Hard work for great titles
Since last year, Schladming has been the venue of a PROPAIN Rookies Cup. This race series, which was launched in 2008, offers an entry into international racing with professionally organised events. Thus, there is hardly a better venue than the former World Cup venue in Styria. In addition to the finals of the junior series, the season's highlight was the iXS International Rookies Championships. Here, the unofficial world championship titles were awarded for all younger categories for which there is no world championship under the cycling federation. So this event is a serious look into the future of mountain bike downhill sport. Big names have already taken home the iXS Rookies Champs titles, among them the future world champions Valentina Höll (AUT), Jackson Goldstone (CAN) or Henri Kiefer (GER).
Jackson Goldstone after his victory in 2019, then still in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis
As always with this combined competition, it started on Thursday with the pickup of the numbers before the athletes could familiarise themselves with the course layout during the track walk. On Friday, it was time to complete the first training runs and then the obligatory compulsory training runs. In the afternoon, the seeding run was held, where important points for the overall ranking were awarded and the starting order for the final run of the PROPAIN Rookies Cup was determined.
Already in the seeding run, nothing was given to each other and the Young Guns showed who had arrived with great ambitions. Incidentally, the distances covered for participation in this competition were astonishing. A total of 25 nations had travelled to the event, including New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Canada, in addition to the expected European countries.
Riko Mäeuibo from Spain was not exactly from next door either
After some rain during the night, the track conditions made the descents a real task. While on Thursday and Friday the grip level was still very good, some of the off-camper parts were extremely slippery. In the end, however, the conditions were fair and equal for all, which could also be seen in the results, as in many classes the favourites took the podium places. For example, Rosa Zierl (AUT - DH Team Tirol) finished the season with full points and impressively dominated the overall ranking of the Girls U17/U19. Likewise, Reid Simpson (GBR) was able to prevail flawlessly and become the series winner in the Boys U13 with the highest score. The U11 class was won by Jarda Prokes (CZE - Commencal FDF Team) with four victories.
On Sunday, the iXS International Rookies Championships were held in even wetter conditions. The temperatures were also a lot lower than on Thursday, but after all it was autumn by now.
Just in time for the final run, the sun came out again and the track dried more and more. The protagonists of the competition could already feel the exertion of the previous days and so another hard piece of work awaited the athletes.
Rosa Zierl on the way to her well-deserved title
The 2023 Rookies Champions of the respective classes were in the end:
|Kids U11||Jarda Prokes||CZE||Commencal FDF Team|
|Boys U13||Reid Simpson||GBR||--|
|Boys U15||Richard Tandara||SVK||CTM Racing Team|
|Girls U15||Rebecca Bruno||ITA||Tribe Hotbikes|
|Boys U17||Tyler Waite||NZL||--|
|Girls U17||Rosa Zierl||AUT||DH Team Tirol|
Schladming thus once again offered a great event for the up-and-coming generation of downhill sports. And the athletes have proven that you should never underestimate the level. For sure, you could already see some of tomorrow's world champions on the podium.