ScottishPower Mini-DH Final Race Report, Fort William 6th June 2015
After the five gruelling Scottish Power Mini-Downhill qualification rounds the big FINAL arrived in Fort William as part of the UCI World Cup weekend 6-7th June!
Qualification rounds starting back in March at Kielder Forest followed by Innerleithen, Comrie Croft, Fort William and Aberfeldy selected a maximum of 15 riders for each of the Age Categories, U10, U12, U14 and U16 for both boys and girls.
With the predicted heatwave for the World Cup weekend tensions and excitement must have been flying high in the lucky finalists’ households as they get to ride alongside the world’s best downhillers. Unfortunately this is Fort William and the weather is rarely predicted correctly. Saturday morning saw temperatures plummet to low single figures and the overcast skies open to provide an unhealthy mix of torrential rain and sleet blown from the north west by a strong and relentless wind.
Registration, track walk and practice runs went without a hitch and the weather did little to curb the young racers’ spirits as parents attempted to seek respite from the persistent rain. The course had a fantastic mix of tricky, rooty single track followed by some fast stone trail before breaking once again into more muddy terrain with a steep descent and ending with a fast ‘motorway’ style track emulating the World Cup track Aonach Mor is famous for.
Race runs started at 10.30 on the dot with the U10 girls quickly followed by the boys, U12s, U14s and finally the U16s. The initial rooty session proved tough, both mentally and physically, particularly for the younger riders who tackled it with great bravery but frequently struggled to maintain momentum to carry them over the rough, muddy terrain. However the faster sections were ridden at impressive speed and all riders finished their first race-run without serious mishap setting the base line for second runs.
With the relentless rain the track was becoming muddier and muddier, the roots more and more slippery and the steep descent nothing less than treacherous! It took a brave rider to try and beat their first time as conditions worsened but cycling is well known for bravery and this was no exception.
Emily Carrick-Anderson (Peebles CC) in the U10s knocked a couple of seconds off her first-run time to take a comfortable win over Aimi Kenyon (Black Isle MTB) and Heather Wilson in third. A phenomenal performance by these young ladies on a tricky course; treacherous in the day’s conditions.
“I do a lot of types of cycling but Downhill is one of my favourites. The ScottishPower Mini Downhill’s are great because it’s not just the adults that get to have all the fun, we do too!
My brother also won the Under 12 category today, he really helps me with my bike riding. I really look up to him as he is an amazing rider and its great we get to go to these races together, its lots of fun!”
Emily Carrick Anderson – winner Under 10 Female
The U10 boys was a closely fought battle between Harry Hemmingway, Hector Paterson and Cory Muir (West Highland Wheelers) with less than six seconds between them. Hemmingway stayed strong to take the top step over the other two in second and third respectively".
The U12 girls unfortunately had riders absent making it an elite field of two. But that didn’t detract from the competiveness with both Abbie Stoddart and Skye Donnelly (Glasgow Riderz) fighting it out between themselves. Stoddart put in a strong second run through the mud to take the win with Donnelly taking a well earned, if inevitable second.
The U12 boys class is always a strong and hard fought battle with at least seven riders fighting in contention for the top spot. Today’s final was no different with different parts of the course suiting the different skill sets of the riders. The first run saw less than half a second between the top four riders with Corran Carrick-Anderson (Peebles CC) just 0.22s ahead of Zander Millar Todd (Highland Bikes Race Team) in second. The second run in worsening conditions was going to see these boys putting everything on the line and they certainly did. Millar Todd successfully shaved almost 2s off his first time to go into the hot seat skipping and jumping the wet roots like a spring lamb putting the pressure on the following riders. Ryan Brannen (Leslie Bike Shop) looked the fastest through the roots but his second race-run time couldn’t match his first and he had to settle for third place. James Wilson (Wolfpax Riders) also succumbed to the cold conditions not able to match his first time and took fourth spot. Carrick-Anderson had his bars between his teeth using his superior power and greater experience, taking a direct line through the gnarl and over the finish line knocking off almost 5s and, in the end, taking a comfortable win.
“ The ScottishPower Series has been great for me, I love doing it every year especially when you qualify to ride at the Fort William World Cup. It’s a great feeling to be here and it’s amazing to race next to some of my hero’s that at competing on the track next to us. I hope I am good enough to race there one day.”
Corran Carrick Anderson – winner Under 12 Male
With Polly Henderson (Stewarty Wheelers) and Tea Jenson, younger sister of Junior downhill racer Hope, the U14 girls was going to be exciting. Henderson, first on course had a solid first run setting a pace that neither Jenson nor the other riders could match. Although over a minute slower in her second run she held the lead with Jenson finishing 8s behind and Charlotte Higgins in third.
“This is my second year competing in the Mini Downhill Series. My sister Hope, who is competing in the World Cup this year, used to compete so I thought I would give it a try. It was great to have my sister present our medals today, although I came second. Hope has got better and better over the last few years and I am so proud that she is competing in the main event, it really inspires me to get racing!”
Tea Jenson- Under 14 Female (second)
The older, U14 boys relished the mud with Charlie Aldridge (Stirling Bike Club) the first rider of the day to beat 1min 10s and comfortably taking the lead over Chris Cumming and Lewis Kelly (Black Isle MTB) after one run. Finlay Watt joined the top four after a stormer of a second run to take the second step knocking over 6s off his first run. Cumming, Kelly and Jake Ebdon finished their second runs taking third, fourth and fifth respectively.
The U16 male and females were beginning to get a raw deal by their second runs as the track was saturated and had become badly rutted making it somewhat challenging. But times were good as Emily Field (Stirling Bike Club) took the lead after her first run over Chloe Cumming (East Coast MTB) and Claudia Forbes-Walker. Their positions remained the same after their second encounter with the track.
“It’s amazing to win the ScottishPower Under 16 Series race here at the Fort William. I love Downhill riding so much. I normal do Cross Country racing but Downhill is just fantastic especially here. Although the rain was heavy it was a brilliant course and a great way to finish off the Series.”
“Some of the other Stirling girls have been putting in some great performances in the ScottishPower Road Series and it’s great to do the same. I loved standing on the podium, you feel like you have done your team proud. And I love that my team mates are all here to cheer me on.”
Emily Field – winner Under 16 Female (Stirling bike club)
The boys category has once again been closely contested and an exciting one to watch through all the preliminary rounds with Jack Devlin and Ben Clerkin, both from East Coast MTB putting in quick times making the other boys work hard to challenge. Unfortunately Devlin wasn’t on the start line allowing Miles Reid to ride the fastest time of the day 1:06.07 and take the win for the third year running. Adam Burgoyne, second, Clerkin third and David Bowman (Black Isle MTB) fourth with Alasdair Ekin in fifth.
“It really good to be todays winner. I have won overall for the past 3 years and its totally amazing to finish my Mini Downhill racing on a high.”
“The ScottishPower Mini Downhill Series has really given me the confidence to step up to the next level and compete in the Scottish National Downhill Series next year and hopefully some British Series rounds too.”
Miles Reid – winner Under 16 Male
With racing complete it was onto the main podium for presentations with the introductions from the UCI World Cup commentators presentations were given by Phil Duffield( ScottishPower) Hope Jensen(Kenny Racing), and Innes Graham (MS Mondraker Team). It was a quick ceremony as everybody was starting to turn varying shades of blue from the cold and wet.
Scottish Cycling would like to say a massive thank you to all the riders, parents, clubs and volunteers who helped to put on another fantastic series of Mini Downhill races this year.