July 14/08 3:59 am - Downhill Nationals: report and photos
Posted by Editoress on 07/14/08
2008 Canadian DH Championships
Report and photos by Larry Ireland
Canadian National Championships took place this past weekend on the legendary course at Mt Ste Anne, Quebec. One of the longest and roughest on the World Cup circuit, the course was slightly cut down for Nationals, losing the first, very rough, very high speed open section.
3 days of sunny, hot practice gave way to rain of biblical proportions on race day. Over 40mm of rain fell, starting early Sunday morning. 300 amateur level riders were sent down the course first, and the conditions deteriorated throughout the day with massive holes forming, dirt being washed away, and some sections of the course basically disappearing before riders' eyes.
Junior and Senior categories were mixed to allow for accumulation of UCI points by the fastest junior elite riders in order to qualify for World Cups.
Anne Laplante of Quebec took home the win for the junior women. She was followed by newcomer Vaea Verbeek, also from Quebec.
For the junior men it was an all Quebec podium, with Yann Gauvin, Dylan Morley and Emmanuel Daoust filling the three podium spots.
Sheila Morris of Ontario took home the elite women's title. Morris was right behind defending champion Micayla Gatto (BC) in seeding runs. Gatto had trouble keeping up her pace in finals and couldn't successfully defend her title. "I had the worst run of my life. My rear brake goes right to the bar, my seat is bent and my grip is half torn off" explained a frustrated Gatto. Marie-Eve Marcotte of Quebec rounded out the top three.
The men's race was also filled with weather drama, as the skies opened up multiple times during the elite finals. Every time the rain would come up, the wind would join it and make it extremely hard to hold a line in the upper high speed sections.
Andrew Mitchell of Vancouver Island took home the Elite men's title "I'm excited, very excited" said a beaming Mitchell. Justin Brown of Ontario laid down a great run, just under 3 seconds backs for second place. Charles Alexandre Dubé of Quebec, and local to Mont Ste Anne, had an extended stay in the hot seat, that would result in a third place. Dube gambled and seeded slowly, taking a break on course in order to start (the final) early.
Many elite men came down with flats or covered in mud after huge crashes on a course that had seen almost 300 riders earlier in the day. Large holes and ruts had formed and mud was tracked on every single root and rock on course, making every rider adjustment a gamble.
Due to monsoon-like conditions, podiums were rushed and most riders ran for cover and were unavailable for comment.