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Dark Woods: Practice

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It started off well enough. It was dry and dusty, nice and warm. Then the rains moved in à la traditional Mont-Sainte-Anne style. The already dark deciduous forests here have turned nearly nighttime black with the cloud cover. Therefore, today's post is entirely in black and white. It wouldn't be a World Cup here in with out a bit of rain, though. With the rain starting during the downhill finals and continuing well into the night things are going to be hairy tomorrow. Both the men's and women's fields are much reduced in numbers as we've seen so far in Europe this season but the majority of the big guns are here and ready to do battle.
Last checks before practice.
Last checks before practice.
Florian Vogel charging through a dry La Patriote.
Florian Vogel charging through a dry La Patriote.
New SRAM Abbey Bike Tools.
New SRAM Abbey Bike Tools.
Nino talks suspension settings for the weekend with the SRAM engineers.
Nino talks suspension settings for the weekend with the SRAM engineers.
Carlos Coloma gets it sideways over the gap.
Carlos Coloma gets it sideways over the gap.
Nino railing the fast turns.
Nino railing the fast turns.
Give it some jandal bru.
Give it some jandal bru.
Catharine Pendrel will be one to watch on home soil tomorrow.
Catharine Pendrel will be one to watch on home soil tomorrow.
Kate Courtney testing the waters after the rain through La Patriote.
Kate Courtney testing the waters after the rain through La Patriote.
Julian Absalon is back and starting in 17th position. Anyone want to bet how long it takes him to move up and battle with Nino
Julian Absalon is back and starting in 17th position. Anyone want to bet how long it takes him to move up and battle with Nino?
Annie Last looking aggressive as ever after her win in Lenzerheide. She s on the short list here in MSA especially if the rain continues.
Annie Last looking aggressive as ever after her win in Lenzerheide. She's on the short list here in MSA, especially if the rain continues.
The Cannondale crew giving a lesson to onlookers on how to use speed to stay on line though slick rocks.
The Cannondale crew giving a lesson to onlookers on how to use speed to stay on line though slick rocks.
Emily Batty has been hitting all her lines despite the changing conditions.
Emily Batty has been hitting all her lines, despite the changing conditions.
Rose Grant finding out just how slick those roots are after a bit of rain.
Rose Grant finding out just how slick those roots are after a bit of rain.
Mathias Flueckiger powers up the punchy woods section climbs.
Mathias Flueckiger powers up the punchy woods section climbs.
Torque.
Torque.
It was dusty earlier in the week but in traditional MSA fashion tires are leaving imprints int he mud.
It was dusty earlier in the week, but in traditional MSA fashion, tires are leaving imprints in the mud.
Anne Tauber sliding down Beatrice. Her line caused her front wheel to slip sending her off balance. She saved it went up again and nailed it.
Anne Tauber sliding down Beatrice. Her line caused her front wheel to slip, sending her off balance. She saved it, went up again and nailed it.
Marco Fontana coming to grip with that slick MSA rock.
Marco Fontana coming to grip with that slick MSA rock.
Marc Beaumont shouting some very very useful tips to Grant Ferguson.
Marc Beaumont shouting some very, very useful tips to Grant Ferguson.
Grant did question Beaumont s tips.
Grant did question Beaumont's tips.
David Serano will be looking to turn up the heat tomorrow.
David Serano will be looking to turn up the heat tomorrow.
If you watched the Downhill today you know conditions might be a little like this tomorrow.
If you watched the downhill today, you know conditions might be a little like this tomorrow.
Sergio Mantecon making quick work of the rock slabs.
Sergio Mantecon making quick work of the rock slabs.
Anton Cooper flying through the long gone dust.
Anton Cooper flying through the long gone dust.
Jenny Rissveds is back after a long absence this season. Will it take time for her to get back up to speed
Jenny Rissveds is back after a long absence this season. Will it take time for her to get back up to speed?
Julien Absalon is back and looking sharp. The Frenchman who has won it all is fully recovered from a broken collarbone.
Julien Absalon is the second big gun who returns to the World Cup. The Frenchman who has won it all is fully recovered from a broken collarbone.
We have just witnessed what might have been the best downhill run ever by Aaron Gwin as rains came pouring down. A run second to none. Tomorrow's cross-country racers will have to watch their steps as rain is continuing to pour down. How (or if) the track dries up might prove vital for some. For others, it might just cause them to elevate their game. Tune in tomorrow for more XC action.