Editor: What about Sam Hill? He’s not very consistent but when he’s on, he’s pretty all-time. For example, Champery 2011.
Marshal: Hill may be the most entertaining racer to watch. Always checkers or wreckers.
Noah: Hill is a ton of fun to watch, and really changed how a lot of people were looking at the tracks. In terms of fast and loose, nobody beats Sam Hill in his prime. But watching Bryceland and Thirion ride now, there’s definitely a bit of that same awesomeness in there.
Cy: Hill’s Champery run is still inspiring four years later. His crazy loose style really payed off when the stars aligned (or in this case, when the conditions went to all hell), and as Noah said, there is still some of that alive and well on the circuit. However, as Marshal put it, with Hill it’s ‘Go big or Go home,’ and he’s gone home a few too many times.
Editor: What about Danny Hart’s 2011 World Championship run, some say that was the greatest run ever?
Marshal: It’s incredible to watch, and at a World Champs no less. But he’s yet to win a single World Cup race.
Noah: That was an insane run. But, if I’m going to play the cynical asshole on the internet … it was a lucky run. Any number of other riders were capable of that run, but each of them had some sort of fumble at that race. And as much as anything, that run gets a lot of play because of Warner’s commentary.
Cy: I agree with Noah, but on some level, that’s true for almost every race. In a sport where success is often defined in milliseconds it’s those minute bobbles that separate the guys swigging champagne from the rest of the pack. Hart threw down in abominable conditions when it really mattered. That’s impressive. And while that run will—and should—go down in history, I don’t think the same can be said for Hart’s career (at least as it stands right now).
Marshal: Time to mention Nico Voulliouz again. The man won 10 world championships (ie the biggest race of the season) in 11 years. That is so far beyond insane I don’t even know what to say. Then look at Greg Minaar, who holds the men’s record for World Cup race wins (19), and podiums pretty much every race, on every type of track, in any condition.
Editor: Ok, but back to the original question (sort of): You’re picking one rider—on his or her best day—to beat the field in a single race. And by “field,” we mean every great DH rider ever on his or her best day. Who are you betting on?
Marshal: Depends on the bet:
If there’s a beer on the line? Steve Peat: 18 World Cup wins.
My house on the line, for a podium finish? Greg Minnaar: 19 World Cup wins and a billion 2’s and 3’s.
My house, winner take all? Nico Voulliouz: 10 world champs.
My house and it’s raining at the race? Danny Hart: If you don’t know why, please allow me to introduce you to YouTube.
My house and HIS house both on the line? Sam Hill: Checkers or wreckers.
Betting on the Overall Title? Aaron Gwin. Who was very possibly a flat tire away from 4 overalls in 5 years.
Noah: Honestly, I hate these sort of questions. Every rider ever? On what bike? As long as we’re creating a fictional race, can we give each of the riders laser beams to pick off the competition?
Editor: No, Noah. No laser beams.
Cy: I think I told Noah once that I thought that Ratboy will never be truly or consistently successful, that he’ll hover just outside the podium for the rest of his career, entertaining us and tantalizing us with what could have been.
Then he went and proved me wrong just a few weeks ago at MSA, so my predictions could be way off…
However, with it all on the line, I’d take Minnaar, followed very closely by Gwin.
Editor: And just to make this more interesting, let’s say that if your choice doesn’t win the race … we kill you. Who would you bet on if your life literally depended on it?
Marshall: Shaun Palmer. He might be crazy enough to kill you back if he lost.
Noah: That’s a really, really good answer.
Cy: Yep, that’s hard to argue with.