© Bartek Woliński/@wolisphoto
Everything you need to know about the Snowshoe UCI MTB World Cup
It's nearly a wrap on the 2021 UCI World Cup season as we head to the USA for the last downhill and cross-country races of the year. Get all the essential info here.
The final moments of this Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain World Cup season are upon us. Though this makes for sad reading, we can at least cheer a near full season of mountain bike racing and look forward to some exciting racing in the United States.
This final stop in Snowshoe, West Virginia, is of course where overall titles to be World Cup champion will be decided in both downhill and cross-country disciplines. For the downhillers, Snowshoe is a double round with two races taking place over the week, so there's lots of World Cup points to be won in the race for the men's and women's overalls.
Here’s everything that you need to know for what should be a classic weekend of racing.
What's the schedule for the downhill races at the Snowshoe World Cup?
As mentioned above, Snowshoe will see a double round for the downhill elite. Watch the downhill races and cross-country from Snowshoe on Red Bull TV from September 15-19. See how the downhill and cross-country races plan out below:
- September 15 – Race 1: UCI MTB World Cup Snowshoe women's downhill
Women's DH race 1 – Snowshoe
- September 15 – Race 1: UCI MTB World Cup Snowshoe men's downhill
Men's DH race 1 – Snowshoe
- September 18 – Race 2: UCI MTB World Cup Snowshoe women's downhill
Women's DH final – Snowshoe
- September 18 – Race 2: UCI MTB World Cup Snowshoe men's downhill
Men's DH final – Snowshoe
What's the schedule for the cross-country races at the Snowshoe World Cup?
- September 17 – UCI MTB World Cup Lenzerheide short track (XCC)
XC short track final – Snowshoe
- September 19 – UCI MTB World Cup Snowshoe women's cross-country
Women's XCO final – Snowshoe
- September 19 – UCI MTB World Cup Snowshoe men's cross-country
Men's XCO final – Snowshoe
What are the downhill and cross-country courses like?
World Cup racers will be coming to Snowshoe having raced the downhill and cross-country courses when Snowshoe made its World Cup debut in 2019. There will be some familiarity at least in terms of what to expect.
Snowshoe's DH track blends high-speed and technical terrain in a course that is 2.1km in length and has a vertical drop of 474m in total. The first part of the course is all about building speed before that technical terrain hits. Open ski piste turns and big jumps help bring the average speed up before the track disappears into forest, where the technical sections are dominated by rocks. There's plenty of it on this track and they seem to go on forever! Three successive jumps signal to the riders that the end of the course is near, and will help build that speed up again.
Check out the Snowshoe course alongside explanations of the key sections on the course from Eliot Jackson and Neko Mulally below:
Snowshoe DH track explanation
The cross-country course is 3.8km, and like most modern cross-country World Cup courses, has man-made features mixed in with the natural terrain. The track is undulating, with small- and medium-sized uphills followed by small descents. There isn't a real big climb here, which makes for fast laps but also means less places for the riders to recover. When the track goes into the woods, there's a lot of lying rocks to navigate, which if it rains will be slippery to ride over. A man-made rock garden descent towards the lap finish in the last technical challenge on the course.
Snowshoe XCO track explanation
Where are we?
Snowshoe itself can be found in the Appalachian Mountains in the state of West Virginia. The state capital, Charleston, is three hours away from Snowshoe. The World Cup will take place on Cheat Mountain at the Snowshoe Mountain Resort. The resort's a major destination for skiing in the winter, but has extensive mountain biking trails that can be ridden in the summer. It's also a destination for golfers.
What overall World Cup titles are still yet to be decided?
The women's cross-country overall has already been sewn up by France's Loana Lecomte with one race to go but there's still overall World Cup titles up for grabs in downhill in both the men's and women's categories and for the men's cross-country. This will undoubtedly ramp the pressure up in races this weekend.
The men's cross-country overall is where there's the most clarity in terms of title outcomes going into Snowshoe. Mathias Flückiger's main challengers in the men's are Ondřej Cink and Victor Koretzky. Cink and Koretzky are 340 points and 354 points behind. There are a maximum 375 points available and it would require Cink or Koretzky to win the short track and main race and for Flückiger to not race or finish short track or the main race for them to overhaul and deny the Swiss rider the title.
As Snowshoe is a double round for the downhillers there plenty of points still to be won and a possible reversal of the present positions. Myriam Nicole leads the women's overall with 810 points but there is a chasing pack of Camille Balanche, Tahnée Seagrave and Valentina Höll. Balanche is currently second to Nicole and 115 points behind. Realistically it would need Balanche and Seagrave to win both races at Snowshoe to really challenge the Frenchwoman.
The men's downhill is Thibaut Dapréla's to lose but then his nearest challenger is Loris Vergier, the winner of the last two World Cup rounds and this season's most in-form rider, so you wouldn't rule out the Trek racer. The points gap between the two is currently 186. Dapréla just needs to match or better Vergier's finishing places to become one of the youngest World Cup overall winners in downhill.
Who else are race contenders?
Outside the overall title contenders mentioned above who'll inevitably be chasing race wins, there are a few other names to look out for in terms of potential winners in the downhill and cross-country races.
In the women's downhill, Marine Cabirou looks to be returning to some form and will hope a win in either of the two races in Snowshoe will mean she can get something out of a difficult season. As the previous winner on this track in 2019, she can't be ruled out. Elsewhere, Valentina Höll will take confidence from a clean run at Lenzerheide. For the men, Laurie Greenland has been in the top five at the last couple of races, so a second World Cup race win may be on the cards for the Brit if he can put the perfect run together.
In the cross-country, Henrique Avancini showed signs that he was back racing with the top guys the men's short track and main race at Lenzerheide. The Brazilian looks like he's coming into good condition towards the end of the season.
For the women, Britain's Evie Richards must be the out and out favourite to win the women's race given her win in the Worlds and the last World Cup in Lenzerheide a week ago. Some riders have opted to end their season early with racing leaving Europe for North America, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot is one. The Frenchwoman is mentally and physically fatigued from a season that didn't go to plan.
Who happened last time out in Snowshoe
Like this year's visit to Snowshoe, overall titles were decided for both the cross-country and downhill disciplines back in 2019.
In the women's downhill, Tracey Hannah of Australia was favourite to win the overall title, and just had to finish in the top six to secure the title if her nearest challenger for the title, France's Marine Cabirou, won in Snowshoe. Cabirou had won the last two World Cups before this event, and was in red hot form. Cabirou did make it a hat-trick of World Cup wins in the end, but Hannah finished fifth and so took the overall title.
Tracey Hannah – A dream season
The men's downhill race also produced a nerve-jangling climax. The overall title was between Loïc Bruni and Amaury Pierron and who got it depended on the race runs of these two. If Pierron won the race and Bruni finished below third, he's be the overall champion. Pierron raced early and was leading when Bruni made his run. Bruni could only finish third at that moment. Last man down Danny Hart would play a pivotal part in deciding the title. He went faster than Pierron at the end, and though Bruni was pushed into fourth place, he took the overall World Cup title due to Pierron finishing second in the race.
Loïc Bruni's run – Snowshoe
In the cross-country, Lars Forster sprung a surprise by winning the men's race. His team-mate Nino Schurter had already secured the overall title before the main race. The women's overall title was still to be decided, though, and it was between Kate Courtney and Jolanda Neff. If one rider finished higher than the other, then they would win the title. Courtney was never in chance with the win, which went to Pauline Ferrand-Prévot but the American finished fifth and above Neff to secure the overall title.
Cross-country highlights – Snowshoe