Way back in 1993, the first official World Cup downhill season, Rune Hoydahl won his own world cup in Norway but failed to even get a podium elsewhere. He did of course go on to win many world cup cross country races and in doing so is the only man to do this along with the inimitable John Tomac. Other notable one-off results in the early nineties include Bruni Zanchi, Are 1995. In fact the Italian and the Norwegian along with Ivan Olego Moreno at Grouse Mountain 2003 are the only others who have one podium, one win.
This season Aaron Gwin looks to defend his title on a German bike. Now Marcus Klaussman is nowadays seen as a pillar of downhill, a man with an insatiable appetite to compete. Yes, he is a wild one in that he’s the only German to have won a world cup AND did it on a German bike. But Klaussman was a regular podium finisher, second overall in the series in 1996. Hardly a wildcard.
Of course you need to be quite careful when giving certain riders the ‘wildcard’ tag when in fact they are top flight, top ten racers who might in fact be top of their sport in their home countries. Just because a rider might not have podiumed a world cup doesn’t mean they’re rookies at all but experienced successful professionals.
Many people talk of the rapid rise and fall of Shaun Palmer but consider an even crazier story is that of Bas De Bever. Only a couple of tenths off Palmer at Cairns Worlds in 1996, Bas de Bever, a Dutchman on a Dutch bike won the World Cup opener in South Africa in 1997 at the ripe old age of 29. And at his first ever world cup!
Gerwin Peters was another winner from the flatlands yet Christian Taillefer a Frenchman on a French bike (Peugeot) at a French race (Les Gets 1998) is the only other that stands out as one of the daft moments of the nineties.
What of the Americans? Rockwell, Palmer, King, were all one hit winners but also gained series top five placings so they were consistent too although Palmer’s fifth was from only one podium position in ’96. Indeed Palmer reached his zenith in 1999 at Big Bear but never featured on the podium again. Todd Tanner also had three podiums culminating in a win then no further podium placings. Corrado Herin, won the series in 1997, his first world cup season then literally disappeared out of the top ten for the next three years of racing.