The Canadian Cycling Association announced its final team this week for the 2008 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, which take place June 17-22 at Val di Sole, Italy, with several Sea to Sky athletes making the cut.
In downhill, Alex Prochazka got the nod in the Junior Men’s category, while Squamish’s Miranda Miller is the lone junior woman to be picked for the team, but has already proven that she can compete against the top riders in Canada.
This is her second year in the championships after her first year ended early in Scotland with a broken collarbone and surgery to mend her shoulder. Now she’s healthy, she’s looking to win.
“Ideally I would like to win it, that’s pretty much my main goal,” she said. “Actually, last year I broke my collarbone and didn’t finish the race, so my main goal is to finish this year, and then to win it.”
She says she has no idea what to expect in Italy, but feels ready for anything.
“I’ve seen a few videos and photos from there, but I have no idea,” she said. “I’m feeling pretty confident fitness-wise. As for the style of riding I can expect, I’m not too sure. We’re leaving on Friday, and will have a good week before the actual race to figure things out.”
Miranda Miller is currently racing for Marin Bikes, as well as Mad March Racing and Team Squamish. Her training includes everything from riding the Whistler Mountain Bike Park to shuttling the descents in Squamish to riding cross-country to build fitness and stamina.
Whistler’s Claire Buchar once again qualified for the elite women’s team with a top-12 World Cup performance — three 11 th place results this year, in fact. This is her seventh consecutive year on the national team, and seventh world championships.
She knows all of the women who will be in contention for the championship title this year, and is hoping to move up a few spots.
“I’ve been trying to crack the top-10 and so far have come up with three 11 th place results at the first three World Cups — grrr!” she wrote in an e-mail from Europe. “That’s my goal, top-10 at world champs and top-10 World Cup overall.”
Buchar has also gone into the last few world championships with injuries, and is coming into the 2008 competition with a chronic neck and shoulder injury that she has been rehabilitating. Other than that, she says it’s “so far so good” in the health department.
Since the CCA decided three years ago it could only fund Olympic cycling disciplines like cross-country, it has been up to most of the downhillers and their sponsors to pay their own way to Italy. While Buchar will miss the CCA support, she says she will be looked after at the championships.
“My main support comes from Intense, Sram, SombrioGirl and Maxxis,” she said. “Unfortunately I won’t be pitting (with) or supported by the CCA, I just can’t afford to pay them for their support, especially if I already have my own support.”
In Under 23 Men cross-country, Squamish’s Neal Kindree qualified after medaling at the Pan Am Championships, but is suffering from a knee injury and will not be able to attend his fourth world championships or defend his Test of Metal title for a third year. He’s expecting to undergo some minor surgery this summer to repair cartilage.
Whistler’s Tyler Allison also moved up an age category to be able to qualify for the junior cross-country team, but the CCA ruled that he was too young.
Canadian World Championship Team
Elite Men XC — Geoff Kabush, Seamus McGrath
Elite Women XC — Marie-Helene Premont, Catharine Pendrel
Under 23 Men XC — Raphael Gagne, Neal Kindree (injured)
Under 23 Women XC — Emily Batty
Junior Men XC — Evan Guthrie, Tyson Wagler, Jonathon Boucher
Junior Women XC — Leah Kirchman, Bianca Adolf
Elite Men DH — Steve Smith, Andrew Mitchell, Mathieu Laurin, Charles-Alexandre Dube
Elite Women DH — Claire Buchar, Micayla Gatto, Denise Uyesugi, Kim Huard, Marie-Eve Marcotte
Junior Men DH — Yann Gauvin, Rob Fraser, Trenton Zoobkoff, Alex Prochazka, Philippe Cyrenne Blanchard
Junion Women DH — Miranda Miller
Trials Men — James Barton, Jeff Anderson