DH Kope: Jure Žabjek returns straight to top

The winners of round three of Unior Downhill Cup in Bike park Kope are Tina Smrdel (MBK Črni Vrh) and Jure Žabjek (Unior Sinter Factory Racing).

After races in Dalmatia and on Soriška planina the Unior Downhill Cup series returned to Bike park Kope this weekend – last year this was the site of first joint race with Auner Austrian Gravity Series and the partnership was extended to this year’s race. The result was a strong field of around 160 riders from five countries.

The organizers of MTB Koroška squeezed close to the maximum from the only 180 available elevation meters drop of the terrain, so the track provided over 2 minutes of quality racing even for the fastest in the field.

Temperature wise the conditions in Kope resort were more like September or October but even with some rain during the final run the track remained dry.

Elite men

jure žabjek
Jure Žabjek

Jure Žabjek who returned to racing almost two months after cracking his ribs showed right away in the seeding run that he is back to speed. He was 2.9 second faster than his teammate Žak Gomilšček in second place and 3.97 up on 4 time Hungarian champion Attila Liszi (Rad Company Racing Team) in third place. These would have been small gaps on the Maribor World Cup track but not on a short track with no obvious technical sections where a rider could gain (or loose) a lot of time.

Jan Cimperman (MTB Trbovlje), the second placed in the series ranking, followed in fourth place and the fastest Austrian Valentin Rohrmoser in fifth place. Not much changed in the final run. Žabjek’s final run was almost a second slower so Gomilšček and Liszi were closer in second and third places respectively. Aleš Virtič (Schneestern), the fast Slovenian living in Austria, fully recovered from last year’s back injury, moved from the back into fourth in front of Cimperman.

“It’s a good course, but maybe better suited for enduro bikes. Yet I decided to go with my downhill bike since I’m not that used to my enduro bike. Plus I’m racing downhill at the World Championships next week so I want to stay used to my downhill bike. We’re taking off to the World tomorrow morning so I’ll try to do my best in last three races of the season. I missed three races in Europe plus the North American World Cup rounds because of the injury but that’s the way it is in this sport.”

Jure Žabjek

The top three of the series ranking remain the same, it’s Gomilšček in first, Cimperman in second and Žabjek in third. But Žabjek collected the daily maximum of 300 points and is now only 20 points behind Cimperman. Gomilšček still has a gap of 180 points on Žabjek.


After the seeding run it looked like we were in for a close final since the top three riders (out of four women on the start list) were separated by 1.8 second. Hungarian Abigel Halmai in first, Tina Smrdel in second and Nina Kovač (Rajd Ljubljana) in third.

tina smrdel
Tina Smrdel

Then in the final run junior Smrdel who is adding more and more downhill races to her enduro calendar (on enduro bike) improved her time by over two seconds, the Hungarian messed up her run and ended up as last. So Tina Smrdel won the place on top of the podium, Nina Kovač was second and her teammate Nika Pečan third.

“I’m doing okay combining enduro and downhill races. There’s another enduro races ahead, hopefully I can do well there as well. Today I may have been a bit faster on the technical parts in my final run, the roots on top and at the bottom. It’s a short track, you just need to go full on.”

Tina Smrdel

Other categories

After Miha Smrdel who won the downhill National Championships, another enduro racer ended on top of junior men’s results list: Miha Jerkič (KK Črn trn), the third placed at Soriška planina. Obviously the »single stage enduros« suit him well too. Nikolas Kolle finished second (+2.84) and Jonas Berger third (both from Giant Stattegg team).

Miha Jerkič
Miha Jerkič

Jakob Lorber (KK Završnica) whipped to victory in U17 men, Ažbe Kalinšek (Bikehanic – 20 Chocolate) won in U15 men and Jakob Praček (Kamplc racing team) in youngest category U13 men.

Rosa Zierl (MTB & Downhill Verein Tirol) was the fastest U15 girl and Eva Podvornik (DGK Pohorje – Spank team) the only U13 girl on the lists.

Boštjan Volf (Wolf Racing Team) won masters 1, Austrian Michael Bader (Trittmeister / Velochicks) masters 2, Croatian Berislav Topol (BBK Šišmiš) the amateur category and Blaž Eržen the non-licensed hobi class.

All results here

Only the 2022 Unior Downhill Cup series final left now: the Downhill Tršće in Bike park Tršće, Čabar, Croatia, on Sunday, September 25. More info on this event coming up here.

Photos by fskugi.com / Auner Austrian Gravity Series – Lines Magazine