Sea to Sky riders picked up two of Canada's three medals at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, Switzerland last week with Squamish's Lauren Rosser - the reigning champion from 2010 - placing third in the junior race this year and Whistler's Clare Buchar placing third in women's downhill - her best result in 10 years of World Championships and a decade racing World Cup.
Buchar finished the long, wet course in 5:21.96, holding off French riders Myriam Nicole and Sabrina Jonnier for the third step on the podium. Emmeline Ragot of France was first by a long margin in 4:54.01, followed by British rider Rachel Atherton in 5:09.30.
Other Canadians in the race were Casey Brown (Revelstoke and part-time Whistler), Miranda Miller (Squamish) and Katherine Short (Sunshine Coast), who placed 12th, 13th and 15th respectively.
Buchar took an unusual route to the top this year, forgoing her usual World Cup tour to stick closer to home and save money. She kept a low profile until Crankworx, where she placed second in the Canadian Open DH against a World Cup-calibre field, and first in the Garbanzo DH. A week later she was on top of the podium at the national championships, securing a spot racing for Canada in the worlds.
"I didn't race any World Cups this year because we didn't have the budget," Buchar told Canadian Cyclist. "But I came here with great motivation. A good friend in Canada, Nick Geddes, is in the hospital with leukemia, so us Canadians wore yellow shoelaces to show our support. And every time I thought it was tough out there I thought of Nick. So this one's for you. Nick for the win!"
While the weather couldn't have been worse, she tried to stay positive and ride to the conditions.
"The track got worse as the day went on," she wrote in her blog at KovarikRacing.com. "I knew that all the juniors were crashing in their finals, the conditions were horrendous. The track was the gnarliest I've ever seen it, just getting eroded and lots of slippery shale slabs coming through.
"I decided that if I just toned it down a little, rode smart and stayed on I could get a good result. I didn't expect third! But trying to stay on was not an easy feat, (it) was so scary and I literally was, at moments, just hanging on like superwoman."
The men's team was without Nanaimo's Steve Smith, who finished his season ranked fifth overall after injuring himself in training at the last World Cup event of the season.
Danny Hart of Great Britain was the top rider in the men's race with a time of 3:41.98. Damien Spagnolo of France was second in 3:53.68 and Samuel Blenkinslop of New Zealand third in 3:54.98. Reigning champion Sam Hill of Australia placed seventh on the day.