When you talk shop with racers, there is a place that brings not only a smile to their faces, but no small amount of fear as well—and not just amongst the gravity racers but the XC set, too. That place is Mont-Sainte-Anne.
“It is on par with Paris-Roubaix in road cycling, as in to win here is something more than any other World Cup race. It’s something special,” – says Thomas Frischknecht, cross country legend, race winner in 1992 and 1994, and, director for Swiss Power, Nino Schurter’s team.
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“Mont-Sainte-Anne is a true classic. This is my 21st start here but I remember seeing video of racers like Nolvenn Le Caer, John Tomac, and Steve Peat here. It was a big, tough track back then, and it’s a big, tough track now. It’s what a World Cup race should be,” recalls Greg Minnaar, one of the winningest downhill racers of all time. Minnaar began his love affair with MSA in 1998 as a junior in the World Champs.
There are many storied race venues in our young sport. Maybe not as much as road cycling, with its heritage going back over a century. But places like Houffalize, Belgium (XC), Canmore, Alberta (XC), Nevegal, Italy (DH), Kaprun, Austria (XC and DH), and Fort William, Scotland (XC and DH) still resonate today, even though four venues on that list are no longer stops on the World Cup. But none are more iconic than this Eastern Canadian ski area, a half hour from downtown Québec City, for the simple reason that MSA has been there since the very beginning, and less simple reason that it has continued to be relevant all these years. It’s the only mountain bike race venue to successfully bridge the gap from old school World Cup racing to the modern era, in both XC and DH.