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The best “what could have been” race runs in WC DH history.

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1/14/2022 9:53 PM

A few days ago I was listening to the most recent episode of Andrew Neethling’s podcast with Matti Lehikoinen and Matti brought up that before having a massive crash, he was actually up on Sam Hill’s race winning split time. I’d never heard that stat before, and it got me thinking of the other race runs that “could’ve been” that have been forgotten or buried away deep in the results sheets that most people aren’t aware of. Given that Vital is the home of the WC DH nerds, it seemed like the perfect place to start a discussion on the race runs that were almost legendary, but a crash or mechanical pushed them into the dustbin of history. Anyone remember any others?

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1/14/2022 11:25 PM

I believe that in 2011 when Danny Hart won worlds by 11(?) seconds, Gwin was only a second or so behind at the split before crashing out (citation needed). Hope I'm not making that up. I remember it as a what-if run.

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1/14/2022 11:50 PM

Sam Hill's second place in Finals in champery...

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1/15/2022 12:20 AM

Martin_Prophet wrote:

Sam Hill's second place in Finals in champery...

The most famous second place run of all time

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1/15/2022 3:36 AM

Sam Hill Hafjell Worlds

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1/15/2022 4:24 AM

Hill was 3rd at Champery. Matti was 1st and Peaty was 2nd.

Sam Hill at Val Di Sole 08 was another "what could have been" run...

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1/15/2022 4:37 AM

This is fun minde games, but to illustrate or maybe take some magic out of this: what about gwins run at fort William when he flew of the bridge at the top? I see this has less value in the excitment-levels, but is it still less valid? Top contender, not knowing what could have been?

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1/15/2022 5:40 AM

SB14 wrote:

This is fun minde games, but to illustrate or maybe take some magic out of this: what about gwins run at fort William when he ...more

I think the crash in ft bill in the new rock section with the broken thumb was more the start to the dip in his results. That and kenda tires.

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1/15/2022 6:07 AM

I think the biggest could’ve in recent history is loris’s front flat in Lousa. Probably was winning and was at-least on pace for a podium. Setting him up for a very easy clinch in race 4.

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1/15/2022 6:10 AM

Ratboys run in Haffjell world champs. I remember i was more devastated than him at that moment.

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1/15/2022 6:19 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/15/2022 6:20 AM

Kovarik's run at Mount Snow NORBA National with all the world's best there at the peak of the tractor trailer teams the year he won Ft. Bill by 14 seconds.

He was the fastest racer in the world and at his peak, utterly untouchable at that point. Fastest qualifier by a long way and blew his wheel apart off screen somewhere.

He never won there b/c his wheels disintegrated 3 years in a row with him trying to limp a warped rear to the finish and still finished top 10 on third attempt

That Mt. Snow result, standing track side in Yard Sale with thousands of fans from all over, would have been the most epic moment. If you know ..you know

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Trouble Maker. Here to spit truth in the form of sarcasm.

1/15/2022 6:50 AM

Sam Hill holds the title for best what could have been run. The comments about the third in Champery in the wet are complimentary, but it is not 'what could have been', it was a great run. He didn't crash out, and he got a lot of credit for it. Weather was a factor, but it was still a great run, top to bottom. The best what could have been was Val Di Sole in 2008. That run could have been on par with some of the all time biggest win margins, and was derailed by a big crash, in front of everyone. That's why Val Di Sole is the top.

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I'm hungry.

1/15/2022 7:03 AM

Its gotta be Sam at Val di sole. I remember watching it live at the shop I worked at in college, my jaw was on the floor when he washed out.

A close second is Ratboy at World Champs in Hafjell. 40 foot jump to flat, breaks ankle, can't pedal, coasts to the finish line, misses out on being World Champ by 0.4 seconds.

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1/15/2022 7:37 AM

denciminerci wrote:

Ratboys run in Haffjell world champs. I remember i was more devastated than him at that moment.

Yup, even Gee was gutted with that run in the post race videos.

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1/15/2022 8:58 AM

Rat snapping his foot

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1/15/2022 9:01 AM

I'm also on board with Sam's Val Di Sol run. Not only was he on fire the whole way down, but in my mind that run also opened the door for what modern DH races became. It had been an exciting season to have freecaster steaming races and that run, being special, heart breaking and showing the give take and emotional toll on racers to the public, how it could be going so right and then go so wrong, also have Rob Warner his moment.

If Rob hadn't been screaming times, obscenity's and feeding on the high stakes the whole way down, maybe he wouldn't have continued into the next year. And then it went viral on YouTube, people watched it over and over again. I think that run made what we have today possible.

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1/15/2022 9:31 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/15/2022 9:32 AM

lewzz10 wrote:

Sam Hill Hafjell Worlds

This! I watched that one live. I was so stoked before the rock garden get off cause I thought we were watching Sam take rainbow one more time.

Course then you had rat right after as well.

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1/15/2022 10:10 AM

Sam's VDS run, without question or Peaty's Les Gets world champs.

Of course, on a biased note haha, my better half, Leigh Donovan-she went to 1996 World Champs in Australia as the reigning world champ from 1995. A controversial race in 95' as Leigh wins elite world champs, Anne Caro wins juniors with a faster time (It rained the night before, pros used to go in the morning, juniors later in the day, track got way faster, even Cedric's junior time was faster than Nico) so, ACC vs Leigh at 96' world champs was the ultimate show down.

When we arrived in Oz, Leigh got some gnarly flu (would have called it Covid back then hahaha) she was in bed, with 104 fever, aches, the entire time, she never got to practice the WHOLE TIME. Of course, you had to do a practice run and the quali, the day before race was the quali, she was able to roll down hill for a practice, and do quali, then back to bed.

On race day-she just did what she had to do and after going over track notes I put together from track walks and pedaling her ass off, she was last down as the reigning world champ, and did lose, by .18 of a second.....fuuuuuuck. A well earned silver medal, that's for sure, with 3 total runs under her belt.

Testament to the mental aspect of DH racing, as much as talent, equipment and luck haha.

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1/15/2022 10:23 AM

Popping in to agree about Sam's run in VDS '08

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1/15/2022 10:38 AM

A lot of if....

Peat at Les Gets Worlds
Sam at VDS Worlds

I think were the most devastating

A good one is also
Shaun Palmer at Worlds 1996

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1/15/2022 10:43 AM

Palmer World Champs @ Cairns . Peaty World Champs Les Gets / Windham. Hill @ Val Di Sole / Norway / Maribor / Andorra in 09 snowbank crash. Bryceland in Norway. Minaar losing to Peat .05 @ Canberra

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1/15/2022 11:01 AM

artista1 wrote:

A lot of if....

Peat at Les Gets Worlds
Sam at VDS Worlds

I think were the most devastating

A good one is also
Shaun ...more

Ohh ya, palmer in Sweden....I stood at that finish area, that one was brutal.

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1/15/2022 11:04 AM

Neko chainless Norway run was pretty damn impressive.

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1/15/2022 11:05 AM

And....those 3 races where Luca Shaw was fastest qualifier, last one down and he flatted in one, crashed in the other two and I am pretty sure had fastest splits at the time too. Heartbreaking.

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1/15/2022 12:12 PM

bizutch wrote:

Kovarik's run at Mount Snow NORBA National with all the world's best there at the peak of the tractor trailer teams the year ...more

Kovarik was a full-on beast, more leg power than bulldog and hannah

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1/15/2022 3:04 PM

Martin_Prophet wrote:

Sam Hill's second place in Finals in champery...

Stewyeww wrote:

The most famous second place run of all time

So famous people forgot it was actually 3rd?!

He did crash in the run too....I think it was Clay Porters video that year which has the footage (ie filming the trackside video screen). I rate this one near the top considering how stacked against him the conditions were. I believe the next fastest rider in the same conditions was (THE LEGEND) Mickael Pascal about 27 seconds back!

VDS was insane but I put the Champery one above it

Agree with Neko's chainless run AND his run at Cairns where he crashed but still ended up 3rd or 4th?

Peaty at Les Gets '04 - That one still hurts to watch. I wonder how different his career could have been if he had won worlds when he was at his peak?

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1/15/2022 6:04 PM

Shawn Palmer's 1999 World Championship run and him slipping on the pavement transition. Maybe he would have raced in the 2000's more.

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1/15/2022 7:24 PM

One of the runs I had in mind was Brendan Fairclough, Schladming 2007 (?). He was up on Sam Bill’s split before having a massive wreck and having to run back up a steep slope to collect his bike. I think he still ended up in the 20s. I believe Blenkinsop won that year, but maybe it could’ve been Brendan if he stayed on.

I also think Loic had a run in Lordes where he was up at the split and crashed. If he held that one together I think it would’ve been his first WC win and on home soil, but I might have my facts wrong on that.

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1/15/2022 7:46 PM

Lots of good answers and good (bad?) memories as well.

Also want to throw in Mick Hannah's worlds run in Cairns. Obviously no crash, he just didn't quite have the speed. But what a moment that would have been for him. And then Tracy also missing out on the top step because she KO'd herself and even after being knocked out after the crash came in second as well.

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1/15/2022 7:51 PM

Woulda been 2015 for Loic's Lourdes crash. 2014 in Leogang he had a wreck where he was up at all splits I think and slid out in a loose right hander near the bottom of the track. Rat took his first win that day, and Gwin rode the whole thing on a rim.

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