By: Colin Meagher
The second helping of meat and potatoes for this World Champs came down to who could keep it together the best on a track that the remnants of Hurricane Earl had saturated during the two previous days. For the Elite Women, it was Tracy Moseley; for the elite Men, it was none other than Sam Hill.
The loose and dusty track of the first few days of training at Mont-Sainte-Anne was big and fast and mean. Then came the rain from Earl. While everyone agreed that a bit of wet was needed to smooth out the rough monster that the DH track had evolved into, none were wanting quite so much moisture as was delivered. C'est la vie.
The Junior riders went off first in the morning—yet another appetizer. Lauren Rosser of Canada pulled out a great ride for the win, while the Monster Energy junior racer Troy Brosnan took the hot seat away from Neko Mulally.
Then came the ladies. The rain-slicked course was getting faster in some places boggy in other. Additionally, the succession of riders from the previous two days of training had left a thin greasy coating of mud on all the roots and rocks, forcing riders to re-assess line choice in favor of staying upright—particularly in the rock garden.
Leigh Donovan was the first rider to take the hot seat but it was evident that her time wouldn't hold—although her time did end up being the best amongst the American women. Rachel Atherton knocked her down, also with a time that didn't appear likely to hold. Nor did it, as Mio Suemasa took the lead.
Then came Moseley.
The British rider has been coming on strong in the latter half of the season, and was clearly riding at a different level at Mt St Anne. Her time of 5:17.47 put her nearly thirteen seconds up on Suemasa. It was an absolutely smoking run given the tenuous amount of traction on the course, and it was a time none of the other riders could better.
"I've been racing here a long time," said an ecstatic Moseley, "and this is one of my favorite tracks. Taking the rainbow stripes here is absolutely awesome."
In the men, it was a battle. No qualifying run to get your blood up, just zero to sixty in seconds. As the field was whittled down to the top seeds, Danny Hart laid down an amazing run, but his time didn't look likely to hold with the firepower remaining in the start shack. Nor did it, as Canadian gravity hero Steve Smith smashed his way down the track and took the hot seat in 4:40.56—a stunning ride for the MS-Evil rider. But only two riders later, Sam Hill snatched it away from Smith with a time the Aussie rider didn't think would stick for the win. But it did. Rags to riches for Hill, as none of the other riders could better his time of 4:37.93.
"I didn't think I would have a great ride here," stated a surprised Hill. "My morning practice bummed me out; I was really sloppy."
Steve Smith's time was good enough to keep him in second, while Greg Minnaar's ride landed the South African in third.
That's a wrap on this season.