Athertons dominate Crankworx 

J.D. Swanguen upsets to take opening dual slalom

click to enlarge Low RiderCalifornia's J.D. Swanguen exercised a few mons in this year's dual slalom, winning the pro category after bowing out last year with a crash in the semi-final. Photo by Justa Jeskova
  • Low RiderCalifornia's J.D. Swanguen exercised a few mons in this year's dual slalom, winning the pro category after bowing out last year with a crash in the semi-final. Photo by Justa Jeskova

The weather turned wet and cold for the opening weekend of Crankworx, but that wasn’t always a bad thing for riders. It kept the dust down and improved traction for some riders in the Telus Dual Slalom, and if you were riding the right tires in the Monster Energy Garbanzo Downhill — and most of the top riders were coming off two wet World Cup events in Quebec — it worked to your advantage.

In the first two events, World Cup leaders Gee and Rachel Atherton picked up wins in the Monster Energy Garbanzo Downhill, with Rachel also picking up second place in the dual slalom.

Telus Dual Slalom

The day started with morning qualification runs for most competitors, leading to the first head-to-head races in the afternoon. British racer Rachel Atherton lost track of how many runs she made in the course, but didn’t lose a race all day until the finals, when she was edged out by Dutch rider Anneke Beerten.

“(The course) was actually pretty good with the rain,” said Atherton. “It actually got pretty cut up in some sections, but it almost made it better because you could just roll through it. The course was sick, it was so much fun.

“You’re a bit relieved when it’s over, we’ve done so many runs to get here, but it’s what we all do and we love it.”

Atherton, this year’s overall World Cup downhill champion, will also be racing the bigger Giant Slalom course, as well as all three downhill races during Crankworx. When asked how she keeps her mind sharp when racing and training day after day, she said “lots of early nights.”

“I’ve been out practicing since 11 this morning, so we’ve all been out here for nine hours, and everyone’s wet and cold. I’m just happy for Anneke, she was killing it all day.”

Fionn Griffiths, also British, placed third overall by edging out Kathy Pruitt. She raced Atherton in the semi-final, and had some trouble with traction.

“It was pretty greasy and a little unpredictable in places, but I’m happy I came in third and that Rachel (Atherton) and I pulled it together for some pretty decent runs,” she said. “The course is really picture perfect, it was beautiful in the dry and handled the water pretty well — it’s every slalom lovers wet dream basically.”

Griffiths had the same knobby tires on her bike that she raced at the previous World Cup in Bromont, Quebec. If she had known the conditions she might have switched to a more aggressive tread, but in the end she was glad she didn’t decide to run slicks tires like other competitors after training in dry conditions on Friday.

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