In the women’s field, Balanche beat out local favorite Vali Holl, who crashed within sight of the finish line but was still able to secure a second-place finish. Balanche’s win, the first World CUp victory of her career, backs up her World Championships title.
“My run was perfect so there was nothing I could do better in the range that I wanted to take risks,” Balache said in a post-race interview. “I’m just really happy.”
Australian Tory Brosnan was feeling confident all weekend, setting the fastest time in Friday’s qualifying run by six-seconds. Brosnan is regularly on the World Cup podium, but the victory is his first trip to the top step since 2017.
“After qualifying, I was so confident and happy, just good to be back on the pace,” Brosnan said.
The course was similar to the course at last year’s World Championships in Leogang, with the traditional top section and a new lower woods section. Rainy conditions early in the week proved tough throughout practice, but the track dried out for final race runs
How it unfolded: men’s downhill race
Trek’s Kade Edwards was the first man to beat Brosnan’s qualifying time, but there was still a big group of riders left to leave the start hut.
Heading into the top-30 men, Laurie Greenland set a fast time, but that benchmark was quickly eclipsed by Frenchman Amaury Pierron.
The lower woods section—steep, slick, and riddled with roots—proved to be the deciding section on the day. No matter how fast a rider was going on the top section, it could all be lost in the woods. That happened to big guns like last year’s World Cup overall champion Matt Walker and multi-time World Champion Loic Bruni.
Other riders had issues, too. Brook Macdonald crashed in the same spot as Holl did, and Loris Vergier slowly rode down the hill after a flat tire.
Pierron remained in the hot seat, and with the top-5 men about to drop in, it looked like his time might hold. But his teammate and fellow countryman Thibaut Daprela put in a wild run to beat him by 0.243 seconds.
On another day, Daprela’s run could have won, but Brosnan put in a flawless performance, taking the win with a time of 3:26.019.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” Brosnan said at the finish line. “I just had an amazing World Cup, and I’m super stoked. But now there’s a little bit more on the line I guess. I might have to up [my goals] a little bit.”
The next downhill World Cup will take place on 3 July in Les Gets, France.
How it unfolded: women’s downhill race
Vali Holl was the rider to beat after setting the fastest qualifying time with a margin of three seconds over Myriam Nicole. The Austrian would be the final rider out of the start gate on race day at her home World Cup race.
With ten riders left to go, Emilie Siegenthaler was sitting in the hot seat with a time of 4:20.667. Then Tahnee Seagrave was the first woman to set a time that was faster than Holl’s qualifying mark.
Balanche then set the fastest time of the day of 4:07.850, but there were four riders still at the top. Holl had three seconds on Balanche’s split time heading into the critical woods section but crashed at the end of the track.
“I was just so confident coming to Leogang because I just love this track, and I just stayed confident from day one,” the World Champion said. “I mean I have nothing to prove. It was another day, other conditions, so I’m just happy.”
“It’s my first elite World Cup so second is sick, but I just messed it up so bad in the last corner before the finish,” Holl said. “I felt like I had the speed, I had the confidence, It just didn’t happen.”