Verbeeck repeats, Iles wins first elite national championship at Panorama
Downhill crowns national champs on second day of Gravity racing in Invermere, B.C.
At a packed weekend full of gravity racing, Panorama Mountain Resort delivered big mountains and tight racing.
Finn Iles earned his first elite downhill national championship, but only by a razor thin 0.73 second margin. On the women’s side, Vaea Verbeeck fended off a solid field to land her second straight national title.
Elite Men’s Canadian downhill national championships
In the elite men’s championship race, three minutes was the crucial standard. Only the five riders on the extended podium were able to crack the three minute barrier.
With a stacked field full of World Cup regulars, racing at Panorama was incredibly tight. The top three all finished on the same second as Finn Iles (Specialized Gravity Racing) winning time of 2:57.12. Kirk McDowall (Unior Devinci Factory Racing) was second, 0.73 seconds behind the young Whistler rider. Last year’s national champion, Magnus Manson (Canyon Factory Racing) returned to the podium in third, just 0.1 seconds behind McDowall
Forrest Riesco (Commencal Canada) finished fourth while Samuel Thibault followed up a successful string of Canada Cup DH races with a fifth place finish at Panorama.
Elite Women’s Canadian downhill national championships
In a highly competitive elite women’s field, Vaea Verbeeck (Rocky Mountain) defended the 2018 national title which she won at Panorama. While the venue was the same, organizers had changed up the course by adding in steep new sections.
Georgia Astle of Whistler was the closest rider to Verbeeck. 2017 UCI downhill world champion Miranda Miller (Kona) made a brief return to the big bikes from her new focus on Enduro. The day after finishing in a tight second at Canadian Enduro national championships, Miller was third in the downhill.
Rachel Pageau (Pivot Cycles) followed in fourth, with Kyleigh Stewart in fifth.
Junior Men’s Canadian downhill national championships
With five different Canadians earning World Cup podiums this year in the junior men’s racing, and several more landing in the top 10 internationally, the battle for Canadian junior men’s champion was bound to be hotly contested.
Seth Sherlock earns the maple leaf sleeve, laying down a blistering fast time of 3:01.25. It was enough for the win in junior men, and would have been a solidly top-10 time in the elite men’s race.
Elliot Jamieson followed in second, after setting the fastest time in seeding on Saturday. Milton McConville landed the final junior men’s podium spot in third.
Junior Women’s Canadian downhill national championships
In the junior women’s race, it was an entirely Sea-to-Sky podium. Racing was as close in time as it’s winners are geographically, too. Squamish took the top two spots. Madison Skrypnek edged out Bailey Goldstone, winning the junior women’s title by just 0.89 seconds. Whistler’s Amy Ertel finished third, 1.05 off the winning time.
Under-17 Canadian downhill national championships
In the under-17 racing, Jakob Jewett and Gracey Hemstreet are the new Canadian national champions.
Jewett, another fast young rider from Squamish, put down a 3:06.73 to beat Tristan Lemire of Verdun, Que. by just 0.73 seconds. Coen Skrypnek followed in third.
Hemstreet lays claim not only to the under-17 national championship, but the tightest winning margin of the weekend. The Sechelt, B.C. rider won by an incredibly close 0.17 seconds over Comox, B.C .’s Emmy Lan. Both riders, though, would have been on the podium in the junior women’s race.
For Lan, it was the second silver medal in as many days. On Saturday, she finished second behind Julia Long in under-21 women at Canadian enduro national championships. Long also raced downhill, finishing sixth in the elite women’s race.
Vanessa Bruneau of North Vancouver, B.C. finished third.