Posted by Editor on 07/25/99
Canada Cup Downhill #5 - Silverstar, B.C.
by Greg Flaaten
Starting 16th, Rob Hewitt (BC Deep Cove/Manitou) completed his attack of the Silverstar Canada Cup downhill course just as a light rain began to threaten damp but otherwise tolerable conditions. In spite of not having a full selection of gears (and none of the fastest ones), Hewitt, who just returned from World Cup competition, was able to establish the day's early fast time of 2:52.64 at the fast and technically challenging Silverstar resort course.
Hewitt, the top Canadian qualifier at the Big Bear and Mammoth World Cup events, as well as the Big Bear Norba event, defied doctor's orders and had little difficulty with the course in spite of the lingering effects of a concussion and a compressed spine that came courtesy of an ill-placed Mammoth tree. "If it doesn't rain the last guys will have a good course to ride," noted Hewitt as black clouds hovered and the showers began to subside.
The rains held off and twelve riders later, almost exactly mid-way through the 56 starter event, New Zealander Karl Paterson (NZL Foes) was able to get across the line to eclipse Hewitt by just over three seconds. "It's a fast course and you have to go fast to win," noted Paterson as the rain showers started yet again.
Paterson was followed on course by last weekend's Rocky Mountain House Canada Cup winner, Leon May (BC Marin). May agreed that "Silverstar is a very good, technically challenging course," but he was unable to match the speed of Paterson. Still, as the rains intensified, it seemed that the weather might help to seal his position in the top three.
By the time the final ten and top seeded riders were on course, the rain was heavy and the course had turned slick and demanding. Canada's top ranked riders including Doug Beattie (ON Kona), Eric Cseff (ON Oakley/Java/Ellsworth) - last night's dual slalom winner - and Trevor Porter (NB Radical Edge) would have to contend with mud, wet roots and wet rocks. In spite of their efforts, none of them could get close enough to dislodge Paterson from his podium position.
With the day's final rider on course, all eyes focussed on Canada Cup series leader Dustin Adams (BC Rocky Mountain Bicycles/GM /Troy Lee). Adams was absolutely flying as he came into view on the lower sections of the course. In spite of the weather, he was able to best all the day's times with the exception of Paterson's. The upper technical sections were just too slick for Adams to match his time. "I blew the left hand corner coming off of Hound Dog's Revenge," - a rocky technical section that is difficult under the best circumstances. In the wet conditions, Adams lost just enough time to miss the top podium position by less than two seconds. He would have to settle for second today.
In the women's event, the second of the day's fifteen starters, Barb Haley (BC Kangaroo/Kooka), set an early target of 3:21.95 as she cleaned the challenging Silverstar rocks and roots and motored through the speed sections. Challenged, but unmatched, by reigning National Champion Lorraine Blancher (BC Horizon Air/Oakley) at 4.59 seconds down, this was clearly one of the better Canada Cup performances by Haley to date.
As the cream of the Elite women finished their runs, things looked promising for Haley. Cecile Gambin (ON Schwinn/Toyota/Briko) suffered drivetrain problems near the start and was unable to challenge. Tera Meade (BC Ellsworth/Java), although fast and clean, came within two seconds of the leader but finished behind nonetheless. Sylvie Allen (BC Giant/Marzocchi) went off course twice and so it went. Haley hung on to the top podium position and notched her first ever Canada Cup victory.
"I rode it clean, I was just happy to stay on the bike," noted Haley. "The course was dry during training but it was a little slippery out there this aftrenoon. A little mud changed the course quite a bit." Haley obviously adapted to the changing conditions well. "This has always been a good course because it's so technical," noted Haley who is still unsure of her attendance at the National Championships. "I have to find a way to get out there."
Blancher, winner of last night's dual slalom event, took a cautious approach to today's race and didn't ride "as clean as I'd have liked." The course got real slick and I took it conservatively... maybe too conservatively."
In the end, it was Haley on top, With Meade down 1.53 seconds and Blancher down 4.59.
Full results can be found at:
Elite - all Canada Cup categories
Elite - all non-Canada Cup categories
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