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Interview: Canada Cup winner Ainhoa Ijurko wins at Sun Peaks

Injury, comebacks and a new direction for the Squamish racer

Photo by: Sara Kempner / Dunbar Summer Series

Ainhoa Ijurko rolled into Sunday’s Canada Cup downhill finals contesting wins on two fronts. On one front, the Squamish, B.C.-based (for now) racer was trying to hold off Eva Leikermoser, the closest racer to Ijurko in the elite women’s overall standings. On the other front, Ijurko was trying to make up the difference to Emmy Lan after the Forbidden Synthesis’s enduro racer set the fastest women’s seeding time on Saturday.

Ijurko managed both feats, taking the win in Sunday’s Canada Cup at Sun Peaks and, in combination with wins at Silverstar and Kicking Horse, clinching the overall title for 2023. We caught up with this year’s champ as she was heading up the hill to cheer on the elite men’s racing.

Brett Tippie was on the mic at every 2023 Dunbar Summer Series and caught up with Ijurko after her win at Kicking Horse. Photo: Sara Kempner
CanadianMTB: Congrats on the win here today. How was your run?

Ainhoa Ijurko: It went pretty well, I’d say it went pretty smoothly. I don’t think you could have a perfect run on this track, it was very rough and there were a lot of holes. But I’m happy with how it went.

 Yeah, and long runs here this weekend. How was it to be back at Sun Peaks?

Oh, it’s amazing. It’s been a long time since I’ve been here. I think 2018 or something like that? So it’s so good to be back. And I’m very stoked that they’re making changes on tracks and just advancing the tracks more and more. Very stoked.

Thumbs up for a fast end to the season!
You end the Canada Cup season with two wins and the jersey. How’d the season unfold for you?

Oh man, it’s been such an emotional roller coaster! Just because I’m coming back from injury and surgery. So it’s been so good to get back on the bike and be confident again. I’m very happy that it’s going how it’s going!

This season you’re racing more here in Canada instead of in Europe. Was that a choice? Or was that because of the injury?

It was because of the injury. I think it was a better and smarter choice to get confidence back locally. It’s less money [to travel] and less pressure on myself as well. I’m very happy that it’s going this way, too. That means that it’s working.

Ijurko sends it during her winning run at Sun Peaks. Photo: Sara Kempner
Is this the end of the season for you?

Hopefully, we can get to Coast Gravity. I’ll be starting school in nursing on the Island in September, so that will be a new chapter as well. But a few more races, then off to the off-season.