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Hi there,

Never go on holiday to Snowshoe, USA, if you are a rear derailleur or a rim. Trust us, you won’t have a good time.

If you are a mountain bike fan, on the other hand, go book your trip now. Well, if you can book for a week ago and go back in time, you should anyway.

Because last weekend Snowshoe put on one of the best downhill races of the year*.

We’ve made some notes about the race below (contains 100% spoilers) complete with stunning photos by Boris Beyer and Sven Martin.

Hope you enjoy reading through.


James and the Misspent Summers team

Sense of scale: Notes from Snowshoe, USA, DH World Cup R7 2023

  • Watch all the best action from Snowshoe in this compilation of videos. Banging tune and production work from Sleeper; probably the best live show production and commentary yet by MTB World Series; Ed Bull Media House upping the goggle ante. Great stuff


A brief round-up of racing:

  • Junior women: Erice van Leuven smashed qualifying by almost 15s and backed it up with a win in finals. Taylor Ostgaard took second and Valentina Roa Sánchez third
  • Junior men: Ryan Pinkerton took his fourth win in a row and with it, the series title. He was followed by Evan Medcalf in second and Mylann Falquet third
  • Watch the full junior finals replay for free here (scroll down a bit)
  • Elite women: Continuing her momentum from R6 in Les Gets, Marine Cabirou smashed it out the park to take the win ahead of Nina Hoffmann in second and Vali Höll in third. But whoa – the times were tight! Just 0.660s separated the top-three. Tahnée Seagrave and Gloria Scarsi took fourth and fifth
  • Elite men: Oisin O’Callaghan looked rapid in practice, proved it in qualifying (5th) and semi-finals (2nd) then took it all the way to the top in finals, becoming Ireland’s first-ever elite World Cup winner. Better still, he was flanked by his friend and compatriot Rónán Dunne in second – double Irish! Amazing stuff, and the young duo were followed by Dakotah Norton in third, a popular result among his home crowd. Loris Vergier and Bernard Kerr rounded out the top-five
  • Full results here (qualis-semis-finals)
  • The look on O’Callaghan’s face as reality set in that he’d won a World Cup was golden – complete and utter disbelief. No fakery here, just total shock and surprise (as he mentioned in his post-race TV interview, it hit him so hard he had a pain in his chest)
  • O’Callaghan of course isn’t the first elite male to experience that feeling in 2023 – in fact he’s the sixth first-time winner in the eight races (World Cups and Champs) so far
  • Elation/deflation: By our dodgy count, 30% of elite men finalists either crashed or punctured in their runs
  • Both elite winners were on full 29ers. When was the last time that happened (i.e., neither winner on mixed wheel size 29/27.5in front/back)? Point1Athletic’s Chris Kilmurray reckons Fort William 2019 (Atherton-Pierron). Anyone want to check?
  • Did ever-present Greg Minnaar announce his retirement to Sven in this interview last week?
  • As we noted pre-race, many people left Snowshoe worse for wear (and we don’t mean Oisin and Rónán), including title challenger Benoît Coulanges who’s now out with a broken scaphoid
  • Look at the foot of the results sheets and note how many DNS (did not start) and DNF (did not finish) to get an idea how punishing Snowshoe was on racers. In elite qualifying alone, there were 18 DNS/DNFs
  • Talking of DNS, did someone miss their start time? New category idea: DNA = did not arrive
  • *Is it us, or does it seem like every DH World Cup is the best yet? Snowshoe blew our socks off
  • Let us know your favourite World Cup race ever by replying to this email – we’d like to feature some replies and relevant photos/videos/info in future newsletters

more below…

  • Is the sport getting more exciting by the race? Well, er, there isn’t really a metric for exciting-ness but here’s some pondering:
  • At least where the elite men’s racing is concerned, every race this season has been such a different story – with seven different winners in as many World Cup rounds so far and a different winner again at World Champs
  • For comparison, in 2019 and 2022 combined, seasons that also had eight World Cup races and one World Championships each (like 2023), there were seven different elite male winners across the 18 total races (Amaury Pierron won seven of those; Loic Bruni took five)
  • That’s 8 winners in 8 races in 2023 so far (with 1 race still to go); 7 winners in 18 races in 2019 + 2022
  • Also, comparing 2022 and 2023, things appear to have got faster – or is that quicker? The shortest elite men’s winning time in 2022 was 2:44.500 (Loris Vergier – Pal Arinsal) and the longest 4:37.12 (Amaury Pierron – Fort William). In 2023, the shortest race time so far has been 2:39.22 (Jordan Williams – Lenzerheide) and the longest 4:26.75 (Fort William – Charlie Hatton). Obviously, the conditions and courses have changed so you could say this is a completely pointless observation, but we love a flawed argument
  • Despite crashing in qualis and semis (she won both anyway), Vali Höll wrapped up the elite women’s series title with a race to spare. Höll has cleaned up in 2023, winning three World Cup rounds and the World Championships and finishing on the podium at all but one race so far
  • Höll gets her name on the big new World Cup winners’ trophy. Who keeps it though? The mystery continues
  • Likewise, Ryan Pinkerton continues to impress. He punished Snowshoe’s rock gardens all week and, despite saying he felt nervous, took the win and the series title
  • So, half of the series titles are already decided, but the remaining two promise a thrilling final showdown in Mont-Sainte-Anne (MSA), Canada, this week:
  • Valentina Roa Sánchez leads the junior women’s rankings after Snowshoe but, with 60 points up for grabs for winning a junior race, Lisa Bouladou and Erice van Leuven could both still overtake her in the series
  • Despite the fact there are many more points up for grabs in 2023 compared to 2022 (400 at each round except MSA – see below; in 2022 there were only 250 at each round), we go into the final round of the season with the men’s title chase wide open:
  • Loic Bruni, who leaves Snowshoe bruised and battered from his finals run wipeout, leads by a slim 60 points from his best mate Loris Vergier
  • There are four elite men who could still mathematically win the series. In 2022, there were only two possible winners going into the final round and Amaury Pierron basically had it in the bag – he only needed to score a single point to wrap up the title (which he did)

more below…

  • Pointless racing: In 2023, there are 400 total maximum points available at each elite World Cup (caveat coming up) – 50 for winning qualifying, 100 for winning semi-finals, and 250 for winning finals. But (this is the caveat), at finals in MSA there are only 250 maximum available points
  • That’s because, as is now semi-tradition, there are no points awarded for qualifying and semi-finals at the last round of the season – points will only be doled out for the main race result in MSA
  • Breaking with tradition: In the past, the usual quali points were added to the finals haul, but not this year
  • In brief: For an elite win in MSA you take home 250 points (thanks to Sam from Dorval AM / Commencal for correcting us on that – in our last newsletter we said there were 400 points up for grabs)
  • Where elite men title contenders are concerned (who all have protected status and don’t need to worry about making the cut), that means qualis and semis in MSA will basically be sighting laps…
  • …which might sound like a recipe for, er, not-so-riveting viewing, but men’s winning times have progressively improved from qualifying to semis to finals at every round this year. So, if the four contenders want a shot at winning MSA finals (which they’ll have to aim for to take the series), maybe there’s a reason for them to go fast whenever the clock’s ticking in MSA
  • Tangent: In Snowshoe 2022, three of the top-five men were on Continental tyres. In 2023, same again – three of the top-five on Contis (the rest of the podium were on Vee Tire or, er, Logo-free Tire)
  • More tyres: junior women’s winner Erice van Leuven was on Schwalbe; junior men’s winner Ryan Pinkerton was on Continental; elite women’s winner Marine Cabirou was on Maxxis
  • Full-time enduro racers Richie Rude (listen to his ‘Views interview here) and Adrien Dailly made it into Snowshoe finals, which is no mean feat. Harriet Harnden flatted in semis to finish 13th – still not a bad result by any standards – and Gloria Scarsi made it two podiums in as many downhill races, backing up her fifth-place Les Gets result with another stunner in the States
  • Talking of enduro, here’s a positive report on viewership in 2023
  • We had a big photo of legend Missy Giove up on the wall at our Les Gets pop-up and a visitor told us of his surprise at getting served a beer by The Missile herself on a recent trip to Snowshoe. Could it be true? Yes! As Rob Warner found out, Giove is indeed working behind a bar in Snowshoe – what a treat for downhill superfans
  • Will a big team be on a gearbox bike in 2024?
  • YT’s last elite World Cup win was all the way back in 2018 when Aaron Gwin won in Lošinj, Croatia, as immortalised in this amazing photo print by Boris Beyer. Admittedly, the German brand did a lot of winning with Vali Höll as a junior before her move to elite in 2020. And they won junior men’s World Championships in 2020, their bike piloted to victory by none other than… Oisin O’Callaghan
  • O’Callaghan’s journey with YT began in 2019 when he went through the YT Mob’s World Tour talent search – from over 500 young applicants, he was selected as the best prospect by talent scout Martin Whiteley of 23 Degrees Sports. Good shout
  • With the new-for-2023 ankle height course marker poles (which we think look great, for the record), sometimes it’s debatable where is on- and off-course. We spotted several instances of media and team members accidentally leaning into the line of fire in Snowshoe while staring intently at phone screens (presumably doing very important stuff – not just scrolling Instagram). Course boundary not clear, too many people in the media and team-only b-zone, or busy staff cramming in trackside emails?
  • Also, when does riding over a micro pole become going off-course?
  • Lots of World Cuppers raced the US Open before Snowshoe – it was a perfect warm-up event and, er, the prize money wasn’t bad either. Elite winners Dakotah Norton in men’s and Nina Hoffmann in women’s got $15,000 each, with nearly $60k awarded across the top-five in both categories. A World Cup win earns €3,750
  • But the young guns arguably stole the show at the US Open: Asa Vermette (born 2007) took second in elite men; Aletha Ostgaard (born 2008 – younger sister of Taylor, who was on the junior podium in Snowshoe) took second in elite women. Look out for the balance bike generation – they’re getting faster by the second
  • Less cool: As Anna Newkirk told WynTV, she’ll use her third-place prize money to pay insurance and other bills – professional racing ain’t cheap, folks
  • The World Cup organisers say the 2024 race calendar (all disciplines) will be out in October (2023) – complete with dates and venues. Stay tuned
  • But will there also be a new series of three very hard downhill races in 2024?
  • Thank you for reading! If you like our stuff, you can support us by pre-ordering a yearbook bundle (legend / super fan, buying anything from our store, giving us a review on Trustpilot, leaving a tip, or simply telling your friends to check us out. It all helps, and we are grateful for your efforts. Cheers
Notes newsletters are compiled with the help of many contributors. Thank you to everyone who chips in – we love doing this stuff and you make it possible.
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