By Andrew Mitchell
The cycling season is well underway, and Whistler riders are right in the thick of it with appearances at 26Trix in Austria, the Race the Ranch B.C. Cup in Kamloops, at the Pre-Test Test of Metal qualifier in Squamish, and at the Atomic Road Race in Abbotsford.
Two up and coming Whistler freeriders, Alex Prochazka and Kyle McDonald, distinguished themselves at the 26Trix slopestyle contest in Austria last weekend while facing some of the top European riders. Neither qualified for the finals, but they will be remembered just the same.
Prochazka broke out a double backflip over a gap jump in the qualifier, only the second one ever landed in a mountain bike contest according to some websites. Pro rider Andreu Lacondeguy landed the same trick later in the contest, but on his third attempt.
Prochazka took the lead-in jump cautiously, then threw the huge double while a disbelieving crowd looked on. He didn’t have enough speed to carry himself over the next gap, and by the time he picked himself off the dirt he was swarmed by other riders. The video is online at www.matchvideozine.com .
Unfortunately he did not finish that qualifier run and finished just out of the top-15 in 17 th place, just ahead of McDonald. They watched the finals from the sideline, but were not disappointed by their showing.
Pique caught up to Prochazka by e-mail, and asked where he picked up the double backflip.
“I worked on it sporadically for like a month or so last year in the Air Dome, but I didn’t do it this year before I took it to dirt,” he said.
“I didn’t call it to a lot of people at the contest, so not a lot of people knew that I was going to do it, but I didn’t want to wuss out right before the jump and let those people down. It was hard because the only things that were running through my head were all the bad things that could happen, so that really made me nervous.”
The previous weekend, Prochazka placed second in the amateur class in the Wheels of Speed World Downhill Challenge in Willingen, Germany. He also placed 23 rd overall in a field that included all the top World Cup racers.
When asked what his plans are for the summer, Prochazka said he was going to keep working on tricks, as well as his downhill skills.
“I’m not sure about Crankworx, I don’t want to call anything yet, but I do have some other tricks up my sleeve, so we’ll see. This year I’ll be focusing on all the aspects of mountain biking.”
Race the Ranch B.C. Cup
The new base of operations for mountain biking in Kamloops is The Ranch, which includes a downhill park and borders on a network of cross-country trails. The Ranch hosted the third B.C. Cup event of the season this past weekend, drawing several Whistler riders for the downhill and cross-country races.
In the downhill on Sunday, June 10, the Whistler-Blackcomb DFX team and coach Chad Hendren had a solid weekend. Nicholas Geddes and Max Horner placed second and third in the Under 15 category, hot on the heels of local rider Linden Feniak. Other DFX riders in the running were Andrew Doraty in fifth place and Alexander Geddes in ninth.
In the Under 17 race, which featured 24 riders, Whistler’s Tyler Allison placed third overall — not bad considering he had to undergo an emergency root canal last week to save a tooth he nearly knocked out dirt jumping a few weeks ago. His DFX teammates, Ian Morrison and Simon d’Artois, were sixth and 12 th respectively.
The race also attracted a few Squamish riders with members of Team Squamish and Mad March Racing Club taking part. Clinton Gould was ninth, Trevor Halvorson 19 th , and Kyle Quesnel 20 th .
In the Junior Men 17-18 race, Squamish’s Philip Cairns placed sixth, Scott Halvorson was 10 th , and Harrison Gould was 21 st .
In the Senior Men 19 to 29 competition, Whistler’s Marc Zurbuchen was 17 th .
Beth Parsons placed second in the Senior Women 19 to 29 race.
In Elite Men 19 and Over, Kevin Barkowski of Whistler placed fifth. Shaums March of Squamish was sixth, and J.S. Therrien of Whistler 14 th .
In Elite Women 19 and Over, Miranda Miller of Squamish placed second.
In Master Men 30 to 39, Whistler DFX coach Chad Hendren was just off the podium in fifth place.
In Saturday’s cross-country race, which had far less turnout than the downhill competition, Max Horner and Nick Geddes were second and third in the Under 15 category.
Tyler Allison won the Under 17 cross-country race with almost two minutes to spare, with Zac Gartside, Hayden Drygas and Kyle Quesnel of Squamish placing third, fourth and sixth respectively.
In Junior 17 to 18, Phlip Cairns and Kyle Salter of Squamish were fifth and ninth respectively.
In Master 30 to 39 men, Trevor Hopkins placed second overall, while Bob Allison won the Master 40 to 49 category by well over seven minutes.
Test of Metal Pre-Test race
This event was created after the Test of Metal sold out in just 48 minutes this year, giving riders who were lucky enough to register a chance to warm up for the main race, and the top finishers from age groups a chance to win a spot in the Test of Metal this Saturday. The rain kept the numbers down to 100, with riders making anywhere from three to nine laps of a 6 km course, depending on their age category.
From Team Whistler, Jennifer Tabbernor won the women’s 30 to 34 race (seven laps) in 2:38:02, more than 13 minutes faster than the next racer. Sarah O’Byrne was third.
Mike Boehm won the men’s 30 to 34 race (seven laps) in 2:11:47, finishing almost 18 minutes ahead of the next rider.
Mike Charuk placed second in the Male 40 to 44 category (seven laps) against David Kvick, one of the top masters endurance racers in the province.
Dustin Gordon placed seventh in the Male Elite race (nine laps).
Several junior riders also took part.
Jesse Melamed won the Junior 14 to 15 race (four laps) in 1:37:58, almost eight minutes faster than the next racer.
Atomic Road Race
With most members of Team Whistler Nature’s Path taking part in cross-country mountain bike races, only a handful of road riders headed to Abbotsford for the Atomic B.C. Cup Road Race.
In Elite Women, Heather Lamson finished in 13 th place, while Shanni Laxson was first in Category 4. In Category 3 Josh Stott of Pemberton placed 16 th .