GwIndependence Day Comes Early: Windham World Cup DH Finals

Gwin and Rachel are going to have to slow it down because we're running out of clever titles. The short, intense track at Windham made for exciting racing in dry, loose conditions. In the end, however, Aaron Gwin put nearly one second on the field to take the win. Rachel Atherton saved a crash that could have cost her the win, but she was up by nearly 4 seconds before the mishap and was able to squeak in another victory. A HUGE THANKS TO SVEN, DUNCAN AND MATT FOR THEIR HARDWORK THIS WEEKEND!!
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  • CombatMutt

    7/3/2012 5:46 AM

    I wonder with all the injuries, if its not time for these riders to start wearing body armor. Lots of the armor nowadays is a ton less bulky than it was two or three years ago.

  • Adam_Schaeffer

    7/2/2012 11:56 PM

    Even if the UCI commisar acted within their power, I still think the rule should be black and white. Any time you allow a judgement call you allow bias to play a role. Break the tape, gotta re-enter at the same point. Simple, just like skiing. Not to get all conspiracy theorist on this, but Rachel is sponsored by Red Bull, and Red Bull Media House produces these presentations. You do the math.

  • pholange

    7/2/2012 9:07 PM

    so much carnage... these are professional athletes committing for their endeavors. there is a collective tone of hesitancy by the riders to just blurt out pumped-up comments of radness... i dunno... the courses keep getting more and more gnarly... & the athlete's injuries keep mounting. but this is racing, and the risk & damage done are the result of athletes pushing to the brink of their limits. i greatly respect that, but also recognize the sacrifices to personal safety that they are making. great coverage, vital. this is life, lived intensely. & i can feel it via your coverage.

  • CombatMutt

    7/2/2012 6:43 PM

    Wow. Does Ragot look pissed or what?


    7/2/2012 4:03 PM

    too much FR in a DH....I would say yes...and have being constantly argue across the globe, DH should be you against the terrain at the best speed you can carry out to put the best time, but when you put man-made stuff that is huge, now you start to wonder...even moto guys look at these jumps and get amaze on how you can get a away with them without a motor...

    I saw the cup feed...and probably out the 30guys on the transmision, I can bet 10 managed to clear the jump safelly, the rest, either got short on the back wheel or came just inches short on the front, donĀ“t know how they didn't got the same luck as Emmeline.

    Just to give some in perspective...this was the finish line on the Panam 2010 in Guatemala...the guys were pedalling their asses off to make, question comes, am I a second place rider when I beat everybody at the tecnical stuff but fail to win because I crash at the very finish line on a hugemongus jump..?

    Now, to my acknowledge, what was the difference from Peaty DQ versus Rach's one...?

  • Albe23

    7/2/2012 6:57 PM

    I wouldn't say there is too much. I would say it is just fine. The only reason why DH was terrain based back in the day was because the bikes couldn't handle the stuff like they can today. With that said that last jump wasn't built well, either the face should've been clipped or the landing shortened up or I dunno make it a proper table top.

    Also, I'm not trying to be harsh but yeah if you can't make the last jump you are still second. First place made it, second didn't, that's racing. I figure though that it is not having jumps that is pissing people off, its that they are being executed poorly. When, like you said, people have to peddle their asses off or the majority of the field can make it. We have a course design fault. Jumps good, freakishly hard ones, not so much.


    7/2/2012 7:28 PM

    well...yeah, I kind of agree with you...but DH at least as personal opinion, is not who jumps further high in the air...that is the thin line between freeride vrs downhill...yes, I think the jumps are getting gnarlier every event, but if you want to huck something like that, then go to rampage...different athletes and more of it....take Gee's word on that, he already said no more why do we want to see that in the dh...I rather see a 200meter rock garden than somebody flying over a 17meter jump...

  • Albe23

    7/3/2012 12:16 AM

    I agree with you that the jumps are getting gnarlier but they have not yet reached Rampage level of scary. This last race was a muckup of a design. Hopefully like you say, they calm down and just have good jumps and killer tech sections.

  • Primoz

    7/3/2012 6:54 AM

    Peaty got DQ-ed under the old rules. They were changed in part also because of his situation.

  • iceman2058

    7/3/2012 1:25 PM

    Except that they still have not actually written the rule to allow for what actually happened with Rachel here. In fact, a good test here is to sit down and write a rule that WOULD cover this situation. It would read something like:
    "A rider must stay within the marked course at all times. A rider who exits the course for any reason may re-enter the course at the nearest convenient point and resume his/her run, but only if doing so does not constitute an advantage. The commissaire may DSQ a rider whom the commissaire considers to have gained an advantage by exiting and re-entering the course."

    It's a pretty ridiculous rule, when you put it like that, right? You can see that this rule would really create a grey area and a huge bone of contention, and really makes no sense at all. Yet, that is actually what Rachel did here. And in doing so she broke the current rule which says that she must re-enter at the point of exit. There is NO rule or condition that allows her to re-enter anywhere else - advantage or no advantage. There simply are no grounds whatsoever in the rulebook for the commissaire's ruling - he went straight against the current rule in his decision. Simple as that.

    If you want to read the whole rulebook, it can be found here:

  • Adam_Schaeffer

    7/3/2012 1:39 PM

    ^^THIS. The rule needs to be black and white, and enforced strictly. The riders need to be aware of the rule when on course, and if they forget to re-enter at the same point then they will be penalized for it. Remember, Rachel made a mistake. She landed the jump wrong, which put her off line, causing her to exit the course. Its only fair that she lose the time required to push back up to the point where she went off. The other riders executed the jump correctly, so they don't have to suffer the consequences. This is the highest level of the sport, and there is a whole industry that is behind the growth and increased exposure of DH. If we want it to continue gaining main stream acceptance then we have to have legitimately contested events that are fair for all athletes.

  • sideshow

    7/2/2012 3:13 PM

    Pumped for Tracy and Loic. Ending shot and audio of Warner is mint.

  • veach

    7/2/2012 11:18 AM

    Hey Spoons, I think I've got a few more:

    Gwinternational, Gwinter, Gwinterior, Gwinside, Gwin in rome, Gwinteresting, Gwinterest, Gwinsomnia...

  • Albe23

    7/2/2012 1:02 PM

    Gwinaminjaro, Gwintacular, By Gwinen, Gwiness, Oops I Gwin it again (ok that one is terrible), Gwintonishing, Gwintimidating.....

  • Scrub

    7/3/2012 4:04 PM

    I was liking the sound of "The Gwintimidator" personally.

  • brett

    7/3/2012 10:55 PM

    I'm surprised no one threw out the obvious; Gwindham!!

  • pink wolf

    7/2/2012 9:28 AM

    Funny how no mentions the rule about rider having to be on or attached to the bike when rider crosses the line! Ragot DQ?

  • Big Bird

    7/2/2012 10:57 AM

    Emmeline was attached to the bike by her hands. She didn't let go until after she crossed the line.

  • Albe23

    7/2/2012 9:00 AM

    I don't really dig Ragot's I don't like to jump so take it out stuff. 'Freeride DH' beacuse there are some jumps? Uh, went after a jump you didn't have enough speed on, and cased. You can only be angry at yourself not the track. With that said, that last jump was a bit too long, whoever was the track director should have reworked that thing.

  • Primoz

    7/2/2012 8:53 AM

    New drinking game. When Rachel says Like, take a shot. But you need to have at least 10 to 15 ready and a dedicated pourer :D

  • Albe23

    7/2/2012 9:15 AM

    That game would get you drunk in no time....

  • Albe23

    7/2/2012 8:51 AM

    The course cutting rule is there for the soul purpose of preventing racers from exploiting track placement. Why take that corner when I can just jump over it or take this run through a set of trees instead? Yes it is has terrible wording. If the first part of that rule was a hard line it should've been placed sepeartely, yet it wasn't. Thus the rule plays out like this: If you violate track boundaries and gain an advantage (easy as hell to evaluate btw) you are DQ'd. If you violate track boundaries and gain no advantage (also easy to evaluate) you are not DQ'd. That whole section about re-entering is for the racer that gets stupid, forgets where he is going, and blows through a boundary and wants to continue with their run. Not for the racer who gets swapped out after a poor landing and is forced to regain control by going off track. Unfortunately like Iceman said, it doesn't say that....

    Also, judging by this ruling you can bet that is how the comm. made his/her ruling thus setting a precedent for said rule. Whether or not we agree with him is another story. Just chalk this up to another one of UCI's rulebook failings....

  • iceman2058

    7/2/2012 7:35 AM

    The horse isn't dead enough yet.

    The real question to ask is where does it say that a rider MAY enter a course at a different point to the exit? Answer: it doesn't. It only says that a rider MUST re-enter at point of exit. There is nothing in the rule to moderate this statement. There is a FURTHER condition that states that a commissaire may DQ a rider if the commissaire finds that the rider gained an advantage by exiting and re-entering, it says NOTHING about such re-entry taking place at a different point on the track.

  • kochjg

    7/2/2012 9:06 AM

    As an attorney I would say your analysis is exactly correct. The rule does not allow the Commiss to make a judgment to *not* DQ a rider under any circumstances - it only allows the Commiss to DQ a rider. Nor does the rule allow the Commiss to *not* DQ a rider for "no advantage gained" where a rider exits and re-enters at a different point - the decision appears to conflict with the rule on two counts. Under the rule, the Commiss may only DQ a rider if an advantage was gained as a result of exiting and re-entering the tape at the same point. The first sentence states the rule, the second sentence modifies the rule. What the Commiss did was make up a third proviso of the rule by choosing *not* to DQ a rider that exited the tape and entered at a different point, which the rule's language does not authorize - under the language of the current rule, or what I've read of it [caveat], if a rider re-enters at a different point it is an automatic DQ - there is no judgment call as to whether an advantage was gained. Any court would reverse that decision if it were in a position to consider it - just sayin. It's hard to imagine under what circumstances the rule and the power to DQ based on a judgment actually applies, but it's possible - for instance a rider may avoid one bad rock on an otherwise killer line by swerving just around it and pushing into the tape for 1 foot to do so - that may constitute exiting and re-entering at the same point and gaining an advantage for doing it, which would allow the Commiss to DQ based on his *judgment* that an advantage was gained, even though the rider exited and re-entered at the same point.

    All that said, what's done is done and nothing against Rachel - if she was legit 4 seconds up on the 1st split, I don't feel so bad about her taking the win. The UCI should have an attorney review their rules for future cases though.

  • Smutok

    7/2/2012 6:19 AM

    Best coverage and epic captions/titles!

  • pink wolf

    7/2/2012 5:47 AM

    Why are you blaming Rachel. The decision is not hers to make. It is UCI commercaires decision. While I do not agree with the current rule, and feel it should be changed, I do feel the right decision was made based on the wording of the current rule. Blaming Rachel at this point is simply not fair.

  • lev

    7/2/2012 6:00 AM

    You are right about blaming Rachel. The commissaire is the one who made the bad decision. I think people are saying that maybe Hannah and Ragot were unfairly treated by this and Rachel was the lucky one.

  • lev

    7/2/2012 6:05 AM

    Sorry to go on, but I think that the rule applied, muddies the waters, in what is a really simple sport, where you ride down the hill as fast as you can and the fastest wins. When there is a human element in the decision it can (and has) caused controversy.

  • Mr. P

    7/2/2012 8:28 PM

    Yes. Human + competition = complications.

    Off track but not having to re-enter at exit point = advantage.

    Great runs by Rachael & Tracy & Emelie.

    I think it is great we are talking about the women's racing. A great sign for DH.


    Oh, and those photos are pretty ok too. I'm glad the processing lab could meet the deadline.

  • iceman2058

    7/2/2012 6:56 AM

    I didn't blame Rachel...?

    The wording of the revised rule is about as bad as it gets BTW. It starts as a very clear rule ("rider must re-enter at the point he/she left the course"), but then it adds a vague statement "if the commissaire judges an advantage was gained he/she may be DQed" - in relation to what exactly? I know what they MEANT when they wrote it (i.e. re-entered at some other point), but they even failed to spell that out as well.

    Sloppy sloppy. Change it to "if you leave the track you have failed and are immedaitely DQed". No more room for any interpretation, + it's the most fair way to deal with the issue. If people cut the tape it's because one way or the other, they failed to keep their run on course. Why should that not be penalized? It's about going as fast as you can down the hill, WHILE STAYING WITHIN THE MARKED COURSE.

  • iceman2058

    7/2/2012 2:27 AM

    Sounds like that horse is already dead, but the "explanation" for the Rachel decision leaves a lot to be desired. They should really reverse it. It's not about whether or not she gained an advantage by taking a more direct route, it's about her failing to keep herself inside the taped track. That is what happes when you push too go too fast, and fail to keep inside the tape. That is what makes it special when somebody gets close to the tape, but manages to hold if this ruling is the new way forward, people might think twice about committing to a turn when they know they're about to blow it....throw a wobble instead, cut the tape, and bounce back onto the track further down. The consequence SHOULD be that you have to re-enter where you left the track (or to make it even more logical: cut the tape, and you're out, like in other sports). Everybody now has a sour taste in their mouth, and even if she goes on to win the overall, I think deep down, she won't celebrate it with her heart. Which is a shame, she's such a good rider and always a good ambassador for the sport - she doesn't need this "win".

  • lev

    7/2/2012 2:26 AM

    Brilliant coverage Vital. Thanks again.

  • sspomer

    7/2/2012 2:09 AM

    HEY GWIN! If you're watching this, you gotta lay off the wins...I'm out of puns : ) Sven, Duncan, Matt and everyone who helped this weekend, thanks so much! I haven't stayed up until 2am for a long, long time.