Posted by on 08/31/09
The 2009 Canadian National Downhill Team is made up of thirteen riders. Eleven of those riders hail from BC!
Steve Smith - Vancouver Island
Simon Garstin - Vancouver Island
Dean Tennant - Vancouver Island
Jamie Biluk - Manitoba (currently living in Vancouver)
Rob Fraser - Ontario
Claire Buchar - Whistler and Squamish
Micayla Gatto - West Vancouver
Miranda Miller - Squamish
Kyle Marshall - Vancouver Island
Chayse Marshall - Kamloops
Remi Gauvin - Vancouver Island
Trenton Zoobkoff - Nelson
Tyler Allison - Whistler (riding in both Downhill and X Country)
Junior Men 4 X
Kye Walstrom - Vancouver
Cameron Woods, Katrina Strand, Danice Uyesugi and Rebecca McQueen are also BC riders selected to the team, while from Quebec Hans Lambert, Jonathan Lefrancois and Anne Laplante also met qualification requirements, but for various reasons they were unable to attend.
Local rider Rebecca McQueen is still recovering from a broken collar bone - “It's disappointing for sure,” she said “but it also goes with the territory. I am stoked that I could have been on the team and I'll look forward to having another opportunity at Mt. Ste Anne next year.”
“The whole selection process is hard,” says National Team Manager and Coach Geoff Pendrell. “In order to fulfill the CCA's selection criteria, we have to wait late into the season before confirming our team, but that can make it really hard for members to free themselves up from work and other obligations.” In addition, riders cover their own costs and this can be a daunting bill.
All the junior men, one elite male and two of the elite female riders have all been part of the Cycling BC DH Team. Coach and Manager Dave Hord is proud to have been involved with the riders and organization for the last two seasons. “Team BC really bends over backwards to see how they can help riders - even this year during tough times, they have been able to provide important race and training support. Offering a team base and a structure from which to be able to put together your best race is so helpful to a rider - I think our results at a national level really reflected this.” (BC had riders that took top 5 in Elite Women, 3 out of 5 of the Elite Men, 4 out of 5 in Junior Men, and the lone Junior Woman was from BC.)
Coach Dustin Adams agrees. “The Nationals was my first race with the riders and I was truly impressed by the depth of ability. Just look at the National team Juniors - every one from BC and, I assure you, more coming up through the ranks with equal strength. We have the chance to grow a team that is a force to be reckoned with internationally.”
The elites are lead by 'veterans' Claire Buchar, Steve Smith and Micayla Gatto. With several years of riding on the World Cup circuit these riders bring international recognition and intense know-how to the team.
Micayla Gatto, a young Cycling BC gun, has been blazed the way for up-and-comers. She has been performing better and better at International events and has cracked the top ten twice at world cups this year. Miranda Miller has been a part of the Cycling BC family for five years. At 19 she has won two major international races this year - the US Open and the Garbanzo Downhill at Crankworx in Whistler, having had to miss the Nationals and two world cups due to illness.
“This,” says Hord, “is an example of what our athletes can achieve with support. What we give at the moment is very limited. Only imagine what we could manage with a fully funded program.”
Pendrel agrees. “Some money behind the downhill riders would be so welcome! I rode the circuit for years myself and there is only so far you can go without some serious sponsorship - it gets super expensive. I am full of admiration for the fire and determination of these young riders. They work like crazy to get their dollars together for their season. The support that Cycling BC gives is important and I hope to emulate their example. This year we were able to offer a couple of camps and the opportunity for young riders to take part in the World Cups in Quebec. I'd love to grow the program.”
Pendrel and the Canadian Cycling Association hosted camps at the World Cups in Mt. Ste. Anne and Bromont this year to provide young riders with an opportunity to race at a world level. It should be noted that, in his first ever world cups, Kyle Marshall (a first year junior) qualified in both while other juniors were only a second or so shy of entry.
“This was a valuable chance to check out who else is 'out there' at a world level and gain some understanding of what will be required at the Championships,” explains Pendrel. “The more we can do this, the more we will see Canada cracking those top spots.”
The team has gathered at The 2009 World Championships in Canberra, Australia. The race is on Sunday, September 6, 2009 and can be watched at freecaster.com.
Courtesy Tamsin Miller, Downhill Coordinator, Cycling BC
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