This past weekend can definitely be seen as one of the annual highlights of the downhill season: the third round of the iXS European Downhill Cup invited the downhill elite to Schladming. At the end of the day Philipp Atwill and Eleonora Farina celebrated their victory as the winners of the day.
After a four-week break the iXS European Downhill Cup returned this weekend inviting the downhill elite to Schladming. The race track at the Planai still is regarded as one of the most popular and favorite tracks of the world, so it definitely is always one of the season’s highlights to return to this place. It is already the fourth EDC season for Schladming and even after a longer break it is no secret that the venue has been established as a fixed part of the international downhill stage once again.
Honestly, the overall conditions could have been better, especially on Friday. The 2.5 km track includes a 600-meter descend and is known to be rather demanding. On top of that, Friday’s weather made it even worse: with a mixture of sunshine, rain and even hail the training session turned into an emotional rollercoaster. It is, however, save to say that above all the riders had loads of fun despite the weather!
On Saturday, right on time for the qualifying the weather was at its best again and the stage was set for an exciting race weekend.
More than 400 riders from 31 different nations registered for the race, but in the end no one was faster than Jure Zabjek (SLO – Unior Tools Team), who seemed eager to continue his incredible season. Eleonora Farina (ITA – GB Rifar Mondraker) dominated the Elite Women category with a 12-second gap towards last year’s winner Petra Bernhard (AUT – Enduro Team Dorrong).
Sunday started with a last training session and the last chance to check out some lines under the bright and shining sun. The Pro Masters opened the race in the afternoon crowning Dominik Dierich (GER – Trek AmperRad) as fastest, followed by Rostislav Sehnal (CZE – Bikeplac Racing Team) only split seconds apart.
After that, the U17 proved their skills. Valentina Höll (AUT – Sram TLD Racing) once more delivered the best time of her category while Janosch Klaus (SUI – Team Project) succeeded in his, extending his lead in the overall rankings. In the U19 female category Paula Zibasa (AUT) finished fastest.
The Elite Women category provided the crowd with a very close and exciting race. With a four-second gap and a best time of 3.45,859 minutes Eleonora Farina took the title, while Monika Hrastnik (SLO – Blackthorn) had to settle with the second place this weekend. However, she still defended her lead in the overall rankings and seems to be eager to take the crown this season. Petra Bernhard completed the podium in third place.
The Junior category followed with 60 starters from 17 different nations, once more proving that the EDC supports young talented athletes on their way to a promising career. Baxtor Maiwald (AUS – Canyon Australia) delivered the best time of 4.16,405 minutes, followed by Simon Maurer (GER – SRAM Young Guns). This is already the third iXS silver medal for Maurer this season, which brings him the lead in the overall rankings. Rudi Pintar (SLO – Sinter Brakes Team) completed the podium in third.
Last but not least, all eyes were on the Super Final of the Elite Men category. During the race runs of the various categories it soon became clear that it would be hard to beat Saturday’s best times. Warm temperatures and two days of sunshine made the track hard and dusty, and thus even more demanding and slippery than before. Both Ondrej Stepanek (CZE – CTM Racing team) and Stefan Garlicki (RSA – Investec) managed to beat their respective times setting a new best time of 4.09 minutes, but at this point four riders were yet to come. Next in line, Philipp Atwill (GBR – Propain Dirt Zelvy) delivered an even better result with 4.03,056 minutes. Boris Tetzlaff (AUT – BT-Racing) missed Atwill’s time by 4 seconds, while Atwill’s team mate and last year’s winner David Trummer (AUT – Propain Dirt Zelvy) only missed it by split seconds. After that, all eyes were on Jure Zabjek who – up to now – won every single timed run of the EDC 2017. This time, however, he had some problems in the lower sections and only ended up in 17 th place this weekend, while Atwill took the title followed by Trummer and Tetzlaff. However, Zabjek still sits atop the rankings and will be eager to make sure it stays that way.
This weekend, Phil Atwill’s name is entered into the books among the names of Schladming’s former winners like Loic Bruni (2014) and Danny Hart (2015). By the way: both of them were crowned world champions only one year after their success in Schladming – just saying…
The whole weekend was a great success and definitely one of the season’s highlights with the EDC surrounded by lots of side events like the whip-off contest and the after race parties. We’re already looking forward to next year!