Whistler's Felix Burke placed 10th in his World Cup debut at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, this past weekend, ranking fourth among Canadians.
He was disappointed with the result, finishing almost eight minutes behind the winner, Canadian Peter Disera. Burke usually finishes within a few minutes of Disera and ahead of the other Canadians, and can't explain what happened.
"It was a cool experience racing with the national team for that race and staying with them in the condo, but the race for me was hard," he said. "I got really worked up before it, it was my first World Cup and I put a lot of pressure on myself and was really stressed out before the race. Then I went out hard and had a really good start, and on the first climb I attacked really hard and thought I was doing well, and then my eyes just went black. I just started feeling really tired, with no energy.
"I think I just have to turn the page and not dwell on it too much," he said. "Everyone has bad races. I've had a good season so far and haven't had any bad races, it just happened that my bad race was the day of the World Cup."
Burke also raced in the Canada Cup finals in Whistler on Wednesday, Aug. 14. Results were too late for print, but the story will be posted online and in next week's edition.
It was an off day for the senior team as well. Catharine Pendrel, returning from injury, placed eighth in the women's event, while Emily Batty was 10th. Katerina Nash of Czech Republic won the race, followed by Maja Wlosczczowska of Poland and Tanja Zakelj of Slovenia.
Max Plaxton was the top Canadian male in ninth overall, while Geoff Kabush was 15th. Julien Absalon of France took the win, followed by Jose Antoinio Hermida Ramos of Spain and Nino Schurter of Switzerland.
Steve Smith on top of the world
Steve Smith's goal on the UCI World Cup downhill tour this year is to start winning races, and Smith is a guy who says what's he's going to do.
At Mont-Sainte Anne, with upwards of 10,000 spectators watching, Smith crossed the finish line in first place, taking his second career World Cup win. Combined with silver, bronze and a fourth place finish in the previous three events, Smith now sits within 120 points of the overall World Cup title.
Gee Atherton of Great Britain, the current World Cup leader, struggled on the long, technical course and crashed in the qualifier, which meant he would be starting a lot earlier than usual. That worked out in his favour as it started raining shortly after his start, but Atherton struggled once again while Smith, the last rider down the course, pulled out a fast run.
"I knew it was a fast one and thought maybe I had a podium, but to see green on the board and the crowd going crazing, I couldn't hear my own thoughts," he told Canadian Cyclist. "I didn't know what to do. I picked up my bike and I was going to throw it onto the ground, but a camera got under me and I almost hit the cameraman. It was a wild one."
Smith was trailing Atherton by a few hundredths of a second through the first two splits, but made up close to a second on the bottom section of the course to take the win in 3:58.48, followed by Atherton in 3:59.38 and Sam Hill of Australia in 4:00.60.
Smith's next race is the Canadian Open DH, which is the final event in Crankworx Whistler. He's the defending champion from last year. After that he has two more World Cup races, followed by the World Championships.
He said he would contend for the overall title, and his goal is to win the championships.
"That's a race where I don't really care if I crash, I'd rather get the win than get third or fourth or fifth," he said.
Emmeline Ragot of France took the women's race, followed by Manon Carpenter of Great Britain and Floriane Pugin of France. The North Shore's Micayla Gatto placed eighth, while Pemberton's Jaime Hill was 15th.
In the junior category, Whistler's Jack Iles and Alexander "Zander" Geddes were second and third among Canadian riders and 10th and 11th respectively. Squamish's Lee Jackson was 29th, Whistler's Bowen Irvine was 33rd.