Its been a busy last couple of weeks for Connor Fearon. After resting up in Bromont with Kona Gravity Team Manager Mathieu Dupelle, Connor, teammate Anthony Poulson and Quebec Junior Tristan Lemire hopped over the border to take part in the US Open in Killington Vermont, then just a week later they would be back in Canada for round six of the DH World Cup at legendary venue Mont St. Anne. Things haven’t let up for Connor though, he’s now on the ground in Whistler for Crankworx where he’ll be taking part in select events over the week. We will be bringing you all the updates from our athletes at Crankworx so stay tuned to Kona’s Instagram and right here on the Cog. In the meantime check out Connors reports from the US Open and MSA below.
Connor Fearon while he still had a front brake. Photo: Andrew Santoro
Breaking Away – US Open Report
The US Open has been a big race since 2003. I remember the days when I was really young reading about it in magazines and seeing it in classic Clay Porter videos. So I was really stoked we could fit it in our schedule this year and make the trip over the border to the US. The race was held at Killington Resort in Vermont, I had only heard good things about this bike park and it didn’t let me down.
Tristan Lemire leaning it it in. Photo: Andrew Santoro
The course was pretty old school, it was pretty much a completely new track with really technical wood sections covered in roots and rock gardens. It was really important to pick your lines well and just keep momentum, definitely a change of style from all the World Cups I’ve been racing this year. It was raining pretty much every day and the track didn’t cope with that well since it was so soft still.
Young Tristan Lemire is having a killer season racking up podiums everywhere he goes. Watch This Kid! Photo: Andrew Santoro
Practice and qualifying all went well. The condition of the track got worse and worse which made it pretty fun to ride. Some of the root sections where so hard to ride and it was a battle just to keep moving forward on the track. I qualified 2nd behind Neko and had a few ideas on how to go faster the next day for the finals.
It rained heavily all Friday night and by the time the elite men raced on Saturday afternoon the track was destroyed. My run was going well until I washed out on a rocky corner about halfway down. I wasn’t stressed because I knew the times would be so spread out I knew I could still get a good result… Until I got back on my bike and realized my front brake lever had snapped off in the crash. I kept riding, but it was so sketchy trying to ride the slippery seep sections with only one brake. I finished in 10th which was good considering the crashed and only have a rear brake but I really wanted to do better! I’ll be back next year for sure.
Cold Mountain – MSA world cup
I’ve always had a tough time at Mont St Anne. I’ve got flat tires in my race, crashes and I’ve missed it because of injury on two separate occasions. I was confident I would turn my luck around for this year, my goal was to get a top 10, something I have never done at Mont St Anne.
First up we had track walk on Wednesday. It was classic MSA top to bottom – super fast and rough, albeit with one new section in the woods which was good to see. There didn’t seem to have been that much track maintenance happening because there were loose boulders and water ruts all the way down the track.
Thursday came around which was the first day of practice. It started raining really heavily for group A practice. It was super muddy and pretty slow for our practice and timed training runs. Half of practice was also canceled due to the lift being closed because of lightning so most riders got only three runs in. Conditions were a little better for qualifying on Friday. I was feeling good on the bike but got a flat tire in the first half of my run. It was my fault because I went off line and destroyed my wheel on a rock causing the tubeless tire to lose all the air. This was pretty disappointing because I really needed some points for the overall as the top 10 is really tight and there is only one more race to go after MSA.
Saturday was race day and the sun was out. The track was drying rapidly and looked to be running really fast for finals. I was confident in the start gate and everything felt good. My run was really smooth and I made no mistakes. I’d never felt this good riding here. Usually, I get really bad arm pump and fatigue towards the bottom, this time I hardly felt tired at all. In the end, I finished 15th which was a bit disappointing, I knew I just didn’t push hard enough. It was one of those races where I wish I could do my run again because I knew I left a lot of time on the hill, but that’s how it goes sometimes!
Next year Mont St Anne is hosting world champs so I’m not going to make the same mistake then!