It's a name we have not heard a lot of in the last 12 months; the difference a year can make. Once larger than life and the most consistently consistent, and considered almost unbeatable; now, although he can still be found on the results sheet, he's nowhere near the podium, at least on the World stage.
At the end of 2012, following what many consider to be one of the most successful runs of downhill racing we've ever seen, Gwin changed teams in highly controversial circumstances. In 2011 and 2012 Gwin racked up an unprecedented 9 first places in World Cup events, and capped the season ranking in 1st and 3rd respectively. There is little doubt that during those two years he, his team and management were doing something right (or everyone else was doing it really wrong?).
"It's not about the bike"...
We've all heard it said, that it's not about the bike...be that as it may, but the Trek Session is one mean piece of kit when it comes to nailing a 'gravity line', don't believe us, well come and ride one and you will see what we mean. There is little doubt that it is one of the most capable downhill racers on the planet and even less doubt that Gwin, Trek World Racing and the Trek Session 9.9 were a winning combination.
We've also heard it said, that the grass is not always greener... and maybe in this instance it might just be the case. Having said that, we don't know what went on during those dealings at the end of last year, or before, or since and how it all has effected the outcomes that we can see; but Aaron felt that it was time for a change, and we think that that was definitely NOT about the bike.
"Back to the Future"...
Have we seen the best of Aaron Gwin, we think, and hope not. 2014 is just around the corner and we will get some answers then. It does seem that, to go from a #1 and #3 ranking to a #20, that something is not right. Retrospect is a powerful tool, and the Gwin/Session combo was right; probably as good a combination as man and machine can get. His run at Val di Sole in 2012 where he won be almost 8 seconds goes down as the stuff of legend; and maybe the pinnacle of his career.
We are sure that Aaron will be pondering his past and his future and wondering about the choices we make in life.