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
Finn Iles is back racing in Canada and looking to defend that #1 plate on Sunday
Jackson Goldstone led the junior men in seeding again
Tristan Lemire is chasing Goldstone in the junior men's race. It's dusty out there.
Ainhoa Ijurko lands in Golden after her first gold in an elite Canada Cup, just days ago in Panorama
Forrest Riesco looking at home in the woods.
Kendall McLean with a sniper drop-to-log ride line.
There isn't a ton of line choices at KHMR, but this section saw riders take all kinds of different approaches
Gabe Neron stays high right for the seconds fastest time staurday
Others went straight down the middle
Elliot Jamieson noses into the dust on his way to fourth.
Finn Iles tried a few different lines, and seems to have found a fast one
Jake Jewett floated to fourth in juior men's seeding
Remi Gauvin is back on a DH bike for a break from Enduro
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.
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.
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
Kirk McDowall is two for two this week. He was the closest to Finn Iles on Saturday. Can he win back his maple leaf sleeve on Sunday?
Iles looking for the inside line to another national championship title
Bas van Steenbergen is one of the big names arriving to KHMR on Saturday
Casey Brown leads the women after Saturday
Mark Wallace floated, but seeded fifth.
Brett Rheeder's been racing all week, and posting fast times. He was 15th on Saturday
Kirk McDowall disppears down into the dust.
Henry Fitzgerals finds an inside line
Jennifer McHugh has been fast all week. She's on pace for another podium in Golden
Vaea Verbeeck rolls into third
Ijurko focused on finals
Where there is line choice, the choices aren't always the fastest
Gauvin couldn't quite find the pace Saturday. But Sunday's what counts
Emmy Lam has controlled the junior women's races all week here in B.C. She was the fastest again on Saturday.
Rachel Pageau will be lookign for a bit more on Sunday.
Lily Boucher, second in junior women
Vanessa Bruneau seeded third in junior women
Tegan Cruz takes the u17 men's national championship title
Logan Chapman followed, second in a fast u17 men's field
Ethan Donohoe digs into the dust during u17 men's seeding
Max Halchuk about to hit one of the big holes that is eating riders up in Golden.
Ryan Griffith slides to 8th in u17 en
Gautry Mason, 11th in junior men
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.