Words: Richard Cunynghame
Recently I got back from the Tignes Airwaves event in France. It’s a week long event with loads of different disciplines on the snow. There was a massive half pipe that looked scary as, proper high and totally vert at the peaks of it. There was a big pyramid style hip that looked amazing. You could hip either way off it and the lip must have been 15ft high. A mega Freestyle Moto contest. There was a Skier-X race towards the end of the week and then on the Thursday, their course was adapted for the Mountain Bikes to be rolled out.
There were three Brits out there to race and about another ten just to have a blast on snowboards followed by some top nights out. Myself, Peaty and Brendan Fairclough were out there to race. Our other flat mates consisted of a host of Peaty’s Sheffield mates as well as Warner, Titley and Lee Bertram. Warner managed to keep whinging about the light everyday and pretty much anything else there was to whinge about, well funny! He also had the biggest snowboard I have ever seen! Understandable since he is a giant.
So after a week of some amazing snowboarding, it dumped the first few days then we had some real sunny days, and my bike being stripped down by my lovely drunken flat mates the night before practice it was time for the Four-Cross race. This being an out of season event was proved by the relaxed nature of it’s participants, Peaty never looks that flustered at a race anyway, but hear he’d even managed to forget his seat and post, leaving it in the stand at home, a replacement was soon found. Brendan too renowned for looking more like his on a holiday at races rather than doing something he’s paid to do brought out his new Ironhorse bike with a broken front brake so rode without one which would normally be loads worse but on the snow you don’t really want to be jamming on the front brake and there wasn’t too much braking needed anyway. I think this was Brendan’s first race on his new ride and he had nothing but praise for his new bike, saying he felt totally at home on it as soon as he first rode it.
So Thursday afternoon was practice, the course was mega. Four big jumps, loads of bermed turns, a few flat turns and a couple of sets of rollers. It was flat out! We worked out that we were going about 50mph after the landing the biggest jump on the track. This jump was nuts, probably not far off 50ft. It was half way down the track and you came out of a steep turn and just had need for one pedal stroke down the steep run in and no braking before hitting it up. First attempt coming in it felt like you were going so quick you shouldn’t be hitting a jump at that speed, then you’d only just clear it and realize you needed a bit more. As the practice went on ruts started to appear in the corners and on the jump lips. Like Motocross, I found myself having to pick a rut and sticking in it for take off on the big jump. To preserve the track we decided to only do three runs each.
The race was to be held at 11am on the Friday so we were up there for practice at 9. The weather had turned and there was a storm coming in with loads of unpredictable gusty wind. The decision was taken just before qualifying to take out the big jump and add a couple more turns around it. We didn’t get to practice these so it was a case of finding your way in seeding. I personally went into the new turns too hot, not knowing how tight they’d be and missed the gate, ensuring a disqualification for me. Because it was an invite event, only another two riders didn’t make the cut leaving sixteen to fight it out in the first round of quarter finals. Yoann Paccard was the fastest qualifier with a time of 1 min 8 secs.
Peaty went out in the first round, while doing his usual ‘coming from behind’ unique overtakes he hit a soft patch of snow spitting him over the bars. Brendan looked good to go through but let off the power near the end and slipped back to third. Romain Salidini was the only person riding a hardtail and was looking quick as ever with his fast gates.
The final consisted of Romain Salidini, Stéphane Jany, Rémi Charrier and Guido Tschugg. I won’t spell it out for you what happened as you can see on the film below.
Despite the poor weather on the day of the race, the track still gave some exiting racing, which is what we all wanted, as well as a good time on the snowboards, snowball fighting and endless PSP moto sessions!
1. Stéphane Jany
2. Guido Tschugg
3. Romain Salidini
4. Rémi Charrier