What a way to start the World Cup season! The series kicked off on the legendary Maribor venue, which hosted so many spectacular races in the past. Since our team is based in beautiful Ljubljana and Unior nearby in Zreče, we’re home folks! And nothing beats racing on your own turf.
Back-to-back races on the same day don’t happen often, but this is exactly what we had with the iXS EDC & World Cup combo in Maribor. The iXS EDC gave us the chance to see the planet’s best riders in action and proved to be a good warm up for the World Cup. And to add to the drama, the weather was much more chaotic than in the first weekend.
As the guys already knew the track, Thursday and Friday were more about fine-tuning the bikes and adjusting our lines. Finding the right setting on the Wilsons was easy. However, the selection of the tires proved to be a little bit trickier – especially with the threat of unstable weather conditions. Indeed, while the week had been pretty uneventful so far, Saturday was a whole lot different. Heavy rain started moments before the elite men runs, which made parts of the track super slippery. This, of course, means carnage. Among our three riders, Dak had the worst conditions and had to be very smart about his run. He qualified with 34th time, which doesn’t give you bragging rights, but gets you to the finals.
When the rain stopped, the track got faster again and some riders registered very fast times. Unfortunately, Kirk wasn’t among them – he crashed at the very top and hit his head hard, which forced him to quit. Luckily, he’s not injured and will be back on his DH bike soon. For Jure, it went much better as he showed great speed and brave selection of lines, which earned him 8th place! His best ever in the qualies!
On race day, things got very special. Fans started gathering on the mountain, chainsaws were roaring in the woods and you could feel the tension building in the team area. Dakotah Norton was first to go. He rode with confidence and had a solid run. On the big screen, it almost looked too smooth. His splits were great, but in reality, he was on the edge the whole time. He crossed the finish line with 3:01.890, and we knew this would be a good result.
Then came Jure Žabjek, the number one favourite of the thousands strong Slovenian fans! The mountain went crazy as he went down the course. Jure ended up with a time of 3:04.242, which was enough for 20th place in the end.
“Never before did I start the World Cup season with a top-20 result, which is why I’m very happy. The atmosphere on the track was amazing, especially on the rock and roll section. It’s unbelievable that I used to watch these guys as a kid from behind the tape, and now I’m here on the same mountain competing with them.”
– Jure Žabjek
"Weather wasn’t on our side this weekend. I knew I was on pace in practice, and it felt like I was riding well. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t go our way in qualifying and all I could do was get the bike to the bottom. The track came around on race day and it was great for me. I couldn’t ask for a better race course and better conditions for me to show speed.”
– Dakotah Norton
When the dust settled, Dakotah Norton took 10th place and Jure Žabjek finished in 20th. Looking at the overall standings feels even better, with Dak in 10th and Jure in 14th – thanks to a fantastic 8th place in the qualies.
Next stop: Fort Williams in the Scottish Highlands! We can’t wait to see how our daredevils will do on the iconic Aonach Mor’s super fast track.
Split 1 0:35.568 21th
Split 2 1:12.738 18th
Split 3 1:55.033 13rd
Split 4 2:27.359 12th
Final 3:01.890 10th
Max speed 48.690km/h 51th
Overall Ranking 10th
Split 1 0:35.791 25th
Split 2 1:13.085 22th
Split 3 1:55.145 15th
Split 4 2:28.266 18th
Final 3:04.242 20th
Max speed 52.651km/h 13th
Overall Ranking 14th