Life as a privateer racer – Windham World Cup

By Karl Rosengarth and Jon Pratt

Leif Lorenzen of Croton On Hudson, N.Y., has dreamed about competing in a World Cup event ever since he started downhill racing in 1999. In 2012 his dream came true.

Lorenzen was one of six discretionary selections who represented the USA in the Men’s DH event at the Windham World Cup (along side riders who earned enough World Cup points for automatic selection).

We caught up with the 27-year-old in his privateer pit just hours before his qualifying run on Friday afternoon, doing what privateers do before a race: wrenching on his own bike.

Lorenzen told us that he learned just four weeks ago that his petition was accepted, and that he’d earned a berth on the squad that would represent the USA at Windham. He admitted that he had been preparing and training all season long for this day, with a blend of hope and expectation that he’d be one of the chosen few.

Lorenzen’s sponsors include Turner bikes, Avalanche suspensions and Smith optics. The Turner sponsorship happened last month, and Lorenzen was dialing in his new orange Turner DHR when we caught up with him in the pits.

The life of the privateer is not all beer and skittles and free stuff, however. Lorenzen told us that before we arrived he’d just unbent the chainring that he toasted in a practice run, because he didn’t have a spare.

We circled back after his qualifying run and Lorenzen told us that he felt totally stoked in the starting gate and that he got off to a great start. In fact his first split was 60th best, which would have been good enough to qualify for the finals, had he been able to maintain that position.

Unfortunately, this story has a bittersweet ending. Midway down the mountain he kicked up a rock that deflected off his downtube and struck him in the foot that he’d broken a few years ago. The pain from the impact got worse the more he pedaled, and Lorenzen started moving backward through the pack. His qualifying time of 2:46.87 was 19.07 seconds off the top mark set by Aaron Gwin, and Lorenzen failed to qualify for the finals on Sunday.

Nevertheless, Lorenzen remained upbeat about his first World Cup experience, and took the freak accident in stride. He’s already looking forward to his next opportunity on the World Stage.


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