From the third to the fifth of August, the fastest downhillers will be on the road in the Scottish Highlands. Uncompromising, focused and with a healthy dose of risk-taking, they will be at the start. We present Jackson Goldstone, Jordan Williams, Andreas Kolb and Vali Höll, four of the most inspiring young downhill pros.
Everyone has been waiting for his start in the elite field: Jackson Goldstone. Last year, the Canadian was still racing in the juniors and this season he will be competing in the men's race for the first time. But through social media, the MTB community has known the young Canadian since he could ride a wheel. He literally grew up on the bike, says multiple world champion Rachel Atherton. What she means by that is conveyed by one of the first MTB kids videos to go viral.
The small wheel rider developed into one of the biggest promises in mountain biking. Goldstone put the first exclamation mark on his career when he won the Red Bull Hardline, probably the toughest official downhill race in the professional circuit, as a debutant in 2022. The course in Wales includes 30-meter jumps, drops around 14 meters high and challenging sections in the steepest, rockiest terrain. Only a few downhill pros compete here.
He starts into the World Cup as a freshly crowned World Cup winner. The Canadian won the last race before the World Cup in Val di Sole and is the absolute top favorite for the World Cup title. "In his first World Cup win in Val di Sole, he has already shown with his victory that his lack of experience can be made up for by incredible skills and fun biking," says Jasper Jauch about the 19-year-old. Jauch is a MTB pro, Youtuber and as a former World Cup rider still has very good insights into the racing scene. Further, the German recognizes in "the rough diamond, a certain freshness in racing procedures and no heady approach to chassis tuning. In addition, Jackson has a fun and experienced team in the background."
Besides five-time world champion Loic Bruni from France, his Canadian compatriot Finn Iles, Frenchman Loris Vergier, another "Young Gun" Jackson Goldstone could steal the show. One who has already managed to do so once: Jordan Williams. The Briton is the same age as Goldstone and also raced in the juniors last year. He also won the world championship title there. But unlike the Canadian, he was only known to the die-hard MTB experts. That changed abruptly when he sensationally clocked the fastest time and took victory at this season's opening World Cup in Lenzerheide - and in his first Downhill World Cup in the elite class.
But Jasper Jauch still has a secret favorite up his sleeve: Andreas Kolb. "From my perspective, Andi Kolb is also still one of the youngsters and I would be insanely happy if the humorous Austrian won the title." Kolb only really started downhill biking in 2012 and has steadily improved. Then last year the first big milestone: Kolb became European champion. This year he was able to celebrate his first victory in a World Cup race. At his home race in Leogang, the 27-year-old brought the fans to their feet. Overall, he travels to the World Cup in Scotland in fourth place in the overall World Cup.
Vali Höll ensured an Austrian double victory in Leogang. Similar to Goldstone, everyone in the mountain bike scene knows her despite her young 21 years. Experts predicted a great career for Höll early on, and she signed her first professional contract at the age of 13.
"Vali Höll simply has an incredible talent," says Jauch. "She grew up with mountain biking, had great people and experienced biker*s around her at all times." She has excellent "reaction, balance and line choice," the Youtuber says approvingly. So she is also the big favorite at the world championships for the title, which she already won last year.
Since her start in the elite class two years ago, she has also had to learn how to deal with setbacks. Injuries and crashes at her home race and at her first elite world championships, as well as the high pressure of expectations, demanded everything from the exceptional athlete. The advantage: She should be able to handle the pressure that weighs on a defending champion in Scotland.