Pinkbike Awards 2021: Winner of the performance of the year
Performance winner of the year
2021 Nominated for performance of the year include Greg Minnaar for winning a fourth DH World Championship title in Val di Sole, Evie Richards for winning the Cross Country World Championships before winning an Elite Cross Country World Cup, Reece Wilson for winning won the DH Racket World Cup almost a year after winning the World Championships, Brandon Semenuk for winning Rampage for a record fourth time, and Christopher Blevins for securing his first-ever World Cup victory on American soil during his first Elite year. But there can only be one winner and this year’s winner is …
Christopher Blevins took the short track victory at the Val di Sole world championships, but a quick and tactical short track victory doesn’t make you a favorite in Olympic long distance cross country even by any means.
Blevins’ best racing result of the season ahead of Snowshoe in the long distance event was 13th in the season opener at Albstadt, and the last time he had competed in a world-class XCO race. three weeks earlier, he had finished 18th. place. The previous time, he had started a World Cup race, he had finished 30th. If you were a gambler, there’s a good chance you weren’t betting on the young American from Durango, Colorado.
Line up in the front row after a fourth place finish in Friday night’s short track race, Blevins placed 23rd overall in the World Cup XC Series, a respectable ranking for a first-year Elite rider. But Blevins quickly found himself struggling in the top five throughout the seven-lap course alongside Nino Schurter, Henrique Avancini, Vlad Dascalu, Ondrej Cink and Luca Braidot. With six riders in the lead, he was sure someone wouldn’t get on the final World Cup of the Year podium, but who was going to be the first to drop the high pace?
Schurter started testing the peloton attack after attack early in the final lap, looking strong enough to finally secure that record 33rd World Cup victory to break Julien Absalon’s record before Braidot took the lead towards the end of the last lap. , no doubt looking for his first World Cup victory. Blevins remained behind the wheel of the leading couple, without wasting energy to take the lead. It was Schurter who took the lead and helped Dascalu and Blevins outrun the bigger field, neither of whom have ever won a World Cup race in the Elite category.
Then, on the final climb of the course, Blevins launched his attack, taking the lead for the first time and pulling away for a 9-second victory. Christopher Blevins is only in his first year in the Elite category and wins his very first World Cup at home.
How important is this victory? Well, to put it in perspective, the United States hosted the first world championships in Durango, Colorado in 1990, but American cross country runners haven’t seen much success on the world stage in recent years. years. In fact, with this victory, Blevins becomes the first American rider to win an XCO World Cup race since Tinker Juarez in 1994. If you want to feel old, that means an American has never won a Cup race. of the XC world in Christopher Blevins. lifetime.
An unexpected win like this is why we love running so much. The race exceeded all expectations, including those of Blevins, and set a new benchmark for American runners.
You can watch the replay of the event here.