Monika Hrastnik (DH Visit Pohorje / Dorval AM Commencal) and Žak Gomilšček (Unior – Sinter) are elite categories winners of round two of 2022 Unior Downhill Cup series, held at Soriška planina, Slovenia. The race doubled as the 2022 Slovenian National Downhill Championships race. Some enduro racers took advantage of their skills on the short and not very steep track.
Monika Hrastnik, the reigning European Champion and number 6 of UCI ranking, won her sixth elite national title. In her final run on the 1,65 km track, dropping 280 m in this small ski resort, she was 6.99 faster than the second placed Špela Horvat (Supersnurf). Junior rider Tina Smrdel (MBK Črni Vrh) finished third 10.87 behind the winner.
»I am happy, it was a great race. It was nice to ride with the girls and see the friend. It took it as a good training. You had to be careful where to push your bike down since some parts were very slippery. I didn’t do any major mistakes so I’m happy. I’m off packing now, I’m leaving for World Cup in Switzerland tomorrow.«Monika Hrastnik
Žak won his first title two years ago in Maribor in his first elite year. Back then he took the title over from his teammate Jure Žabjek and then last year he passed it on to Luka Berginc (DH Visit Pohorje) at Soriška planina. They both missed this year’s Championship race: Žabjek broke a rib last week at European Championships in Maribor and Berginc, winner of first two rounds of 2022 iXS European DH Cup, was in the crowd, still recovering after a concussion four weeks ago at round 3 in Austria.
The experienced Jan Cimperman (MTB Trbovlje/HCI) was the fastest in men’s elite seeding run, followed by Gomilšček. Both favourites improved their times in the final run but Žak was more successful in doing that. He improved it by over 4 and a half seconds with brought him the title. Cimperman took silver (+2.20) and enduro competitor Tim Jež (Kamplc Racing Team, +6,42) took bronze. Sadly, Jež crashed in the finish area and broke his collar bone.
»Of course I’m happy with the outcome. I would say that this track does not suite me well, it is too short and too flat. But I’m happy that I still had a solid run in spite of that. I messed up a bit on top in the rock garden but then I rode the rest like I planned.«Žak Gomilšček
Gomilšček who finished second behind Žabjek at Unior DH Cup round one in late April in Croatia is also the new series leader since Žabjek sat this one out.
Miha Smrdel, the 2021 SloEnduro champion, surprised by taking the win in men’s junior category. He already tried his luck on his enduro bike at iXS European DH Cup race in Maribor. This time Val Celestina (Bikehanic – 20 Chocolate) finished the seeding run in front of him but Smrdel was the fastest one in the final, beating Celestina by just 65 hundred. Miha Jerkič (KK Črn trn), another enduro rider, finished third. Smrdel also set the 3rd time of the day overall, only top two elite riders Gomilšček and Cimperman were faster.
Maj Babačič (Calcit Bike Team) is the U17 men champion, Ažbe Kalinšek (Bikehanic – 20 Chocolate), the European Championships bronze medallist, the U15 champion, Boštjan Volf (Wolf Racing Team) won the masters category and Nejc Šikman (LevelUp trening center) the amateur category.
Thank you for another great race, MTB Železniki and Soriška planina!
Third round of 2022 Unior Downhill Cup 2022 will be the Downhill Kope in Bike park Kope, Slovenia, on August 21st. More on this event
Photos by Sara Selšek and Žiga Mikeli