A pair of Sea to Sky riders nabbed hardware on Sunday afternoon during Group B action at the Canadian Open Downhill, conquering a brand-new 1199 track that pushes even the world's best. Jack McCredie sped to silver in the men's U17 race, while Caileigh Koppang was second-fastest among U15 women.
McCredie was the first athlete to break the four-minute barrier all day (3:56.798), although he would ultimately be eclipsed by winner Asa Vermette from the United States (3:35.307). Another American, Alex Mallen, took bronze (3:59.008), while Squamolian Mason Cruickshanks ended up fifth (4:05.267).
McCredie bounced back from an underwhelming 2022 festival, where he failed to finish both the Canadian Open Downhill and his air downhill race.
"I was really happy about it," said McCredie about his performance. "I honestly didn't think I was going to break [four minutes] as I had a pretty sloppy run at the bottom, but nothing like went wrong. [I was surprised by] how loose and dusty the bottom section of the track was. There were a lot more holes than I expected.
"I actually ended up really liking the course, but throughout the weekend, it got really blown-out and dusty, and it just made it way, way harder for your hands and body."
Despite missing the podium, Cruickshanks was likewise pleased with his effort. "I had a big unclip on one of the sections, so I was running with only one foot on the pedal," he revealed. "Yeah, it was really sloppy in parts. I hit the top section really nice, though. It felt amazing having my friends and family watching and filming me on the side of the course."
Koppang's nascent career is off to a hot start, and few things will boost her stock more than a Crankworx silver medal. The fast-rising up-and-comer remained poised throughout the women's U15 event to put down a solid time (5:04.478).
Nory Klein of the United States blew away the field as the only girl to get under five minutes (4:52.963), while local contestant Ruby Wells clocked in for third place (5:18.760).
Koppang believes she could have challenged Klein for gold, were it not for a lengthy course hold that forced her to attempt her run a second time. "On my first run, my bike was feeling good and everything was really good," she said. "Then on my second lap, my bike was not feeling good. I was bottoming out. It was gnarly. It did not work out. My shocks were just like, not working."
Nonetheless, Koppang managed to keep it together, making a few key saves down the stretch to cross the line in medal position. She's grateful for it, as few experiences can truly prepare a rider (especially a non-professional) for the demanding 1199 course.
"It was really gnarly," she admitted. "The track is really long and tiring, and once you get to the bottom, you're so tired."
Australian Noah White emerged on top at the men's U15 competition (4:12.257), edging out runner-up Colter Knecht from the United States (4:14.028). Pemberton's own Cody Kelly earned bronze (4:15.431) in a tightly-contested affair.
Two Americans, Aletha Ostgaard (4:33.943) and Matilda Melton, (4:40.043) stole the show in the women's U17 event in a one-two finish for the stars and stripes. Tayte-Proulx Royds of Kelowna joined them on the podium in third (4:46.058), and Mhairi Smart wound up as tops among Sea to Sky athletes in fifth (5:15.987).
Going from spry youngsters to seasoned veterans, Scott Leonard won the senior men's race in front of his Squamolian fans (4:02.695). Great Britain's Harry Barrett came second (4:03.200) and Aussie Will Spark was third (4:03.422).
Full results are available online. Check back in with Pique Newsmagazine for more Crankworx coverage throughout the week.