Baking under the late afternoon sun around the pump track it seemed impossible that the inaugural Cannonball MTB Festival had gotten underway with an epic session of snow shovelling.
With a good 10cm of snow blanketing the hill all the way to the village this morning, it was action stations for an event team who are accustomed to taking the high country weather in their stride. Out came the snow shovels – it was particularly awesome to see Mick Hannah clearing out the run in to Bunny Walk. “It’s just like being back in Colorado,” he laughed, having just escaped -12 degree weather in the USA for the Australian ‘summer’.
Thankfully the sun came to the party too, and by 10:30 riders were on the hill, albeit using the slower Snow Gums chair and only running from mid-station. Conditions were much better than anyone had dared hope, and while the chairlift up was still chilly, the ride down was actually pretty primo; wet in the woods, but hero traction everywhere else.
Come late afternoon things had thawed enough to let riders up to the top of mountain. With the snow melt turning parts of the track into deep mud, it was a memorable arvo for many. The temps have thankfully remained high enough for shorts and the clouds have kept away, so by tomorrow the whole mountain should be running superbly, including the Flow Trail which was only opened from mid-way today.
Practice for tomorrow’s Whip Wars got underway on the newly built 40-foot tabletop at the bottom of the run too, with Crimmins and McMillan looking ridiculously comfortable.
The final event for Day 1 was the Rockshox Pumptrack Challenge, held down by the Thredbo River on the village green. It was a great scene; grandstand seating, a DJ and MC and the pump track in absolutely perfect condition after a night under a layer of snow. Local hero Tegan Molloy took out the pro women’s category after Tracey Hannah and Danielle Beecroft both suffered a bit of a brain explosion in the final and accidentally chucked in a forbidden pedal stroke.
The men’s race held everyone in suspense a little longer – without any live timing there was no telling who’d thrown down the fastest laps. In the end it was Troy Brosnan, who rode a super consistent race, his wheels barely leaving the ground on the way to victory, leaving him $750 better off.
Tomorrow should be another glorious day with the Flow Motion Cup finals, the Whip Wars final and a lot less snow!