With some of Whistler's top riders on the sidelines as volunteers for the B.C. Cup cross country races at Whistler Olympic Park on Sunday the local medal haul was a little smaller than usual.
This was the first time that the park has hosted a mountain bike event, recently completing new sections of singletrack trails that were well-received, for the most part. A few riders underestimated those sections and came to the finish covered with scratches and dust, but the general sentiment is that the park has huge potential for future mountain bike events.
For his part Jesse Melamed was disappointed that only a handful of riders took part in the junior category. Sebastien Sleep, who he usually battles against, opted to race in the elite category, which left Jarrad Wilhelm of Brackendale as his only opponent. Melamed finished four laps of the eight kilometre course in one hour, 24 minutes and 46 seconds, more than 13 minutes faster than Wilhelm.
Still, it wasn't an easy ride for anybody.
"The new singletrack was super fun, but there was not too much of it so there was nowhere to rest on the course. Everybody was giving it on all the road sections and the climbs," Melamed said.
The organizers also started the junior category (17 to 18) with the elite men, and Melamed paced himself off the elite riders from the start. Near the end he traded places with Whistler's Joanna Harrington, who was building up her own lead in the women's elite category. Harrington led on the climbs, but Melamed pulled ahead on the descents and finished just ahead of Harrington.
Melamed, who races for Team Whistler, hopes the B.C. Cup race at Whistler Olympic Park will be an annual event.
"It would be a sick course with more singletrack," he said. "You could see that there's a lot of potential for this area, and they did a great job on the trails they had."
Melamed's next race is the Gearjammer, which takes place in Squamish on Saturday. He's also heading to the next B.C. Cup, at Mt. Washington, where he has a chance to consolidate his lead in the overall B.C. Cup standings.
Harrington finished her race in 1:25:27 while riding for Trek, more than 11 minutes ahead of Linda Robichaud of Team Whistler. Karen Trueman of Victoria was third.
While the course wasn't as technical as some, Harrington said it was a tough ride on a hot day.
"It was a great train to pre-train for (the World Cup races in Quebec) next weekend," she said. "I really needed this as a confidence builder. There was no place to rest on the course at all, so your heart rate was up the whole time."
The World Cup course in Quebec is a lot more technical and right now it's also on the wet side, she said, but it will be a fast race as well.
Harrington also thinks Whistler Olympic Park has a future as a mountain bike venue.
"There's huge potential, it's very much like Canmore with all the cross country (skiing) trails linking the singletrack sections," she said. "It's a beautiful venue."
Martin Lazarksi won the men's elite category, completing five laps of the course in 1:59:05. He was followed by Craig Richey in 2:01:46 and Thomas Skinner in 2:05:56.
The top local was Dwayne Kress of Squamish in 2:08:58. Josh Stott of Team Whistler placed 10 th in 2:17:23 and Chris Johnston placed 11 th in 2:18:10. Dustin Gordon of Pemberton was 15 th in 2:42:05.
In Junior Women 15 to 18 (two laps), Amanda Wakeling of Courtenay placed first in 1:08:44, with Kristin Drygas and Maia Kilby of Squamish placing second and third in 1:15:59 and 1:17:53.
In Master 30 to 39 Men (four laps) Trevor Hopkins of Whistler was sixth in 1:55:36.
Chris Lawrence of Squamish was fifth in Master 40 to 49 Men in 1:29:42.
Whistler's Bob Allison placed first in Master 50-plus men in 1:22:12, three minutes ahead of his closest competitor, Nels Guloien of Port Moody and Team Whistler. Craig Mackenzie was 10 th in 2:20:44.
In Under 15 Men (one lap), Casey Klimock and Jack Iles of Whistler were fourth and fifth respectively, with Finn Iles seventh.
In Under 17 Men (two laps) Rob Leigh of Squamish placed first in 52:57, followed by Jereomy Pelletier in 56:48 and Quinn Moberg in 56:51. Also from Squamish, Owen Scully placed sixth in 1:05:31.
Oganizers also hosted a citizens' race for non-carded racers, where participants had the option of doing one, two or three laps of the course.
Manouan Deschenes of Squamish was fourth in the two-lap race. Kate Inman was seventh.
In the three-lap contest Jimar Heinicke of Squamish was second, Sean Michel seventh, and Alex Toews 13 th .
The Mt. Washington B.C. Cup events take place on Aug. 1-2 with cross-country and downhill races. The provincial championships are at Sun Peaks in Kamloops Aug. 22-23.