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A year spent building towards Sochi

A look back at 2013's memorable moments in Whistler and Pemberton sports



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California's Jimmy "Rad Train" Riha captured the signature competition of the third annual Whistler Longboard Festival, taking top prize in the open downhill race held on the hairpin-filled Whistler Sliding Centre road in early July.

The B.C. Bike Race was building towards a big finish in Whistler, but was ultimately decided in Squamish on July 5 when Neal Kindree pulled out of the race due to illness in his hometown stage. That handed an easy victory to Kris Sneddon when the final stage rolled through Whistler on July 6. Whistler's own Michael Robinson placed fifth overall.

Local rider Zander Geddes had the top finish by a Whistler rider at the Canadian Downhill Championships at Panorama in mid-July, finishing fourth in junior expert men's competition. Jack Iles was seventh and Bowen Irvine placed 14th in the race. Nick Geddes was 12th in the elite men's event.

Pemberton paddlers helped Team Canada to the top of the medal table at the Dragon Boat World Championships, held in Hungary in July. Each of the eight athletes — Kayla Spencer, Aleea Dahinden, Liam Miller, Tachona Jones, Lauren Phare, Dayna Goochey, Isabel Peters and Bill McLeod — came home with multiple medals.

Finn Iles won the U15 men's title at the B.C. Downhill Mountain Bike Championships held at Silver Star at the end of July, adding to the provincial titles he won in hockey and alpine skiing in 2012. Chris Kovarik and Claire Buchar captured the elite men's and women's titles, respectively, and Jack Iles earned bronze from the junior expert men's race, behind winner Lee Jackson of Squamish.

Crankworx arrived in August, and the 10th edition of the biking festival produced some incredible and memorable moments, particularly from local riders.

Whistler's Brandon Semenuk won his second Red Bull Joyride title in three years, conquering this year's slopestyle course in spectacular fashion — his 96.4 from judges was the highest score ever recorded in the event. Fellow local Jesse Melamed didn't take down a victory but wowed hometown fans with his impressive sixth-place finish in the SRAM Canadian Open Enduro. Australia's Jared Graves made up a 20-second deficit to win on the final stage.

In other Crankworx highlights, Steve Smith won the Canadian Open and Air DH races, making it five consecutive Crankworx races the B.C. rider has won after he swept all three in 2012. Colombia's Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas won the Garbanzo DH after finishing second in 2012 and 2011, Sweden's Martin Soderstrom won the Dual Speed and Style event, and Geoff Kabush won the Canada Cup XC race.

As Crankworx was wrapping up at home, Whistler's Cathy Zeglinski was victorious on her mountain bike abroad, winning her age group title at the UCI Masters World Championships in South Africa. The local doctor won the world title despite a serious clavicle injury suffered in training, and one that would end her season prematurely upon her return to Canada.

Maureen Harriman was competing at the World Masters Games in Italy around the same time and captured three gold medals and two silvers in her rowing events.

On Aug. 25, Ironman Canada made its first appearance in Whistler after 30 years in Penticton, and the long-distance triathlon captivated locals as close to 2,500 athletes put their endurance to the test. Kelowna native Trevor Wurtele took the lead away from defending champion Matt Russell during the marathon-length running leg and held on for the victory, and Colorado's Ulli Bromme was the fastest woman, clocking with the 12th-fastest time overall.

Local triathletes were very impressive in the race as well. Whistler's Ben Biswell was quickest of all the hometown athletes, coming across the line just before the 11-hour mark and ahead of fellow local Ashley McMillan, who was just three minutes back. Marla Zucht, Timothy Moore and Julie Miller were among other Sea to Sky participants who finished in less than 12 hours.

Will Routley received a hometown hero's welcome when he was the first rider to the finish line in September's fourth annual RBC GranFondo Whistler. The local pro cyclist, participating in the ride up the Sea to Sky Highway from downtown Vancouver for the first time, pulled away from the several thousand other riders after the climb from Squamish began. Cameron Evans was the only rider who was able to keep pace, finishing 11 seconds back, while the rest of the peloton was about three minutes behind. Leah Guloien was the top women's rider for the third time in four years.

Dave Burch took home a victory from the 20th annual Westside Wheel Up on Sept. 17, holding off Chris Clark for the win. Mahon Lamont was the top junior and Robin O'Neill was the quickest female.