Sunday finals at Fort William World Cup: 6.45a.m. start in continuing wind and rain and upper gondola station temperatures hitting under 5º did little to hamper the racers’ desire to compete. One practice run on race day? No worries. Howling gales? That’s fine. Mud-fest? Naturally. The course had taken a beating on its day off, with the day-long deluge destroying the fresh track that had been cut into its mid-section in the woods. Holes, rocks, roots and deep mud. Going was nigh-on impossible. Bryceland avoided his nemesis where he fell hard in the tricky woods, Gwin and Brosnan missed their practice runs and Danny Hart staved himself into the ground. They all of course kept their chins up and prepared for finals later in the day.
When the clock was on, riders all pulled their sleeves up and forgot their woes – the diabolical weather and track conditions will never get the better of such a tough bunch. Racing at this level, and particularly at this venue, is simply staggering. The riders’ motivation, their grit, their ferocity and then modesty. Those who flew celebrated, those who fell congratulated. They may be tough, but downhillers sure are a cool bunch.
Enjoy our gallery from Fort William World Cup’s Sunday finals.
Photos by Seb Schieck, with a splattering from Mike Rose and Ben Winder.