Jesse Melamed continued to build momentum in the lead-up to Crankworx last weekend with another encouraging result on the Enduro World Series.
The Whistler rider finished 15th in the open men's race held July 25 to 27 as part of the Colorado Freeride Festival at Winter Park. It was his second top-15 finish in a row, following a DNF at the third stop on the series at Valloire, France, in June.
"I'm super stoked, more so just to rebound from Valloire and the DNF, and come back with two good results," said Melamed.
The Rocky Mountain team rider finished with a combined time of 46 minutes, 10.972 seconds across the seven stages, less than two minutes behind Jared Graves's winning time. His result also moved him up to 19th place in the pro men's standings, making him the circuit's highest-ranked rider with a DNF or DNS listed for a race.
"I've kind of salvaged my overall position, and that was my goal this year... so I'm happy to move up again," he said.
Melamed had three individual stage finishes in the top 10 over the three days, including a high of sixth place on Stage 5. He even overcame some adversity to post a 10th-place finish on Stage 7.
"The last stage was the big downhill stage," he said. "I knew that stage was going to be one of my best and I wanted to do well on it.
"I knew I had to push it, and I pushed a little too hard and crashed, but I still ended up 10th, so I think I would have been top five without the crash."
The next stop on the series comes during Crankworx Whistler — the SRAM Canadian Enduro on Aug. 10. Melamed posted his best-ever Enduro World Series result on his home trails last year, finishing sixth.
"This year, I know I'm faster, but there are a lot of other guys that are a lot faster," he said. "I just want to have another good race in front of my fans and family in Whistler."
A few other Whistler riders competed in the pro men's class at Winter Park, including Dylan Wolsky, who wound up 48th. Nick Geddes saved his best stage for last, placing 38th on the final leg en route to a 64th-place finish overall. Whistler's Jordan Hodder rode to 79th place among the field of more than 120 racers.
Meanwhile, fellow local Bowen Irvine had an impressive fifth-place result in junior men's competition. Whistler's Nina Arnold finished with the same ranking in the amateur women's class.
Katrina Strand also raced the open women's class in Colorado, where she had an awful run of bad luck while finishing 16th. Fellow Sea to Sky rider Vaea Verbeeck finished 12th.
"I had a lot of mechanicals. Enough to last me for years," laughed Strand. "It was a little bit ridiculous. I was down there as prepared as I can be, but stuff still happens.
"Enduro racing in general is all about managing chaos... and for sure that was the most chaotic race of my life."
But the news wasn't all bad for Strand this week. With the Sea to Sky Enduro Series wrapping up with the sixth and final race of the season in Whistler on Saturday, July 26, the season ended with Strand atop the pro women's standings.
Although Strand only made it out to three stops on the local circuit, she finished on the podium each time, and won the first of two Whistler races.
"I had three good races, really," she said. "They're never perfect, but they were pretty good. I felt like I rode well.
"(Winning the overall) was never part of the plan. I was just competing in those races as a fun thing to do, which is why I compete in general, really. I go out there to have a good time."
Melamed had clinched the pro men's title earlier in the season.
Full series standings had not been calculated across all categories by press time, but results from Saturday's Whistler race — a four-stager that included time on the Top Of The World trail — showed it was a good day for local folks.
Whistler's Shane Gayton took the pro men's victory with a combined time of 26:14, making him the only rider besides Melamed to earn a victory in the category this season. Fellow local Matt Ryan won the final stage to take runner-up honours, 17 seconds back of Gayton, while Chris Johnston rode to third place. Remi Gauvin had the lead after two stages but did not finish the race.
The open men's victory belonged to Adam Price (27:52), who was joined on the podium by Quentin Emeriau and Pat Foster. In the masters race, Rick Armstrong finished on top, followed by Chad Hendren and Brad Matryn.
Simmone Lyons (40:03) held off Fanny Paquette to win the pro women's race Saturday, while Kate Whitley (46:55) was triumphant in the open women's category. Jaclyn Delacroix was the fastest female overall at 39:52 while winning the masters race.
Rather than race at home, a few more local riders opted to compete in the BC Enduro Series stop held on the Sunshine Coast Saturday and Sunday. That included Georgia Astle, who finished the nine-stage race in second place among open women's riders.
Whistler's Spencer Wight had little trouble winning the junior men's event, winning eight of nine stages and finishing nearly three minutes ahead of the field. Conrad Murdoch was the runner-up.
Resort riders also finished in many of the top spots in open men's competition as well, led by Stephen Scrivener's third-place finish. Joining him in the top 10 were Ross Dunlop (fourth), Mathieu Ballion (sixth), Jeremy Null (eighth) and Jim Sewell (ninth). Other local finishers included Blake Fetherstonhaugh (17th), James Cattanah (21st) and Cormac O'Brien (26th).