Geoff Kabush and Sandra Walter took home the men's and women's elite titles of Friday's Canadian Open XC at Crankworx Whistler and got to celebrate together, amazingly crossing the finish line at Spruce Grove park simultaneously.
"That wasn't planned, but that was kinda fun," laughed Walter, who was nearly two minutes ahead of the rest of the field after four laps of the 5.5-kilometre course.
Walter finished with a total time of one hour, 31 minutes, 32 seconds, while Quebeckers Cindy Montambault (1:33:24) and Jean Ann Berkenpas (1:33:32) were next across the line to land on the podium.
"I was really focused and tackled each obstacle one at a time, and was able to ride pretty clean," said Walter, who hails from Coquitlam. "Racing on B.C., especially on the national stage, is exciting and it's always good to have events out here."
Kabush and Evan Guthrie led the elite men's field for the first half of the race, but Kabush started to pull away on the fourth of his five laps and left Guthrie behind.
"I followed Evan for the first three laps and on the fourth climb decided to make a little bit of an effort and see if he had any response," said Kabush. "I got a bit of a gap, which was nice, a bit of a buffer and rode it in; just tried to be smooth.
"I was on the full-suspension Spark 29 today and he was on the hard tail, so I think fatigue started to add up (for Guthrie) and I was able to open it up a little more there at the end."
The Courtenay native clocked a winning time of 1:37:32, while Peachland's Guthrie took runner-up honours, 26 seconds back. American rider Spencer Paxson (1:38:56) claimed third place.
In Friday's junior expert men's race, Squamish's Rhys Verner rode to the victory, finishing four laps in 1:23:11 to hold off Montana's Landen Beckner, who was second at 1:23:50. U.S. rider Nolan Brady finished third, while Whistler's Austin Reith was third.
The junior expert women's title went to Banff's Emeliah Harvie. Quebec's Amelie Simard finished second and Whistler's own Jenn McTavish took bronze.
Official results will be posted at www.crankworx.com when available. Check next week's Pique for a full recap.