An A-Z of World Cup downhill racing in amazing photography - Dirt

Mountain Biking Magazine



An A-Z of World Cup downhill racing in amazing photography

Stunning shots for a stunning sport

Photos: Seb Schiek


The Alps are the heart of the World Cup series with a glut of events gracing these ancient peaks. 65 million years of erosion have seasoned them to perfection.


Could it have been anything else? The finest bikes in the world hurtle down the tracks and we’re lucky just to see it happen.


Crashes are an unfortunate part of the sport but if it was easy everyone would be doing it.


Big drops may catch the eye but the one that challenged the riders most this year was Lenzerheide's innocuous Plunge. Anyone remember 'that' Gwin crash


There are so many riders who have the pace to podium at a World Cup but the mind games of a race weekend separate the wheat from the chaff.


A visit to a World Cup is like going to a party where everyone loves bikes as much as you. There may be lots of drinking and heckling but, more than anything, spectators are there to appreciate the best riders in the world. The races would not be the same without them.


Sure there are gaps on course but the only ones that matter are displayed in green or red at the bottom of the track. A matter of hundredths can separate glory and defeat.



Crowds seem to get bigger, louder and more inventive every year. This year chainsaws were an (obvious) favourite


Very few bikes have had as big an impact on World Cup racing as the Intense M1. It had its finest hour in 2002 when Kovarik put 14 seconds into the competition at Fort William and Sam Hill won the junior World Championships.


Never forget the youth at a World Cup weekend. If it wasn’t for their number plates we’d have trouble telling them form the Elites. Absolute pinners.


Downhill is a sport of champions, gladiators in mortal combat with nature. Those who emerge on top of the pile are truly kings among men


Globules of time can be made by spotting a safe passage through choppy tech. By the same token go off line and you may as well cruise to the bottom, your day is over.


Is there another sport where mistakes are punished so harshly? With only one chance to stake your claim every corner counts.


Because, why not?


We don’t often get to visit our southern hemisphere cousins on the World Cup circuit but when we do it’s a treat… except for the spiders.


Is this not what is’t all about? Riding on the ragged edge, tyres ripping up soil, bodies battered? Speed is the only currency on these mountains



The world's fastest women put the average rider to shame. These women do not get the respect they deserve


Palmer vs Vouilloz, Gee Atheron vs Stevie Smith, Rachel Atherton vs Claudio Caluori. Downhill is littered with intense rivalries (although we in the media are as culpable as anyone in stoking them).

Shaun Palmer

The man who changed it all. We really do wonder where the sport would be had Palmer not rocked up in his moto pants and gold jacket.


How many controversies has taping caused over the years? It seems so innocuous but (reportedly) even the first World Championships were won with a cheeky course cut.


We make that 15 wins in a row


You don’t win 10 World Championships and 16 World Cup races without being very good. Maybe even… the best ever?


No caption necessary


‘X’ is hard, ok? We couldn’t let this post go without mentioning the legendary after parties though.

Young guns

There are a lot of fast young riders out there at the moment. The top 10 could look very different in a couple of years’ time

Zip ties

Even the pros use them


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