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Melamed and Brown excel at Maxxis Kicking Horse DH

Crankworx Summer Series wraps up a heavy week in Golden, B.C.

Photo by: Clint Trahan / Crankworx Summer Series

Crankworx Summer Series wrapped up its time in Golden, B.C. with a final day of Downhill at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort on Friday.

The invite-only series forces riders out of their comfort zone to race new events, often with much success. Jesse Melamed, enduro racer for Rocky Mountain Race Face, stole a win from the World Cup DH crowd. He was joined on the podium by all-round talent, Casey Brown.

Kicking Horse DH. Photo: Chris Pilling

“A good bike rider is a good bike rider,” said Rhys Verner, the Kona enduro racer who joined Melamed on the podium.

“I think that’s what we had all hoped for and were expecting with this series. Kind of random, weird results,” said Melamed, who clocked the fastest time of the day with a 2:51.84. “It’s definitely interesting, all of us doing different disciplines. We’ve just finished the second week of three, and there’s so many variables that go into it. I can’t say that I’m stoked that Finn is winning the Enduros, but he’s obviously such a good rider. I can’t really complain, he’s obviously so good.”

Casey Brown. Photo: Chris Pilling

The enduro riders do have one advantage. Their background in endurance training for the Enduro World Series might be starting to give them a leg up in the busy Crankworx Summer Series, which crams 12 events into three weeks.

“It’s crazy managing the fatigue and trying to figure out how the track is and everything in one day,” said Casey Brown, who took the women’s race in 3:28.71. “Practice and race in one day in all these events. It’s a head-full and physically it’s so taxing. It’s a huge accomplishment to be able to even finish a day.”

Vaea Verbeeck. Photo: Clint Trahan

Psychosis adds to heavy week

Vaea Verbeeck, experienced in the hustle of Crankworx points-chasing, and Miranda Miller rounded out the podium. Both agreed with Brown that managing effort is crucial.

“I definitely went with the approach of late morning start,” said Vaea Verbeeck, who was just 2.87 seconds behind Brown with her time of 3:31.59. “I wasn’t sure because everybody else seemed to be doing more practice runs, but I knew my body could only take so much. So three practice runs later and I felt good with my lines and just went in confident but not too aggressive and that, I think, was key for me to stay clean and stay on my lines.”

The week in Golden through an extra wrench into the works, sending riders down the infamous Mt.7 Psychosis DH course. The extra, and very intense effort in the middle of an already busy race week took its toll.

Miranda Miller. Photo: Clint Trahan

“Psychosis was an emotional day,” said Miranda Miller, whose time of 3:40.60 earned her third place in today’s Downhill. “At the top, for our first run, usually you’re always kind of nervous before you do something like that, but everyone was scared. It was like a whole nother level. I feel like everyone was just collectively like ‘Oh shit.’ And so I think that day was just really draining and the heat really took it out of me. And so yesterday I felt physically really low. And then today physically I feel pretty good, but mentally more fatigued. Like I found it really hard to concentrate. My eyes weren’t tracking as well. It’s some ups and downs.”

Jesse Melamed. Photo: Chris Pilling

Verner shines in steep terrain

Rhys Verner, who was also third in Tuesday’s Enduro and the Psychosis race, is thriving on the steep mountains above Golden. With a second place in the Friday’s DH, he carries momentum into the final week of Summer Series racing.

“It’s been a sweet week, a lot of fun, and fun is fast,” said Verner. “Really happy with the week.”

He said today’s track, down Kicking Horse’s infamously steep terrain, was full-on.

“Pretty relentlessly technical. I had a pretty good run. The top was really good. I got kind of tired at the bottom and made a few little mistakes, but nothing too costly and I still landed on the box, so it’s good.”

Kirk McDowall. Photo: Clint Trahan

Kirk McDowall, past national DH champ, made his first podium appearance of the series. He was third behind Melamed and Verner.

“I was tired of being fourth and fifth and wanted to do well today,” said Kirk McDowall, who was 0.14 seconds off of second place. “So I’m glad I was on the podium. It was also not my finest downhill race run work, so that part of it is bittersweet as I didn’t miss out by much. But it was a tricky course. The mistakes came in my run from trying to push a little bit too much. Normally you go up a couple percent from your practice runs. On this course it felt like as soon as I did that, a lot of mistakes happened.”

Vaea Verbeeck. Photo: Chris Pilling

Momentum and Exhaustion heading into the final week of racing

The results from the week now get added to the points totals from Week One in SilverStar, as the action rolls on to the final stretch of competition in Sun Peaks.

“It’s confidence inspiring,” said Melamed “I know that I’ve been doing what I need to do and I’ve been riding really well. I’ve been really happy with my riding. I think I’m riding very consistently, which is something I’ve had to work on in the past. It brings me some confidence and I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.”

“We have another week ahead,” said Verbeeck. “I’m ready for it.”

Miranda Miller. Photo: Clint Trahan

Results: Maxxis Kicking Horse DH – Crankworx Summer Series

Kicking Horse DH Crankworx Summer Series
Ainhoa Ajurco. Photo: Clint Trahan