By Steve Medcroft
Although Jill Kintner and Michael Prokop, who both lead their respective four-cross 2006 World Cup series, are making the results in that discipline almost predictable by winning again, the downhill venue at Balneario Camborio, Brazil showcased a couple of first-time World Cup winners last weekend.
2005 Junior World Champion, 18 year old Rachel Atherton of Wales, won her first ever World Cup Downhill on Sunday after a confidence boosting semi in which she came 1.3 seconds behind series leader Tracey Moseley.
"As I went up in the gondola I just pictured myself beating Sabrina's (Jonnier) time and taking the hot seat," Atherton said after the race. "When Tracy came down I really didn't think I had it, then the clock stopped with her time slower."
Atherton's winning time of 2m 38.25secs was 0.72 ahead of Jonnier and 2.62 ahead of series leader Moseley. She now sits third in the series overall.
Matti Lehikoinen, of Team G-Cross Honda, also won his first ever World Cup Downhill in Brazil. Lehikoinen, who has never been on a World Cup podium, despite many near misses, took to the top step and sang the words of his national anthem in front of a huge and enthusiastic Brazilian crowd.
"I really can't believe this, it's like a dream," he said after. "I had a great run, I really lifted my speed, and I thought I'd done enough to get on the podium. I honestly didn't imagine this, I am so stoked. This is my 31st World Cup and I have been trying for so long... Today it all just came together."
Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) came second, just .09 of a second behind. The result, combined with a disappointing result by Greg Minaar (Team G-Cross Honda), was enough to stretch Peat's lead in the World Cup series to 178 points.