EWS Crans Montana | Liv Racing Report

with RAE MORRISON

Three weeks after the last stop of the Enduro World Series in the United States, athletes find themselves surrounded by the Valais Alps in Crans Montana, Switzerland.

Liv Racing Collective athlete Rae Morrison made the trip to Europe immediately after wrapping up her sixth place finish in Sugarloaf, Maine. Traveling to France, Rae caught the action at UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Les Gets followed by a stay in Morzine. Spending time lapping the bike park and doing interval sessions helped keep her fitness up and ready for the final two rounds of the series.

Crans Montana threw a little bit of everything at the athletes leading into the race, with changing conditions and even snow at the top of Saturday’s pro stage. With just over 36km to tackle over five stages with 3,375m of descending, Crans Montana provided an exciting venue for the penultimate race of the season. With tight racing among the women’s pro field, Rae finished the weekend in 8th.

We caught up with Rae to discuss the race before she jumps into training for finals in France.

Rae Morrison in Crans Montana, Switzerland

Liv: You mentioned being nervous before the race. How do you manage nerves heading into race weekend and individual stages?

Rae: Nerves are normal and it’s just your body letting you know that you care about this race. It did take me a while to learn how to deal with nerves in a positive way, rather than allowing it to impede my performance. For myself, I try to change my outlook from negative nervous energy and thoughts to positive excitement. When I feel the nerves, I just constantly tell myself, “I am so excited to be racing.” Also, listening to music the morning of the race gets me happy and excited, following a routine with breakfast, mobility, and muscle activation exercises helps me tick things off the list, so I feel more in control. One of the biggest helps has been breathing exercises, which I do the morning of and just before I drop into the stage.

Liv: How did the conditions affect this weekend’s race?

Rae: After the rain and snow on Saturday morning, practice for the pro stage was delayed as the top of the track was covered in snow. Once practice started, it was pretty surreal riding in snow. The views were stunning, but it was very cold. We were lucky that once the sun came out the track had mostly dried out for the race. To deal with the cold, I doubled up my gloves and had three layers of clothes on to keep warm on Saturday. Sunday, it warmed up, but I still carried a jacket around for the wind chill. The precipitation actually made the conditions prime for race day!

Rae Morrison Crans Montana

Liv: What was your favorite stage of the weekend?  

Rae: I really liked all the stages, but the pro stage (which was the same as stage 5) was probably my favorite. It had a good mix with bike park up top, a couple of punchy climbs, then loamy techy singletrack at the bottom to an urban finish. It was super fun and had the most variety.

Liv: It didn’t look like stage 3 went to plan. Tell us about your crash and how it affected your run. Although you finished 20th on the stage, you were only 14 seconds off pace. How did you reset mentally to finish the stage strong?

Rae: Stage 3 still hurts thinking about it. Just a silly mistake misjudging my speed. Half way down, there was a fire road section where you come down super-fast and then it turns slightly to the right into a climb. I tucked on the road to get the most speed into the climb but came in too fast and wide when it turned right up to the climb. I lost traction and drifted off the track. It was one of the worst places for a mistake, as I had to re-enter the course and then had lost all my speed up the climb and into the next bit of singletrack. I mentally try to reset after a bad stage. I try to think of every single stage as a new race. Whatever happened previously in the day is done and no point dwelling on it while there are more stages to be raced.

Rae Morrison in Crans Montana

Liv: You pulled back a lot of time between stages 4 and 5 to finish 8th overall. Your time put you just 0.3 seconds off of 7th after nearly 35 minutes of racing. Does that fuel the fire for the next race?

Rae: Absolutely! The racing is soooo tight. It’s super exciting that every stage and every second counts. It’s all down to the last race in the overall. I’m currently sitting 8th in the world but could move up to 6th if I have a good race… or move back to 11th if I don’t. The points are close. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do for the last race of the season.

Liv: We’re just days away from finishing this season! What are you looking forward to about Loudenveille?

Rae: The boulangerie, haha. The French bakeries are so delicious! I’m excited for the final race. It’s felt like a long season, and I’d love to finish on a high. After the race, I’m going straight to the bakery to get all the treats.

All photos by Sven Martin Photography.

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