How many varieties can rain come in?
Bad weather hit hard today, battening down the hatches on what was a tough practice and qualifying for many riders. The altering track conditions and hard hitting rocks, taking down the likes of Gee Atherton, Tahnee Seagrave, Loic Bruni and many front running contenders.
Solid rain took hold of the Juniors finals early on in the day with an amazing run from World Cup newcomer Luke Meier-Smith taking a solid fourth amongst stiff competition. Kye A’hern slotted into seventh a crash during practice yesterday, leaving its effects.
Tracey Hannah was unable to capitalise on her strong seeding, but came in a close second with home favourite Rachel Atherton taking home the win. In front of a very vocal local crowd. Third to Nina Hoffmann.
From here the rain became intermittent. Whilst some riders had to deal with rain, later riders got sun and if you take a step back to the middle pack. Some riders received a heavy dose of fog. Whether this all played an effect on the final outcome. Who knows. As for the most part, the track remained the same. Slush covered rocks and plenty of treacherous surfaces to catch riders out.
Early hot seat contenders included Matt Walker and Finn Isles, a sign that those still somewhat fresh out of juniors are on the rise. There were some big crashes, none so big as Aaron Gwins spectacular high side crash which left the game wide open and the crowd with their hands in the air.
There were some strong rides from the Australians with Connor Fearon in 19th, Jack Moir in 29th and Dean Lucas in 31st. But the ride of the day surely goes to Troy Brosnan, the former winner who looked like he had done it again until he was unseated by Amaury Pierron, settling for second. Pierron stamping his mark in a new year of World Cup downhill and his second win at the Fort William track. His countryman Loris Vergier slotting into third.
The next round heads to Leogang. Where Dean Lucas assures me, it will be sunny.
For full results click : HERE
Words and Photos: Robert Conroy @robertconroycreative