The start of the 2013 World Cup is still a good few months away for the downhillers, but now is a good time to have a little look at the rules of the game, and more specifically what has changed for 2013. There have in fact been several substantial modifications, read on to find out what the changes are and what they mean.

Separate Junior Event

New rule: At the world championships and the world cup events, separate junior events are organized for men and women juniors (aged 17 and 18).The first 5 men juniors and the first 3 women juniors of the last UCI DHI individual ranking of the preceding year can decide whether they want to race the entire world cup season as elite or junior. All other junior riders must race the world cup season in the junior category. For world championships and world cup events, separate junior results (apart fromexceptions above) will be established.

Vital Analysis: This basically means that the juniors will have a race to themselves, which we understand could be held on Saturdays (where the main Men and Women's Finals are run on Sundays). Also note that juniors will have a seeding run to establish the starting order for junior finals, but there will be no points awarded for the seeding run. The exception being any junior who chooses to race Elite for the year, as per this new rule (this could apply to Tahnee Seagrave in 2013, for example).

Protective Equipment

New rule: National federations may impose in their national regulations and under their responsibility the use of other protections than helmets including for international events on their territory. The national federations are responsible for monitoring compliance with such regulations to the exclusion of UCI. A rider not wearing the protection imposed by the national federation in an international event shall be banned from the race by the commissaires’ panel only at the request of a representative of the national federation and under the responsibility of the latter.
Comment: The riders shall inquire about any applicable national federation regulation. The use of protective gear other than helmets may also be imposed by national legislation. The rider shall inquire about this. Compliance with such legislation is the exclusive responsibility of the rider. A wide variety of equipment is available on the market that is presented and sold as protective gear.Some of these are provided by reputable manufacturers that may be expected to produce quality products.Yet, and except for helmets, there seem to exist no official technical norms for protective gear as referred to in the above article.Therefore it is not known at this time to what extent items that are sold as protective gear provide effective protection, as the concept, the quality, etc. have not been tested and compared with an applicable official technical standard. It It is not known either whether gear that provides protection in a certain type of crash might provide or fail to provide the expected protection in another type of crash. Likewise the combination of different types of protections may not be adequate. For example a neck protector may not fit with a back protector. Therefore riders must pay attention to the quality and characteristics of the gear, seek advice of experienced riders, coaches or technicians, procure the gear from professional and reliable suppliers and rely on their own judgment.The rider shall be responsible for the choice of the gear and for its use, in accordance with articles 1.3.001 to 1.3.003.

Vital Analysis: As there is no clear ban set out on using duct tape and Fruit n' Fibre boxes, we are going to assume that if a rider feels that this is adequate protection, then so be it. After all, Kellogg's is definitely a "professional and reliable supplier". As for seeking advice from experienced riders, we can only say that if you can identify the man below, that's a good place to start looking for DIY body armor consulting...

3-rider Podium

New rule: The official ceremony takes place immediately after each race involved. Riders arriving later than 5 minutes after they finished their race are fined.The following riders must attend:
  • the first THREE riders in the elite events;
  • the leader of the elite world cup standings after the event in question;
  • the first three riders in the under 23 events;
  • the first three riders in the juniors events;
  • the leader of the under 23 XCO world cup standings after the event in question;
  • the leader of the junior’s DHI world cup standings after the event in question;
  • the team leading the UCI MTB team world cup standings after the event in question (specified in article 4.5.009).
Vital Analysis: This is a welcome step in the right direction by the UCI. Over the last couple of years, there has been a worrying tendency for the after party to take too long to get started - riders felt that valuable drinking time was being wasted on having a bunch of also-rans having to parade around the podium. Now that only 3 riders could be up there, other riders and crews will be free to hit the brews much quicker.
Update: it seems that the elite Men and Women's categories will still have a 5-rider podium in 2013. The rule change will however allow the UCI to only feature a 3-rider podium for the Junior events.



XCE

New rule: Cross Country Eliminator (XCE) is given full World Cup status for 2013. Riders with at least 20 UCI points (in any discipline) can enter.
Vital Analysis: We still don't get it.

Well there you have it, these are the main changes we have uncovered so far. If June seems like an awfully long time away still, you may want to pass the time by reading the rules in their entirety: RULES.
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