The Calm Before The Storm – Fort William Qualification

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With practice in the morning and qualifying in the afternoon, Saturday was chock-a-block from start to finish at Fort William. Riders had plenty of time to get more familiar with the race track and the new rock-armoured section in the woods, while also getting their setup dialled in for the loose and dusty track surface.

The weather just about managed to hold up for most of the day, with only a brief shower falling between the women’s and men’s qualification sessions. Later on in the evening around 7pm though, the heavens finally opened up. A torrent of rain lashed it down over the Nevis Range, dousing all the poor marshals, photographers and spectators who’d amassed around the finish line chute to watch the 4X finals.

We were cooped up in the Media Centre next door to the finish line area, where the heavy rain had began pouring in around the open doors, and part of the marquee’s roof had given way in the near corner – conveniently right where all the power, routers and Wifi units were sitting.

The rain petered off about an hour later, just in time for all the the midges to resume their hunt for human blood. Likewise, the sticky conditions haven’t gone anywhere. Right now we’re at 91% humidity, and the temperature is due to peak at around 22°C today. In the woods section, it feels like a tropical rainforest. A bigger concern for riders than heat and humidity is more rain – the current forecast predicts rain to hit around 1pm, and if it’s as heavy as it was last night, then that’ll be a big issue for racers out on track.

The schedule for today kicks off with the Junior World Cup finals at 9:45am. Elite Women will be racing at 12:30pm, and the Elite Men will be racing at 1:30pm. We’ll be on-course to capture all the action in and around the racing, so stay tuned for more drama and excitement from the racing action.

In the meantime, we’ve put together a gallery of images from yesterday’s qualifying sessions, to give you some insight into the track conditions, the atmosphere, and just how pinned these racers are. For full results from qualifying, see our news story here on who was fastest on the day. Enjoy!

Mariana Salazar mentally prepares herself.
Myriam Nicole doing her best Jamaican Bobsled Team impersonation.
If in doubt.
Miranda Miller warming up on her Specialized Stumpjumper next to the top gondola station.
Emilie Siegenthaler in high spirits.
Just incase the incoming storm wasn’t enough to remind us we’re in Scotland.
Breakfast is served!
And they’re off! Myriam Nicole straight out the gate, looking low and fast.
The rain clouds looming over the top of the Ben Nevis Range.
Rachel Atherton posted the fastest time in the Elite Women’s field for qualifying.
Tahnee Seagrave, pinned in pink.
Myriam Nicole at the final few berms of the top section.
Monika Hrastnik clearly took note of the cardboard sign…
.. as did Tracey Hannah.
Enjoying the bagpipes.
Mariana Salazar heads up to the balcony, presumably for the bagpipes.
Aaron Gwin off to a good start. Unfortunately a cut in his tyre just before the halfway mark saw him ‘limp’ home with the 17th fastest time in Elite Men. This guy is unreal.
Some well needed rain arrives.
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Dakota Norton of the newly-formed Unior/Devinci team gets himself into the top-10 for qualifying.
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Danny Hart was chuffed with his qualifying run yesterday, and he looked calm and collected from top to bottom.
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Gwin’s younger team mate, Neko Mulally, posted the 16th fastest time in Elite Men. Has he got more in the tank for race day?
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Young gun Amaury Pierron of the Commencal/Vallnord team lifts rubber off the rocks.
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Charly Dipasquale launching it.
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Elliott Heap heading down for a pie.
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Maxime Ciriego sends it through the trees.
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Brook Macdonald heading into the new woods section.

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fort william david trummer propain
David Trummer taking the inside line through the woods.
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Here we see the cameraman luring the rider off the jump with a baited boom.
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Some racers were getting some serious air during qualies!
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A crash towards the end of qualies put a hefty delay on the final few runs, with spectators moving down the hill after waiting around for some time.
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Never hurts to style it up when the opportunity presents itself like that.
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The final sprint for the finish line is properly quick.
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Nearly there!
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Rob Warner & Claudio Caluori chatting through the qualification results in the commentating booth.
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They wear funny hats in Scotland.
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British riders George Gannicott (right) and Laclan Blair patiently waiting to see how their runs stacked up.

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