Nino Schurter Wins Silver at the 2012 Summer Olympics!
August 15, 2012
In the most thrilling Mountain Bike race in history, Nino Schurter showed one of his best performances ever. But so did the current world champion Jaroslav Kulhavy. He snapped Nino’s Gold medal away. Only 200 meters before the finish line.
Nino at the Tripple Trouble at Hadleigh Farm
The day after winning the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Nino Schurter’s mind was set for his big goal: Olympic Gold in London 2012!
The past four years he did everything right. On his way to London he was winning the world championship in 2009 and the world cup overall twice. After winning four out of seven world cup races this year, two times Olympic champion Julien Absalon’s words from the press conference after winning Gold in Beijing were well remembered. He said back than: “In London Nino will be the men to beat.”
Schurter-Vogel- Absalon on the start loop
Absalon himself, still one of the big favorites for Gold, had to quit early after a crash and a flat tire. Only two of the very big favorites where left. Schurter and world champion Kulhavy. They set a tremendous high speed at the beginning that only Italian champion Marco Aurelio Fontana was able to hang on. For some time South African Burry Stander and Spanish Jose Antonio Hermida joined the the trio (they placed 4th and 5th). At the end it was down to three again.
Rock Garden: 2 Schurter 4 Stander 3 Kulhavy 6 Hermida 8 Fontana
The difference in strength was obvious. Schurter always gained some meters on the technical bits of the course, while Kulhavy seemed to close those gaps easily on the climbs and on the flats. Fontana was riding smart. Not interfering the duel of the top shoots. It was Nino who controlled the race most of the part and seemed to be the fastest overall. He looked confident from the start to finish.
The pace was high. All three of them tried some attacks. No one got away. The last lap had to decide over the medals. We all were hoping for one of those famous finales of Nino. He stayed in first position almost through the entire last lap. Fontana got dropped and also lost his seat post. He successfully managed to save his bronze medal.
At the front Nino was still leading into the final three turns. But on the very last little climb "the ice man" surprised Nino on the inside of a long left hand turn. This was the winning move of Kulhavy..
The disappointment at the finish was huge. The way Nino was riding everyone was expecting him to win. Even himself:
“Up till 200 meters before the finish it was my perfect race. Everything went superb. I was able to ride at my best, my SCOTT Scale 700 with the new SRAM XX1 was a great choice. I had no critical moments. It all looked so good for me, I was sure I’m going to win!”
“Sure, I was surprised by the strong race of Jarsolav. After his weak world cup season I was not expecting him to be this strong. His inside attack surprised me even more. For a moment I was not paying attention enough. After he passed me I thought I can still catch him on the finish straight…but it was to short.”
The tears in his eyes showed more bitterness than happiness about his silver. Which is easy to understand after realizing the dream he was going for over the past 4 years just went away. But this disappointment will go away soon, after he is realizing what a great performance he showed in London. To us from the team, his fans and sponsors, he is the hero of the race, a hero who failed by one only second.
Winning bronze and silver at Olympics by the age of 26 leaves some room for new goals in the future. 2016 in Rio de Janeiro Nino will be in his best age. Maybe he can get there what he deserves.
Less successful was the outcome of Florian Vogel’s Olympic experience. On the start loop in pole position riding and first lap on Nino’s tail, Florian started excellent into the race. But the extreme tempo of the leaders was just too high. He dropped back position by position to end up in 25th place, far away from his potential.
“I have no idea why I had about the worst day of the year. After the first few laps I was totally dead” stated our second disappointed rider.
Hopefully he can turn things around for the upcoming world championships in Saalfelden, Austria in four weeks.