Christina Chappetta has been chipping away at the Sea to Sky mountain bike scene for the past several years.
She had a breakthrough in a big way on Saturday, April 29, claiming the crown in the pro women's division at the Pemberton Enduro.
Chappetta rolled to the win, knocking off Leonie Picton by over 58 seconds and Andréane Lanthier Nadeau by nearly 72 seconds.
"It felt pretty great. It was tough competition for sure. It was a big day, so to start the season off with a win was a pretty amazing feeling, for sure," she said.
Chappetta is a Louisiana native via Colorado, and explained she'd been living in Whistler on and off for the last four or five years, facing off with some top-level competition and working her way onto the Enduro World Series (EWS) circuit.
Pemberton holds a special place for Chappetta, and she knew, at the very least, it was going to be a fun event.
"I love the trails. I had pretty much ridden all the trails except for the blind stage, which was pretty rowdy and pretty wild, which was a bit of an advantage for me. I like the longer, more technical stages. Pemberton is probably my favourite place to ride overall, so all the stars aligned," she said. "I knew it was going to be an awesome day. I had that mindset already. I did the enduro there last year and I just love the vibe. It's a hundred of your closest friends riding the best trails in pretty all-time conditions.
"I knew it was going to be a great day but I didn't expect to win."
The win will hopefully provide a major boost for Chappetta, who has a busy schedule coming up with EWS events in Portugal and Ireland on tap before she tackles the Trans BC Enduro in the Kootenays in July.
Though she won by a fair margin, there were a few stressful moments in the day.
"I'm not the most consistent rider. I can definitely go balls to the wall and blow up from time to time, so to figure out consistency and not take too many crashes in the day. I dealt with a flat tire at the end of Stage 1," she said.
In the pro men's division, Whistler's Jesse Melamed bested fellow Enduro World Series competitors Yoann Barelli and Chris Johnston by roughly 11 and 16 seconds, respectively, to take gold.
"I really like the local enduros to just ride my bike, have fun and not take it too seriously," he said. "I didn't rest as much and I ended up cramping up halfway through the day, which doesn't normally happen, but other than that, it was good."
While Melamed was glad to take the win and note some strong competition, he knows he'd have downplayed its importance a bit if he was anywhere but first.
"I think it would be a different answer if I hadn't won it," he said with a chuckle. "Whistler's hot. We have Barelli who's here now, which is awesome, and Chris came up for the race and a bunch of local guys who you never want to think can beat you, but every one of them has a chance.
"It's a tough competition and I'm happy to win it."
Melamed was admittedly getting over the flu coming into the race and noted that gaps in the EWS schedule are ideal for recovering from the rigors of previous stops on the schedule.
"There's not much you can do in between those races. We do a lot of work in the winter — that's the backbone of your fitness. Between races, you don't really want a big break but at the same time, it doesn't feel like that long. I'm pretty focused on resting more than anything and getting time on the bike," he said. "I'm just trying to maintain and come into the next races well-rested."
In the open women's division, Kate Whitley charged to the win, getting past Pippa Holdom by 66 seconds and Paula Keohan by over six minutes. Meanwhile, Seb Kemp captured the open men's division by just under five seconds over Jacob Larouche Tremblay and James Hoggan by 24 seconds.
Dave Burch captured the masters men's division by just under five seconds over Jeff Westlake while third-place finisher Terry Evans was about 36 seconds back.
As for the junior men, Neve Abraham scored the win by about 26 and 27 seconds over Tristan Sanders and Ruben Guibert, respectively.
Over 130 racers took part in the race.
Full results are available at porca.spruceracetiming.com.