Race Report: Red Carpet for the Rookies
What a week for our rookies! For the fourth time Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis hosted the MTB Festival and once again it was an unforgettable event for the youngest riders and rising stars of the discipline. By now, the Festival is a fixed date on the annual agenda, inviting numerous riders to Austria in early August.
This year, 250 riders from 21 nations made their way to Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis to compete in the various mountain bike competitions. Next to the fourth round of the Specialized Rookies Cups, the die iXS International Rookies Championships was one of the highlights of the weekend. As usual, however, the event already started on Monday with the Rookie Camp, offering a variety of workshops on different topics ranging from screws to media presentation to 30 young riders. After four days in the camp, the Festival opened its gates on Friday with a first training session and the seeding of the Specialized Rookies Cup, followed by some fun and action on the pump track in the evening.
Saturday greeted the riders and their families with wet overall conditions and a muddy track. Fortunately, however, at least the day was warm and sunny and the conditions got better and better throughout the day and right on time for the race, which at the same time served as seeding run for the iXS International Rookies Championships on Sunday.
The last day of the festival began dry, but the forecast and a short look into the sky both told another story. Just one hour before the start of the Championships it started raining cats and dogs and the track turned into one muddy mess in nearly no time. None of the riders had time to prepare for, let alone practice under these conditions and the stage was set for an extremely demanding, but exciting race!
It soon became clear that the first priority would be to get down the hill without a crash. But despite the extreme conditions we witnessed some race runs á la Danny Hart or Aaron Gwin in Canada this weekend! Henri Kiefer (GER - Sram Young Guns), for example, seemed to be completely unimpressed with the rain and set a time of 3.34,141 minutes, with an incredible 20-second gap towards Liam Reiner (AUT - DH Verein Innsbruck) in second and Lars Büngen (SUI - Team Oberalbis) in third place.
In the U15 category Jackson Goldstone (CAN - Fox, Kore) was the clear favorite after a great performance in Saturday’s race, but then was beat by Nuno Zuzarte Reis (POR - Fox Head Europe) who set the best time of the day with 3.22,088 minutes.
What a surprise! But who said there’s no rain in Portugal?! (After the race he told us that he tries to seize even the shortest rainfall to train under wet conditions, whenever he gets the chance.)
In the U17 male category a brand new Slovenian team demonstrated its skills. Marko Niemiz (SLO - Sinter Brakes Team) set a best time of 3.24,864 minutes which brought him the title at the end of the day. After running into some serious problems in the seeding, he was the first rider down the hill and occupied the Red Bull Hot Seat for the remainder of the race. During the last minutes, his team mate Zan Pris (SLO - Sinter Brakes Team) joined him in the hot seat, before Marc Höll (AUT - RC Kreuzer Racing) crossed the finish line in second place, pushing Pris to third.
The female U17 category once more crowned Valentina Höll (AUT - Sram RockShox Racing) as its champion. After the race, she confirmed the Rookies Championships to be the last “fun race” of her career, before it gets serious with the World Cup next year. The iXS Cup has accompanied her and saw her grow faster and faster for years now and it should be save to say that she is well-prepared for the big stage!
Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis is the place where we set the stage for our youngest riders and talents to open the gates to a promising career. The whole weekend is centered on you - the downhill youth - and covered by live footage to spread the word. The iXS Rookies Championships will return next year – same place, same time: Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis at the first weekend in August and it’s always worth a trip for your whole family – that’s a promise! Just make sure to save the date!