Aaron Gwin posted the first American World Cup victory on home soil in more than a decade when he won the downhill Sunday at the Windham, New York World Cup.
That was enough for town officials to rename their village “Gwindham.”
After qualifying with the fastest time on Friday, Gwin (Trek World Racing) capped the weekend with a two second win ahead of Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate). Andrew Neethling (Giant) finished third.
Gwin, who hails from Temecula, California, won his fourth World Cup of the season and now owns an almost insurmountable lead in the overall standings. The win by an American in the U.S. is the first since Missy Giove and Shaun Palmer won in Big Bear, California, in 1999. Furthermore, Gwin joins a small group of men who have won four downhill World Cups in one season, the other two being Frenchmen Francois Gachet and the legendary Nicolas Vouilloz.
“The crowd here is amazing. It really means so much to me to win in front of a home crowd,” Gwin said. “The reaction was nuts. I can’t put it into words. Having my parents here was also really special, as they have been such a big part of my entire two-wheel career.”
South African Neethling took the lead with ten riders to go, only to be immediately topped by Peat. This is where it stood, as the final rider, Gwin, was about to start. Expectations among the partisan, flag-waving spectators were high after Gwin qualified first on Friday. The Trek rider was fastest through every part of the course, finishing 2.339 seconds ahead of Peat.
After that, Gwin was mobbed by adoring fans and patiently signed autographs and posed for photos.
“It was awesome today, all week actually” Gwin said. “It’s been a fun weekend. I’m very happy.”
With his fourth win of the five races so far in the World Cup, Gwin has a total of 1110 points. Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) sits in second with 776 points with a disappointing 12th place Sunday. Gee Atherton (Commencal) sits in third with 657 points after finishing 11th.
Rachel Atherton (Commencal) had qualified second behind round three winner Floriane Pugin (Scott 11), who was widely considered the favorite for the short, fast, technical track at Windham. World Cup leader and world champion Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing) qualified third.
While Moseley took the lead with her run, Atherton smashed it on the next run by over two and a half seconds. Pugin managed to beat Moseley, but finished 1.348 seconds behind Atherton, who also won in Windham last year at the World Cup final.
“I love this track,” Atherton said. “It’s short, which suits me. It was really dry so I knew I had to go fast throughout. I’m really stoked to be number one here today.”
In the World Cup points standings Atherton gained enough points solidify her third place position at 820 points, and could still surpass Pugin with two races to go. Continuing as the points leader is Moseley with 1080 points, followed by Pugin with with 980.