Sun, rain and champagne showers – the Gravity Games 2016 in rewind
The third edition of the iXS European Downhill Cup at Schladming provided all riders and the audience with 3 days of pure downhill action. More than 400 riders from 27 countries joined the Gravity Games from June 17-19, 2016, and took up the challenges that the legendary track and the inconsistent weather conditions had to offer. After 3 days of racing action, Slawomir Lukasik (POL) conquered the top of the podium – after his two second places in the previous races of the EDC, his victory was well deserved. Thanks to Petra Bernhard, the crowd at Schladming was able to celebrate an Austrian victory in the category Elite Women.
As probably fastest track in Europe, Schladming is attracting lots of international participants, year after year. Last weekend, the track on the Planai was again in perfect shape and challenged the downhill elite. During the runs, the excitement even rose with the weather changing. Already on Saturday, the riders got caught by the rain in the qualification. Thus, it got quite turbulent on the final grass passage. One rider who caused loud shouts and cheers in the crowd was the serial winner of the previous EDC races Johannes Fischbach. Despite his bail at the last turn, the German came in second in the seeding runs. Only beaten by David Trummer (AUT).
On the final day, the sun welcomed all riders – a condition which abruptly changed in the afternoon. Whereas the riders of the Elite Men in the Small Final still had some dry runs, the Superfinals evolved into a mud challenge with thrilling action. For a rather long time, the South African Stefan Garlicki took over the hot seat on which traditionally the current rider sits down. Then Laurie Greenland entered the race. Shortly before arriving in Schladming the favored Brit made his first top ten world cup result and took the full risk on the track: He barely made the last jump before crossing the finish line with a new best time and then crashing in the finishing area. His time was only beaten by an outstanding performance of Slawomir Lukasik. Already at the first intermediate he took the lead and subsequently came in first with a time of 4:17.135 and a 3.584 second lead. Well-deserved after his last two second places at the previous races.
It almost seemed like Petra Bernhard was competing in a league of her own. Even though the Styrian female rider had already resigned from her active racing career, she couldn’t say no to this legendary race in Schladming. She sent her run in a time of 5:12.733 and outpaced her competitors in the category Elite Women with a commanding lead of 12.622 seconds.
On all three days of the race, the spectators could enjoy an action-packed program – alongside with the iXS European Cup runs, two more thrilling side events took place: the Planai Pump Masters supported by Spark 7 and the Austrian Whip Offs presented by Bell – both of which were won by local riders: On Friday, Michael Amon won the title at the Planai Pump Masters and on Saturday, Manuel Schretter showed off the most stylish whip in front of the cheering crowd.