Despite the fact that Whistler has produced several provincial and national junior champions over the years, riders from the community have yet to land a single B.C. High School Mountain Bike Championship title.
On May 28, with a $500 grant from WORCAs youth program, Whistler Secondary is sending four athletes to represent the town at the provincial championships for the first time at Chatelech Secondary in Sechelt.
James and Nadine Crowe, Brandon Semenuk and Alex Prochazka will take part in the cross-country race, accompanied by Constable Devon Jones from the Whistler RCMP and Whistler Secondary teacher Miriam Bride.
The course is six kilometres long and includes a mix of dirt roads and singletrack. Senior boys do three laps, junior boys and senior girls do two laps and bantam/juvenile boys and girls do one lap each. The start line should be crowded as over 500 riders are expected from across B.C.
For James Crowe, a senior who has been a B.C. and Canadian champion over the years, its a fun, low-pressure event, and a rare opportunity to represent his school.
"I havent been to the championships before because the opportunity hasnt come up, but (WORCA youth director) Greg (McDonnell) hooked us up this year which is great," he said.
Nicknamed "Crunch," Crowe has been one of the top local juniors for years, winning his category in races like the Test of Metal and Cheakamus Challenge. Hes also a regular at Loonie Race events, and has been near the front of the pack since he was 14.
"Ive been racing as long as I can remember, but this (race) is different, Ive never ridden for the high school before," he said.
James will focus on the B.C. Cup series this season, where he hopes to win the Junior Expert title. He also plans to enter the western Canada Cup races and, if all goes well, the national championships in Quebec.
Because its still early in the season he doesnt have any goals for the high school championships.
"I havent raced my mountain bike at all besides Loonie Races. This is really my first race of the year, where I usually work out all the bugs for the season. I have been riding lots, on the road and on my mountain bike, but Im not taking it that seriously. Ill still be racing, but Im not too worried if I dont come in first because Im still just gearing up for the season."
James is 18, and will graduate from Whistler Secondary in June. After racing this summer he is planning to attend an automotive fabrication school in Wyoming in the fall.