Mont Sainte Anne has been a fixture of the World Cup circuit every year since 1993, and 2020 sees its 27 year run come to and end.
COVID-19 claimed another victim in the form of the Mont Sainte Anne World Cup this week as the event was cancelled on request of the organisers. Both the downhill and cross country events will not go ahead.
Rather than wallow in the news, we picked our favourite things about Mont Sainte Anne to show just how good 2021 will be.
Peaty being the man to beat
Four wins between ’99 and ’04 put Steve Peat as the main man when it came to Mont Sainte Anne. Sam Hill would come close with three wins, but old Peatydog would always be at the sharp end when the World Cup headed to Quebec, and when he did win, it would be comfortably. No tenths of a second here or there.
Sam Hill’s winning 2010 World Champs run
A wrecked shoulder at the Fort William World Cup in June of that year would put Sam Hill out for the rest of the 2010 World Cup season. The quiet Aussie would throw his chips in and go for broke at the World Championships.
The changeable conditions suited Hill with his ability to ride tracks the same regardless of conditions, and would occupy the hot seat for most of the afternoon. A rare show of emotion as he bagged the stripes, the second set that day after Troy Brosnan took the Junior title.
Gwin wins in the wet
Dean Lucas sat comfy in the hot seat, the Aussie having put a run together in better conditions than most as the rain hammered down on that August afternoon in 2017.
What he hadn’t counted on was Aaron Gwin. Going head-to-head with Minnaar had forced the Californian to up his game and boy did he. Gwin would attack a soaking wet Canadian mountain and bag an historic win in the process.
Gee’s 40mph crash
2012 saw Gee Atherton take an almighty in the open piste while putting a hot lap in during practice. Any mere mortal would simply be hoovered off the track but not Gee. Gee popped some painkillers, strapped himself up, would qualify sixth and end up fourth in finals.
Hard. As. Nails.
Steve Smith wins at home 2013
Hailing from British Columbia and too young to have raced the Grouse Mountain World Cups, Steve Smith would win his ‘home’ World Cup with the Maple leaf on his left arm despite a damp track.
Smith would build into his run, keeping Gee Atherton honest on the top two splits before pulling a second in the final sector to take the win. Magic.
Myriam Nicole returns to win 2019 Champs
Myriam Nicole’s injury list is longer than most, and the French rider sees to rarely complete a full World Cup season. A training crash saw her break and dislocate her foot, wrecking her pre-season hopes.
In full French fashion, she’d battle through the injury and recovery to take the 2019 UCI Downhill World Championship title despite being pushed all the way by Seagrave and Cabirou.
Jonnier and Atherton domination
With eleven wins between them, it’s fair to say that Sabrina Jonnier and Rachel Atherton have dominated the last decade of racing in Canada. Add Anne-Caro’s four wins to Jonnier’s six and Atherton’s five, you have three riders who have sewn up almost every Elite Womens downhill wins since 1998.
Consistently brilliant track
There are few tracks that deliver the goods quite as consistently as Mont Sainte Anne. It’s also got pretty much everything you’d need in a downhill track too. Rocks, roots, mud, bedrock, high speed, low speed, big jumps, small jumps… It’s also one of the longest and most physical tracks on the circuit.
That rock garden
Mont Sainte Anne sports a fair heft of rock, that’s for sure, but its rock garden in the lower woods has been a staple for many a moon and has been the site of some of the worst crashes and mechanicals we can remember, but also where an amazing run turns into an historic one.
Gondola scrub hip
Arguably the most shot location on any World Cup track ever. Shot from every conceivable angle, and you can kind of see why. Some of the best shots are when the mountain flowers are out in force to add a splash of colour to the high summer sun.
For many World Cup starts, the shelter afforded to riders is very much an after thought. Small white ezy-ups can get battered by the storm that will no doubt arrive for men’s finals, or offer a modest roll into the track.
Not Mont Sainte Anne though…
Steve Smith’s drop
Ludicrous finish line jumps
Back in the early 2000s, Mont Sainte Anne tested tired riders by making them negotiate a seriously big finish straight jump. Many would fall foul of this behemoth, even Fabien Barel would see his season over with a dislocated shoulder here, only to come back and win the World Championships once he’d recovered.
One part of the joy of Mont Sainte Anne, for the racers anyway, is pitting themselves against each other at the infamous go kart track. We’ve heard more than a few black flag stories, rumours of people banned for life and tall tales of multiple pile-ups.
Enjoy some vintage 2008 Freecaster Invitational carnage.
We reckon old TJ might well have blasted his sense of smell into his colon in this poorly-executed huck…
Mont Sainte Anne would be famous for its waterfalls, and would be a regular pre-race haunt whenever the World Cup circus rolled into town.