World Cup Val di Sole: DH Race Report

This was downhill racing at its best and its worst! Track in Val di Sole is considered as the hardest stop in the Mercedes-Benz UCI World Cup calendar and a proving ground for the best out there. At the same time weather showed how unpredictable things can get in the mountains and how it can influence on the results. This is mountain biking and you have to accept it, but it would for sure be nicer if our riders had better conditions.

Coming into Italy was a big deal on its own as this was the comeback World Cup race for both Kirk and Jure. Kirk did really good on the national champs a week ago and got a lot of confidence with the silver around his neck. Jure was however completely off the bike and uncertain of how will he perform. He did less runs that usual and quite simple said – bite his teeth and do his best.

Start of the week was sunny and warm, like you would expect from the “valley of the sun”. Track walk was wet and then first practice again sunny. On Thursday night however things turned around and we big drops of water started falling from the sky. Rain stopped for the morning practice, but storm again hit just in time for men’s qualies and chaos started. Jure was riding in the rain, Dak a little bit later in absolute hell and no visibility. Rain stopped a little bit later, and so for a while so did the gondola and the race. Kirk was the last of our riders and was among those who took the biggest slice of fresh coat of mud. But results came regardless, super nice surprise came from Jure who set 19th time. Dakotah was on the safe side with 34th time and Kirk also came in after a lot of intense moments in the finish area – as the 60th rider!

Saturday was again all sunny, but that didn’t play in the favor of riders from the beginning of the start list as the track was getting faster and faster. Kirk opened the race and set a really good time and stayed in the hot seat for a very long time. Dak also set on the back of the X-Class pick-up truck for a while, with what seemed a very good time of 3:50. But track was drying with every minute… Jure did his run in the best way he could, nobody could as for more. After that time got even faster… Dakotah was our fastest rider in Val di Sole with 23rd, Kirk was 36th and Jure 47th. Decent team result and considering everything we have to be happy about it. Laurie Greenland won his first World Cup race with absolutely amazing time of 3:37.819.

“Though weekend for sure, it always is here in Val di Sole. In qualifications I didn’t want to get to egotistical and go down, I was unprotected. I was happy with the way how I finished, a lot of dudes around me went down, had several crashes each… But I definitely think that being protected and being on the live stream played a role in the race results today. I believe that when I went down I did a really good run, I did everything I wanted to do, I rode loose and hit all my marks, carried good momentum and was good on my braking. Really I couldn’t ask for much better race run without taking much more risk. Unfortunately at the end things kind of speed up and couldn’t be competitive on the track I raced today. But with that being said I had a solid result and finished in 23rd. I’m happy with it and looking forward to moving on to Lenzerheide. Hopefully I’ll take my race approach from this weekend and try to duplicate it next weekend and be a little bit on the better side of it with qualifying good.” – Dakotah Norton

“It was pretty successful weekend back on the World Cups. The weather definitely played a big role, made me qualify really low down. But I’m thankful to even just sneak in with the 60th in the qualifying. With that result I had to open the finals and I didn’t know what to expect. The track was drying really quickly and in just an hour and a half since we practiced in the morning it good quite good. I maybe took it a little bit easy in some sections, but I’m happy with how I rode in the finals. I’m a little bit bumped up with where I ended up result wise. I felt like it was a good run, but it’s just how it goes with the weather sometimes.” – Kirk McDowall

“I’m really happy to get this result, in fact I’m happy that I qualified at all. I didn’t spend a minute on the DH bike in the last four weeks, I was back on the big rig only now in Italy. I didn’t do a lot of runs on the practice, this course is really hard and I was saving my arms. I’m very happy with the result, but I also know that I can do much better. My goal is to finish the World Cup season in the top-20, but this injury put that plan off-track for sure. We’ll see how I will do on the rest of the races.” – Jure Žabjek

Again we have to congratulate junior riders from our development team Sinter Brakes Team. Žak Gomilšček set 3rd time of the qualifications and absolutely smashed it with 2nd place in the finals! His best ever! Great job Žak!!!

Downhill recap:
– After Vallnord & Les Gets we again had all riders on the downhill World Cup; Jure is still not fully recovered
– Weather played a big role in Val di Sole and our riders had no luck with it
Qualification results: 19th – Jure, 34th – Dakotah, 60th – Kirk
Final results: 23rd – Dakotah, 36th – Kirk, 47th – Jure
– Dakotah is our highest ranked rider in the overall standings, he’s holding on to  21st place
– Next race is next week in Lenzerheide

Photos by Klemen Humar & Dave Trumpore