"I chose some spots where I was going to back it off a bit because I was getting a little wild in practice," stated the Vancouver Island resident. "I just backed it off in those bits and other bits I went as hard as I felt comfortable. It ended up being a smooth run."
Not having an entirely smooth run was Forrest Riesco (Banshee/RaceFace/North Shore Billett), who had trouble in a rock garden. "Both feet blew off and I rode the bar a little bit but kept rolling." The privateer from Gibsons, BC, survived to qualify in 61st.
Sidney Slotegraaf (Transition/Dunbar) crossed the line in 72nd, but, with 60 riders still to go, wasn't confident of advancing. "My hopes aren't very high right now. I had a smooth and conservative run but I'm pretty nervous right now. I went safe. I didn't have a bad run so I can't say I went slowly. I didn't really hang it out there like you need to for a race run."
"It's not looking too good at this point. I'm really disappointed if I don't qualify here. I've qualified in last place before. It's pretty nerve-wracking endeavour."
From Hamilton but now living in Squamish BC, the full-time trail builder came up three tenths of a second short of qualifying.
Junior Men Downhill Qualifying
A pair of Jacks led the way for Canada as Jack Almond (Norco/ RaceFace/C4 Training) and Jack Iles (Evil Vengeance Tour) qualified 12th and 13th respectively.
While Almond, from West Vancouver, rode "clean and smooth; all I needed to do," a big crash in training this morning forced Iles to ride conservatively. "I went 70% instead of going hard and maybe crashing again", said Iles, who hopes that ice and rest will see him through until tomorrow."
Small mistakes can make all the difference in downhill. Falling short of the cutoff by less than a handful of seconds were Chris Bennett (Trek/POC/Armour/Calgary Cycle) and Nic Rodgers (Dunbar Cycles)
"I'd like to go back up," said Bennett. "I don't think I pushed it quite hard enough in training. When it came to qualifying it just wasn't what I was used to."
"You can't be too disappointed about it," philosophized Rodgers, a first year Junior. "I didn't come here with any set expectations because I had no clue how I would stack up against them but this is good motivation to bring back home and train over the winter, hopefully get back at it next year."
Report by Emil van Dijk
Results from Qualifying
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