DH #6
World Cup Val Di Sole - Downhill/Cross-country

RACE REPORT : Val di Sole World Cup ― DH # 6

This was downhill racing at its best and its worst! The track in Val di Sole is considered the hardest stop in the Mercedes-Benz UCI World Cup calendar. Add unpredictable and everchanging weather conditions and you’ll have one of the most interesting races of the season.

Going to Italy was a big deal in itself as this was the comeback World Cup race for both Kirk and Jure. Kirk did really well in the Canadian National Championship a week ago, bringing home a silver medal. It was a whole other story for Jure, who is still nursing a broken thumb.

The start of the week was sunny and warm, followed by a humid track walk, then sun again for the first practices. The stormy weather rendered different conditions for each of our guys: Rain for Jure (19th), absolute hell for Dakotah (34th) and mud for Kirk (an exciting and stressful 60th).

Race day was all sun, making the track faster and faster as the day went by. Kirk opened the race and set a really good time, giving him plenty of time in the hot seat. Dak had his time on the precious seat as well with what seemed a very good time. Jure gave all he had in his run, challenging the pain and the “black snake” at the same time; we couldn’t ask for more from him. Dakotah was our fastest rider in Val di Sole in 23rd position, Kirk finished 36th and Jure 47th.

Dakotah Norton

“Though weekend for sure, it always is here in Val di Sole. In qualifications I didn’t want to get too egotistical and go down, I was unprotected. I was happy with the way I finished, a lot of dudes around me went down, had several crashes each… But I definitely think that being protected and being on the live stream played a role in the race results today. I believe that when I went down, I had a really good run, I did everything I wanted to do, I rode loose and hit all my marks, carried good momentum and was good on my braking. Really, I couldn’t ask for a much better race run without taking much more risk. Unfortunately, at the end, things kind of sped up and I couldn’t be competitive on the track I raced today. But with that being said, I had a solid result and finished 23rd. I’m happy with it and looking forward to moving on to Lenzerheide. Hopefully I’ll take my race approach from this weekend and try to duplicate it next weekend and be a little bit on the better side of it with qualifying good.”

Jure Žabjek

“I’m really happy to get this result, in fact I’m happy that I qualified at all. I haven’t spent a minute on the DH bike in the last four weeks, I got back on the big rig only now in Italy. I didn’t do a lot of runs in the practice, this course is really hard, and I was saving my arms. I’m very happy with the result, but I also know that I can do much better. My goal is to finish the World Cup season in the top 20, but this injury put that plan off-track for sure. We’ll see how I do in the rest of the races.”

Kirk McDowall

“It was a pretty successful weekend back on the World Cup. The weather definitely played a big role, made me qualify really low down. But I’m thankful to even just sneak in with the 60th in the qualifying. With that result I had to open the finals and I didn’t know what to expect. The track was drying up really quickly and in just an hour and a half since we practiced in the morning, it got quite good. I maybe took it a little bit easy in some sections, but I’m happy with how I rode in the finals. I’m a little bit bummed out with where I ended up result wise. I felt like it was a good run, but it’s just how it goes with the weather sometimes.”

Huge congrats to Camille Balanche from Devinci Development Racing, who climbed on the elite podium in 3rd place! Way to go!

Hats off to Žak Gomilšček, junior rider from the Unior Development Team named Sinter Brakes Team. Žak set the 3rd best time in the qualifications and absolutely smashed it with a 2nd place in the finals! His best ever! Great job Žak!!!


Split 1 0:53.573 19th
Split 2 2:00:545 21th
Split 3 2:38.510 24th
Split 4 3:18.897 25th
Final 3:50.032 23rd
Max speed 65.181 km/h 4th
Overall Ranking 21st


Split 1 0:55.348 49th
Split 2 2:05.418 46th
Split 3 2:44.063 47th
Split 4 3:26.485 46th
Final 3:59.351 47rd
Max speed 57.921 km/h 53th


Split 1 0:54.370 37th
Split 2 2:03.417 35th
Split 3 2:42.268 38th
Split 4 3:24.178 41th
Final 3.55:603 36rd
Max speed 59.618 km/h 40th
<Overall Ranking 60th

XCO - Tanja Žakelj

Val di Sole once again proved to be a lucky place for Tanja Žakelj. She had her best race – and result - of the season at the Italian stop of the World Cup and took 8th place! The start of the race weekend in Italy wasn’t promising. Tanja finished the rainy and muddy short track race in a very modest 28th position. That was a race to put behind her, but luckily not an indicator of what was ahead of us later in the weekend. Indeed, the Slovenian national champion instead gave her best performance.

“The race in Val di Sole was what I want for a race to be! I had a great day. I had a good start – with full bag of positive feelings – and right away everything went the way I could only wish for. I saw gaps and I got better and better with each lap. I grew wings when I saw that I could make it in the top 10… and I was still going strong and passing others. I finished the race with a big smile on my face. This is definitely my new benchmark for the season, my best result so far in 2019. I want to continue working with the same pace and hopefully I can do even better. There are still two World Cup rounds and the World Champs ahead, and I hope for more days like this.”

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

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