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Hail to the cheese

Perseverance pays off at Canadian Cheese Rolling Championships

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While the world’s top mountain bikers were risking everything for the prize money and prestige at Crankworx, a little further up Blackcomb Mountain more than 200 men and women were risking everything for cheese.

The inaugural Canadian Cheese Rolling Championships took place on a steep, grassy section beside the water ramps at Base II, with competitors chasing each other downhill to be the first to catch wheels of cheese. It quickly became a bloodsport, as participants tripped and tumbled, tangled limbs and bodies, and otherwise did anything it took to reach the cheese.

Sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, the top male and female each received two adult season passes to Whistler-Blackcomb, as well as the wheel of cheese they risked so much to win. The runners up each received a prize basket stuffed with cheese, crackers and other items.

Antoine Guay won the men’s event after narrowly missing the pile-up in the middle of the course that took out a lot of the male competitors in the final. He bypassed the volunteers that used pads to slow the racers, and came up with the cheese.

“I just tried to be as close to the middle as possible and stay close to my friend, and when he fell down I somehow got away and then dove on the cheese,” he said. “If you could stay on your feet to the end you had a good chance of winning. After making it to the finals, I knew I was going to go for it. That was pretty crazy, there were bodies everywhere.

“How many chances do you get to say you’re the Canadian champion? It was awesome.”

Guay didn’t get away completely free and clear, and was sporting a few scrapes and bruises at the finish line.

Still, he fared better than women’s field winner Maya Klvana. She had to accept her award sitting down after twisting her ankle badly at the finish line.

“There was no strategy, just give’r and leave it all on the mountain,” she said. “I guess when I won the first heat I realized, oh crap, I actually have a chance at this. I’m not a runner.

“I think the key to winning was not falling down, but then I fell at the bottom with enough speed that I tumbled to the finish line.”

Klvana says she skis 25 to 30 times a year at Whistler-Blackcomb and will make good use of her prizes — as long as her ankle heals enough to ski this year.

“I don’t know what I did to it, but I’m on my way to the hospital to find out. No regrets. I love cheese and I love getting two season passes. I’ll probably host a big wine and cheese party.”

This was the first time a cheese rolling event has been held outside of Gloucester in the U.K., which has hosted a cheese rolling competition for decades.

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