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MSA Day 4: Finals

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  •  Audio Images, Press Releases, World Cup DH

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The rain fell, the thunder boomed, but the track dried and the doom-sayers were quelled. The ensuing hours of racing produced some intense riding and impressive results. Gaetan Vige made good on his stellar Qualifying splits and pulling out the win in Junior men, just .031 over Finn Iles. Women’s saw a huge winning margin of 11+ seconds by Rachel Atherton, firmly reminding everyone why she’s now won 12 races in a row. In Men, series leader Aaron Gwin did his best to defend his title, but a crash in practice left him operating below optimal levels, and Danny Hart capitalized on the opportunity, putting down a wild run to take the win by .669 seconds, but only .055 seconds faster than Gwin’s qualifying time. We are in an epoch of racing with a deep field in all three categories, and the racing is as close as it’s been in years. With one round to go, Rachel has wrapped up her title, but Juniors and Mens are still to-be-decided, so the red Andorran hill of Vallnord is going to be the scene of a serious final battle. Take a scroll through the finals coverage, and we’ll be writing to you next from the penultimate round of the 2016 season.
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Simply unreal: 11.116 second win. Rachel Atherton is steely and brutally fast here at MSA.

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Going green, and packing the digits into the timing board, Rachel won with a commanding performance.

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Who wore it better? Beard-off with the day's Elite Women's winner.

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With the sun out and the track running fast, Magnus Mason put in his best Junior finish to date, going fastest at Split 1 and finishing 4th across the line. Super showing for the on-the-rise Canadian Junior.

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Adam Brayton was on a scrocher of a run, raising a few "Oh!"s out of the crowd. He went down in the last woods, though it was more of a save from disaster; eventually ending up in 42nd.

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Tahnee Seagrave has now put in two gritty race runs this year, first in Leogang with her elbow, and this weekend with a bum shoulder after a big stack in Qualifiers. 3rd place, and showing heart.

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Sporting a wicked shiner from her dirt nap on Firday, Tracey Hannah rallied and got aggressive for her second 2nd place finish of the year.

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The pint-size Spaniard, Mariana Salazar Palomo has been consistent and focused all season. She kept to her routine this weekend and finished out in 12th.

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Troy Brosnan has a dialed scrub, and put it to good use, blitzing into the area for 4th on the day.

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Freshly clad in a striped sleeve, Junior Nat'l Champs Gaetan Vige made good on his ace splits in Qualifying to take the win in Junior Men - his second of the season; he'll be the one to watch in Andorra at the last round.

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Cole Lucas in top gear and tearing tread, flatted not 3 seconds after this photo was taken - pushing hard doesn't always work out, but he still salvaged the mechanical for 12th.

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As Jimi Hendrix once sang, "Hear mah train a comin'..." - Brook MacDonald honestly set a new bar the weekend for what it means to ride aggressively. A well-deserved 8th place for the man they call Bulldog.

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During Finals, there was a small tribute to Steve Smith, replete with a chainsaw salute. #longlivechainsaw

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Marine Cabirou has been consistent to the point of repiticous with 7th places most of season - she faultered a little on this track, managing 9th on the day.

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Her splits had here on the bubble of another Top 5 finish, but Morgane Charre had a troublesome 4th Split, which shaw her finish in 8th.

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Sometimes, the numbers game is a weird one: Connor Fearon had his worst finish of the year in 15th, but it was he best result at MSA to date, and it moved him up to 5th overall because Loris Vergier got a flat.

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MSA is unforgiving, and it bit a fair few riders this week. Miriam Nicole had to sit out after a sizeable crash, resulting in some serious colors and a sprained ankle.

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MSA seems to inspire the big riders, especially the Canadians. Henry Fitzgerald had his best World Cup finish this weekend with 7th.

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I took this same shot of Josh Bryceland in 2015 when he won (from a slightly different angle) - why change a good thing though? 33rd is a far cry from the top step, but he was having more fun than anyone else, and isn't that what it's all about anyways?

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Putting on a show for her home crowd, Vaea Verbeeck put in a great run for 10th.

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The expectations were high for the seriies leader Finn Iles heading into the Canadian round. He held up under pressure well, finding himself in 2nd once the dust settled - a mere .031 between him and Vige.

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“I will build a great track - and nobody builds tracks better than me, believe me - and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great track on our biggest moutain, and I will make the UCI pay for that track. Mark my words.” - Donald Trump

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Turning a quarter of a century old this week, Harry Health celebrated with some sideways action, slotting into 47th in Finals.

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MSA is unforgiving, and perhaps Benoit Coulanges considered this...he road smooth and fast all weekend, but didn't seem inspired. 45th is a little out from his usual home in the 20's, but the Canadian round is often more about survival and winning.

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8th in Finals, Nik Nesteroff was likely looking for a slightly higher result, but it's a still a strong finish on a mental track.

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She's won here before, so Manon Carpenter knows who it takes to be on the top step. Riding steady and composed, she kept things smart and upright for a 4th place finish.

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Mick Hannah knows what the people want, and the people want unexpected tricks over the finishline huck. 34th - not bad for riding with no hands!

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Keeping it as low as he can go, Gee Atherton rode smart this weekend, finishing out in 11th.

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Georgia Astle made the quick flight from the West Coast to the East Coast, from Whistler to MSA, and put down a heater of a run for 7th.

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What a killer day for Luca Shaw! 5th place for the young gun, he's really finding his stride in the second half of 2016.

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Racing is a family affair. The Shaw men stoked after a mega weekend of racing.

Determined and focused, Kaos Seagrave has been putting in the hard graft this summer. He let things loose just enough to get wild, but found the line and held on for 9th - consistent progress.

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What could have been...sometimes, a consolation beer can't quite soften the blow of disappointment. Remy Morton was on form in a big way here at MSA, but a flat haulted his persuit of a podium finish.

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Sometimes, it's more about riding smart than riding fast. Greg Minnaar knew this weekend would require some serious risk-taking, and opted to ride more conservatively in favor of maintaining his overall. If only we all could end up in 6th riding conservatively...

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Elliot Heap literally held on for dear life all weekend, and managed to grit his teeth and land in 3rd.

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Tough Guy Award goes to Elliot Heap for MSA. Inexplicitly, he had savage blisters on the palms of his hands after Timed Training, and rode Qualifiers with "salt and brake cleaner" on his grips, finally managing to at least tape up his mits for Finals. Brutal. 3rd place; impressive.

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Another stellar finish for Florent Payet with 10th - it's pretty intereting to see someone have a breakout season at 30 years old!

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Looking right down the barrel of the big gun, Brendan Fairclough knew he could finish high up, but after some issues on Friday, backed things off a little to finish a tidy 12th.

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Kevin Marry is a relatively unknown Junior rider from France. 5th here in MSA is quickly turning that around.

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Dang. Matt Walker is back, and crushing it as usual. 28th at his first race since Ft Bill - not bad, not bad at all.

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Taking the Kiwi approach to racing, Emlie Steigenthaler ditch the gloves and sent it into 6th here at MSA.

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Save-Of-The-Day goes to Graeme Mudd who nearly wrote himself off for the weekend about 1 second later. He wanted to finish higher, but 57th will do for for now.

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After struggling with the track ealier in the week, Veronika Widmann reeled it in and tamed the beast for 11th.

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Keeping it low and precise, Sylvain Cougoureaux put in a steady ride for 6h place.

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Miranda Miller, what isn't there to say about her? A threat on any bike, and a natural talent, she went 2/2/3/3 at the Splits. She lost some momentum at the bottom it seems, fnishing out in 5th.

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Low and looking ahead, Loic Bruni could see the green on the timing board at this point and knew he was on a top run, and crossed into 1st.

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Loic Bruni has found a quick return to form, and nervously sat in the hotseat for 16 riders before getting bumped down to second, and then to an eventual 3rd place. Stupendous first race back...

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On a track that was so rough, so fast, and so gnarly, finding extra time was a feat of bravery. Danny Hart, putting in an audacious performance for the win.

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After viciously greeting the ground in his second practice run before Finals, it's remarkable that Aaron Gwin was still able to race as flat out as he did. Last man down the hill, he is a man who wants to win, so settling for 2nd crossing the line was perhaps not ideal.

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They say lightning doesn't strike twice, and for good reason - Danny Hart's second win of the year was a hard-fought victory, and well deserved.

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