It would take more than a little mud to scare off riders taking part in the inaugural Joyride Huckfest this past weekend.
The conditions no doubt kept the numbers down, but organizers were happy to see respectable fields in all of the events, laying the foundation for future Huckfest weekends.
"I think it went really well," said organizer Paddy Kaye. "We had three different styles of events, and three different styles of riders, and the feedback was awesome from everyone."
There is no word on whether the format will stay the same next year, but Kaye says that park staff and managers were happy with the event and were already coming up with suggestions how to make next years event bigger and better.
"Were going to sit down and talk about everything, but I think the consensus is that everything went well. This event was really about the riders, and celebrating the end of the season," said Kaye.
The weekend of events kicked off with a Super-Downhill, a downhill race with some uphill sections. The course was in good shape, despite the rain the day before, although a few riders slid out on rooty sections.
Choosing what kind of bike to run was a challenge for the riders downhill bikes are faster on the descents but far slower on the climbs, while cross-country bikes were the opposite.
Andreas Hestler, who moved to Whistler last week from North Vancouver, won the day with a cross between the two styles a cross-country frame with slightly wider tires and a bigger fork up front.
Hestler completed the course in 14:50.79, or almost 40 seconds faster than the next competitor.
"That was fun," he said. "It was a pretty relentless course, you were either going down or climbing, and the mud definitely slowed things down a bit."
Hestler competed in his first Super-D earlier this year at a NORBA event, which he also won. While hes still one of Canadas top cross-country racers, Hestler also has a reputation of being a good technical rider and spends a lot of time riding the North Shore and the Bike Park.
He was feeling sick earlier in the week, and wasnt sure if he was even going to race on Saturday.
"I heard (Dave Burch) Burchie was drinking coffee all morning to get ready for this, and I decided it was something I had to do. I got here late, and only had time to pre-ride about half the course, so I was doing most of it blind, but it was a really good course nothing was too technical, and the climbs were pretty easy."
Burch was second in 15:26.37, riding his cross-country bike with no modifications.
"I flew up the uphill sections, but it was a little dicey coming down. I spent a lot of time riding my front tire, trying not to go over the bars," he said. "Next year Id probably put on some bigger tires, and maybe put my seat down."
Hestler joked that Burchs choice of bikes was "like bringing a knife to a gun fight."
Third place overall went to J.S. Therrien in a time of 16:54.67. Freeride legend Wade Simmons was a close fourth in 16:58.35 on what was basically a downhill bike.
In the womens race Lesley Clements finished first out of three riders in 21:13.14, followed by Megan Hoodspith in 22:41.81.
Tyler Allison was the top junior, finishing the course in 17:34.97 over two minutes faster than the next junior.
"It was definitely harder than a downhill race with all of the uphill sections, there was more than I thought," he said. "It helped that I race cross-country and downhill too. You just had to put them together."
Allison used his cross-country bike with some slightly fatter tires. He also put on some hydraulic disk brakes for more control, but in the end he said the secret was going as fast as possible through some of the technical root sections.
Nicholas Geddes was the second junior in 19:51:88, followed by Philip Cairons in 20:14:11.
In the Male Master 35-plus category, Gary Jackson from Cycling B.C. took the win in 17:32.88 on his cross-country bike.
Kevan Shaler was second in 18:17:87, while Jon Pitton was third in 19:40.42.
Some 38 riders took part, with two not finishing because of mechanical problems.
The slopestyle took place on Saturday afternoon with a larger than expected field of 33 riders.
The original intent was to wrap up the jam after an hour and pick the top competitors for the two-run finals, but the judges finally decided that it was too close to call and let everyone in.
The event was promoted as an amateur event, which means riders were limited to a handful of features in the Boneyard and some tricks were off-limits. Still, the level of competition was head and shoulders above what anyone was expecting.
"I think we saw a lot of things we didnt even think of in Crankworx," said Kaye. "One reason is that there were a lot of young kids who were creative and innovative in what they were doing, and the level of young talent is amazing. It wasnt an easy event for the judges to call.
"I think the fact that the judges saw everyone and in the end decided they didnt want to eliminate anyone for the finals says a lot about the event."
Marcie Shatula was the top woman with a score of 25.1. Her winning run included a stylish hop onto the big Staff Housing feature and a solid ride on the C-wall.
Second place went to Gabe Newman in 23.2, followed by Wendy Robinson in 22.5.
In the mens open category, New Zealander Chris Beaverland set the tone early with fast runs, big airs off the park feature, and aggressive use of the C-wall. He also threw in a few tricks, like a no-footer over the gap and tabletops on the bottom hip for good measure.
"I just went fast from the start, took the big jumps as big as I could, tried to use everything in the park and really use the C-wall," he said.
The wet conditions made it a little more difficult.
"It was really slick, especially the wood features. A lot of guys were sliding out, so I think it was better to go fast."
Beaverlands final score of 26.5 was less than one point ahead of Jeff Brysons 25.7. Matthew Jackson was third with a 24.2.
The junior categories saw some of the most difficult tricks, which meant it was often harder for riders to land a clean run.
Alex Stathis won the Junior 16-18 competition with a 24.8, followed by Ian Nelson with a 23.5 and Brad Hamilton with a 21.6.
The 13-15 category went to Washingtons Walker Wilkerson, a BMX rider who pulled out 360s, tailwhips, and a rocket air with a tire grab. He also got the most air out of the quarterpipe, launching five feet over the wall.
It was Wilkersons first slopestyle competition, but it definitely wont be his last.
"Some of the jumps were pretty big, but we ride some big dirt jumps back home so I was used to it," he said. "After doing (the gaps) a few times I was pretty comfortable, and making the transitions every time."
The tailwhip one of many attempted, but the only one landed cleanly was his favourite trick of the day, although he liked his spinning tricks as well. Next year he plans to work on his backflip, and to qualify for a spot in Crankworx.
Wilkersons score was a 23.7. John Kanavaros and Ben Porteus were second and third with scores of 19.8 and 19.3 respectively.
Whistlers additions, Brendan Semenuk and Alex Prochazka, finished seventh and ninth respectively after problems with their runs in the finals, but both were among the top riders in the qualifiers. Both riders used the gap jumps, C-wall, and landed spins and tailwhips off the bottom air.
Special mention should go to Cam McCaul and Jonny Rockall for emceeing the slopestyle event and keeping riders and spectators thoroughly entertained even as the temperature dropped and the rain started to fall.
A bigger than expected field of 67 riders took part in the Joyride Downhill on Sunday, taking on one of the bike parks hardest trails in challenging and often wet conditions.
Despite the level of difficulty all of the riders made it to the bottom, unscathed.
Tyler Morland won the mens race, despite having a crash on the course, with a time of 3:07. Jeff Beatty was close behind in 3:09, followed by Justin Frey in 3:14. Claire Buchar was the top female racer in 3:35, followed by Micayla Gatto in 3:53. Kyle Salisbury was the top junior in 3:47, followed by Alex Prochazka in 3:49 and Tyler Allison in 3:52. The top male master was Graham Beatty in 3:30.