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Wow, Val di Sole’s infamous Black Snake downhill track looks a whole lot different this year.

The course builders have wheelbarrowed in an awful lot of fresh dirt to fill the holes between the Snake’s menacing rocks and roots.

Below, you’ll find some notes and tangents and preview photos from this week in Val di Sole, including five-star shots by Boris Beyer and Sven Martin.

Hope you enjoy reading through.


+ the Misspent Summers team

MOUNTAINS OF EARTH: Notes from Val di Sole, Italy, DH World Cup R3

  • Val di Sole’s course builders have heaved in 6,700 cubic metres of dirt to fill gaps between rocks and roots and holes all the way down the course. That’s a lot of dirt! To put it into context, that’s about 7,063 ERKA 818 Cargo Trailerfuls
  • Speed – Speed + Speed = Speed. Some creative course marking this year takes riders off-piste into new turns and off-cambers, which slows things down a tad and makes it more technical (fair play to the organisers – seems they’ve been listening to riders on this point). However, with all that new dirt filling in the holes, riders can now go faster through what were once terribly troublesome rock gardens. The course is as rapid as ever
  • Another amazing course preview video by Jackson Goldstone here
  • Dry in practice: A bit more rain (any at all, for that matter) before the event would have made for an all-time course. All that new dirt got ripped up and turned into dusty ruts during moisture-starved practice sessions. No one’s complaining though – it’s top-notch and the shapers have done fine work revamping what was a totally blown-out track at the 2022 race here
  • Talking of earth moving announcements, has recently added some fascinating new articles. RAD
  • Everyone seems to be loving the new-look course and grateful for the shapers’ efforts
  • Junior finals took place on Friday, with New Zealand’s Sacha Earnest taking the win in women’s by a massive 12 seconds (look out, elites) despite missing rounds one and two after being stretchered off in Lenzerheide
  • Canada’s Bodhi Kuhn won the junior men’s race and looked incredibly calm after his run. Honourable mention to Ryan Pinkerton who finished second to Kuhn by less than a second despite a mid-run crash
  • Watch the full junior finals replay for free here
  • Blink and miss it: Was Erice van Leuven’s run in the live broadcast?


continued below…

  • Elite qualifying: Camille Balanche (1st), Vali Höll (2nd) and Jess Blewitt (3rd) took the top spots in Friday’s elite women’s qualis. Jordan Williams (1st), Laurie Greenland (2nd) and Jackson Goldstone (3rd) took the top three in elite men’s
  • Full junior finals and elite qualifying results on the World Series site here
  • Whoa, hang on there! Williams, the first-year elite and winner of round one in Lenzerheide, is top of the leaderboard again! At last year’s race here, when Williams was still a junior, his finals time was faster than all the elites
  • Series standings: Camille Balanche and Loic Bruni lead the elite women’s and men’s series standings before semi-finals
  • Is it a loamer?
  • Despite some online grumbles about the subscription fee to watch finals, there’s a ridiculous amount of viewing to be done now. Junior finals plus elite semi-finals and final-finals adds up to a big weekend of couch potatoing. We love it
  • No Rachel Atherton: After winning round one and taking third at round two, Atherton is sitting out this race. Will we see her back later this season?
  • Or Amaury Pierron: If you haven’t already heard, Pierron’s stiff neck from crashing in Lenzerheide at round one turned out to be a broken C5 vertebra. Get well soon Momo. Read his no-pulled-punches post about the crash and injury here
  • Sam Hill won’t be racing either. Hill has been making a steady comeback to downhill racing this year after focusing on enduro since 2017, but unfortunately the Aussie crashed last weekend at Crankworx Innsbruck and injured his foot. Healing vibes
  • Talking of Hill at VDS, treat yourself to his legendary 2008 World Championships run replay here. Was it the first time Rob Warner deployed ‘Look at the time’?
  • While we’re at it: We have two classic Sam Hill in VDS photo prints on our store here (Victor Lucas photo) and here (Seb Schieck photo)
  • But wait, good news! Great to see Reece Wilson back on track after several months on crutches and healing from total leg destruction. The Scot said he struggled last week at Crankworx Innsbruck but he seemed right up to speed here. Unfortunately, he missed out on qualifying by one place, finishing 61st, so we won’t see him in semi-finals. It’s all good practice before World Champs at home in Scotland this August
  • Weather check: Scorchio turned to uh-oh before Friday’s junior race and elite qualifying, but the big rains never really materialised and what did come down on Friday will only help hold the crumbly dirt together. The weekend looks dry


more below…

  • A few clouds in the sky aren’t that bad. The course dips in and out of the trees from bright to dark, and under the forest canopy the light can get dappled on a sunny day. Consistent light (from cloud cover) is easier on the eyes
  • Chainsaws, the noise maker of choice for mountain bike fans the world over, were banned in Lenzerheide and few and far between in Leogang – will they make a comeback on the slopes of Val di Sole?
  • GOAT MIA: Greg Minnaar, who won World Champs here in 2021 then broke his back here in 2022, went missing from the live qualifying timing after split two. Apparently, he had a big crash but is all good and, as a protected rider, he automatically qualifies for Saturday’s semi-final
  • Did a brand take the top-drawer event partner deal at a rumoured £***,***?
  • Loris Vergier and Laurie Greenland are the only previous men’s VDS World Cup winners racing this year (Greg Minnaar and Danny Hart have won World Champs here). Marine Cabirou and Tahnée Seagrave are the only previous women’s VDS winners racing
  • Loris Vergier was the fastest person through the speed trap today at 64.1km/h
  • There’s also cross-country racing going on in VDS this weekend. XC keeps getting faster, more technical, more exciting. Should we do an XC yearbook?
  • Coach says. We asked Point1Athletic’s Chris Kilmurray for some simplified advice on how to ride Val di Sole better (asking for a friend). This is what he said: Let the bike work. Don’t over brake. Know where your wheels need to be
  • 2024 rumours: All but 1 enduro in Europe. 5 of 9 XC outside Europe. DH?
  • After this race there’s a big gap in DH World Cup racing until the Vallnord, Andorra, round in late August (there’s World Champs in Scotland in the meantime). But in July there’s a semi-official test event in Loudenvielle, France, trialling stuff before the September round there
  • Useless ponderings, edition #467: Could the organisers just do away with course marking altogether and spray paint the floor from top to bottom of the hill while marking corners with a few scrum pads? Can’t see any flaws whatsoever in this suggestion. Idea Copyright Misspent Summers MMXXIII
  • Finn, Loic. 1, 2. Williams took top honours in elite men’s qualifying, but his Specialized teammates took the fastest two times at the first split before both dropping back in the results. Finals is going to get rowdy!
  • Watch semi-finals for free from 10:30 CEST on Saturday 1 July on the MTB World Series YouTube here
  • Watch finals on GCN+, Eurosport and elsewhere from 12:45 CEST on Saturday
  • Side note: Check the full GCN+ schedule to see what racing coverage they offer in your country on this unofficial (we think) website
  • Big thanks to everyone helping put together these newsletters and our racing coverage, especially Boris BeyerSven Martin and Seb Schieck for their relentless work. We hope you like what we do – let us know if you have any ideas or feedback by replying to this email
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