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Downhill Series wraps up



The three-race Whistler Downhill Series wrapped up on Aug. 4 with some breakneck descents from Olympic Station – breakneck being a figure of speech.

"It was a great series," said race organizer Paul Fournier. "We had great volunteers, great turnouts, and nobody got hurt. So many people were clearing the course in less than five minutes, and if you’ve never ridden it, that’s a real achievement – all those people should give themselves a pat on the back. It’s a hard route."

The overall champions were crowned following the race, with two out of the three races counting in the overall standings.

More than $700 in cash and $7,000 in prizes was handed out at the end, with every competitor getting something.

"It seems like a lot for such a little race, but these guys and girls are riding bikes that costs $7,000, and every race is like taking a hammer to it," Fournier said.

In the women’s category, national team downhiller Sylvie Allen won the title, followed by newcomer Claire Buchar. Joanna Johnstone and Marilyn Manso were third and fourth.

Tyler Morland won the Pro men’s title, consistently at the front of the pack with times around four minutes and 20 seconds. Jeff Beatty, still a junior by a couple of years, finished a close second. Dave Burch and Kelly Walters tied for third in points. Chad Hendron was also recognized for posting the fastest time on the course, coming in at four minutes and 10 seconds, seven seconds ahead of the next best time.

Jeff Larouche won the male amateur title, edging out Justin Nelson and Jason Griffith.

Chris Dewar was consistently the fastest hardtail rider, followed by Jeff Bond and junior Ian Moult.

Moult was also the top junior in the series, finishing ahead of Alex Prochazka and James McSkimming.

"We had racers from as young as 10 to middle aged guys in the race, and the whole spectrum of abilities," says Fournier. "Beatty and Allen are looking good for the World Championships, Moult won the junior and came third on his hardtail, Buchar made a huge debut this season – it all came together."

Winners of all categories received cash, custom championship jerseys, and bike park passes for 2002.

According to Fournier, volunteers donated more than 400 hours of time for about four hours of racing. "We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them, so thanks to everybody."

Fournier is already looking for a title sponsor for next year to help grow the race. "People are out there every day, working hard on their bikes, and this was an opportunity for them to race each other and the clock," says Fournier.