The Canada Cup XC race was a sweet homecoming for Geoff Kabush.
After winding his way around south of the border, the Squamish cross-country racer returned to Sea to Sky country for the race here in Whistler on June 24.
The two-time Olympian scored the win over a strong field, beating Bellingham's Stephen Ettinger by about 80 seconds and Peachland's Evan Guthrie by over two minutes in the elite men's division.
"I (had) tough races against some of those guys in the U.S.," he said. "I just got back up from California on Thursday and was excited to jump into local competitions here."
Kabush said the hot temperatures, which were pushing 30 Celsius, were a factor for a number of racers. Kabush observed a number of competitors pouring ice-cold water on themselves.
However, he has grown accustomed to the blazing sun in his recent travels.
"It was a hot one again like last year. I was just biding my time early on because guys were tiring and I had to claw back some time and attack on the fifth lap, take it back over those guys for the win," he said. "It was definitely a bit of a pacing battle, especially with the heat out there, making sure I could conserve some energy and stay cool."
Ultimately, Kabush waited until late to make his move, passing on the penultimate lap and hanging on for the win.
"We were going into the fifth lap and halfway up the climb, I made contact and decided not to wait until the last lap. I went full throttle the second half of the fifth lap," he said. "I got a decent gap on the fifth lap and held on for the sixth."
The victory should help prepare him for events like the B.C. Bike Race and the Canadian XCO Championships in Canmore, Alta. next month.
Catharine Pendrel, meanwhile, didn't stay in B.C. long after the race, instead hopping on a plane to Barcelona to continue the World Cup season. She posted to Facebook, however, that she enjoyed the race and hopes to see a higher level compete at the venue.
"Would love to see a World Cup here, maybe Finals so we could all stay and play after..." Pendrel posted.
She finished well ahead of fellow Kamloops resident Jayne Rossworn, coming in nearly nine minutes faster. Revelstoke's Emily Unterberger was just over 10 minutes off the pace.
In other divisions, Whistler's Julia Long captured the junior expert women's title while Squamish's Holden Jones did the same for the men. Squamish's Elissa Lok won the 30-to-39 masters women's division and Whistler's Kaila Lafreniere won the U15 women's event.
Whistler Blackcomb also played host to a BC Cup downhill race on June 24.
Whistler residents won both elite divisions with the husband-and-wife team of Chris Kovarik and Claire Buchar pulling off the feat. Kovarik nipped Squamish's Lee Jackson and Revelstoke's Luke Stevens to earn the win while Buchar got past Whistler up-and-comer Georgia Astle by nearly four seconds while Winlaw's Michelle Griffiths was roughly 16 seconds back.
Several locals went home with medals, as Whistler's Nick Knapton got past Pemberton's Samuell English and Squamish's Ben Thompson in the men's 13-to-16 division, while Whistler's Kari Mancer won the open 30-plus women's event. In the U17 sport men's event, Pemberton's Neve Abraham was third, while Whistler's Finn Finestone was also third among U15 men. Whistler's Ian Milley won the U17 men's division, while Whistler's Corey Kenahan was second in the 30-to-39 masters men event. In the 17-18 junior sport men event, Pemberton's Felix Abraham took second to Brackendale's Jacob Murray, and Harrison Talby led an all-Whistler podium sweep of the open 17-to-29 men's division, leading Dylan Layzell and Les Lanza. Whistler's Piper Allman captured the junior women's 15-to-18 title, while Adam Dagg and Colby Gordon took second and third in the open 30-plus men's event.
Full results are available at http://bike.whistlerblackcomb.com.