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Connor Fearon Battles Flat Tire at World Champs

The 2018 downhill season has reached its end, but not without an incredible finale. The pinnacle event- World Championships- was held in the stunning mountain village of Lenzerheide, Switzerland this past Sunday. Kona’s Connor Fearon was on a tear in qualifying, with an incredible third place finish. Finals day was the first dry day of the week and as the track dried out the times were getting faster and faster. As is always the case in finals, riders tend to demolish qualifying times in their race runs. Sunday was no exception with rider after rider ticking seconds away from Friday’s times. Belgian rider Martin Maes held onto the hot seat while dozens of riders lost traction in slippery corners, or crashed out in the roots sections. As Connor came down he was on a solid run within striking distance of Maes. However, while nearing the bottom he suffered a rear puncture that would end his chances for a top-five finish. Fortunately, Connor had a tire insert that helped him ride out the flat with a very respectable 15th place finish. The final victory went to French rider Loic Bruni. Thanks for a strong season, Connor! We’re proud to work with you and are thrilled with your results this season.

 

“The World Championships are always the hardest race of the year, everybody comes in wanting a medal, and they’re willing to ride 120% for it. I really like the track in Lenzerheide so I had high expectations for myself here. After qualifying third I was really hoping for a top-five finish to end my season well. My run was really good until near the bottom when I started to feel my rear tire going flat, I had a tire insert so was able to ride it out until the end. I still finished 15th which stings because I know the flat cost me a couple seconds at the bottom, but that’s racing sometimes. The main thing is I’ve finished the season healthy and hungry for more next year.”

-Connor Fearon

Crankworx 2018

It’s been a whirlwind week as we wrapped up Crankworx Whistler, 2018 this past week. We rode the rollercoaster of a parched and smokey Whistler, BC for 10 days and what a ride it was!

With no official booth on site, we spent most of our week competing in events, catching up with old industry friends, and riding some of the best trails in the world.

Kona athletes had a strong showing in the EWS, Speed and Style, Air Downhill, Whip Offs, and the Canadian Open.

The Riders

Tristan Lemere, who took first place in the men’s junior category for Air DH AND Canadian Open DH!

 

EWS racer Alexander Kangas

 

EWS racer Scott Countryman

 

EWS racer and Kona Supreme, Hannah Bergemann

 

Super stylish mega whip master, Caleb Holonko

 

Downhill racer Anthony Poulson

 

Downhill racer and current holder of the #10 world ranking, Connor Fearon

 

Master of style and going big, Graham Agassiz

 

The Action

Kangas on course at the EWS

 

Bergemann navigating the Whistler forests during the EWS

 

Countryman on his way to 69th place in the EWS

 

Lemere on his way to victory in the Air Downhill

 

Kangas finished 35th on the iconic A Line track

 

Connor Fearon seems to really love the number 10. 10th place in the Air DH for the Aussi.

 

Anthony Poulson on A Line

 

Caleb Holonko in Speed and Style

 

Fearon going big in Whip Worlds

 

Aggy always gets sideways during Whip Worlds. Unfortunately, he went down and broke his scapula. Here’s hoping for a quick recovery!

 

Holonko made it to finals and was boosting huge the entire session.

 

Holonko in the stratosphere

 

Connor on his way to a scorching 2nd place in the Canadian Open DH.

Tristan Lemere taking his second gold of the week at the Canadian Open DH!

Congrats to all of the athletes and their amazing results. That’s a wrap for Cranwkorx 2018!

Connor Fearon Experiences Four Seasons in One Weekend at Val di Sole

Val di Sole this past weekend marked the middle point of the UCI DH World Cup season and the return to one the more classic DH courses of the last decade. Val di Sole is not for the faint-hearted, massive roots, huge holes and its sheer steepness have always meant that the racing and results can be somewhat unpredictable.

Due to Connors hand injury, he missed last years final world cup round at Val di Sole where some major course changes were made. Arriving at the course for round four last weekend he had this to say. “The track looks good this year. Val di Sole is definitely the hardest track on the circuit. It’s just gnarly section after gnarly section the whole way down. I missed this race last year when they made lots of changes so about half the track is new to me. It looks like there’s some rain coming but the track dries up really quickly so I’d say it’s going to be dry come race day”

Connor was not wrong about race day being dry, however, the forecasted storms did arrive and timed training, practice and qualification bore the brunt of that. Rain on the track really shock up the qualifications with times posted before the downpour being considerably faster, a large number of riders from the back of the field made it to the main event while some heavy hitters, not able to cope with the changing conditions had to enjoy the non-quali-party. “The track is really hard to ride in the wet. There’s just roots and rocks the whole way down it’s hard to even steer straight” Connor, although protected and racing his qualification run in the wet, posted a solid 13th result, earning more points towards his overall standings.

Kona UK rider Josh Lowe took advantage of the somewhat drier qualification conditions earlier in the day and posted a 52nd, on race day he backed that up with a very respectible 49th!

“My qualification run was fine. Everyone knew it was going to be really hard to get down and the time gaps supported that. I had a steady run with no crashes and I’m super happy to get some points. Will be interesting if it’s wet like that for finals, but I think it will be dry!”

Connors positive predictions of a dry race day would come to fruition, if you hadn’t been there for the previous days you’d think it was a normal day in the Valley of the Sun. The only downside? No one had really had a chance to ride the track in the dry, and the Black Snake was for all intensive purposes a new course. A full days racing and practice in the dry had really shaken things up and when Connor crossed the line onboard his 29″ wheeled Operator on Saturday it would be for 19th place.

“I was pretty disappointed in how I rode for finals in Italy. The track was a lot different on race day because it had fully dried out and was much faster. We didn’t have much practice to get up to speed on essentially a new track. I just missed the speed a bit and didn’t send it hard enough. I still keep my 11th overall plate which is good. It has me fired up for Andorra where I know I can do well this weekend”

We think a top 20 in Val di Sole is pretty damn good!

Lucky #13

We’re bucking tradition with this week’s race result. Kona ripper Connor Fearon finished his Fort William weekend with a great performance landing in 13th place, moving him into protected status for next week’s race in Leogang. Connor was just 1.5 seconds off of the podium in a super tight race.

“I was pretty happy with the way I rode for FortWilliamm. 13th doesn’t sound like an outstanding result but I just got unlucky being just behind a whole bunch of guys on the same second. Just 1.5 seconds faster and I would have been on the podium. It’s crazy to think it comes down to that after over four and a half minutes of high-speed rock smashing. I was really happy with the way the new 29er rode. After the weekend I’m 15th overall which should mean I’m back being protected which is a relief.” -Connor Fearon

Tegan Malloy finished the weekend in 16th place and put on a jump clinic for the spectators. All in all it was a solid weekend for the Kona crew! Stay tuned for updates from Leogang as the week progreses!

Fearon Qualifies 7th, Malloy Makes the Big Show in Fort William!

It was a good day for the Kona riders in Fort William. Connor Fearon took the track by storm and finished with a scorching 7th fastest qualifying time aboard his fresh new Operator. On the women’s side Tegan Malloy laid down a 5:44 to qualify in 15th.

“I’ve been having heaps of fun at fort William as usual. I like the high speeds and turns the whole way down the track. I feel really comfortable on the 29er here… it’s the first world cup I’ve used it and I’m liking it! 7th is my best qualifying result at fort William so it’s got me confident for tomorrow. I think unless it rains a lot the times are going to be really tight for the top 20… so I’ll be trying really hard to be at the front of that bubble tomorrow!

-Connor Fearon

“The track here in Fort William is super hard packed and is running faster than ever. The new “woods section” has been replaced with a man-made rock garden that is running really quick from top to bottom. I’m going to run the exact same set up for racing as I did for qualifying, I felt comfortable on my bike with a few little things to tweak/ tidy up before finals tomorrow.” -Tegan Malloy

Congrats to both riders and good luck! Tune into Redbull TV at 4:30am Pacific Time to watch all the action live!

Connor 8th in Fort Bill Timed Training

Kona’s premier downhill racer, Connor Fearon stopped the clock with the 8th fastest time today at the Fort William World Cup. Connor will be racing his brand new carbon Operator with 29″ wheels because he feels they handle the rough track the best. There’s been some good coverage of Connor and his bike as well as Kona racer Anthony Poulson aboard his new Operator as well.

Check the links for the info:

Singletrack World: Kona has a new carbon Operator downhill bike, and it’s 29er ready

VitalMTB: Connor Fearon’s Kona Supreme Operator for Fort William

VitalMTB Raw sneak peeks of racers, including Connor, on track

Connor’s Operator at Fort William

Something very eye-catching is roaming around the pits at the Fort William World Cup. Connor Fearon’s super fresh new carbon Operator is out and about and so far the verdict is that it is one gorgeous bike. No word yet on whether he’ll be racing a 27.5″ or 29″ wheel. Want a sneak peak??

Check the link for the full coverage!

What are your thoughts?

Whistler Opening Weekend

This past weekend was the big kickoff of bike park season with the opening of the Whistler Bike Park! Those of us at Kona USA and our Canadian offices are fortunate enough to live within just a short drive of the park, so it was a no-brainer for the dedicated downhillers to make their way through the throngs of traffic and people to sample a bit of some of the best trails on earth. However this year, the crowds and traffic were absent. Whistler’s new policy is to run the chairs until 8pm every single day. This helped keep the crowds at a manageable pace since people were able to space out their riding.

I arrived at 2pm on Friday and was still able to easily crack off double-digit laps on my favorite trails: Joyride, Schleyer, Clown Shoes, Detroit Rock City, and Lower Whistler Downhill (I have a thing for rock slabs.) The dirt throughout the weekend ran the gauntlet of conditions: dusty and dry on Friday, a river after the monsoon of Saturday, and perfectly tacky hero megarad (insert buzzword) dirt on Sunday.

If there’s one thing I took away from the weekend it’s that downhill is not dead! Dual crown forks were everywhere and Operators were happily flying over the A Line Tombstone jump and ripping around freshly sculpted Canadian Open berms. The park has undergone a few changes from last season including a revamped Longhorn trail, which is chock full of super flowy berms. More changes can be expected, including an additional jump line sure to get the Dirt Merchant/A Line crowd hyped up.

Did you make it to the park this weekend?

Connor Fearon Rides in Gamble, Now on iTunes

Connor Fearon is part of a steller downhill cast in Steel City Media’s newest film, Gamble. Fearon along with other legendary downhill racers, take on some of the world’s most creative tracks. Narrated by Snatch’s Alan Ford, Gamble is sure to entertain the mountain bike crowd. Here’s the trailer. You can buy the film now on iTunes.

All photos by Boris Beyer.