Back-to-Back World Cup Races

Juni 10 — 2019 | Leogang, Austria

 

Juliana

Meet the Author: 
Nina Hoffmann is Juliana's German Downhill Champion. She started riding bikes in 2014 and hasn't slowed down since.
 
Nina is currently racing with the UCI Downhill World Cup circuit with her custom V10 and has already won the first World Cup podium of a Juliana rider. 
 

 

Two weekends of World Cup racing back to back, I was up for a test of my endurance and skill. First I headed to the legendary Fort William where I had the biggest race of my life then I went straight to the infamously fast Leogang. An incredible ten days of racing and traveling is behind me and I’m still getting goosebumps thinking back. But let’s start from the beginning.

Nina's custom Juliana V10 

 

WEEKEND 1: FORT WILLIAM, SCOTLAND

For Fort William, race week came sooner than expected and as a privateer it’s always a bit complicated to get a spot for your van and the pit. After a few minutes and talks later we found our place to stay and built up our set up. Then immediately, it’s trackwalk time. The trackwalk today is super crucial to me as it’s my first time in Fort Bill and I don’t know a single part of the track. A feeling of insecurity is overtaking me. That’s always the case when I’m going to ride a demanding track for the first time and don’t know how I’ll deal with all the obstacles! Will you handle every section? Is your bike set-up the right one? Will you have enough speed for all the jumps?

I start my practice on Friday morning super smooth. At first, I get a feeling for the track and the bike on this ground, then check if the sorted lines are possible and look out for the jumps. By the end of the day I’m so hyped by this track that I would like to do another run. But I save my energy, the race is still to come! For qualifiers, it’s super busy– many riders, mechanics, cameras and then just a few sheltered square meters for all the girls. My run is good, just safe and smooth, which brings me on to another 4th place in qualification round. Hopefully, everything dries by race day… but no matter what I am motivated for the finals.

Sloppy track conditions were an understatement, but that didn't hold Nina back. 

Race day morning and there is fog and rain again! This will be a wet race today. I make my way up for one last practice run. Then up to the start gate through rain and storm. Dry the grips and the brakes and get fresh goggles out of the bag. My last thought in the gate: You can be on the podium today, so just bring it down! And there I go.

I hit the first turns well, brake at the right moment and let them off to get back on speed. My lines over the rocks are on point and I’m on my way to the wood section. That’s the only part of the track I’m a bit afraid of because that section went wrong in my last practice run. I hit the entrance perfectly and slide through the mud as never before. Incredible, now touch the brakes as less as possible and pedal, just pedal! Flying over the jumpline lets my adrenaline rise and pushes me even harder. I can already hear the crowd when sending it over the last jump. Bäääm – over the finish line. As I can trust my ears, this must have been a perfect run. And the glance at the times on the screen confirms it. I am first at the moment and that means I am at least fourth in the end! Crazy, my first ever World Cup podium is safe. The rest of the riders cross the finish line and I secure a third place spot at Fort Bill, my first time on the course and my first World Cup Podium.

A picture perfect finish.

The following hours are filled with grinning, grinning and even more grinning. After the award ceremony, I joined up with the Santa Cruz Syndicate to clink glasses and celebrate Loris’ and my 3rd place finishes. I have more motivation than ever to get to Leogang for the second weekend of back to back World Cups.  

WEEKEND 2: LEOGANG, AUSTRIA

Riding two World Cups back to back is actually hard business. The two days travel from Fort William to Leogang by car were super long and exhausting. I felt like a super lazy person when arriving in Leogang Tuesday evening. Then you have only one day to really rest and train a little bit before it’s time to race again.

Luckily, I started my practice on Friday with a big increase in self-confidence. For the first time, I had the opportunity to ride in A practice and that gave me even more motivation. After having a very messy qualifying run, I really wanted to improve my performance for Sunday.

Don't let the green grass fool you, the track was all slippery dust.

And so I did.. I started my race run and the first turns were not that ideal. So I knew that I had to give it all from then on to make it in the top three. I pushed so hard in every turn and on every bump... it was a race run totally on the edge. Luckily, I made it down to the finish line without crashing, sent it over the last jump like hell (never jumped that one so far!) and just screamed a big “yes” into the crowd after seeing that I’m in first. That run put me in second place at the end of the day - it was just amazing. I’m starting to realise that I made my way to top girls and that I can compete with them on this high level. That’s such a great feeling and I’m still speechless.

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