On Friday, May 27, at the Jordie Lunn Bike Park in Langford, Pemberton Secondary School’s mountain bike team rode their way to victory at the BC School Sports High School Mountain Biking Provincial Championships in the Overall Team category—the school’s first win since 2017.
While excitement for the win was high, it wasn’t exactly expected, according to Grade 9 student Sam Tierney, a rookie on the team.
“It’s super exciting for sure. I don’t think anyone on the team really expected us to win provincials because the whole year we had been beaten by other schools. But yeah, it was a pretty great feeling,” he said. “I think everybody on race day just went out there and did their best and everybody was super consistent with getting pretty high placings.”
The provincial championships consist of two events, cross-country and enduro, which are then split into men’s and women’s categories for Grade 8, Grade 9, Grade 10, and Seniors, which consists of both Grade 11 and 12 students.
As the only remaining member of the team from before the pandemic, Grade 11 student Sami Teitzel, who also competes in solo competitions around B.C. in the summer, was just happy to be back in the team environment again and celebrating the win with his schoolmates.
“It was super fun. It’s cool seeing all the new people who weren’t on the team when I first started and it’s cool to see that it’s back up almost completely to where it was before COVID,” said Teitzel. “I’d say I’m a bit more team-oriented at the school events and a bit more about having fun with everybody, whereas at the BC Cups you have to focus a lot more on what you’re doing, but I like the energy of both. They’re different but both really fun.”
When asked about the keys to success for the team, each of Teitzel, Tierney and head coach Nicole Jean had different answers.
While each undoubtedly contributed to the win, Teitzel credits the team’s success to the amount of practice they did, with the whole team getting together each Monday to ride together. Meanwhile, Tierney believes the win stemmed from the consistent riding across the board and gave a shoutout to the team’s girls—Abbie Glavas, Emily Wilson, Rebecca Beaton and Violet Cleland—who all performed extremely well in their respective categories.
But according to Jean, along with the points gained from having more girls on the team than other schools, it was a simple coaching decision, keeping the team motivated, that pushed them over the top.
“We always do very well in the enduro because the kids love going downhill in our area … but nobody particularly loves the cross-country event in the morning. So there was a little bit of talk about just sort of finishing it but not trying too hard and saving themselves for the enduro event,” she said. “But I dissuaded them from that, which was a good idea because you get the same number of points in the cross-country race as you do in the enduro and it really paid off.”
Pemberton Secondary finished the event with 563 total points, edging out second-place Whistler Secondary by more than 100.
And with most of the team eligible to return, the bar has been set and the whole team is looking to repeat as provincial champions next year in Castlegar.
“We are really looking forward to next year already. It’s in Castlegar and I told the kids to scope out fun places to stop along the way to ride because we try to make it not just a race event, we try to do some local rides to get a feel of the different communities and the riding in the different communities,” said Jean. “But if they can do the same thing again next year and we can enjoy ourselves and no one gets hurt, that would be great.”