Posted by Editor on 04/26/14
With the World Cup taking place in Cairns. Australia, this weekend, it seemed appropriate to talk with Alison Sydor, who won her third consecutive cross-country world title there in 1996, the last time an international mountain bike competition was held there.
I have very good memories of Cairns in '96, for a few reasons. One, is obviously winning, which was fantastic. Second is just that it's a nice place to go. It ended our season that year, and the course I remember as being, at the time, one of the very best courses. Good technical features, and I remember watching the Downhill and that was one of the early courses with some pretty good structures.
One of the other things that sticks in my mind is that, when we first arrived and got the course manual, and you're flipping through the pages and it was just all about all the poisonous animals that were on the course, whether they were insects or snakes. I remember training on the course and nobody around, and hearing things slithering in the woods next to me, and just hoping beyond hope that you didn't get a flat and would have to change it in the jungle!
It was a great Worlds, it was an Olympic year [in Atlanta, where Alison won silver], which was high stress, and so it was a huge release after that. So I remember the race and the end of season party after. And my sister and her boyfriend were there, so we went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef after.
Another thing that I remember is that we were competing as a national team, since it was Worlds, and that was a time and place when we had a really, really good atmosphere within the team. It was the end of the season and everyone that had gone to the Olympics was pretty burned out, but we came together; the team was staying all together in some apartment blocks.
Every night we would go out and Yury [Kacherin, national coach], would have us do his crazy motorpacing. The whole team, like 30 or 40 of us behind the van, as a big long line ... I'll always remember those moments when we were doing it, it was kind of a Canadian signature ... Yury had the whole team together on these busy roads and all the other teams seeing us. The other riders would comment on it, and they were jealous. It was our signature team building exercise.
So winning was fantastic, and having my sister there and celebrating with her was really great, capping off a really special Olympic year. But I'll probably most remember some of the antics our national team got up to, and just that feeling we had. That's definitely what I think about, when I think about Cairns.
It's nice to see the World Cup back there.
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