Posted by Editoress on 07/24/06
National DH Championships Whistler BC
Canada's Downhill titles were awarded today in Whistler. The fields may have been small, but were top-heavy with talented riders who have been competing on the World Cup circuit. Michelle Dumaresq (Santa Cruz/NSMB.com) won her third national women's title after missing last year's championship, while Andrew Mitchell (Cove Bikes/SRAM) took the men's title in his first year of elite competition.
Dumaresq beat Danika Schroeter (Cove Bikes/SRAM) by one second, and defending champion Adrienne Miller (Devinci/Daredevil) by five and a half seconds. Miller had qualified first after beating Dumaresq in the seeding run by seven seconds, but crashed in the final.
"I fell about three-quarters of the way down" explained Miller. "It was really loose gravel and I washed out my wheel. My run was going 'way better than in seeding, so it was really disappointing. But, I'm still pretty pleased with my year; the whole year my racing has been awesome."
Dumaresq has not been racing much; instead working fulltime as a welder. "After footing the bill for racing for five years I have to recover from my debts. Without the help of Santa Cruz and NSMB.com I wouldn't be racing at all."
Dumaresq purposedly held back on her seeding run, but went full force in the final. "I only went 80%, I coasted some of the run because there is too much pressure going last. My run was totally out of control in the final, but fast. Somehow I stayed upright, but at one point I was way out on the grass. I was able to recover and then did well in the nasty stuff."
In the men's race, some of the top riders ran into difficulties, with Jeff Beatty (NRG/Orange/Dincus) and Luke Kitzanuk (Giant) suffering mechanicals, while Derek Chambers (Pink Bike/NRG) carried too much speed into a corner and went off-course on the top of the course. Braking bumps had built up in the dry and dusty ground, and numerous riders were bucked out of their line or lost momentum.
One rider who didn't was Mitchell, who followed up his seeding win with a three-plus second victory over defending champion and team mate Tyler Morland (Cove Bikes/SRAM). Mitchell's victory followed a stressed-filled scramble to get his bike in race-ready condition.
"I blew up my wheel in qualifying, so we had to build a new one this morning. My mechanic built the wheel in like 30 minutes, and it was only finished 10 minutes before my run. Then the tire pressure was too low, so I could feel the tire folding over in corners. So it was a little nerve-wracking."
Mitchell, who was second as a Junior last year and third the year before, credits his World Cup experience for his win. "A big part of my improvement has been going to the World Cups. Without the help of my family, Cove (Bikes) and SRAM I wouldn't have been able to get the experience with the really fast boys. I felt confident out there, and I'm used to wide open stuff, so I think that I probably gained some time there. Plus, I felt really strong in the off-camber rooty sections where some guys were having trouble."
- In the Junior categories Micayla Gatto (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) defended her title ahead of Brittany Wood (BC Team). Gatto's time would have put her sixth among the elite women, on a self-admitted conservative run. "I was being extremely conservative, after the bad luck I've had this year. This was the cleanest run I've had this year, but a little slower than I wanted."
First year Junior man Steve Smith (Cove Bikes/SRAM) had an extremely strong run, with a time that would have placed him fifth among the elite men, and more than five seconds ahead of second place Hans Lambert (Equipe du Quebec).
- The podium ceremonies were marred in the women's awards by Danika Schroeter and her supporters, with Schroeter donning a wholly inappropriate t-shirt, and supporters yelling obscenities. Schroeter (and some other athletes) have been vocal in their opposition to Dumaresq - a transexual athlete - competing as a woman. However, this showed a complete lack of respect for the championships, and officials and the Canadian Cycling Association will be applying sanctions and fines. See our editorial on this matter.
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