2022 DH World Cup Finals – Val di Sole (Spoilers)

All photos – credit Red Bull Content Pool

Laurie Greenland vs. The Black Snake

What better place to host the finals of what has been an epic World Cup season than the Valley of the Sun? The Italian resort is home to the Black Snake, the most brutal track on the World Cup circuit, so named because when the rain falls the roots that litter the track turn black. According to Greg Minnaar, the 2022 edition of the track is the toughest it’s ever been, and he should know that.

Gracey Hemstreet will be heading to Elite next season

By Saturday, the dreaded stormy weather had fortunately stayed away. Gracey Hemstreet wrapped up the women’s junior category with another win even though she knew she had it in the bag when Phoebe Gale didn’t start.

1. Gracey Hemstreet 4:42.576
2. Izabela Yankova 4:46.210
3. Jenna Hastings 4:50.143
4. Valentina Roa Sanchez 4:52.840
5. Lise Bouladou 4:57.047

It’s been a standout year for the junior women this season and with so many of them moving up to the elite next season, it will be great to see them find their bearings and further strengthen this category.

Junior women’s podium (lr Izabela Yankova, Gracey Hemstreet, Jenna Hastings)

Junior Women – Final Ranking

  1. Gracey Hemstraat 440
  2. Phoebe Gale 355
  3. Izabela Yankova 295
  4. Jenna Hastings 295
  5. Aimi Kenyon 240

Likewise, I can’t wait to see Jordan Williams and Jackson Goldstone face off in Elite Men next year. Williams posted an incredible qualifying time, one second faster than Andreas Kolb who qualified fastest in Elite. Rider Madison Saracen won the race by 10 seconds and set the fastest time of the day, although the Elite men had a rain-affected track. Goldstone was only 0.2 back on the final split before crashing into the closing corners.

Jackson Goldstone falls in the final corners

1. Jordan Williams 3:35.941
2. Ryan Pinkerton 3:45.766
3. Remy Meier-Smith 3:50.305
4. Jackson Goldstone 3:50.786
5. Alix Francoz 3:53.079

This will probably fix…

Junior Men – Final Ranking

  1. Jackson Goldstone 440
  2. Jordan Williams 386
  3. Lachlan Stevens-McNab 271
  4. Tegan Cruz 227
  5. Remy Meier-Smith 223

Seeded for the Elite Women’s race, series leader Camille just came out of the gate and stopped, saving herself and her recently plated collarbone for her race. Myriam Nicole took a flat and Vali Hoell took the win, but that only counted for a psychological advantage and the pressure to start last.

‘Look mom, no hands’ Hoell does tricks in practice

When the Elite Women started, it was raining at the top but still dry at the bottom. Anna Newkirk was the first leader, but with Balanche and Nicole leaving early, she probably knew she wouldn’t be in the hot seat for long. In Split 3, Balanche was 10 seconds ahead. Unsurprisingly, she was taking the smoothest lines possible rather than the fastest, but she crossed the 14.7 line with a 4:32.4, just outside of Hoell’s fastest qualifying. Needing a fourth place or better to win overall, the gut feeling is that should be enough.

Nice end to the season for Nina Hoffmann

Without the pressure of the general, Myriam Nicole is aiming for victory and she is 6.5 seconds ahead of Balanche by split 3. Unlike Balanche, she takes all the inside lines possible, and she crosses the line in 4:21.8 , 10 seconds ahead of Balanche. .

Myriam Nicole aims for victory

Nina Hoffmaan crashed in her classification race and is next in the gate. She is a dangerous woman for Balanche and she runs a smooth race crossing the finish line in second position. Mille Johnset had a big crash in training this week and can’t make the top 3. Melanie Chappaz has a good race but finishes fourth. By the time Italian national champion Veronika Widmann took fourth from Chappaz, it had stopped raining at the top, 4 to go. Jess Blewitt is just 9.1 behind Nicole at split 4 and has a fantastic bottom section crossing the line just 6.8 behind, pushing Balanche into fourth and making it simple; if Hoell wins, she takes the general, if she doesn’t, she won’t.

Release the season for Jess Blewitt, find her at Hardline next weekend

Eleonora Farina crashes near the top pushing hard on her floor. Balanche’s teammate Monika Hrastnik is next in the gate, but she’s back at 13 in split 3, crossing the line in 5e. It’s Nicole, Hoffmann, Blewitt, Balanche with just Hoell on the left. It’s raining again at the top, but that doesn’t seem to affect the new world champion; she rides with confidence but she’s back from 2.8 at split 2 sending the pitch down it went to 3.8 at split 3. You can find 4 seconds on this track but not 7 seconds because she loses more time between splits 3 and 4. Hoell can’t make it today, crossing the line in third, 6.2 behind. Balanche kisses Nicole who, on winning the race, handed him the general; redemption of sorts for 2021 when his own crash allowed Hoell to claim the title.

Hoell couldn’t make it this week

1. Myriam Nicole 4:21.804
2. Nina Hoffman 4:25.873
3. Vali Hoell 4:28.039
4. Jess Blewitt 4:28.039
5. Camille Balanche 4:32.441

Thank you, you just gave me the title…

Balanche becomes the first Swiss woman to win the DH overall. Myriam Nicole’s win means she finishes second overall and Hoffmann’s second place moves her up to fourth.

Elite Women – Final Ranking

  1. Camille Balanche 1465
  2. Myriam Nicole 1405
  3. Vali Hoell 1386
  4. Nina Hoffman 1133
  5. Eleanor Farina 1021
Podium Elite Women Series (lr Hoffmann, Nicole, Balanche, Hoell, Farina)

At Elite Men, Finn Iles not starting his seeded race, the overall title went to Amaury Pierron. Pierron only needed one point, so in some ways it was the best thing that could happen; as we saw with the women, the general can eclipse the race.

Amaury has certainly been number one this season

Andreas Kolb qualified fastest for the first time. Over 9 seconds covered the top 10 and 60ethe square was 20 seconds back; big losses!

Matteo Iniguiez was the early leader with a time of 3:51.9 and as the top 30 men start there is another rain shower, James MacDermid falls hard on the open top section, as does Hugo Frixtalon. Luca Shaw pushes hard and comes within 3 seconds of Iniguiez’s time, but sections of the track are oily. Luckily it’s only a downpour and by the time we reach the protected runners it stops. Troy Brosnan is the first of them. 2.8 back at split 2 but he also fell back in the dry sections further down the track, crossing the line in fourth. Danny Hart doesn’t mind a bit of rain and won his second World Championship title at this track, but he’s also back to 2.8 at Split 2. Trying different lines to the ones before him doesn’t work step and it crosses the line 5.9 back.

After a big fall in training, Greg Minnaar does not run. Bernard Kerr is good and the three-time Hardline winner excels on a difficult track. Currently in the shape of his life, Kerr rides the top section like it’s dry, pushing hard and taking risks. He has a 6.2 lead at Split 4, 7.1 at the end; it’s a massive race just 3 seconds off Kolb’s fastest qualifier. Henry Kerr (no relation) is ahead of Bernard before losing the front in the last corner. It will be a long offseason for him wondering what could have been. Oliver Zwar takes second place but is still 6.5 over Kerr; what a season for the Swede though. Remi Thirion likes the steep and the technical but he is 3.9 behind in split 2; however, he only loses a little more than a second more and crosses the line in second. Next in the door is Amaury Pierron. Could he be only the second rider to win 5 wins in one season? Nope! It descends on the upper part. The Dream Crusher will not crush dreams this weekend. In the Top 10, Kerr leads by more than 5 seconds…

Another great run from Bernard Kerr

David Trummer can’t get close and gets a flat back. Rolling on a broken foot Laurie Greenland has a problem between splits 1 and 2. Note that Charlie Hatton takes the straightest lines possible and he is less than a second from split 3. He crosses the line in second just 2 .2 back and that’s a taste for what we might see from teammate Kolb.

Loïc Bruni back in the stripes of world champions

New world champion Loic Bruni has never won in Val di Sole and although he’s the quickest at the top and he’s wild in the middle, that won’t change today. Perhaps the enormity of the past week has taken its toll as he appears to be running out of gas, crossing the line in third.

The sun is shining for Thibaut Daprela. Again, he’s quicker on the first beat but doesn’t risk as much as Kerr although he crosses the line with a flat back. It’s clear Aaron Gwin isn’t holding back as he goes on a wild ride. Green close to second in split 2, 0.5 down in split 4 but held on to take the lead. It’s vintage Gwin, it’s back!

Benoit Coulanges attacks hard

Benoit Coulanges has decent speed and moves into third 0.8 behind; 3 go. Is it possible to look smooth and aggressive? Dak Norton is doing his best too, the American barely takes a pedal stroke but is green at split 3 but only by 0.2. He extends to 1.3 at split 4 and maintains that at the bottom. It’s an Intense 1.2, an American 1.2, with 2 to go.

Gwin is back!

It didn’t go well for his compatriots with whom he shared the podium at the World Championships last weekend, but Loris Vergier is going so fast. 1.6 in split 2, he pushes the limits, takes insides, and he extends that advantage to 3.1 down. His time of 3:39.7 is good enough to be a World Cup winning run, but can Kolb go faster? The Austrian takes some incredibly creative lines but loses time and he can’t get close to Vergier, but he takes second place.

Vergier on an almost perfect race

1. Loris Verger 3:39.774
2. Andreas Kolb 3:42.782
3. Dakotah Norton 3:42.903
4. Aaron Gwin 3:44.265
5. Bernard Kerr 3:44.806

Podium Elite Men (lr Gwin, Kolb, Vergier, Norton, Kerr)

The victory, his seventh World Cup victory, propelled Vergier to second overall. Kolb also moved up one position and Kerr jumped up to fifth.

Elite Men – Final Ranking

  1. Amaury Pierron 1253
  2. Loris Verger 1008
  3. Finn Islands 996
  4. Andreas Kolb 826
  5. Bernard Kerr 755

After that riders and bikes will be eagerly waiting to rest, well those who aren’t heading to Red Bull Hardline anyway…

Podium Elite Men Series (lr Kolb, Vergier, Pierron, Iles, Kerr)

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