July 19/03 11:34 am - MTB Nationals: DH Story
Posted by Editoress on 07/19/03
MTB Nationals Whistler BC
This report made possible through the sponsorship of Rocky Mountain Bicycles and Hamilton 2003
Dumaresq and Jones Win
By Mike Badyk
The hot and dusty conditions didn't slow down the action here on the slopes of Whistler Mountain. The first rider down in the men's final, Mike Jones (BC - Norco Factory Team), had the fastest run of the day, leaving him to squirm in the Hot Seat. For the women, the season long battle between Claire Buchar (BC - Balfa) and Michelle Dumaresq (BC - Santa Cruz/NSMB.Com) had Dumaresq taking the win with Buchar close behind.
The women's race had a small field with only 11 at the start. Everyone waited for the last two riders in the seeding. Dumaresq came down with a hot run and never really managed to make it to the hot seat. She nervously watched from the end of the course for Buchar to arrive. Buchar's run was good but not enough to knock Dumaresq from top spot. The difference was 2.62 seconds between them.
Dumaresq was very happy and having a great time with all of her friends. Hugs and high fives all around. Dumaresq was actually laughing at how her run went. "I had a totally out of control ride. It was right on the edge. I was pushing beyond what I could do. I wanted to break 4 minutes. If it wasn't for the crash I would have broken 4 minutes. I crashed in the last technical hairpin above the finish. I changed gears at the wrong time and they slipped and I went right over the bars. The bike came with me - it was still attached. Back on the ground, one foot down, then up and I lost about 5 seconds. I was almost laughing. I'm glad it didn't happen down here where all my friends were watching! with all the training I've been doing it feels so good to be rewarded. I've had some unlucky breaks at the World Cups lately. This feels good. Really, really good."
Claire Buchar was very pleased with her second place run, and still showing signs of her hard effort. "The run went really well, I think. I hit all my lines smooth and clean and I'm a little bit tired, but I ground it out as best as I could. The course is very technical and very demanding. Last year I was second and the year before third, but it was a totally different crowd. I'm just so stoked."
The men's race was in some respects a strange one. The first rider down the course in the 58 men field was Mike Jones. He posted an outstanding time of 3:29.65. He spent huge amounts of time just hanging out. "I made a few little mistakes. If other people make the same mistakes then I'm okay. Otherwise there are seven or eight guys who can win."
The rider who gave Jones his first real scare was Chad Onyschuk (BC) who came in to occupy second place mid way through the seeds. Thomas Vanderham (BC - Rocky Mountain/Sombrio), known locally as "Vander Child", had a really good run to knock Onyschuk out of second. Several other riders would eventually occupy second spot for short periods of time.
Jason Green (BC) did a massive save that thrilled the crowd. Coming off of the huge rocky drop just above the finish his foot came off of the pedal but he managed to save it with one leg off the back of the bike behind him and part of his body lying on the top tube. The crowd gave him a huge ovation for his skill. Mr. Green is likely to think about that one for a while. The announcer said to the crowd "Someone get him a clean pair of pants."
With only 10 riders remaining to arrive, I briefly spoke to Mike Jones as he sat in the hot seat. - "I'm extremely nervous. In the seeding runs I hit a little stump or something and I ripped my derailleur hanger off, so I had the slowest time. I knew all week that if I had a good run I could do well, but I'm not doing any celebrating yet."
The fifth last rider gave Jones reason to squirm. Trevor Porter (BC - Cove Bikes) laid down an excellent run coming in just behind Jones, only 2.99 seconds down. Third last down the hill was Eric Goss (NB - Cove Bikes) with an excellent run. It was good enough only for third. Jones squirmed more. The fastest qualifier Brant Lyon was yet to arrive, but as the clock rolled past 3:30 Jones knew he had his first elite title and sprung out of the Hot Seat into the arms of his fellow racers. Men and women racers leapt over the fence to congratulate him, and there was a really touching moment when he and his father had a big hug. Lots of happy Norcocians (Norco Employees) as well.
"It feels incredible. I won Nationals when I was a junior in '93 and '94 and I was second in '97. Then I quit bike racing for 2 years while I was forest fire fighting. I just had this gut feeling that I wasn't done with racing. It took me 3 years of racing to get back into form. I'm incredibly happy. Two riders who are really good weren't able to make it- Dustin Adams and Jordie Lunn. It doesn't cheapen it for me at all. Its part of racing. I was really nervous at the start of the race today, to the point where I could barely put my gloves on. I went and did a run on A-Line (on of the trails in the freeride park) to focus and relax a bit. It kind of calmed my nerves."
"My bike is so great. I've worked so hard with Norco over the last few years and they've been incredibly receptive to all of the feedback we've given them. Basically they've nailed it. The bike doesn't hold me back at all. If anything it makes me go forward. We just got a new Marzocchi fork on it with 8 inches of travel called the Triple 8. It's stiffer and has so much travel."
Trevor Porter - "It was an awesome race on an awesome course. During qualifying I clipped my pedal in the rock garden and I think I broke my big toe. It hurts like a son of a bitch! I taped up my foot really well and gave it as hard as I could."
Porter also commented on the young riders such as Stuart Hilder (10th) Vanderham and Mussellam. "From last year they've come up a lot. They're the future of the sport. I train Stuart Hilder and he's going to be a force. These guys are going to come up through the free riding and the racing and they will be good all around riders."
Race Notes - Kind of embarassing at the awards - the awards were started at 6pm even though they were listed as starting at 6:30pm. Many riders hadn't shown up yet. Riders were annoyed to be forced to remove their sun glasses and hats, especially the elite riders, who are sponsored in many cases. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow if they try to remove sponsor apparel from seasoned XC pros such as Roland Green, Alison Sydor, Ryder Hesjedal ...
It was a monster of a downhill course. Racers commented that it is a World Cup class course. The 344m drop over 4 km was far longer than either of the DH courses seen at Mt. Ste. Anne or Grouse. Big jumps and lots of rock are the main features. Many riders came through to finish their runs with flat tires.