This has been taken from our newsletter. Sign up for our newsletters here to receive this in your inbox before each DH and EDR World Cup.

Whoa. This isn’t the letter we planned to send.

Thing is, the wind picked up and all our notes went flying out the window.

The Pal Arinsal, Andorra, downhill World Cup schedule has changed due to extreme weather, with, at time of writing, the race is postponed pending further updates (see them here).

Scroll down to find out why and to check out some of the best photos from Boris Beyer and Sven Martin.

Also, watch the junior replay here. It’s nuts.

James and the Misspent Summers team

WIND BLOWN: Notes from Pal Arinsal, Andorra downhill World Cup

  • Following the recent heatwave across Europe, Andorra is due extreme weather today, Saturday 26 August – DH elite finals day. It’s sunny but the wind is wild on the hill right now
  • Based on the forecast high winds and the exposed nature of the Pal Arinsal venue and course, on Friday evening the organisers (UCI and Warner Bros. Discovery Sports and the local team) made the decision to bring forward a revised racing schedule, with elite women’s racing starting at 9am CEST and elite men following at 9:45
  • Unfortunately, after an early morning review on Saturday, they decided to postpone racing, with another review and communication due at 12 noon CEST
  • Check the UCI announcements here – we’ll update the page as new information comes in
  • Check our Instagram for a series of interviews from Saturday morning by Sven Martin with riders including Finn Iles, Vali Höll and more. We’re adding more now
  • If you’re wondering how a top-tier coach keeps an eye on the elements when advising riders, Chris Kilmurray tells us MétéoBlue’s weather radar is useful for the 30 mins before a run; then check Windy too; and local forecasts are always useful
  • No semi-final: On the revised plan, racing was set to go straight into finals, with 17 elite women and 61 elite men competing. (These are the riders who made it through qualifying plus any protected riders who didn’t qualify in the top spots due to mechanicals etc.)
  • Back to the future? Earlier in the week, timed training was brought back for the first time in 2023. With semi-finals also scrapped for the weather-affected finals schedule, it was almost like we’d gone way back to 2022
  • High winds on Friday saw some team tents getting blown around and destroyed; fortunately, most setups were unaffected
  • We can’t remember any downhill World Cups ever being cancelled – not in the last 15-20 years anyway. At Fort William in 2015, stinking weather forced a schedule change with qualifying and finals both run on the same day (instead of consecutive days). Anyone remember a cancelled DH World Cup?
  • If the race is cancelled, World Cup points will be divvied up based on qualifying results (or so we hear – we haven’t had a definitive answer on this yet) 

continued below…

  • Talking of being hard as nails, the series points leader coming into this round, Camille Balanche, had a heavy slam in Friday’s elite qualifying after being sideswiped by the wind on one of the massive jumps near the top of the course. Balanche was helicoptered off the hill for scans and checks and, although she certainly won’t be lining up to race, thankfully her partner Emilie Siegenthaler says there’s no serious head injury or trauma. Scary stuff – hope you’re OK, Camille
  • Before elite qualis, the juniors had been on the hill for their finals. And what a race! Despite the soil being parched before the event by a red hot and dry summer, daily storms this week turned the dustbowl into prime dirt – just reward for the local trail team who had put a huge amount of effort into preparing the course
  • The Pal Arinsal (the name of the ski resort) track, first used in 2022 and higher up the mountain than the nearby steep, tech Vallnord course we had been used to watching before it was retired from the calendar, had some questionable features on its first outing last year, but the build crew listened to feedback and changed the entire end of the course to avoid any dodgy bridge crossings this year
  • It seems ironic now, but the build team had even gone to the lengths of installing hosepipes down the track so they could regularly water it to keep the dust down
  • Junior racing was fast and furious from start to finish. Watch the replay here to see for yourself – if the weather comes in, it could be the most exciting racing of the weekend
  • Full live results including junior finals and elite qualifying here
  • One of the best things from this week in Pal Arinsal has been seeing Gee Atherton back in action and between the tapes (well, the poles – tapes are a thing of the past). Atherton hasn’t been on a World Cup course since his death-defying crash in 2021. Comebacks like this inspire people like us and keep us motivated to ride – that’s the magic of professional sports. Gee was only ever planning to ride practice this week as he works his way back to race pace
  • If you’re in need of a career change, Warner Bros. Discovery is looking for a new commentary coordinator for their live sports broadcasts. Read the job listing

more below…

  • Pointless points? This week’s social media storm system revolved around a somewhat general confusion over what is a point and what is not a point. Read on:
  • Traditionally, anyone who made it through qualifying into finals would get a certain number of UCI points, the golden tickets needed to enter World Cup races. Keep scoring and you’d know your points tally was topped up for future events. This year is no different – anyone making it into finals gets more UCI points
  • Aha! Except there’s a caveat: Semi-finals isn’t finals, and therefore doesn’t score UCI points, meaning a lot fewer riders get UCI points at each race (only the top-30 who make it into the final-finals from semi-finals)
  • However, semi-finals does score World Cup ranking points – which have always existed as a separate points tally to the UCI ranking system that comprises points from all UCI-points-scoring races, not just World Cups. This is all noted in the race book for anyone who reads the small print
  • Fan favourite Adam Brayton has had consistently decent semi-final results all season but couldn’t enter the Andorra race as his UCI points had elapsed (they only last 12 months). Brayton says it’s on him for not checking his points score, but that in the past he would have scored UCI points for finishing between 30th and 60th place so didn’t think to check
  • Caveat number 1,246: Riders on registered Elite Teams don’t need UCI points to enter races – that’s how Gee Atherton is able to get on track. Nor do those whose national federation has entered them into the race (but there are limited places for each nation and Brayton’s request came in late)
  • Anyway, that’s all a big negs isn’t it? Brighten up your day with probably the best interview ever recorded by Wyn Masters talking to Joshy Frotha on WynTV here (the interview starts at 14:27). Love to see this kind of excitement for a double dinner and a mountain bike race
  • Has the 2024 provisional mountain bike World Cup schedule we linked to in a recent newsletter already been replaced by a scaled-down version with fewer rounds of racing and more classic venues? And could there be a race in Poland next year? Time will tell
  • Thank you everyone for your recent Trustpilot reviews and store purchases. It all helps us keep recording mountain bike history. Cheers
  • By the way, we’re organising a pop-up exhibition thing for the Les Gets DH World Cup week with friends, photos, design, books and other goings-on. Looking forward to telling you about it and hope to see you in Les Gets this 4-10 September! 
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