When it comes to downhill mountain bike events in B.C., Whistlers Tyler Morland needs no introduction. He was on the podium in almost every event he entered last year, including the pro events during the local Crankworx festival, and he won the first ever B.C. Championship title.
Until recently he hasnt had as much exposure nationally. This year he has two silver medals on the Canada Cup, but with some B.C. athletes skipping the Quebec events it took the Canadian Downhill Championships at Mont Ste. Anne to get a true reading of where he stood.
On Sunday, Morland blew away the field of 60 riders in the mens pro elite category to claim his first national downhill title, earning a spot to represent Canada at the World Championships in September.
Morland cleared the short but intense course in three minutes, 8.61 seconds, almost two seconds ahead of Louis-Philippe Leonard of Quebec, and four seconds ahead of Ontarios Justin Brown.
"Ive had pretty good results the last couple of years, but I havent raced at Nationals," Morland told Canadian Cyclist. "I had an absolutely horrific seeding run I was late for my start, and just mentally wasnt focused. So, for the final, I just tried to concentrate more. I went a little conservative because I didnt want to crash in the wood sections where it was so muddy."
Unlike other riders, Morland went for a "dry" tire, preferring a slight advantage in the pedal sections to a little extra grip in the mud. It was a strategy that paid off.
Adam Billinghurst, another Whistler downhiller, managed to finish fifth, just 5.55 seconds back of Morland.
Other Whistler riders include Chad Onyschuk in 13 th and Mike Jones in 18 th . Chris Dewar was a DNF.
In the womens race it was Adrienne Miller of Vancouver Island who claimed the title in 3:48.06, despite a crash at the top of the course. Whistler rider Danika Schroeter was the favourite going in, but had three crashes of her own in a tight, technical section to finish more than four seconds back.
Whistlers Brook Baker, who was supposed to stay in B.C. to concentrate on B.C. Cup races, finished in third place about 15 seconds off the pace.
Katrina Strand, also a Whistler rider, finished fourth on a course where most riders had at least one good crash, while Claire Buchar settled for seventh.
No Whistler riders appeared in the age categories, but Kyle Ritchie of Squamish finished fourth in the junior expert category.