World Cup Snowshoe: DH Race Report
DH #8


We came to Snowshoe not knowing what to expect, which isn’t surprising since it was a new venue. The same was true for the new World Cup track, which only a few top riders were familiar with—one of them, of course, was Dakotah Norton. Over time, what seemed like impossible jumps turned into manageable flying, and our guys were getting faster and faster. Dak and Kirk were really shining on the qualifications.

Dak Norton

Dak had a lot of pressure on his shoulders, the entire mountain was cheering him on when he came down in the finals. His first split wasn’t just red, it was borderline disastrous, but Dak held it together, improving from one split to the next. He was so fast in the middle and the bottom that he initially got 4th place and eventually finished the race in 9th position.

“Racing at home is incredible, the fans are very vocal and my ears were ringing all the way down. Unfortunately, I made a small mistake at the top… I was back, but I put my head down and pedalled hard and let the brakes open in the hard stuff. I pulled back some time and was just happy that I had a good, consistent run at home. I started the season in 10th position in Maribor and finished the season 9th in Snowshoe. I couldn’t ask for more!

For everyone here, my family, James… I just wanted to lay down a good one for them. My run didn’t shake the world by any means, but it’s something I’m proud of. It was consistent with the way I rode this year and with my speed. I rode my own lap and was really happy with it. Being here, being at home was just incredible—I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Jure Žabjek

Jure also made a mistake at the top, but smashed it after that. His time looked better with every rider that followed him and he only started losing places when the fastest guys came on the course. He finished in 20th place.

“20th place is a solid result. I’ve had some health issues since we arrived in the US, so that may also have influenced my result. I was very happy with my final run, I was fast on the track throughout the run … maybe I expected an even better result. I made a small mistake in the finals, but other than that, my run was good.

I did well in all of the World Cup races where I was healthy and uninjured. I skipped two races and was in the process of a comeback on another, so I didn’t expect anything there. My goal was to finish the season in the top 20, which didn’t happen, but I know I can be in a good position quickly next season. I just have to take a look at where I’m losing time and build on that for next year.”

Kirk McDowall

Believe it or not, Kirk also struggled in the top section, but he was like a rocket over the rocks at the bottom. Twenty-third place is solid, but he wanted more and with the speed he has, he deserved more!

“It’s been a weird weekend. I had a hard time really adapting to the track on the first day of practice because it was really slippery, flat and just weird. But eventually it kind of grew on me, I really like the rocks at the bottom. I think that was my strong point and I was able to ride that stuff well, but I struggled with the top part the entire weekend. I found some stuff for race day, but unfortunately, I just wasn’t as good as I would have liked to be at the top and lost more time than I could make up. I had high hopes after qualifying well, but everybody really just went for it today and dropped a lot of time. Overall it’s not bad, I would just like more.”

They took 4th place together on the team standings, 2nd if you only look at the Elite Men riders. This gives us a reason to celebrate, but it’s also proof of great work by the entire team! Congratulations to all of you, and thanks to all of our partners and friends who are making this possible!

Sweet facts:

- Race results: Dak—9th, Jure—20th, Kirk—23rd

- Final overall standings: Dak—15th, Jure—29th, Kirk—47th

- Dak is protected for the first World Cup race of the 2020 season

- Team UDFR was 4th on the mixed team results in Snowshoe

- Team UDFR is 13th on the overall team rankings

- We had the company of juniors Patrick Laffey and Žak Gomilšček, who finished the race in 10th and 12th, respectively

XCO - Tanja Žakelj

Unfortunately, Tanja’s race in Snowshoe was the complete opposite of the one she had just a week ago in Mont-Sainte-Anne. She took 28th place on the final World Cup race of the season, finishing in 21st position overall.

The World Cup finals did not go according to plan. The short-track race on Friday was decent with Tanja getting 19th place, but she couldn’t find her legs on the main race on Sunday. It’s not a disaster, but, of course, we all wanted a great finish, including Tanja. After the race she said:

“I’m glad the race is over. It was a very long season. Of course I wanted to finish with a good result, especially after I showed that I could pace myself throughout the year. Right now, I’m just glad that I crossed the finish line without any careless mistakes, as I really felt bad and wasn’t going anywhere. One of the reasons for my poor performance is altitude, we’re just high enough that I don’t feel well. I already felt it on the practice runs, but I put those feelings out of my system and raced as well as I could. The second reason is the track itself, as it’s faster than anything I’m used to.”

Tanja finished the season in 21st position overall. She had mixed feelings about the season, with ups and downs. The great results at the World Championships is a comfort. She only has a couple of races left in the season, the biggest one being the Test Event in Tokyo. After that, she will rest before she starts making plans for the Olympic season.

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@DakotahNorton | @JureZabjek | @KirkMcdowall | @tanjazakelj |

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