Updated with the inside story from Steve Peat, Mike Rose and Alex Rankin.
The racer, the photographer and the videographer give us their perspective on a fast, muddy, wet-as-an-otters-pocket corner at the 2001 Kaprun World Cup race.
I clocked this Alex Rankin, Sprung 5, Kaprun World Cup video over on Vital and decided to look back through the Dirt archives to dig a bit deeper.
It was Dirt #Issue 30 Nov/Dec 2001 that featured the Kaprun race report and featured this great shot of Steve Peat exploding a course marker pole on one of the final corners.
Alex Rankin was also at the event filming for Sprung 5 (and has just uploaded the Kaprun section to the internetz).
Kaprun was the 7th of 8 rounds that year, 2001, and Greg Minnaar won the race (and the overall), from Cedric Gracia, Nico Vouilloz and Steve Peat in 4th.
Here’s what Steve Peat remembers about the race and that corner
Kaprun is one of those places that I always loved racing at, the track was awesome and always had some big flat out alpine cow fields coming into the finish, 2001 was no different and had a big step down that in practice we were braking for and getting back side, come race time I knew it had to be sent huge. It was a flat landing but if you went full tilt you could try and smooth it out a little by getting the front down milli-seconds before the back to take the big sting out.
It had been shitty weather so the cow pats and grass sods had got very soggy and the corner after the drop had formed a few ruts, it had a little lump in the middle of the turn you had to get down quick off, I guess I sent the huck a little too far and set up too inside for the corner (basically missed the rut) I was heading for the tape and Ski poles, big horrible plastic ski poles that don’t really let you get away with anything or forgive that much.
Luckily for me I just ploughed it and smashed it to smitherines, although I got my feet blown off in the process. Sometimes people ask me if it is a disadvantage to be so tall in DH racing, well the answer is not on that day, as I got my lanky legs out and managed to run it out and jump back on the saddle.
I didn’t win the race but it certainly felt good to scare a few people with this little incident. I remember the crowd just all running for their lives. Later on when I met up with Rosey he showed me the piece of pole he managed to snaffle, lucky for him it didn’t land in him!!!
Now to the party in the Boom bar!!! better make that another story.”
Here’s the perspective from photographer Big Mike:
“I remember this like it was yesterday. I was just a journeyman photographer back 2001, hitching rides where I could and sleeping on floors. It was a shitty old day in Kaprun, Austria and where I was standing, on the outside of this sketchy corner, was interesting. I never quite felt safe standing there. Riders were absolutely hauling and the ‘launch’ just before the corner was massive (see Vouilloz at 56 seconds). I thought the racers would be riding down it (the drop), but instead they just flew off the damn thing…no lip, no landing…just launch to flat. It was amazing.”
“Riders were getting all out of shape coming into the corner after the drop, and that is where Peaty almost took me out (1min 10sec). When you are looking down a 200mm lens, on my old Nikon FM2, riders seem an awful lot closer! Peaty rode it out, but the pole he hit was shattered all over the track. I quickly went and tidied some of the bits up before the next rider came down and grabbed a 1 foot piece to remind me of the day. I still have it somewhere in a box…and I got the shot.”
If you pause the video below at 1.10 you can see the young whipper snapper-snapper Mike Rose crouched on the corner, focusing his Nikon FM2 35mm film camera on the Steve Peat freight train.
Alex Rankin’s Kaprun section from Sprung 5.
Filmer Alex Rankin recounts his memories from that wet race weekend:
“I can’t remember much about the race, apart from it was a low rent solo mission to Kaprun, I had no idea where the race was or where to stay, I arrived on a train with no plans and Mike let me crash on his floor in the same hotel as GT, that one photo in the mag is Lopes giving me a hard time about being so ghetto, I was bright red from all the ribbing, still I had a free floor and some company, thanks Mike.
A 6min track is a mental thing, I can’t remember much of the track that year, I did go back in 02 for the worlds and again for the 03 finals but each year the track was different or in 03 a lot muddier!
In the finals I worked my way down from the halfway point But I felt a bit despondent about the rain, I also got bitch slapped in the bar the night before the race, by some mad mechanic that had threatened to bottle me because I rode BMX or some mad shit from the mind of a poor drunk.
Anyway I heard a huge sound from a crowd cheering and I went down to check it out, there was a tricky rock section which was murder in the wet, that made up a good few shots, Warwick Patterson was filming there first so I left him and wandered down to the drop in the field.
I just thought the same as Mike and it might be fun to see a few guys slip in the mud but it was mental, all out war, the one rider with a tyre off the rim creates a deep rut, then Nico finds it, then Greg really hooks it up, I guess Peaty missed the rut and that was wild for Mike. The crowd moving back at once looked neat, it was mental at the time, and still ace DH action, three years later a 17 year old Sam Hill and Justin Havaukain were burning my ear about Minnaar in this section, so that has kept it fresh in my mind.
In the after party things were so messy, everyone was just so mental, so sweaty, drunk and gone crazy, Stikman was showing off in the bar and for the camera, he dropped a whole tray of drinks on the floor, smashed the whole lot on purpose! I had a bright video light on him at the time and the next thing I remember was being pulled backward through the whole club and ejected, but my bag with all the tapes from the weekend was still in the club, so I was stood by the exit at 3am asking every drunk if they would go and look for my bag, finally it was a confused Vanessa Quinn that saved the whole weekend and went and found this strangers bag, she always told people that story when we were traveling as the Dirt team a few years later, things have changed a bit now, honest.”
The cover of Dirt Magazine issue#30 Nov/Dec 2001 (Luke Smith at Plymouth Biker X)
The opening shot of the Kaprun article, Mike took all the photos in this article apart from this great Geoff Waugh shot.
On this page (clockwise) Peaty, Vouilloz, Deldycke and Prokop, not sure, Prokop, Corado Herin.
Anticlockwise, from top left. Vories, Tara Llanes, Fionn Griffiths, Wade Bootes and Joch, Katrina Miller.
Peaty, Glyn O’Brien, Peaty on the dance floor.
Clockwise from top left. Brian Lopes, Minnaar, Animal Mechanic John, A Beaver(!), Andy Kyffin, Anne Caroline Chausson, Wade Bootes, chairlift, Alex Rankin and Brian Lopes.
Here’s the results.
Greg Minnaar (Global Racing) 6:06.89
Cedric Gracia (Volvo Cannondale) 6:07.78
Nico Vouilloz (Vouilloz Racing) 6:10.31
Steve Peat (GT) 6:14.38
Tomi Misser (Real Federaci)6:15.93
Anne Caroline Chausson (Volvo Cannondale) 7:01.70
Tracy Moseley (Kona Ford Focus) 7:11.15
Sabrina Jonnier (Intense) 7:12.46
Fionn Griffiths (Ancillotti Zeal) 7:13.99
Missy Giove (Global Racing) 7:20.20
Brian Lopes (GT Fox)
Mickael Prokop (Specialized 69)
Wade Bootes (Trek Volkswagen)
Katrina Miller (Jamis)
Leigh Donovan (Schwinn)
Tara Llanes (Yeti Pearl Izumi)
There were two dual races, the extra one from the canceled round 2 at Vars in France, I’ll add those results in a bit.