Preview – 2014 Downhill World Championships – Hafjell
The dust has only just settled from one of the best World Cup seasons ever, but this weekend we head full bore into World Champs territory. The World Champs is always a special race for obvious reasons, but this year already looks set to be an absolute classic. For starters the race is being held on a decent track. The hillside in Hafjell is definitely a worthy place to crown a new World Champion. Secondly, the World Champs often take place inside the World Cup season, but this year all that is done and dusted so everyone is going to be rocking up with an ‘it’s all or nothing” attitude. And finally, with such a topsy-turvy and unpredictable World Cup season there are going to be a lot of riders out there with a point to prove. As I said before, this has the makings of a classic.
Who is going to be coming away with the rainbow stripes then? Well, if you fancy a bit of fun you can enter your predictions in our poll here, but as far as our thoughts go we wouldn’t like to place too much money on anyone to be honest as it’s far from a done deal. Of course Josh Bryceland is on blistering form right now and after having won the World Cup overall already you could say the pressure is now off him, but last year in Hafjell he was almost 10 seconds off the pace! I think things will be different this year though. After having won both of the previous races in Hafjell Stevie Smith easily has the best record here, and if the word on the street is correct he should be racing this weekend, but after having missed most of the 2014 season it’ll be very impressive to say the least if he can come back and take the win once again (sadly it now seems the word on the street was incorrect). As I said before I think there are more than a few riders out there with a point to prove this weekend, but perhaps none more so than the Specialized duo of Gwin and Brosnan, both of whom came close to taking the overall World Cup title this season.
2013 Top Five:
1st – Stevie Smith
2nd – Danny Hart
3rd – Andrew Neethling
4th – Sam Blenkinsop
5th – Greg Minnaar
With such a strong performance in Hafjell last year, and being a little off the boil this year, Danny Hart will be another rider going all out to make amends this weekend, but British eyes should also definitely be on Matt Simmonds after his incredible performances in Meribel the other week, and coming 8th here last year. Peaty managed to come 6th last year too so you certainly can’t count the old dog out either. Maybe we could have an entirely British podium? If you want to analyse last years results even further then you’ll find our ‘Geek Stats’ from the race here, and if you missed the British team selection then that’s here.
As for the women’s race, well you’ve got to say that’s basically a two horse race, and both of the horses are British. With Rachel Atherton taking the win here last year with a 7.6 second lead over Manon Carpenter, and a return to form in Meribel the other week, you’d have to say that she’s the safer bet this weekend, but with Manon already winning the World Cup this year she should be far more relaxed than in Meribel. So yeah, it’s probably going to be a close race and I wouldn’t like to make the call about who’s going to take the win.
Anyway, where the hell is Hafjell? It’s here…
And what’s the track like? It’s good that’s what, and if you don’t believe me check out Claudio Caluori’s helmet cam preview of the track from last year…
There will no doubt be the odd small change to the track this year but going by the 2014 course map below it basically looks the same as last year.
This is what the track looks like elevation wise…
And if you fancy seeing a bit more of what it looks like in reality then how about a mighty fine dose of DirtTV from the finals last year…
Hopefully the famous mega huck will still be in this year.
When do you need to tune in? Well the main DH events all take place on Sunday (the 7th), with the junior men and women kicking off first at 10:15 local time (which is an hour ahead of BST), followed by the elite women at 12:15, and finally the elite men start coming down at 13:30. The full schedule can be found here, and if you want to watch the Red Bull live feed that starts at 11:05 BST.
And finally, what’s the weather going to be doing in Hafjell? Well going by the forecast below it looks like it’s going to be dry all week, nice and cool, and the sun might even shine on Sunday. Perfect!
All that’s left to do is say bring on the racing and stay tuned to Dirt for all the latest World Champs news…