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With the DH World Champs loom­ing, we check in with Greg Min­naar & Aaron Gwin

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FRANCE’S AMAURY PIER­RON may have won the DH World Cup se­ries with one round still to go, but when it comes to the World Cham­pi­onships, all eyes will still be on the two big dogs of down­hill, Amer­ica’s Aaron Gwin (19 World Cup wins) and South Africa’s Greg Min­naar (21 World Cups and three World Champs). Both suf­fered in­juries that pre­vented them from com­pet­ing in all rounds of this year’s World Cup – reign­ing champ Gwin in­jured his thumb dur­ing his fi­nals run in Fort Wil­liam, while Min­naar broke his arm a cou­ple of days be­fore. So, does that mean

they’ve set their sights on win­ning the cov­eted rain­bow stripes in Len­z­er­heide, Switzer­land, in­stead?

“Yes, I’d def­i­nitely say that,” Gwin told us. “It was a huge bum­mer for me hav­ing to pull out of the World Cup sea­son, I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to World Champs now. I had that small crash in Val di Sole, which ag­gra­vated the in­jury. It set me back, but we’re mak­ing progress now and I’m hop­ing to be 100 per cent be­fore Len­z­er­heide.”

Min­naar said he was just keen to get rac­ing again. “I think it’s im­por­tant for me to get back up to speed be­fore Len­z­er­heide, so I can be back to my usual self. I’ve en­joyed watch­ing the sport from the side­lines but my true love is be­tween the tape. It’s been a chal­lenge, but I’m back rid­ing down­hill and now I need to get strong and fast.”

What about the pres­sure of the World Champs be­ing a win­ner-takes-all event? “Yeah, it’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent pres­sure,” said Min­naar. “If you’ve never had the rain­bow stripes, you’re go­ing to al­ways want them, and if you’ve had them, you’re go­ing to want them again!”

Gwin wasn’t so sure. “I kinda feel less pres­sure, in a way,” he ex­plained. “For me, it’s a ‘win or noth­ing’ kind of race. It’s just one run and you can just go for it.”

And do th­ese two greats value the pres­tige that comes with win­ning a World Cham­pi­onships? “Well, see­ing as I’ve never won it, I’m be­gin­ning to value it very highly! Haha!” laughed Gwin.

“It’s def­i­nitely high up there,” said Min­naar. “I thought it was easy, after win­ning my first World Champs in 2003, but it took me an­other nine years to win my sec­ond!”

“There are el­e­ments of my train­ing that we’ll ad­just to­wards the Len­z­er­heide track, but the prepa­ra­tion re­mains the same as for ev­ery race,” Min­naar told us.

Mean­while, Gwin is fo­cused on let­ting his thumb heal and get­ting his body back in shape. “Len­z­er­heide isn’t the most phys­i­cal track on the cir­cuit,” he said. “So I re­ally want to fo­cus on my speed and to have my bike set up well, so that I’m com­fort­able push­ing the pace.”

Fi­nally, how do they feel about putting on those na­tional jer­seys to rep­re­sent their coun­tries? “It’s fun to wear the USA jersey,” said Gwin. “It’s cool to have that ex­tra vibe with my US team­mates.”

Min­naar agreed: “It’s re­ally cool! Guys get cre­ative and do up their bikes and gear in na­tional colours. It al­ways makes World Champs fun.”

You can catch all the ac­tion from Len­z­er­heide live on Red Bull TV. The down­hill rac­ing takes place on Sun­day 9 Septem­ber.


Pre­vi­ous page Aaron Gwin was on for the win in Len­z­er­heide at last year’s World Cup, un­til a flat tyre put him out of con­tentionThis page Greg Min­naar is look­ing to re­peat his Swiss suc­cess in 2017 and claim his fourth World Champs ti­tle

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