Chris Kovarik thoroughly slaughtered the competition at the Kokanee Crankworx Monster Energy Garbanzo Downhill Pro Men competition on Aug. 8.
The 32-year-old cyclist from Dandenong, Australia came in with a time of 13:22.99, pushing last year's winner, Justin Leov from New Zealand, to second place. Leov's time was 13:29.85. Course conditions were dry for the first time in the downhill's history, which helped Kovarik go 22 seconds faster than Leov's winning time last year.
"I got second place last year and I wanted to go for number one," Kovarik said in a news release. "You have to stand up, man up and pedal."
Kovarik began cycling when he was 17 years old and has gone on to become an Australian national champion and winner of multiple World Cups. He was Australian champion from the years 2000 to 2002 and he won his first World Cup at Mont Sainte-Anne in 2006.
The downhill course started at the Garbanzo lift hut, went down Original Sin, then Blue Velvet, Deep and Container. Riders then turned into No Joke/Duffman and stayed on Duffman until it merged with Golden Triangle. They then continued on the World Cup Singletrack and traversed to Ho Chi Min, Longhorn and Monkey Hands to finish.
On the women's side, Anne-Caroline Chausson dominated the course right from the start. Known as one of the best downhill riders alive today, Chausson was the first competitor to win a gold medal in BMX at the Olympic Games (Beijing in 2008) and other riders know she's a force to be reckoned with.
Chausson came into Crankworx after a hiatus from riding and hadn't competed in Whistler for five years. She nevertheless came in first with a time of 15:59.42. She edged out Miranda Miller of Squamish by 18 seconds.
"I did a practice run with Anne-Caroline and I thought to myself, 'There is no way anyone is going to go faster than her,'" American racer Leigh Donovan said. "I was set to race right before her and sure enough down the course I could hear her behind me! I pulled over and let her pass; I knew she was going to win today."
Tyler Allison came in atop the Junior Men's 16 to 18 category with a time of 14:11.74, edging out fellow Canadian Remi Gauvin by 10.88 seconds. Other results saw Brennan Walstrom win the Boys 13 to 15 category with a time of 15:15.72. Walstrom was followed by Lee Jackson 8.09 seconds later.
American racer Bridgette Leber was the sole competitor among Junior Women 13 to 18. She finished the course in 31:39.37. Other women's results saw Canadian racers Vaea Verbeeck come in sixth among pro women with 18:08.69, Jaime Hill seventh with 18:11.34 and Fanny Paquette eighth with 18:24.74.
Other Canadians in the Pro Men category included Steve Smith and Dean Tennant, who came in 13 th and 14 th , respectively, each of them slightly less than a minute behind Kovarik. Jamie Biluk came 23 rd with a time of 14:41.20 and James McSkimming finished with 14:42.61.