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2023 in review: Top 10 moments in Canadian mountain biking

World champions, World Cup wins, Pan Am Games golds and so much more

Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com - 10/08/2023 - 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships - MTB Cross Country - Glentress Forest, Peebles, Scotland - Women's Junior Cross-country Olympic - Isabella Holmgren - Canada Photo by: Alex Broadway/SWpix.com

World champions, Pan Am champions, World Cup winners and so much more: 2023 was another sensational year for mountain biking in Canada. While its impossible to add every exceptional moment to the list, here are 10 incredible performances that stood out from a thrilling year of racing.

Picture by Thomas Maheux/SWpix.com - 10/08/2023 - 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships - MTB Cross Country - Glentress Forest, Peebles, Scotland - Junior Women Cross-country Olympic - Isabella Holmgren - Canada (L) with teammate Marin Lowe after they finished 1- 2 in the world championships
Isabella Holmgren and Marin Lowe celebrate a 1-2 finish at 2023 world championships. Photo: Thomas Maheux/SWpix.com

Isabella Holmgren and Marin Lowe’s 1-2 finish at world championships

Isabella Holmgren’s name made many headlines this year but, at world championships, it was a trio of Canadian juniors putting the maple leaf on XCO podiums. Marin Lowe was right by Holmgren’s side, taking silver in the junior women’s XCO. Just hours later, Ian Ackert, their teammate on Stimulus Orbea, earned bronze in the junior men’s XCO race. Holmgren may have taken top honours, and the rainboy jersey, but there’s a bright future for all three in the years to come.

Jackson Goldstone at Mont-Sainte-Anne. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Jackson Goldstone’s 2023 elite World Cup debut

After a successful junior career of his own, Jackson Goldstone made a wildly impressive step up to elite racing in 2023. While balancing some significant health challenges serious enough to require mid-season surgery, Goldstone started with a podium, then earned a World Cup win, added several more podiums, and briefly wore the leader’s jersey. All of that would have been a sensational debut for any junior, even one as hotly anticipated as Goldstone. But a season-ending win at home in Canada at Mont-Sainte-Anne rocketed a memorable elite debut into the stuff of legends.

Jenn Jackson and Gunnar Holmgren’s matching Pan Am Games gold medals

After the World Cup season wrapped up, a quartet of Canadians made a quick turnaround, heading to South America for the Pan American Games. Two ended up winning gold. Gunnar Holmgren and Jenn Jackson both launched off the front of the field to take big wins in Brazil, earning Canada’s first and second medals of the 2023 Pan Am Games.

Carter Woods on the podium at Val di Sole u23 XCC World Cup
Just one of two podiums Carter Woods stood on top of this year at Val di Sole World Cup. Photo: Michele Mondini

Carter Woods’ World Cup wins

After first finding the top podium step at a World Cup in 2022, Carter Woods made his way back several more times in 2023. Now with Giant Factory Off-Road Team, the Vancouver Island racer landed an impressive perfect weekend in Val di Sole, winning the under-23 Short Track (XCC) and Olympic cross country (XCO) in one weekend. Woods moves up to race the elites in 2024. After a successful u23 career, it will be exciting to see where the Canadians fits in the main show.

Emmy Lan welcomes Nicole Kennedy onto the elite women’s downhill podium at Canadian national championships. Photo: Sara Kempner

Emmy Lan’s Enduro World Cup overall title defense

The name of the series may have changed from EWS to EDR, but Emmy Lan earned the same result: an overall title in the under-21 women’s race. Forbidden Synthesis’s hometown shredder was rarely off the podium as the season traversed the globe from Australia over to Europe. Lan even managed to squeeze some downhill racing in, hitting Canadian championships and world championships while the Enduro World Cup was on a mid-season break.

Bodhi Kuhn in the junor men's World Cup leader's jersey in Val di Sole, Italy
Bodhi Kuhn in the junor men’s World Cup leader’s jersey. Photo: Giacomo Podetti

Bodhi Kuhn’s breakout year

Bodhi Kuhn started the season with an upgrade to Trek’s factory program and quickly went to work making good on the team’s belief in him. After a podium, Kuhn earned his first junior World Cup win at Val di Sole. That put him in the leader’s jersey at the mid-point of the season. After scoring silver at world champs in Fort William, injury held Kuhn back in the second half of the season, but he remains one of the fastest juniors and perpetually one of the most stylish as he heads into his first elite season in 2024.

Dane and Jake Jewett hug in the finish area
Dane Jewett, in green, congratulates his brother Jake Jewett on winning the pro men’s race in Whistler. Photo: Clint Trahan

Jewett’s winning on 1199

Cranworx Canadian Open DH moved to a new track this year, opening the Stevie Smith legacy trail, named 1199 in honour of his World Cup-winning points total. The trail, and a new downhill track at Whistler, have both been a long time coming. Jake and Dane Jewett made sure the first winners on Stevie’s course were Canadian, taking the elite men’s and junior men’s wins on the wildly technical course.

Haley Smith’s XCM World Cup podium

Marathon XC, like enduro, made its World Cup debut in 2023. At the final round in Snowshoe, W.Va, Haley Smith earned Canada’s first podium in the discipline. Shortly after winning Canadian XCM championships in the Yukon, Smith headed south of the border to Snowshoe where she scored a silver behind the U.S.A.’s Hannah Otto.

Rhys Verner. Photo: M. Ablinger

Rhys Verner’s first Enduro World Cup win

Rhys Verner’s win at the Leogang round of the Enduro World Cup is a result years in the making. The Squamish racer has steadily worked his way up the elite men’s standings over the last few seasons and finally earned the big W. The Forbidden Synthesis racer was on the podium again in Petra Ligure, finishing second behind fellow Sea-to-Sky local Jesse Melamed.

Emilly Johnston during the under-23 XCO race at world championships. Photo:  Thomas Maheux/SWpix.com Emilly Johnston’s World Cup podium

Emilly Johnston’s World Cup podium

Vancouver Island’s Emilly Johnston joined Trek Future Racing at the start of 2023 and the new environment clearly suits to Canadian. Johnston earned her first under-23 World Cup podium in Nove Mesto, finished fifth at the Snowshoe World Cup, an impressive fourth at under-23 world championships and earned another under-23 XCO national championship in Kentville, N.S.