The venue in Snowshoe, West Virginia, was a new addition to the World Cup schedule, having previously only been known for hosting the American Championships. The idyllically located spot is the heart and soul of a small skiing area and bike park sitting on top of a mountain range in the Appalachian Mountains at an elevation of 1500 meters. The relatively short course sets itself apart through very fast passages and several newly built sections. Compared to the other courses throughout the year, the overall elevation profile was quite low. Despite the remote location and the long travel time it takes to get there, the course was packed with excited fans.
Lisa Pasteiner felt good on the course the entire week leading up to the race, and wanted to take the feeling from Lenzerheide into the last World Cup and deliver a similar result. “The race today was really brutally tough and I had a hard time starting in lap 1. The first lap was already too fast for me and I had to let the first group go. In the second lap, I thought I would recover, but it only went downhill from there. Last week, I might not have been absolutely focused, but today, I simply didn’t have more than 10th place in the tank. On any other day, the course would have been a lot of fun I think, but today it was only a battle against myself. But I am happy that my sprint secured me 10th place. That’s definitely fine with me.”
The XCC race on Friday took place on a very spectator friendly course, with the starting and finishing straight located on the town square of the cute ski resort. Sina Frei and Anne Terpstra were able to position themselves in the TOP10 before the Swiss rider had to get off the bike in one of the loose gravel turns. After a short stoppage time, she was able to continue, but the short gaps immediately meant numerous position losses. From then on, she filed in right behind her Hungarian team mate Barbara Benko and through excellent team work, both of them were able to secure 21st and 22nd place finishes which meant a third starting line position on race day. Anne Terpstra wasn’t quite able to keep up with the pace of the 4 top riders in the lead, but won the duel for the best place in the first pursuit group and came in fifth to the finish, which translated into a start from the first starting line-up on Sunday.
Barbara Benko decided at the last World Cup in Lenzerheide to take a break and to give her body some rest. At the World Championships, she re-entered the competition: “Naturally, I didn’t expect to recover everything by taking a two-week-long break, but my body and my training are back on the right track. The race today was super tough again and I was really hurting. It feels good that the year is pretty much done.”
Sina Frei didn’t do so well with the relatively flat course and after her crash in the shorttrack, she also had to put up with the disadvantage of starting from the third starting line: “The track is definitely not tailored to my skill set. I definitely didn’t have my best day today. I especially suffered in the flat sections. This was certainly not the season final I had hoped for, but all in all, I am very happy with the season!”
Anne Terpstra provided yet another highlight at the season finale and fought for a very strong second place in the sprint finish against the newly crowned World Champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot. “Looking back, I guess the course is a little like the one in the Netherlands, a fairly low elevation profile and the whole race is all about keeping up your speed and about not wasting energy.” She was part of the lead group right from the very beginning and focused on her positioning.
“The first three laps, we basically went on a joy ride and I got to the point where I just wanted to try something”. So, with three laps to go, she decided to test the competition for the first time. Consequently, the lead group consisting of seven riders got reduced to four and it was the World Champion who executed the next attack. Together with Anne Terpstra, she escaped the field, Terpstra attacked again and was the lone lead from then on: “With only half a lap to go, I might have been a little too sure of myself and thought I had it under control. Pauline closed up on the last meters and I really did give it my all. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough and I was disappointed at first, but there is really no reason for it. The race was a great end to this season and I am very proud of the results and especially of the entire team. Thank you for the support over the entire course of the year, it was simply fabulous.”
Some athletes will compete in the Olympic test race in Tokyo in early October, followed by the annual kids training camp in Sankt Englmar before the team will be able to close out the season and enjoy the well-deserved break.