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Semenuk wins Lumpy Memorial award

Mountain biker follows in his brother’s tracks



Brandon Semenuk has had a pretty good year so far.

According to his father the house is quickly filling up with Brandon’s growing collection of medals and trophies from mountain bike races around the province, including the B.C. Cross Country Championships, all five B.C. Cup races, a Canada Cup race, and various Island Cup races.

The latest addition to Brandon’s trophy collection is the Lumpy Leidal Memorial Award, an impressive 25-pound bronze statue of a mountain biker that has been presented since 1998 to the top junior rider in the community.

At 13, Semenuk is the youngest Whistler rider to win the award, which was presented to him at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Loonie race on Aug. 26 by the parents of the late Geoff "Lumpy" Leidal. Semenuk was also presented with a $100 bursary by the Leidal family.

Although there are always a number of strong contenders for the award, Brandon was outstanding this season.

Some of Brandon’s achievements in 2004 include:

• Second overall on the B.C. Cup circuit in the Under 15 category by just four seconds;

• Five podium appearances in five B.C. Cup races, including two wins, two silvers and one bronze.

• First in the 38 km B.C. Cross Country Championships held in Squamish, beating his closest competitor by more than 13 minutes;

• Second in the Canada Cup finals at Sun Peaks Resort;

• Third in the Test of Metal, breaking the four hour mark.

• Solid results in the Island Cup races while competing in the pro adult field.

"It was pretty cool to get picked this year," he said of winning the award.

"There are some pretty good riders who won it before me, and they’re all still riding hard."

The other riders to receive the award were Brook Baker, James Crowe, Will Routley, Jeff Beatty, Brendan Edgar and Tyler West. West, Semenuk’s older brother, won the trophy in 2001.

Next year Semenuk will likely continue to race in the Under 15 category of the B.C. Cup, but he also hopes to compete as an Under 17 Junior Expert in other events, even if it lowers his chances of winning. He likes longer races, he says, and the fact that he can keep up to older, bigger, and more experienced riders.

"That’s pretty much the best part of it, you get to go longer so you can catch up to everyone at the front and ride them hard. I do okay when I race in the Island Cup, and when I’m there I’m usually in the pro category," said Semenuk.

Now that the B.C. Cup Series is wrapped up, Semenuk says he will continue to ride in Loonie races, and local events like the West Side Wheel Up (Sept. 18) and the Cheakamus Challenge (Sept. 25).

This winter Semenuk plans to kick his training up a notch by heading to Vancouver Island two weeks a month to train with bike coach Ed Schum, who has worked with local riders like Routley and West in the past. While he’s away he’ll keep up with his schoolwork on the computer through Whistler Secondary’s Elite Athlete Program.

The goal of the training is to improve his speed and endurance, and he’ll be putting most of his time in on the road.

"I don’t really like road riding as much as mountain biking, but it’s good training to get you going faster and being in the longer races," said Semenuk, who has only been competing for three years.

Brandon’s father Mark Semenuk couldn’t be prouder of his son.

"(Brandon’s) had quite an illustrious summer, it’s really been unbelievable," he said.

His favourite moment came last weekend when Brandon finished second in the final B.C. Cup of the year, missing out on the overall title by a matter of seconds.

"He said ‘you know what dad? Racing is a lot of fun’. I have to admit that I got pretty choked up when he said that. I thought he’d be upset about missing out on the title, and coming so close at the end, but he found something positive to say about it. I thought that showed a lot of sportsmanship, and he never complained once. As a parent you live for that kind of thing," Mark said.

Semenuk is currently sponsored by Evolution Bike Shop and Specialized, which have helped him with parts and labour over the course of the season.

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