Reece Wilson's first elite World Cup win took absolute guts
Reece Wilson is one of the most clever and meticulous riders in downhill racing. And on arguably the rockiest, most punishing course on the 2021 World Cup circuit, he was nearly technically perfect to win his first career elite World Cup race by just 0.032 seconds — that’s three-hundredths — over Loïc Bruni.
Trek Factory Racing teammate Loris Vergier took third to join him on the podium and complete a huge day for Trek athletes. Earlier, Vali Höll won her first career elite World Cup race at just 19 years old.
“Absolutely not,” Wilson said after the race when asked whether he thought he’d get his first World Cup win. “I didn’t realize it would happen so fast. An amazing run, an amazing run.”
Wilson got off to a fast start on Wednesday. His time at the second split was nearly a second faster than Vergier, who was the second fastest rider to that point. Wilson needed the cushion. A wobble knocked him off line in the midst of the rock garden in the bottom half of the course. At the fourth and final split, he was in third place by half a second to Bruni. But Wilson closed strong with a fast, clean sprint to regain the gap and win by a faint margin.
“I like to be on line, I like to be pretty precise. So on this track you have to be very willing to be comfortable when you get put off line,” Wilson said. “I made a bit of a bobble on that bottom rock garden and it threw me off into the rocks, and it just all looks the same. It’s just sharp rocks pointing right at you. It’s so scary.”
Before Wednesday, Wilson’s best result in an elite World Cup event was fourth, which he has accomplished twice, most recently this past June in Leogang. He was on pace for an excellent follow-up to his 2020 World Championship season, until a big crash in sloppy conditions in Les Gets set him back. Wilson was physically OK after the crash, but he admitted after his Snowshoe run that the incident rattled his confidence.
“Don’t ever underestimate a massive crash, it does a lot to your head,” Wilson said. “Ever since Les Gets, I’ve felt like I’ve had to restart again from there, and it takes a lot to get the confidence to ride over the limit and over the edge because there’s so many guys here willing to push it. You have to be 110 percent confident.”
Wilson has his mojo back, and with just one World Cup race left, a second run down the Snowshoe track this Saturday, he could earn even more hardware. He currently sits fourth in the overall World Cup standings, 223 points behind leader Thibaut Daprela and 98 points behind third-place Bruni, with 250 points on offer to Saturday’s winner.
Meanwhile, Vergier is in second place, just 46 points behind Daprela. His bronze Wednesday was his third straight medal in a World Cup event, coming off of back-to-back wins. Now, he is in shouting distance of an overall World Cup title after Daprela suffered a mechanical crash Wednesday and was unable to finish his run.
The TFR downhill boys are peaking just in time for what is shaping up to be a monumental World Cup finale. You don’t want to miss it.