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Whistler riders top BC downhill championships



Whistler's top riders came home from the B.C. Downhill Provincial Championships this past weekend with a lot of titles, including gold medals in elite men, elite women and U15, plus a bronze medal in Junior Expert Men.

In Under 15, Finn Iles finished the course in 3:24.77, almost five seconds ahead of the next rider, and 17 seconds ahead of third place. There were 21 racers in the category.

The husband and wife team of Chris Kovarik and Claire Buchar, no stranger to sharing podiums, each won their respective elite categories. Kovarik blasted down the course in 3:03.46, followed by Anmore's Kirk McDowall in 3:05.00 and Kelowna's Bas Van Steenbergen in 3:05.84. Whistler's Remy Mettalier was 14th and Squamish's Kip Shortreed 20th.

Buchar finished her race in 3:32.17, eight seconds faster than Quebec's Vaea Verbeeck and 17 seconds up on Vancouver's Tara Mowat.

Whistler's Jack Iles is fast enough on most days to place in the top 10 of the elite and open male category, and yet he's still in the Junior Expert Men (17-18), Jackson Lee of Squamish took the checkered flag in 3:09.34, followed by Matt Hardwick of New Westminster in 3:10.98 and Whistler's Jack Iles in 3:11.90. Also from Whistler, Isaac Marangoni was eighth and Bowen Irvine 12th.

In Under 17 Expert Men, Squamish's Sean Fincham and Rhys Verner were third and fifth, while Bracken Camilleri of Whistler placed sixth.

Other Sea to Sky athletes in the race include:

Adrian Camposilvan was eighth in Senior Men.

Squamish's Arnau Muset Roca was third in Junior Sport Men (17-18).

Whistler's Brad Jansen was sixth in U17 Sport Men, while Alex Auger placed 10th out of 40 racers.

Whistler's Aiken Collinge was second in 19-29 Citizen Men, while Squamish's Otto Akkerman was 21st.

The provincial championships were the third event in the provincial BC Cup series. The fourth event is the Western Open this weekend at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, followed by events at Mt. Washington on Aug. 24-25 and the BC Cup finals in Fernie on Sept. 1.

For Finn Iles, a provincial downhill title was a personal hattrick of sorts to go with his provincial titles in ski racing and hockey. As well, Iles also won the overall Whip Off competition after the race.

Smith fourth at World Cup

Steve Smith's downhill World Cup podium streak ended at two, but not by much as the Nanaimo rider placed fourth at Vallnord, Andorra, this past weekend.

French rider Remi Thirion took the win, wrecking Gee Atherton's win streak — though Atherton still built his overall lead in the World Cup standings with a silver medal, while Sam Hill from Australia moved ahead of Smith to take the bronze.

Although Smith's goal is to win races this year, he said his result could have been worse.

"I knew my time was faster than the fastest qualifier, but it was hard to say if it was going to hold or not," he told Canadian Cyclist. "I made some mistakes and had some bad runs at the beginning of the weekend, and to make up 16 seconds on my qualifier, I'm damn happy with that."

The course was one of the most technical on the tour, and Smith modified everything on his bike — brakes, tires, headset angle — to accommodate the steep course. He was ready to pedal, but most of the race was just a matter of holding on.

"It's one of those courses that's awesome to ride but tough to race," he said.

It was Thirion's first World Cup win, and the first win for France since Fabien Barel in 2009.

Smith is currently second in the World Cup rankings with 477 points — well behind Gee Atherton's tally of 680 but also a solid 86 points ahead of South Africa's Greg Minnaar.

On the women's side, Rachel Atherton made it three in a row, while another rider from Great Britain, Manon Carpenter, pulled up in second place. Myriam Nicole of France was third.

There were no Canadians in the race.

The next event on the circuit is the Mont Sainte Anne World Cup, which takes place from Aug. 8 to 11.