Monday, 17 September 2012

Hitting the dirt... and stairs... for racing

Also appearing at Saalfelden was a full slate of cross country racing, all the way from juniors to the elite of the world. We bought tickets to the final day of cross country racing to watch the elite women and men compete. The race course was excellent! I had been a bit disappointed in the Olympic course as it seemed just a little too 'made up', but the Saalfelden course reminded me of riding/racing in Cumberland. Lots of roots, lots of single track and lots of riders (Americans) complaining how technical the course was. Indeed, the conditions were perfect; it was a warm, dry day and the fans crowded along all parts of the racecourse.
Unfortunately, our Canadians did not fare too well in the women's race, where Catherine Pendrell finished 15th, even though she had won the overall series this year. On the men's side, Geoff Kabush finished 18th, which, considering the field, was probably better than expected.

Here's a shot of Nino Schurter winning the men's race, ahead of the Flükiger brothers (Lukas and Mathias), who made it a Swiss sweep of the podium. To say the Swiss men's team is strong is a huge understatement!

Catharine Pendrell is behind a Polish racer early in the women's race.

Here is Geoff Kabush on one of the single track climbs. The pace of the race was actually quite startling. Once a rider was more than a minute behind the leaders, his race was essentially over...

There weren't a lot of Canadian fans at the race, but there sure were Swiss fans, complete with their own amplifiers! At least if we squinted, they sort of looked Canadian...

The next day was something new, called X-Country Eliminator, where the racers from all age categories could compete on a short, urban XC course (about one minute lap times) down stairs, through tunnels and over man-made jumps. Each rider did a two lap qualifier run to determine the eliminator rounds. The 32 fastest riders went onto the next round (close to 150 men attempted) where they raced in groupings of four, with the two slowest racers being eliminated. After many heats, the four fastest racers competed for the medals. Geoff actually did very well, qualifying ninth and finishing tenth overall! It is an interesting offshoot of cross country racing.

Here is Geoff overtaking the guy who started 30 seconds ahead of him in the qualifying round.

Racers in action...

Make sure you bring your best cow bell to the race!

One final photo of the day: in road racing, the domestiques on a team go back to team car for bottles of water, etc. However, in mountain biking, domestiques could be spotted leaving the local McDonalds with ice cream sundaes...

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