The national championships in Downhill and Cross Country left no question that British Columbians, and Sea to Sky riders in particular, are among the country's fastest mountain bikers.
The Cross-Country nationals in St. Felicien, Quebec July 12 brought a first-place finish for Squamish rider Lauren Rosser in the Under-17 Expert Women category, while Team B.C. Riders Mo Lawrence and Nicholas Geddes came first and fifth, respectively, in Under-17 Expert Men.
Team B.C. Rider Evan Guthrie took the Junior Expert Men's category while Whistler rider Tyler Allison followed him at second.
"I'm extremely proud of the results," Richard Wooles, a mountain bike coach with Cycling B.C., said in a news release. "We struggled with funding issues this year and I have not been able to support some of the teams to the extent that I would like and they deserve, but through all that, they have still come up with the goods."
The Elite women's race was won by Kamloops's Catherine Pendrel, who finished two minutes, 51 seconds ahead of Marie-Helen Premont. Ontario's Amanda Sin was third.
The men's Elite race was won, for the fifth year in a row, by Geoff Kabush. Max Plaxton was nine seconds behind Kabush, while Ontario's Derek Zandstra was third, 42 seconds behind Kabush. Seamus McGrath was fourth, giving B.C. three of the top four places.
The Downhill nationals, July 16-19, also saw some dominance by Sea to Sky cyclists. The nationals took place in some small communities around Massif du Sud, a ski hill about an hour south of Quebec City, a place so remote that you could only get cell phone service at the top half of the mountain and limited Internet access.
Riders had to take a 20-minute lift ride to the top with their bikes sprawled across their laps. Wet weather didn't make the race any more comfortable.
Rosser again came out on top, taking the Cadet Under-17 Women's title, while Whistler's Max Horner came second in the Cadet Under-17 Men. Nicholas Geddes, also from Whistler, came in third place while Sunshine Coast riders Linden Feniak and Harrison Duxbury-Sleep rounded out the sixth and 13 th places.
Allison took sixth place in the Junior Expert Men's category, followed immediately by Whistler rider Alex Prochazka at seventh.
Whistler riders also figured big in the Women's Elite category, with Claire Buchar coming first, Rebecca McQueen second and Katrina Strand fourth.
Cycling B.C. supported a total of 15 riders and 11 of them wound up in the top 10 of their categories.
"B.C. should be proud of the talent that its association is growing for the future," Cycling B.C. Coach Dustin Adams said in a news release. "There are some very fast young athletes. They are eager to learn and become faster each day. It really opened my eyes to the promise we have here."
First-year elite rider Miranda Miller posted some great results this year but was recently hospitalized due to an acute renal condition. She has mostly recovered and returned home but is out of the racing circuit for now.
Pendrel wins World Cup
The top Canadian riders remained in Quebec following the national championships to compete in World Cup events.
Pendrel claimed the Women's Elite cross country race at Mont Ste Anne on Sunday, the second World Cup win of her career. She beat Russian Irina Kalentieva by 1:31. Katerina Nash of the Czech Republic was third.
Kabush was third in the Elite Men's cross country. The race was won by France's Julien Absalon, his fourth consecutive World Cup victory. Spain's Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos was 32 seconds behind Absalon, while Kabush was 2:48 behind the winner.
The Women's Elite downhill was dominated by French riders, who took four of the top five spots Saturday at Mont Ste. Anne. Sabrina Jonnier led the way in 5:26.50. Teammate Emmelina Ragot was second, 3.79 seconds slower. Tracy Moseley of Great Britain was third.
Whistler's Claire Buchar finished 13 th after a crash.
"Although I had a very disappointing crash in my final here in Mont Saint Anne, I know I am riding fast. I qualified seventh on Friday, right up there with the top women, and according to my split times and calculated time lost during my crash, I am confident that I would have finished seventh in the final," Buchar wrote in an e-mail.
"It is rare for me to crash in my final, usually I am so miserabley consistent! I am a bit bruised up and have an appointment with the chiropractor but I am looking forward to next weekend in Bromont."
Katrina Strand ran into all kinds of bad luck and didn't qualify for the finals.
"After a slew of mechanicals during practice, a huge crash in practice that left me with a black eye, hematoma, bruised ribs, and probably a slight concussion, I had a horrible qualifying run to add insult to injury," she wrote in an e-mail. "I crashed near the top, slid through the mud and had to ride the following 3/4 of the course with crooked handlebars. It really couldn't get much worse. Needless to say, I did not qualify and am soooo disappointed as this is my only World Cup this year and I've never not qualified for a World Cup."
The Men's Elite downhill was won by Samuel Hill of Australia. Steve Peat of Great Britain was second and American Aaron Gwin third.