There was certainly a B.C. boost in the Crankworx-closing Canadian Open DH on Sunday, Aug. 16.
Revelstoke's Casey Brown slammed the competition on the women's side, posting a final time of three minutes, 20.95 seconds (3:20.95) to get past Squamish's Miranda Miller by 2.38 seconds. Australian Tracey Hannah, who earned the overall downhill title later in the evening, placed third, 5.46 seconds behind.
"I had a good couple practice runs this morning in the rain and the wet weather. I knew it was going to dry up and I could pull it together for the afternoon," said Brown, noting the woods were still on the slippery side. "I'm used to the dirt here. I've ridden it since such a very young age. I'm loving being back in B.C."
With the UCI 4X World Championships coming up this weekend in Val Di Sole, Italy, Brown was thrilled to do well, especially with her sister, niece and nephew in attendance. Her dog, Snuff, even got loose during the awards presentation and followed her up onto the top of the podium. Brown started the week with a mechanical in the Garbanzo DH, but later won the Official World Whip-Off Championships and placed third in the Fox Air DH.
"Winning today definitely gave me a boost for Val Di Sole, the next World Cup," she said.
Miller, meanwhile, was pleased with how the course came together for the race, as she didn't care for the wetter conditions in training. But once riders are at the top, all they can do, essentially, is shoot themselves down the mountain and hope for the best.
"It's a fairly short track, so you just have to be aggressive everywhere," she said. "You don't have any time to slouch off."
As for the men, new Whistler resident Troy Brosnan pierced the hopes of the field by blazing to a time of 2:47.50, which was 1.89 seconds up on Duncan's Mark Wallace. New Zealand's Sam Blenkinsop rounded out the top podium.
Brosnan arrived in June, spending time here in between the World Cup stops, and plans to stay until November, at which point he will return home to train during the Australian summer.
The event was Brosnan's only downhill of the week, as he opted to stick to his typical training schedule.
"I was resting up and getting ready for the next World Cup," he said. "It felt good not to do much all week and to really rest up and be fresh for this race. I had an amazing run and it feels good to get first."
Brosnan, who said near the end of his run he started to have a golden eye toward the top of the podium, has long felt a bond with the course here in Whistler.
"It was a perfect day, perfect conditions and I had a great run," he said. "When I got towards the bottom, I felt I had a pretty good run and that could be it. I just pedalled as hard as I could and came across the line in first."
Runner-up Wallace's previous best in the race was a fifth in 2014, and he was pleased to bump that up this time around, especially with grippy conditions that suited his style.
Each winner received $7,500 for the victory.
Smith, Kintner win Fox Air DH
Both Fox Air DH winners were victorious after recovering from injuries.
In the Aug. 12 event, Jill Kintner was able to extend her winning streak in the event to three, but it comes in the midst of a challenging season. The Seattle resident acknowledged she pushed a little too hard early for the Queen of Crankworx title and overextended herself in Rotorua, New Zealand, leading to a crash and lingering pain throughout the year.
After skipping the French event at Les Deux Alpes, Kintner blazed past the field with a time of four minutes, 30.30 seconds, six seconds up on runner-up Anneke Beerten. Revelstoke's Casey Brown was third.
Kintner overcame some warm conditions to earn the threepeat.
"It was a happy place and I had a good run. I know this course really well, every tranny, when not to overjump or corner," she said. "I felt good all day and was having fun, so that's a victory in itself."
As for the men, Stevie Smith of Cassidy, B.C. had his two-year winning streak at the race snapped last year as he spent nearly all of 2014 recovering from foot injuries.
Smith posted a time of 4:07.70 to knock off Sam Blenkinsop and Harry Heath.
Smith, who had three surgeries for ankle and foot injuries in 2014, enjoys riding the A-Line hard and everything just seems to fall into place from there.
"I couldn't tell you, I have no idea. I just seem to win here. I put in a hard effort and once I get really tired, I don't let myself slow down," he said. "I just have a good time racing here and I think that the good times just translate into speed for myself."
In Crankworx's first downhill race, the Garbanzo DH on Aug. 11, Claire Buchar and Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas took the wins.
Buchar and Miller were also selected to represent Canada on the elite women's downhill team at the 2015 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Vallnord, Andorra from Aug. 31 to Sept. 6 while Whistler's Georgia Astle will head over for the junior women.
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