Rémy Métailler made it his goal to capture the Phat Wednesday overall crown this year, and he managed to clinch that title with another good outing in the downhill series finale last week.
Métailler rode to a third-place finish in the fourth annual F--- Cancer Chainless A-Line race on Aug. 27 that wrapped up another summer of Phat Wednesday racing in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, ending the year with 1,305 points in the open men's class and a comfortable lead over series runner-up Denis Courchesne (1,155).
"I'm feeling great," Métailler said in an email to Pique. "Last year, I was third and it was definitely an objective to win this year.
"I wanted to win the overall, not just one or two races, so I had to stay on my bike and be a bit smarter than what I usually would do for a one-day race. It's always good to race with different objectives, but it adds some pressure, for sure."
Though the 23-year-old won just two races this season, it was his consistency that helped him top the standings. The native of France ended the series with six podium finishes in nine races, and only finished outside of the top 10 once.
So maybe it shouldn't be surprising that Métailler didn't pick any one race from the season as a major highlight.
"Every race was memorable," he said. "I just love so bad the work that WORCA and the Whistler Bike Park do. Every time it is so much fun to race in the bike park with my friends, new people and (to have) the best après at the GLC."
Chris Kovarik, the runner-up on Aug. 27, finished the season with four victories, ranking third in the standings. Nick Geddes was the winner of the finale, capturing the race that was created in his honour. He also became the fifth rider to win a Phat race in the open men's class this summer, a testament to the depth of the field on any given Wednesday.
"The level (of competition) is really good, as some guys are racing World Cups or are retired World Cup legends, and some others are future World Cup stars," said Métailler.
Claire Buchar once again dominated the open women's class from start to finish this year, winning all eight of her starts to take the title with 1,600 points. Going back to 2012, Buchar has won 18 consecutive starts on the local circuit.
"Sometimes I feel bad and kind of like a loser, like I'm sandbagging," the 2011 world championship bronze medallist laughed when asked about her dominance on the circuit during Crankworx a few weeks ago. "But I think it's good it gives the girls something to look up to and see what's possible."
Lula Darquier (1,025) finished second in the women's standings despite missing the final two races of the season, while Christina Chappetta (999) ranked third.
Leonie Picton claimed a runner-up finish in the final race, while Katrina Strand grabbed third spot in the A-Line race.
Though the women's title was decided several weeks back, the master men's title came right down to the wire, with Steve Storey beating Shane Gayton in a head-to-head battle last week to win the overall title.
Mathieu Hebert won the race, but Storey finished second and Gayton third, which put Storey just ahead of Gayton in the season standings.
Storey trailed Gayton by just 17 points heading into the final week, but his second-place finish moved him to a 1,215 total compared to Gayton's 1,212. Hebert wound up the year in third place with 1,115 points.
"It was really close. I actually didn't think I'd be able to catch him because I had a bit of a slow start," said Storey, who hadn't won a Phat race before this season, but topped the podium three times in 2014.
"I only started downhill racing three or four years ago, and the first race I ever did was a Phat Wednesday. I always thought it would be cool to just win a race or come top three. Taking the overall is huge, and I'm definitely really happy."
Storey and Gayton knew for nearly a month that the title would be decided on the final race, due to the series taking several weeks' hiatus for Crankworx. But Storey said there wasn't too much trash talking between the two ahead of the deciding race.
"We did a couple laps together down A-Line, sorting out lines the day before the race, and wished each other luck," he said.
The junior men's title remained in the Iles household for another year, as Official Whip-Off World Champion Finn Iles won the series finale last week and secured the season title with a whopping 1,560 points. Older brother Jack Iles was the junior champion in 2013 before moving up to the open class this year.
Finn won seven of the eight races he entered this year to take the title. Brad Jansen had an impressive campaign that saw him collect 1,001 points for second place, while Bracken Cammilleri placed third at 820 with only five starts under his belt this season.
Cooper Bathgate was less than four-tenths of a second behind Iles for second place in last week's race, while Jansen placed third.
In junior girls' competition, Stephanie Denroche claimed the series crown after racking up three wins and three second-place finishes this season. Bailey Goldstone won the final race of the summer, which moved her to second place in the standings, just ahead of Georgia Astle, who won three races this year to rank third.
Since there would have been no impact to the top three finishers in every division, riders did not drop their worst score of the series as in past years.
Full standings are posted at bike.whistlerblackcomb.com. Although Phat Wednesdays are finished for the season, there's still more Phat racing to come before the park closes for the year. The Phat Weekend DH Triple Crown will happen on Sept. 14, and the Phat Weekend Enduro goes Sept. 27.
See the website for details and registration links.
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