After the news about the iXS European Downhill Cup being recognised as the official UCI European Series we asked Pascal Haf from the iXS Sports Division a few more questions about the race series.

Dirt: Can you give us some brief back ground to the iXS series?

Pascal: iXS, a Swiss cycling- and motorcycle accessory brand, has started to develop its own racing series in 2003, after successfully running other Swiss national series for a couple of years. After a successful introduction, we have opened up to Germany in 2006 and further developed downhill racing in the following years. In 2007, we have introduced the iXS middle European DH Cup for Germany, Switzerland and Austria and due to its success, later also opened up to Italy, France, Czech Rep. and UK in 2008. This series became known as the iXS European Downhill Cup.

Due to incredible numbers of attendees, up to 600 of a weekend, we have introduced the iXS Rookies Cup in order to split up a bit and to open up to younger riders, as to give them a platform to compete and race, as well as to collect experiences and to “grow up" in riding.

By today, we are very pleased to host 20 events at different venues all over Europe and to have 2,570 single riders of 41 different nations racing our iXS DH series. iXS has clearly invested a huge amount of efforts, energy and financial resources into downhill racing over the last ten years and we have brought downhill racing back into our backyards.

We are looking forward to the next ten years of racing and to bringing the iXS Downhill Cup to the next level.

Are the European DH Cup, Swiss DH Cup, German DH Cup and Rookies Cup all different series?

All the different Cups belong to the same series and are integrated under the roof of the iXS Downhill Cup. While the national cups are more orientated and focused on a wider range of riders and classes, with different riding skills, the European cup has its focus on more experienced as well as licensed riders and wants to bridge between the WC and National racing as well as further develop towards the next years. With the Rookies Cup, we want to approach beginners from 11 years of age and older and we want to give them a platform to collect race experiences and improve their riding skills to support them on their way into the National and European series.

You have run very successfully for a number of years, why do you feel the need to become the official European UCI series?

Our cooperation with the UCI lasts as long as we are running the iXS Downhill Cup, over 10 years. The iXS DH Cup has always been categorized and certified with C1 & C2 UCI race status. Since a little over a year, we are negotiating with UCI in order to get their official recognition and to become the official European DH series. This closer cooperation in the future with UCI gives the whole series a better and more global recognition and us as an organizer a closer and more constructive access to the world cycling association. Our goal is to strengthen DH racing, improve its global status, optimize regulation towards riders and get venue feedback, as well as develop gravity sport in its overall character. We want to give the riders an optimized platform to ride and perform.

Is this a direct response to the DH1 series?

Clearly no. As already mentioned, we are passionately running and developing our iXS DH Cup series for more than 10 years now and have come to a stage, where we want to bring it to the next level. Long term planning and investing, as well as continuously and successful growing the series has always been our goal.

Do you think there can be too many race series in a year or is it a good thing to have a lot of options?

We do believe having more race series offered will put the teams and riders under some sort of pressure. They need to plan and decide in advance which series they want to attend, as well as to adjust their budgets in order to what they think they want to race. So, it clearly will end up being a question where they set their focus and what their travel schedule will look like.

We do greatly appreciate that there are companies and organizations out there working on options to give different platforms to race and ride in different countries and different surroundings.

The 2012 European Cup looks like it has a great mix of venues, have these all featured in previous iXS races, any new tracks?

All our partners of 2011 have already committed to be in again in 2012. While Innerleithen GBR has had a one-year break, they are in again for next year. We are very pleased to have all those venues on board again, as we are working with most of them for a numbers of years already. Some tracks will be updated, corrected and improved. Our venue partners do put a lot of efforts, energy and money into the tracks and its surrounding. Leogang AUT for example, will host the iXS European Cup on its World Championship track as its first race on their new track before the Word Champs.

How about media coverage, videographer Ralf Schupp has done a great job with video coverage in previous years. Have you thought about live streaming? Is that an option?

With Ralp Schupp we have a great videographer and an excellent editor. We also have worked closely with RedBull and its RedBull MediaHouse. Together we have generated a lot of media coverage, as well as TV coverage on RedBull TV, which is streaming in different countries via cable, digital networks or satellite and on web platforms all over the world. We are still in negotiations for the next season and will inform as soon as it becomes ready to be announced.

During all of our races, we offer a “live timing service" via our web platform, as well as “on screen display" within the finishing area. Other options and future developments are in planning and negotiation.

How much does will it cost to enter the Euro series?

It’s a single entry fee of € 50. It will stay the same as last year. Our national cups are settled at a single entry of € 30-50.

Will riders need UCI points?

There needs to be some sort of a ranking and point system – right?

Any prize money?

Yes, licensed riders on podium according UCI scheme (C1/C2) do get cash premiums.

Pascal Haf, Brand Manager iXS Sports Division