World Champs Photo Recap
Words & Photos by Max Rhulen
It’s hard to believe but the UCI mountain bike season has come and gone. After last weekend’s showdown, all we’ve got left are pictures, videos and memories to hold us over until next year. Let the memories flow.
This year’s World Championships took us to Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Lenzerheide has a history steeped in the culture of speed. Not only has the town played host to the world’s fastest mountain bikers, it is a hotbed of World Cup ski racing in the winter. For those of you old enough to recall the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY, Heini Hemmi, the gold medal winner of the giant slalom, makes his home in Lenzerheide.
There was tremendous anticipation coming into this year’s World Champs. There were so many questions regarding the venue and some of last year’s mishaps. The weather gods are always fickle here in the mountains and a mid-race change of weather could throw a wrench in even the best racer’s run.
“Going into the weekend the big question was if Rachel Atherton could show the force that she is, and take the stripes from Miranda Miller.”
“The young American is looking fast! We’re excited to see what next year holds for Luca.”
“Rain was scheduled all day during Friday’s qualifications, but just a few drops fell.”
So qualifying was over, and the real crowds began to arrive.
To understand the feeling and the fever at World Champs this year, you need to know a word – “Nino”. And you need to understand what that word sounds like when 24,000 people are chanting it all at once, ringing cowbells, and essentially going berserk.
A culture of speed – Europe has a culture that revolves around speed. In Europe an elite level cyclist walking down the street is mobbed by fans. These athletes are idolized by all, young and old. Their reverence and culture made this year’s World Championship an amazing thing to witness.
Nino Schurter. For those who don’t know, Schurter has been a dominant force in the XC field for years now. He is a six-time World Champion and six-time World Cup overall champion. This World Championship wouldn’t only make Nino a seven-time World Champion, but he would become World Champion in front of his home town crowd.
Nino is from Chur, Switzerland. Chur is only a 25-minute drive from Lenzerheide, so the crowd that showed up to cheer Nino on was staggering. As Nino came around the final corner on his last lap of the elite men’s XC race the roar of his fans was overwhelming.
Nino would claim his seventh World Championship title. While it may not be as exciting as downhill, Schurter is amazing to watch. He is a stunning bike handler and does not hesitate to throw in his signature whip as he clears jumps on the course. Nino is a force of nature and has proven that he can dominate at will.
“Seagrave into the hot seat!”
“Rachel overwhelmed with emotion after coming down in first.”
“Greg came down the hill early on and would occupy the hot seat for some time.”
“Danny is always a threat.”
“Brook Macdonald, disappointed with his run after qualifying first.”
“Rachel Atherton Gold, Tahnee Seagrave Silver, Nicole Myriam Bronze”
“Loic Bruni Gold, Martin Maes Silver, Danny Hart Bronze”
There it is, the ending to your elite DH World Championship in Lenzerheide. In the end, Rachel would assert her dominance, Loic would reaffirm that he is the champ, and everyone would be treated to the grandeur and hospitality that is Lenzerheide. Even the cows seemed to recognize that this weekend was something special.
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