The cream rose to the top on July 3, as World Cup athletes led the way in the second annual Joyride Bikercross. Some of the top freeriders from around the province also took part, battling for the fastest line down the bikercross course at the base of Whistler Mountain.
"Were 100 per cent stoked with the racing," said Chris Winter of Joyride Productions, who organized the event along with Joyride co-founder Paddy Kaye. "The level of competition was good in every category, and the racers were happy with the event."
Post-race conversations with the visiting riders inevitably turn to comparisons, and according to Winter, there really are none.
"The one thing that stoked me the most was the response of the World Cup racers. Steve Peat for one said it was some of the best riding hed ever done, and he never even got out of the Bike Park to see what the rest of area has. They were impressed by the whole mountain bike culture in Whistler, the bike park, the number of good riders in town, the whole scene here.
"It was great to hear them say we live in the best place on earth for biking. Weve always known it, and now they know it, too."
Brian Lopes of Laguna Beach, California, showed why he is leading the UCI World Cup 4-cross standings. He was solid on his GT hardtail from the beginning, getting out to a fast start in each race and riding smoothly through the course while the other three riders in each heat battled it out for second place.
Cedric Gracia of France, who is currently number one in the world in the downhill and second to Lopes in the 4-cross, posted the fastest qualification time of the day, and went on to finish in second place riding for Volvo Cannondale.
Third place went to Peat from Great Britain, yet another elite World Cup racer. Peat mainly competes in downhill events, and is ranked ninth in the World.
"I had some good battles with Dave Watson in my heats, but safely made it to the finals," said Peat.
According to Peat, his start in the finals was slow, "as usual," and he couldnt find a way around Gracia before time ran out.
"Its a lot of fun to take a step back from the World Cup and just race for the fun of it," said Peat. "That said you still want to win every race, but thats part of the fun, too."
Fourth place went to Squamishs own Shaums March, who was beaten to the first corner and couldnt find a way past Peat.
Scott Beaumont of Drottwich England was fifth, Dave Watson of Vancouver sixth, Bren Vandenbroe of Burnaby seventh and Alan Box eighth.
The top Whistler rider, in ninth, was J.S. Therrien, followed by locals J.J. Desormeaux and Kelly Walters in 10th and 11th.
The womens race went to Anne-Caroline Chausson of France, the reigning World Cup downhill champion and a shoe-in for the title again this year. Her qualifier time of 33.23 seconds was more than three seconds faster than the next rider.
Mio Suemasa of Japan was second in the finals, followed by Whistlers Vanessa Stark and Pembertons Jen Ashton.
Local Claire Buchar was fifth, Katrina Strand of Vancouver was sixth, Jenelle Cassidy of Burnaby was seventh and Cassandra Boon of North Vancouver was eighth.
The Senior Amateur Male final went to four Whistler riders. Chris Dewar was first, followed by Perry Bizyk, Tyler Morland and Toby Matkowski.
The next four spots went to Jay Krantz of North Vancouver, Key Grace from Hope, Jake Anderson from Stoneham, Montana, and Tyler Smith from Delta.
Some 25 riders turned out for the junior race, which went to local racer turned freerider Cory Derpak. Connor MacLeod from West Vancouver was second, Harley Wrisht of Kamloops third, and Grant McDonald of North Vancouver fourth.
The downhill chair race went to Whistlers Stacy Kohut uncontested after Johnny Therien of Pemberton blew out a tire at the top of the course.
Winter and Kaye will be bringing Joyride back to Whistler next year, and hope to expand it into a multi-day event with jumping and downhill competitions.
"We dont want to compete with the (World Cup) downhill at Grouse (Mountain), but create something that complements it," said Winter. "The World Cup racers are definitely interested, but so are the locals and people from around B.C."