Mayhem in Hafjell: Downhill World Championships / by Conor Cunningham

Sweden out of the gate

Downhill World Championships 2014

After much anticipation, the UCI 2014 Downhill World Championships got underway at Hafjell, Norway at 12:15pm CET, today, September 7th, 2014.

First out of the gates in the elite category were the women, where the favourite was Rachel Atherton.

Norway flying, if only temporarily.

Straight out of the gates the riders were faced with huge jumps, which they took on with great gusto and skill.

A GB rider launching it

Immediately after the jumps the riders ploughed into the first of several rough sections of forest laden with rocks of varying sizes; from small to large and intimidating and slippery roots seemingly randomly woven through the track.

Australia's Tracey Hannah tackling the first forest section

The women's race was won by Manon Carpenter of GB, followed by Rachel Atherton and Tawny Seagrave, both also of GB. Well done girls!

Sweden swinging out of the berms

The mens race was fast. Very fast. The male juniors had already completed the track in the same time as the elite men did last year. The track was dry and extremely loose with a thin layer of fine dust sprinkled on top like icing on a cake.

Come the bottom section of the course, the riders let go of the brakes and flew over the few obstacles remaining before the last forest section.

The Kiwis has a strong presence this year

To aid in the no  brakes game, berms slinged riders towards the open ski slopes of Hafjell.

As did the Australians

Just before the open section, the riders readied for a steep, off-camber turn into the speed trap.

Mick Hannah

Riders were, as was Mick Hannah above, often clocked at over 77 km/h.

Sam Hill emerging from the forest after his crash.

Sam HIll of Australia, above and below, was 3 seconds up on the competition before he crashed in the final technical forest section. That didn't stop him flying out the forest before reading for the final jump and push to the finish.

Sam Hill sending it!

Unfortunately for Josh Brycleand, who was 1.4 seconds up before the above jump, the final jump was hit with too much speed, and he landed past the downward slope onto a flatish surface and appeared to break his ankle. He still finished in second place, but didn't stand on the podium as he was whisked away to the hospital. Here's to a speedy recovery, Josh!

Australian fan (L) and Paul Van Der Ploegh of the Australian MTB Team and former XC Eliminator World Champion

It was wonderful to see so many spectators today. This gives me hope that Hafjell Bike Park will remain open and with any luck, we'll see the World Cup and World Championships back here soon!

The Men's Winner

2014 World Champion, Gee Atherton at the finish

Congratulations to Gee Atherton of GB who takes yet another World Championships. A cracking ride!

Looking forward to next season already!