Steve Peat on his way to his first big W at Snoqualmie. From the UCI press release:
“So steep and treacherous was the chute that fans actually came out to watch Saturday’s practice. What few pros that could actually ride fast through here had their speed measured by the volume of the cheers, and Peat received some of the loudest. After flitting cleanly through the trees and power-pedalling the flat sections below, Peat went on to capture his best finish yet. After placing second on two of the toughest courses of all: Panticosa ’96 and Mont-Ste-Anne last season, this fearless rider finally got what he had been waiting for.
“It’s rad,” he said after his victory – his time of 3:55 had stood solid while Nicolas Vouilloz (FRA, Sunn-Un), Cédric Gracia (FRA, Sunn-Un) and top-qualifier Shaums March (USA, Zzyzx/Ellsworth) completed their runs. With the win in the bag, Peat breathed a big sigh of relief and said: “It’s been a long time coming but today I nailed it and I’m stoked to win… I like this course a lot and have been good in training all week. I knew I could do it today so I went for it, and it happened.”
While most of the top qualifiers could have been named straight off the top of the UCI Rankings list, one Shaums March (ranked 59th in the world) surprised everybody by gaining the fastest qualification time with a ride that literally wowed the crowd in the trees. Peat himself would have been impressed by the way March hared down the Junior Wall. Unfortunately, come the final run, two crashes destroyed his rear wheel and March was forced to, er, walk stridently to the finish.
Vouilloz – round one’s winner – has been slowed down since injuring his hand in Big Bear training but today he was still fast enough for second place on a course where, as the world’s top technical rider, he would dearly loved to have won. “I knew that to win I’d have to ride very well with no mistakes,” he said. “Now I’m happy to go home and recover.”
David Vazquez (ESP, Volvo-Cannondale) and Gracia were 3rd and 4th, respectively. Vazquez, last round’s winner, beat out Gracia, round two’s winner, by 3.4 seconds. One-tenth of a second later was round three’s winner Christian Taillefer (FRA, Peugeot Palaiseau) who announced that he had dreamt he would take fifth here today.
In an unprecedented turn of statistics, all of the top five men today have won a world cup round this season. If that is not a measure of the course’s quality, then what is?
“Wicked” is the most appropriate term to describe this new Grundig/UCI World Cup downhill course. The harrowing descent at Snoqualmie is located on the foothills of the Wenatchee mountains close to Seattle, Washington state, in north western USA. Although short in length at 3.05km, the combination of extraordinarily steep tree sections combined with currently muddy conditions makes this a formidable “pro-only” challenge.
With a vertical drop of 335.3m, the course begins at the top of a ski lift at Snoqualmie Pass ski resort. The second section is an unbelievably technical tree section, featuring a 7-foot (2.1 metre) vertical drop called the “Junior Wall”. This precarious drop is so named as to give an indicator of what is to come. The track continues to descend through the trees on what feels like an unrelenting elevator chute straight down – steeper than anything seen on any course, anywhere else on the Grundig/UCI World Cup circuit so far. Metre for metre, this has to be the most challenging course yet devised for World Cup racing..”
Some familiar names
NW locals who raced there:
Luciano Worl was in attendance, and I think he raced junior XC? He was eight years old in 1998, and he was still way faster than you are now. Here’s a more recent photo of Looch at the 2010 Maribor World Cup:
Right now Looch is training tirelessly to fly fighter jets for the Navy: