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Leogang DH World Cup 2022 Zine Report – with photos by Sven Martin, Boris Beyer and Sebastian Schieck

TASTES LIKE RUTS

Porridge and ruts turned to peanut butter and ruts as a testing week on the slopes of an Austrian mountain for Leogang DH World Cup 2022 threw the world’s best downhill racers in at the deep and sludgy end.

    Torrential rain created sloppy streams of grey (ex-bike park surface) and brown (ex-forest floor) mud for a practice session that’ll go down as one of the slimiest of recent years. Perhaps Leogang itself is its only rival on the treacherous scale – the 2021 World Cup and, more to the point, 2020 World Champs tested riders’ skills, patience and impact resistance to the limits.

    The 2022 race was no different. Throughout the week, riders got buck-wild and often bucked right off, leading to numerous bruised egos and some notable injuries. Get well soon to Marine Cabirou, who suffered three broken vertebrae in her finals crash – but finished the race anyway.

    Leogang’s steep woods section proved crucial to a solid result in finals. The course was drying out throughout the race, probably making it even harder to ride as wheels clogged up and hands got covered in muck from the smallest of crashes.

    Phoebe Gale and Jordan Williams took top honours in junior women’s and men’s (check the full results here). Meanwhile, 2020 series champion Matt Walker claimed his first-ever race victory in elite men’s. In elite women’s, Camille Balanche, who only started racing in 2018, took an astonishing third Leogang win in a row, smashing this one out of the ballpark to finish over eleven seconds faster than her closest rival. Congratulations, everyone. And bravo.

    We hope you enjoy these photos and notes from the 2022 Leogang DH World Cup. All images by Boris Beyer, Sven Martin and Sebastian Schieck. Check out our downhill yearbook for many more amazing shots like these.

    Thanks for the support!

ALL PHOTOS: SVEN

ABOVE LEFT: Kiwi pinner and ex-World Champion (in juniors) Cam Cole checking the situation while a marshal collects water.

ABOVE: Fans-a-plenty in Leogang. Surely a visit to a World Cup DH race is the best school trip ever?

LEFT: When the weather comes in like it did in Leogang, a set of kit can be written off in a couple of corners. Sludgy mud and torrential rain made for a tough week on the Austrian slopes.

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ABOVE: Luca Shaw looks right at home on-board his new-for-2022 Cnyn bke and Cllctv team. The American took 15th in qualifying and finals here – perhaps not the result he was looking for, but on a treacherous course like Leogang’s you’ve got to be happy with a consistent weekend.

BELOW: Jordan Williams is fast becoming the shining star of the Junior category this year; since the start of April, he’s taken two World Cup wins, and three BDS wins.

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ABOVE: Aiiiiiii. Marine Cabirou has been through some tough times lately. After her brutal crash in Leg Gets 2021 and resulting longterm leg injury, then breaking a vertebra over the winter, the French pinner crashed out here in finals (having qualified third fastest). Cabirou’s spectacular over the bars was broadcast live; she got up, dusted (well, mudded) herself off, and finished her run. Unfortunately, it turns out she broke three vertebrae this time. Get well soon, Marine.

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ABOVE: Back in the big time. In a recent Downtime Podcast episode, Danny Hart talked about how he needed to find a little extra something to break back into the top-five. Hart looked thrilled to get down Leogang fast but calculated to take second spot on the podium.

RIGHT: Pretty much the story of Leogang 2022. Get some speed, hit a surprisingly slippery patch of mud, have a massive wipeout. Balancing aspirations with a calculated approach was essential in securing a solid result.

BELOW: Eleonora Farina never lets off the gas. The Italian just keeps striving for top results; her efforts paid off again here. Third place for Full-attack Farina.

 

ABOVE: Back in the big time. In a recent Downtime Podcast episode, Danny Hart talked about how he needed to find a little extra something to break back into the top-five. Hart looked thrilled to get down Leogang fast but calculated to take second spot on the podium.

SVEN

ABOVE: Pretty much the story of Leogang 2022. Get some speed, hit a surprisingly slippery patch of mud, have a massive wipeout. Balancing aspirations with a calculated approach was essential in securing a solid result.

BELOW: Eleonora Farina never lets off the gas. The Italian just keeps striving for top results; her efforts paid off again here. Third place for Full-attack Farina.

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ABOVE: Brendan Fairclough back in the ring. The freeracer-turned-YouTuber showed up for his second World Cup outing of 2022 on a course perhaps suited to his supreme bike handling skills. P36 for Fairclough.

BELOW: Filth! Anyone who said Leogang’s old course was too easy can take a load of that. Mud, ruts, roots, and lots more mud equates to one tricky technical track. There probably wasn’t a single rider who didn’t crash at least once during the week.

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TOP: Vali Höll was right at home (pun intended – she’s from just over the hill) in the lower reaches of the course that are named after her (Vali’s Hölle/Hell). The Austrian phenomenon was on a blinder in finals but crashed out twice, putting her in sixth place, some 24 seconds behind the winner.

ABOVE: Weird, but it seems that coming from a dry and dusty place makes you good at mud riding. Sam Hill famously said he never sees a raindrop when he’s at home yet he put in some of the sport’s memorable performances in the muck. Likewise, Angel Suarez Alonso isn’t afraid of the wet: the Spaniard upped his game in Leogang to take his equal best-ever result in third.

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TOP LEFT: Leogang wouldn’t be the same without the Mountain Reggae crew. Thanks for the good times and vibes.

ABOVE: You knows it. The local crowd was cheering for Vali, but unfortunately she fell foul of the brutal track.

LEFT: Chris Kilmurray takes his rider preparation seriously. Phoebe Gale seems happy enough to go along with it. Gale is a supertalent on a bike and put together a run to claim her first junior World Cup win of 2022.

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TOP: Downhill is savage. Benoit Coulanges has been on the rise and gradually progressing through the results for some time now. The modest Frenchman went fastest in qualifying here in Leogang and all eyes were on him in finals. However, the course bit back and Coulanges crashed out, throwing away any hopes of a first-ever win. It’s coming soon, though.

MIDDLE: Myriam Nicole’s race run was superb to watch – a masterclass in attacking riding. What the live broadcast didn’t show, however, was a hefty crash in the course’s upper corners. Nicole went OTB but never gave up, continuing at race pace to finish in second spot. That’s the sort of riding that makes champions.

ABOVE: Charlie Hatton (pictured) and his Atherton Bikes teammate Andreas Kolb are working their way towards top results. Hatton was consistent here, qualifying in eighth and getting the same again in finals. Meanwhile, Kolb went even better to finish fifth in front of his home crowd.

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ABOVE: Just how insanely talented is Camille Balanche? After taking up downhill in 2018, the ex-Olympic ice hockey player rocketed through the ranks, landing her first big win in Leogang at World Champs in 2020. Fast-forward a few years, and the Swiss racer now has a number of victories under her belt, including three in a row here in Austria. Inspiring stuff.

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ABOVE: Finish area scenes with Camille Balanche (left) and Eleonora Farina. Balanche qualified fastest, meaning she was the last rider down the hill in finals. As she crossed the line fastest by 11 seconds, the celebrations began.

LEFT: Talking of incredible talent, Scotland’s Louise-Anna Ferguson, who lives in Queenstown, NZ, and is on a bit of a tour-of-this-and-that (she was at Red Bull Formation a few weeks ago, then Fort William World Cup, then Tweed Valley EWS), qualified for her first-ever finals here. Then, she put together a superb run to land her on the podium. Fairy-tale stuff, and as a side-note, she did it all on flat pedals.

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ABOVE: Leogang’s slopestyle course got heavily sessioned early in the week by multi-sports rider Kade Edwards, who carried some of that vibe into his race run for this glorious pan shot whip. Edwards finished a respectable 17th.

BELOW: There was a bit of pre-race hype about Amaury Pierron’s chances of winning the first three World Cups of the season in a row, but the flat-out Frenchman couldn’t quite get the run together. Nonetheless, it was a brilliant performance that put Pierron fourth on the day and kept him in the series driver’s seat in first overall.

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TOP and ABOVE LEFT: Oh boy. The UK’s Matt Walker (not New Zealand’s one) realised his dreams here, taking his first-ever World Cup race win. Having won the series overall in 2020, Walker struggled to live up to his title in 2021, but silenced any would-be critics in Leogang with a stunning race run. The win comes off the back of a steadily improving season – we can’t wait to see what he’s got in store for us next.

ABOVE RIGHT: Angel Suarez Alonso with a well-deserved third-place grin.

ALL PHOTOS: SVEN

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Camille Balanche and the elite women’s podium celebrate; Austria’s Andreas Kolb rode the race of his life to step onto the podium in fifth. The Schladming local looked poised and in control in the tech parts, which is perhaps no surprise for someone hailing from downhill’s finest bike park.; Pivot Factory Racing cheering on Jenna Hastings, who took second in junior women’s.

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Thank you for reading and supporting what we do! Sven, Boris, Seb and the Misspent Summers team

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