A handful of local riders headed to Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec for the Canadian National Downhill Championships this past weekend. The trail was difficult, with the race mostly following one of the toughest downhill courses on the World Cup circuit, and the conditions were nothing short of treacherous with more than 40 mm of rain falling on competition day.
To put that into perspective, Whistler — which is located in a coastal rain forest — typically receives just 60 mm in the entire month of June. The trail turned into a river, washing away whole sections of the course, and visibility was severely limited when the fog rolled in.
Crashes were common, and Whistler’s Tyler Allison was one of the many riders that made a trip to the hospital.
The top men’s rider was Andrew Mitchell from Vancouver Island, winning his second national title in three years with a time of 4:05.79. Justin Brown was second in 4:08.44, followed by Charles-Alexandre Dube in 4:15.19.
The top female racer was Sheila Morris in 5:11.19, followed by Micayla Gatto in 5:20.68 and Marie-Eve Marcotte in 5:26.36.
From Whistler, Max Horner raced in the Cadet Under 17 group, placing second overall out of more than 40 riders in a time 4:35.83 — just 0.16 seconds back of Lower Mainland rider and part-time Whistler resident Nick Geddes.
On the women’s side, Squamish’s Miranda Miller was third in the Junior Expert category in 5:53:92. She has been racing on par with the top senior women this year, and was disappointed with her result.
“I had been strong in my seeding run and was happy with my third overall placement,” she told Cycling B.C. “I felt confident and had a race plan. Weather changes happen, nothing you can do about that, but I hit a rock hidden by the goop, got high-sided, bounced off a tree, jackknifed, went over the handlebars onto my face and slid on my face for a while, which all cost me time.” She also damaged her handlebars on the crash, which made it difficult to make up for lost time.
Simon Garstin of Squamish was seventh in Junior Men.
“It was a tough day,” said B.C. coach Dave Hord. “Everyone at the event acknowledged the challenges and it’s hard to say what happened. If you put yourself out there and ride on the edge you risk coming off, but if you ride safe you can cost yourself time, too. Seeding run times proved they were doing a fine job and they all put everything into the race — you can’t ask for better than that. It’s disappointing not to get the results, but they did their best.”