Finn Iles started out the 2017 season making sure the downhill world knows he's continuing his ascent.
Iles was the top junior in the Crankworx Rotorua Downhill in New Zealand on April 1, besting second-place competitor, Joshua Oxenham, by over 12 seconds. But Iles also posted the ninth-best score of all riders, finishing 6.1 seconds back of champion Jack Moir, while Mick Hannah and Elliot Jackson rounded out the podium.
Iles said on his Instagram page he was "stoked to take the W."
In the women's race, Tracey Hannah cruised to the win, with Emilie Siegenthaler and Canadian Casey Brown rounding out the podium. North Vancouver's Vaea Verbeeck and Squamish's Miranda Miller were just off the podium in fourth and fifth, while Whistler's Georgia Astle placed seventh.
In the Air DH, Canadian Bas Van Steenbergen scored the bronze, finishing behind winner Matt Walker and defending King of Crankworx champion Tomas Slavik. Verbeeck scored the win for the women, sharing the podium with Jill Kintner and Caroline Buchanan. Vancouver's Micayla Gatto was fifth while Brown placed 11th and Astle ended up 19th.
Brown, meanwhile, topped the Official Oceania Whip-Off World Championships, besting Great Britain's Katy Curd and New Zealand's Vinnie Armstrong while there was an American sweep on the men's side with Reed Boggs, Ryan Howard and Tyler McCaul hitting the podium.
"I think it's just rad that there's so many chicks out here. It's really inspiring, and I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and trying to progress," Brown said in a release.
In the Slopestyle in memory of McGazza, American Nicholi Rogatkin came through for the win with a score of 95.66, getting past Italian Torquato Testa and Sweden's Emil Johansson. Anthony Messere was the top Canadian in seventh, while Logan Peat was ninth and Whistler's Brandon Semenuk ended up in 17th.
In the Mons Royale dual speed and style, Czechia's Jakub Vencl edged out France's Adrien Loron in the big final, while American Mitch Ropelato downed Czech Slavik in the small final.
As for the pump-track challenge, Loron was the runner-up to New Zealand's Keegan Wright in the big final, while American Barry Nobles got past Ropelato in the small final.
In the overall King and Queen of Crankworx chase, New Zealand's Matt Walker and Kintner hold the leads, respectively, just as they did a year ago.
Last season, Walker's cushion eventually slipped away, though Kintner held onto hers. The American, however, is just five points up on Buchanan as they prepare for the final three events of the season.
"It's good to have Caroline here. It's a little bit more pressure. I feel pretty good, but it'll be tight, probably, the whole year, which is fun," Kintner said in a release. "...This is nice but...I definitely want to get a few more wins. I don't want to just be settling for seconds."
Melamed looks back on opener
The first stop on the Enduro World Tour was a wild one for local rider Jesse Melamed.
With heavy, pounding rain attacking the riders at the Giant Toa Enduro, which kicked off Crankworx Rotorua in late March, Melamed said he shifted his focus from excellence to survival.
"We have been very lucky with weather for the last few race seasons and haven't raced in the rain much. The last of us were starting from the race pits when the rain started coming down. 30 minutes later when we were all soaked through and saw the greasy trails we knew it was going to be a big day," Melamed wrote in an email.
"After we got through Stage 1 and adjusted our expectations everyone was actually in a good (as good as could be expected) mood. We couldn't help but laugh, the conditions were trying, it had changed to a battle of survival. The pits were crazy, just chaos. Mechanics (were) trying to clean bikes, fix problems they couldn't see under the mud and just get us rolling to the next stage. Transfer times were really tight this race too so it was just go, go, go all day. No time to think, really. Just get to the next stage, decide if your goggles are clean enough to use or if you risk going without them, decide if you want to drink your water or use it to clean your drivetrain, just so many different situations than usual.
"Everyone was a bit flustered, I think. I had high hopes for this race but that changed to just surviving the day and making it through the stages clean."
Melamed is still in the southern hemisphere preparing for the second stop in Tasmania this weekend.
"I'm very happy to have another race so soon after Rotorua. It will be good to make these long trips worth it and have two races in one trip. The second race this time gives a lot of us another chance to prove ourselves and show the work we did in the off season. The conditions are dry now but rain is expected for race day... I think everyone is hoping for a fair race this time and one that isn't affected by the weather," he wrote.
Pehota wraps FWT season
Pemberton skier Logan Pehota completed his sophomore season on the Freeride World Tour in Verbier, Switzerland on April 2.
After failing to finish the fourth event in Haines, Alaska, Pehota placed 13th in Verbier as he ended the campaign in 11th overall. He was second in his rookie season in 2016.
Fellow Canadian Kylie Sivell placed second to end the season in fourth overall.
WMSC ski-cross athletes complete season
The Whistler Mountain Ski Club ski-cross team completed its Western Canadian Ski Cross season with action at Big White on the weekend.
Though club members competed in only six of the 10 events this year, two racers found themselves on the overall podium as Jack MacDonald was third in the U16 division and Griffin Brumec-Parsons took second in the U18 chase.
In two races on the weekend, Jack Thomas won twice and Cameron MacDonald was fifth twice in the U12 division, while Brumec-Parsons took third in both U18 races. Jack MacDonald saw variance in his events, taking second in the first race and fourth in the second.
Jack Morrow and Jackson Ferguson did not compete after sustaining injuries in the Lake Louise event.