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Gallery: Canadian DH national champs get underway at Kicking Horse

Seeding and practice runs are done. See who went fastest before Sunday's finals

Canada’s fastest are high up in the Rockies for 2021 downhill national championships this weekend. For some, it’s the grand finale of a big week at Dunbar Summer Series, the third Canada Cup-level event in eight days. Others, including some big names returning from World Cup racing overseas, are just arriving this weekend.

All riders had their first taste of the nationals track at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort yesterday, though. The course is rough, technical and, continuing this weeks theme, covered in a thick layer of dust.

Practice Gallery: 2021Canadian DH national championships

Saturday wasn’t just training. It was also timed seeding for the junior and elite categories. While all riders qualify for finals, it’s a good indication of who is finding pace at KMHR, and who is struggling with the dust-covered rock slabs and tight, rooty trails. It’s also a chance for riders to get a mental edge over their competition.

Elite Men

Finn Iles (Specialized) looks to be doing just that. Iles lands in Golden, B.C. with the number 1 race plate of defending champion from 2019, the last time nationals were held. On Saturday, Iles posted the fastest time by 8.62 seconds. With a 3:47.19, Iles was the only rider to break the 3:50 mark.

Behind Iles, Gabriel Neron and two time national champion Kirk McDowall showed they’re not slowing down after a week of intense racing. The two Dunbar Cycles racers set the next two fastest times in seeding. Elliot Jamieson (Norco Factory Racing) and Mark Wallace (Canyon Factory Racing) followed in fourth and fifth. Times are tight though, with 4th through 10th all seeding within a second of each other.

Unfortunately, Saturday also saw riders learn why 2018 national champ Magnus Manson (Forbidden Synthesis) won’t be at KHMR to chase a second title. The Vancouver Island racer shared he’ll be out for a bit due to personal health reasons. Everyone here this weekend is wishing Manson the best with his recovery.

Elite Women

On the women’s side, the arrival of several big names disrupted the leaderboards. Casey Brown (Trek) has followed Dunbar Summer Series all week, riding as a course pre-runner for the elites and guest tailgunning behind Landon McGauley in the aMTB race at Panorama.  On Saturday, Brown set the fastest elite women’s time, putting over six seconds into 2017 world champion Miranda Miller (Kona). Vaea Verbeeck (Rocky Mountain) and Georgia Astle (Devinci Global Racing) landed third and fourth.

Fernie’s Jennifer McHugh chased closest to the new arrivals, in fifth. Followed by Round 1 and 2 winners Rachel Pageau and Ainhoa Ijurko.

Seeding Gallery: Elite and Juniors – 2021Canadian DH national championships

Junior and under-17 seeding

The age groups are flying this year, posting times all week that rival the elites. The junior men’s field is set for a battle. Jackson Goldstone’s (Miranda) been winning all week here in B.C. But Tristian Lemire (Commencal Muc-Off) was just one second off on Saturday. Wei Tien Ho (Whistler) followed in third, with Jakob Jewett (Canyon Factory Racing) and Cole Stinson (Gravity MTB) in fourth and fifth seeding.

Emmy Lan (Commencal Canada) continued her dominance of the junior women’s racing, seeding fastest there. She’s won both Canada Cup’s this week already. Lily Boucher and Vanessa Bruneau followed in second and third.

In the under-17 men, Tegan Cruz (RockShox-Trek) pulled out a solid lead on Logan Champan of North Vancouver and Henry Sherry (Victoria – Nolan Riding). Bodhi Kuhn, who’s been fast all week, crashed hard in training, but will be back on the Start line Sunday.