July 3/02 9:03 am - Grouse World Cup Course Preview
Posted by Editor on 07/3/02
Grouse Mountain World Cup Preview
by Mike Badyk
This report made possible by Snowcovers and Rocky Mountain.
After the stunning heat of the Mount Ste Anne World Cup last week it is quite a relief to be on top of Grouse Mountain. Conditions are best described as cool, with the racers preferring long sleeves and tights for their training laps. There is still an incredible amount of snow on top of Grouse, even in and around the Main Chalet. Riders are fairly muddy at the end of a lap. Even though the course is clear of snow, there are massive snow banks all along the route, and the soil is saturated with water from the snow melt.
As was reported early in June, the DH and 4-Cross events were cancelled due to the abundance of snow and water. Just a few days away from what would have been the DH, I feel that the cancellation was a prudent decision. Even if there wasn't snow on the DH itself, the abundance of water moving over and through the soil would have quickly turned into a bog (and a major erosion issue) under the feet of thousands of spectators. Add any rain and the scenario would be disastrous. Even on the cross-country course, measures have been undertaken to get the racers out of the mud. In the first photo, what I term the "Gang Plank", an elevated portion of trail has been constructed to lift the racers up and over the goo. Itâ€šs going to make for some interesting race strategy, because only the brave or the foolish will try to execute a pass here. As well, in a tribute to the North Shore, one of the climbs just below the finish has a 40' long log in place. Besides testing the balance skills of the racers, it also serves the purpose of keeping them off of a very wet area.
Overall, the course is very similar to last year's popular offering. The distance is a touch longer, at 5km, so multiple laps will once again be the order of the day. That format proved very popular with the spectators last year and I'm sure it will be again. There is one change that will cause some racers fits - a new technical descent called "Peak Plunge". The photo is deceiving. It is a series of rocky ledges with loose soil, roots and sharp pointy rocks. Several of the racers were spending lots of time riding the section over and over. Even at that, I witnessed two pinch flats in the time that I was there. It is a short walk from the finish and will like prove to be a magnet for spectators.
Weather conditions at the moment are unsettled. The temperature is in the high teens in Vancouver, and several degrees colder on top of Grouse Mountain. The forecast calls for rain on Thursday but clearing by the weekend. We'll keep our fingers crossed.