Squamish junior Lauren Rosser is a regular to the podium at the B.C. Cup and national level, but with only a few riders to test herself against in most races she had to wait until the UCI World Championships in Quebec last week to prove that she is also the best in the world.
Against a field of 10 top international riders, Rosser placed first with a time of 5 minutes, 59.55 seconds on the long and technical course. Fanny Lombard and Julie Berteaux of France placed second and third respectively with times of 6:13.50 and 6:19.74, well back of the pace set by Rosser.
The only other Canadian in the mix, Kelsey Begg, placed seventh in 6:59.64.
With the win, Rosser became the first Canadian since Cindy Devine in 1990 to hold a UCI world championship title. More impressive, Rosser - who is 16 - competed against girls two years older than her.
At the press conference, Rosser said she was glad to have some rain - an advantage, growing up riding in Squamish.
"I was just like, at night, 'I want it to rain, I want it to rain' and it rained, and I was having so much fun in the corners and on all the rocks and stuff," said Rosser.
It could have been a different story if some last minute details didn't come together. For example, Rosser also competed in the cross-country race a few days earlier and placed 11 th . She then came late to downhill training with a single crown fork. Luckily the mechanic for the national team was able to locate a headset for a triple crown fork and put her bike together for race day.
While Rosser's win was the big story, Canada had a good showing overall in both downhill and cross-country events.
Whistler's Tyler Allison was the top Canadian in the men's junior category, placing 16 th . Allison told Canadian Cyclist (www.canadiancyclist.com) that he wasn't happy with his run.
"I just blew it," he said. "I was going hard at the start and then got a bit tired halfway down. I was trying to make what I could of my run and then I started blowing out of my pedals. I blew out on the rock garden and couldn't get clipped back in and that was my race over. I pretty much had to stop and kick the mud out of my cleat because it wouldn't clip back in."
Whistler's Nick Geddes placed 19 th out of 48 racers.
Steve Smith also managed a huge upset in the Elite Men's category, placing second behind Australia's Sam Hill. Smith was racing with a torn ligament in his shoulder after a crash in training.
Smith had a breakout season, landing on one podium and finishing his season in the top 10 of the World Cup standings.
"It was definitely unexpected, so I'm pretty stoked," Smith told Canadian Cyclist. "I didn't believe I would be on the podium until the last rider finished.
Tracy Moseley of the U.K. won the women's Elite category, while the top Canadian was Whistler's Claire Buchar in ninth. Buchar said she was happy with the result, considering all the mud and pedaling required.
"(The mud) made it really hard to carry speed and I really struggled with the top section, losing valuable time in the muddy sprint at the top and between the top muddy berms. But as soon as it got fast and technical I made up a lot of that time... Just goes to show where my strengths are, more of a rider than a sprinter."
In the cross-country races, Geoff Kabush of Victoria posted his best result of the season, eighth place. Jose Hermida of Spain was first, Jaroslav Kulhavy of Czech Republic second and Burry Stander of South Africa third.
On the women's side, Whistler's Willow Koerber - racing for the U.S. team - was third, behind Maja Wloszczowska of Poland and Irina Kalentieva of Russia. Catharine Pendrel of Kamloops was fourth.
Changing gears, Mill Bay B.C.'s John Webster managed a seventh place finish in the UCI Trials World Championships. Last year he was the first Canadian ever to rank as an elite in the sport, and this was his first World Championship experience. Less than a month ago Webster won the Trialworx competition in Whistler and said he hoped just to place in the top 15.
Webster finished with 53 points. Kenny Belaey of Belarus was first with 25.