Posted on July 09 2018
The World Cup downhill track in Val di Sole is perhaps the steepest, most technical course of the entire season. The relentless pitch and endless minefield of roots and rocks push even the best riders in the world to their limits.
Wet and Wild Qualifying
What makes this race even more difficult is the ever-changing weather. A beautiful afternoon can quickly give way to thundershowers in this part of northern Italy, and so it was during the qualifying runs leading into the weekend’s main event.
Emilie Siegenthaler pushed out of the start gate just as the rain started. A native of Switzerland, she’s no stranger to wet conditions and thrives when others look simply to survive a run. Looking super confident, she let the bike slide beneath her, getting sideways and attacking the treacherous track to qualify third.
On the men’s side, Bernard Kerr is equally enamored of wet and wild conditions. The man from Surrey, England let it loose as the rain continued to fall. Slithering as much as rolling, he guaranteed himself a start position for the final on Saturday, in spite of still recovering from early season injury.
Fine Day for Finals
As much as the wet weather changed the track for qualifying, so to did the sun for finals. The once slimy course started drying quickly, transforming it from a slip-n-slide to hard-packed speedway.
Starting third to last, Emilie had her work cut out for her. She nailed the high-speed top section and kept driving down through the technical wooded sections. Her expression upon crossing the finish line told of disappointment, though, as she had to settle for seventh place. In spite of her brilliant ride in qualifying, this would not be the weekend she had hoped for.
The track had dried completely by the time Bernard set off on his final run. The mud no long gone, had given way to huge holes and loose dusty conditions. Traction was as difficult to find as it had been in the wet, but the Brit worked the transitions finding speed in and out of the root and rock gardens. He was rewarded at the finish line by taking the lead and enjoying the hot seat as the next nine riders crossed the line. It wouldn’t last though as he was eventually unseated, ending up seventeenth on the day.
After missing the first round of the season, Bernard was able to move up six places in the overall rankings. Now on to Andorra for more racing next weekend!