Nanaimo's Steve Smith made Canadian history in Leogang, Austria, on Sunday, winning the final downhill mountain bike race of the World Cup season in his trademark "all of nothing" style. It was his second consecutive World Cup win, and third victory in seven races. He also won a silver and bronze medal this year, and placed fourth once.
U.K. rider Gee Atherton had the overall series lead heading into the final, although he had an off-week in Norway the previous weekend and Smith was able to close the gap to just 17 points. He only had to finish one spot ahead of Atherton in Leogang to take the win, but then again Smith is never one to play it safe.
Smith attacked the course at full speed, flying over the roots and technical sections, and pedalling everywhere he had a chance to spin his legs and railing into the tight corners without even tapping his brakes. The result was a finish time over 1.3 seconds faster than second-place finisher Loic Bruni of France, while Australia's Michael Hannah was almost two seconds back. Atherton had a good run but wasn't his dominant self. He placed fourth overall, almost three seconds back of Smith.
Ontario's Kyle Sangers also showed continued improvement on the men's side, placing 20th overall.
"This is indescribable, a dream come true," Smith told Canadian Cylist. "This has been the most pressure I have ever had in my entire life. I knew the World Cup overall was in contention and I am just so pumped to come away with a win. I knew I was having a good run so I just went for it.
"The run was good, but it was hard to know how good. The course was so dry and fast compared to practice and qualifier. I knew I was going faster, but it is always hard to know about the other guys. You never know until you cross the line. At World Cups things are so tight you never think you are going to win until you cross."
Smith's tally was 1,199 points on the season, while Atherton placed second with 1,121. Greg Minnaar of South Africa, who didn't race after injuring his knee in training, was third with 673 points.
No Canadian has ever won as many races or the overall title in downhill, with Smith setting the bar higher almost every race this season.
While Gee wasn't able to retain the overall, his sister Rachel managed a second place finish behind Emmeline Ragot of France to win the title this year with 1,295 points, followed by Ragot with 1,165. Manon Carpenter of Great Britain picked up the bronze medal.
The top Canadian in the race was North Shore rider Micayla Gatto in 10th, followed by Squamish's Miranda Miller in 11th.
In the junior race, Whistler's Jack Iles placed 19th overall out of 66 racers. The top Canadian was Mark Wallace in 3:40.95, followed by Mckay Vezina in 3:42.07.
The top three in the race were Noel Niederberger of Switzerland, Loris Vergier of France and Michael Jones of Great Britain.
Ski club racer on course in Chile
Members of the B.C. Ski Team headed down to El Colorado, Chile, to fit in some on-snow training, and take part in an FIS technical series on the slopes alongside skiers from the U.S., Finland, Chile and other nations.
In the opening men's giant slalom, Ontario's Morgan Megarry and Quebec's William St-Germain were first and second, followed by Warner Nickerson of the U.S.
Whistler Mountain Ski Club racer Ford Swette, racing with the BC Ski Team, placed 13th overall in the race, while his teammate Tyler Werry was 18th.
David Donaldson from Ontario won the second race, bumping Megarry to second, while Robert Cone of the U.S. team stepped up into third. Ford Swette moved up to 10th overall, and was just over half a second back of the podium.
Saints still undefeated
The Whistler Saints flag football team is still undefeated in the North Shore Football League, this time posting a 20-12 win over the West Vancouver 49ers on Sunday morning. Beynon McKeen started the scoring with a 50-year run from the line of scrimmage to put the Saints on the board, and added another score on a kickoff return later in the game. Liam Forsyth scored the team's third touchdown late in the third quarter. Logan Anderson also added two points on a conversion.