It’s the most exciting part of the year with World Cup racing beginning in Leogang, Austria! It would be Steven Walton & Nik Nestoroff who would be making the European trip to compete at the highest level of racing. They would be flying from Los Angeles, California all the way into Munich, Germany to race. A lot of pre-trip planning and documentation would go into this trip to make it as safe as possible and following the CDC guidelines. Nik and Steven would be showing up one week in advance before the first round. To dial in their KHS Downhill bikes and get their feet underneath them with time changes, jet lag, language adjustments and do some overall testing to adjust to the European Alps.
They would need a place for all this testing to happen, it would be in Schladming, Austria. Just down the road from the actual race venue to complete some of their crucial testing and get them up to speed and rolling at top-notch levels! The KHS athletes had sunshine and a great few days of riding some of the best DH track in the world. After testing was completed and the athletes were feeling up to pace they would move onto Wednesday’s track walk which was a crucial day for Nik and Steven to get a look at the track that they were going to have to compete on Saturdays finals. The track walk weather was very good with sunshine and clear skies everyone was very excited for day one training which would be Thursday!
Thursday would be a training day only to get everyone up to speed, but with Thursday’s training day came some horrific thunderstorms that would produce over two inches of rain and would completely switch from the dry conditions that track walk had to full mud tires, tear off’s and rain gear just to get down the track. It was a very tactical task just to complete a total of five runs for both Nik and Steven and accomplish line selections and overall get the track down and memorized going into Friday’s qualification day.
Friday’s qualification day would come with training and practice just before qualifying once again the rain came down that evening which would play a consistent part in keeping the track very tricky and slick. All the athletes would be on their toes and struggle to just keep the bike up off the ground. Qualification would get underway, it would definitely be a track that would be hard to keep consistent on. It was a tough day on the hill for many with some of the most talented riders not qualifying along with a massive bummer for Steven Walton who would crash midway on the track and would not qualify for Sunday’s finals. With that burden of the news there would come positivity with Nik Nestoroff making it into the finals and would be on the hunt for Sunday’s finals.
Sunday’s finals came very quickly and the ever-changing track would be drying out and the weather in the Austrian Alps would be sunshine and blue sky‘s for the finals! With that said with the track conditions being so wet the track was becoming very blown out and you had to stay very focused on your lines with the track literally changing every run for each rider. Nik would be roughly starting at 2pm and would put massive pressure on himself to perform and do his best. Nik would have a blistering run with very minimal mistakes which was basically impossible for anyone to have a clean run on this type of track and its conditions that were presented. Nik would cross the line with the top 50 result with the best downhill athletes in the world. It was definitely a battle from the first day and goals were met and we were walking away with healthy riders going into next week’s race in Innsbruck Austria for the first round of the crankworx series.
Both Steven and Nik learned a lot from this first World Cup race and would continue to better themselves going into next week’s race. I believe we achieved a lot of data and confidence getting the first round under the teams belt and will only progress from here. Once again we want to thank all our fans, family, friends and ever dedicated sponsors that provide us with all the immaculate tools to compete at this level of racing and make dreams come true. The team will be heading on a short trip to the other side of Austria to prepare themselves for the first Crankwox event of the year! Both Nik and Steven will be completing in Downhill only and will be once again on the hunt to better themselves and get that podium result the team has been working so hard for! See you next weekend for once again some of the most action packed and highest level of racing for 2021!
Logan Binggeli | KHS Team Director