Emily Slaco entered the Canadian Enduro Championship at Panorama Mountain Resort on June 17 looking to keep pressure to a minimum and let the chips fall where they may.
It turned out to be a winning strategy as the Pemberton rider topped the pro women's category, outlasting Jennifer McHugh by 41 seconds and Laura Battista by two minutes and seven seconds (2:07).
"I was really just there to have fun," Slaco said. "There was no pressure and I had lots of good people to ride with, so it was an awesome day."
Slaco praised the conditions at the resort, as a mix of weather in the preceding days prevented anything too extreme from forming.
"We had some rain in the days before and then it started to dry out a little bit so by the time we got to race day, it wasn't super muddy and it wasn't super dry," she said.
On a course that provided varied experiences for riders, Slaco said she particularly enjoyed Stages 3 and 5, the latter of which was an eight-plus-minute burner for competitors.
"They were a little bit rough, more downhill and gravity-focused trails," said Slaco, who won four of the seven stages. "They were fast and rough and fun."
The course also featured one stage that was a 17-plus-minute scorcher, which presented Slaco some problems, though she finished second to only McHugh on that course.
"I don't actually know how you stay focused because I don't think I did," Slaco said with a chuckle. "You just ride your bike and try to have fun and know that the finish is going to be there eventually, so you just keep going."
While Slaco appreciated the result, she'll be going into a bit of a hiatus on a high note as her work schedule ramps up and won't allow her to compete again until the fall.
Meanwhile, Whistler's Carter Krasny shone in the U21 men's category, where he was 33 seconds behind winner Evan Wall and just seven seconds back of friend Jacob Tooke.
"It was definitely the most challenging race so far, having seven stages where they usually have five stages," Krasny said. "There was some pretty gnarly track. It was pretty technical with high speeds. We were hitting speeds of over 70 km/h on singletrack, which is pretty scary, but also makes it really fun."
The highlight of Krasny's day came in Stage 3, where he pulled off the win, leaving other riders envious of the accomplishment, including Tooke, who was just a second behind him.
"It's super steep, technical and fast. I hit all my lines perfectly and it was a really fun stage," Krasny said. "In training, you're thinking 'This is the best one' and everyone wanted to win that one, so that meant a lot."
Krasny nearly experienced disaster at the end of Stage 4 when he broke his shifter cable, but with some help from the MEC tent, was able to carry on for the final three stages.
The bronze showing was Krasny's second third-place finish of the season, both of which were accomplished at Enduro World Series (EWS) Qualifier events. To podium at both will provide a huge boost to his chances of rising through the ranks in 2019.
And placement aside, Krasny's time would have placed him ninth in the pro men's category, which gives him a confidence boost looking ahead.
"It makes me look at my future and think I can actually do this," he said. "I'm not just putting a good time up against juniors but in the pro category as well."
The U21 category is a gauntlet, Krasny noted, as 10 riders contend for the top spot each time out.
Krasny credited coach Joel Harwood with his development over the course of the season while also thanking his parents for their support.
Meanwhile, Julia Long also took third in the U21 women's event, placing 52 seconds behind winner Emily Schick and 30 seconds back of Ainhoa Ijurko.
The bigger race caught up to Long as she was thrilled just to finish the whole course.
"It was a really long day and it was almost just trying to survive the whole day as opposed to racing it," Long said.
Full results are available online at www.canadianenduro.com.