Cannonball MTB Festival, Thredbo – Day 3

Words by Flow | Images by Damian Breach

 

We love downhill race day at Thredbo. The long, rough, fast and physical track always makes for awesome racing, so were super excited about the third and final day of the Cannonball MTB Festival.

Thredbo has played host to more legendary downhill races than just about any other venue in Australia, and with $5000 on the line for the men’s win and $2500 for the women, the Australia Open Downhill was going to be another one to remember. Seeding on Saturday afternoon hadn’t thrown up too many surprises, but as we found out, seeding results mean nothing.

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There is no place quite like Thredbo for a DH race.

A warm morning and dry, strong winds ensured the race track was in absolutely prime condition; Friday’s snow and slush had given way to dusty bomb holes, particularly on the new sections of track which were becoming whooped out and choppy, just as you’d hope. In the more open sections of trail the gusty westerly wind was becoming a bit of an issue, and more than a couple of riders found themselves launching the canyon gap a lot further than anticipated with a tail wind pushing them along.

When the start times were revealed it was a surprise to see the women running in reverse order, with fastest qualifier Tracey Hannah up first, followed by Tegan Molloy. Tracey, Tegan and Danielle Beecroft (who had a big off in her seeding run) were definitely the three favourites and apparently the call to swap the race order had been made to ensure both Tracey and Tegan got a clear run at the track.

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As the first women on course, Tracey Hannah had the hot seat all to herself, with no rider able to threaten her time. She is still on another level when compared to the much younger Dani Beecroft and Tegan Molloy – her years of experience racing at a World Cup level shone through, and she took the win (though perhaps not as comfortably as she’s anticipated, with Molloy only 12 seconds back). Danielle Beecroft’s form keeps getting better and better too, her third place after a huge weekend of competing was a fine way to cap off what must’ve been a seriously tiring three days!

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Tegan Molloy raced the pump track, the Flow Motion Cup and the downhill, and nearly got a clean sweep of every event she entered – only Tracey Hannah got in her way.

In the men’s race all eyes were on the highly anticipated showdown between Mick Hannah and Troy Brosnan – surely it would be one of these two World Cup stars who’d know how to tame a long, physical track like Thredbo?

No one was surprised when local rider Tom Crimmins slotted himself into the hot seat with five riders still to go, posting a time of 5:30 – the older of the Crimmins brothers calls Thredbo his home track and his form is superb. But he didn’t get to keep the seat warm for too long. His 16-year old brother Andrew Crimmins came flying out of the final woods section at insane speed, and when he stopped the clock at a ridiculous 5:26 we don’t think even he could believe it.

Andrew Crimmins was on a borrowed bike and by the looks of it borrowed clothes. He had only just signed a new deal with Kona a few days prior to this race  and getting used to his new rig obviously wasn't a problem.

Andrew Crimmins was on a borrowed bike and by the looks of it borrowed clothes. He had only just signed a new deal with Kona a few days prior to this race and getting used to his new rig obviously wasn’t a problem.

It was the Crimmins family in first and second with only Brosnan and Hannah left on the hill. Hannah was the first to appear, and when he shot out into the final berms it was clear that he hadn’t done enough. His 5:32 was well back and ultimately good enough for fifth place, with Hannah quick to acknowledge that he’d been too conservative and knew he’d finished with far too much energy in reserve. With both Crimmins boys now guaranteed a podium, Troy Brosnan was the only threat to the $5000 winner’s cheque. But even with an admittedly clean run, the two time junior World Champ couldn’t match the pace of the younger Crimmins, coming in two seconds back for second place.

The weekend wrapped up with poolside, with the presentations accompanied by a ‘greasy pole’ session, with riders attempting to ride over a 10 metre log across the pool (a spectacle last seen back at the 1994 National Champs!). Awesome stuff.

All in all, it’s got to be said the inaugural Cannonball MTB Festival was a massive, emphatic success. We’ve been coming to Thredbo for years, and this was hands down the best mountain bike event we’ve ever been to at this grand old venue; the mix of events, the quality of the riding, the trails, the festival vibe… it all added up a seriously fun weekend. There were around 240 riders this year and we’d be very surprised if that number doesn’t double for next year.

Flow will be bringing you a full event video in the coming days, so stay tuned, and we’ll see you at Thredbo next year!

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The conditions for racing were fantastic. The sun was out and most of the snow had thawed.

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Ricky Lee of Canberra proved a point and placed 19th in Elite men on his single-crown all-mountain machine.

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The time machine was in operation – Justin ‘The Hurricane’ Havukainen came back to race with his old bike.

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Josh Button made a return to racing with a new team (Giant) and a 4th place. It’s great to see him back on the scene again.

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Sik Mik must stand in the mirror and practice his race face for hours. There is no other rider with such an intense stare!

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Another young pinner coming up the ranks – Luke Ellison.

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David Sharp looking very sharp.

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U17 men’s winner Alex Dickson flying down the open slopes.

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Blue skies and dust – perfect.

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The big booter in the middle of the track had a tailwind in the finals and a few launched it a bit too far.

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Troy Brosnan knows too well what it’s like to beat his older competitors so it must have felt familiar (in a weird reverse kind of way) to come in 2nd to the 16 year-old Andrew Crimmins.

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We witnessed Danielle Beecroft bin it pretty damn hard in the seeding round but she still smashed it in her race run. The battle between the top three women meant pushing everything to the limit.

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Style for miles. No matter what he’s riding, Dave McMillan looks great on a bike.

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Zac Green lays it over on the home straight.

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Andrew deserved the win, big time. You know the sport is healthy when younger riders start taking the top spots.

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Mick Hannah had a lot of the attention over the weekend and it’s great to see rides of his level racing at Thredbo. Mick hadn’t touched a bike since the last World Cup and the physical nature of Thredbo might have been a shock to his system.

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A bit of poolside fun before the DH presentations.

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Tracey Hannah could hardly lift the winners trophy – 3 x cannonballs. First place to the Cairns local, with Tegan Molloy second and Danielle Beecroft in third. Speaking of Dani Beecroft, she deserves loads of respect – she competed in every event over the weekend, the pump track, whip wars, Flow Motion cup and the downhill.

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That’s a big cheque that will help pay for more than a few tickets to the next Justin Bieber concert. Jokes, just because Andrew is young doesn’t mean he like Justin.

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Tracey enjoys the spoils.

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The end.

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