Baker on a roll 

Whistler’s Brook Baker is two-for-two in downhill competitions after winning her category in the Whistler Air Downhill on July 5. The weekend before she finished first in the Junior Expert category at the Mad Trapper B.C. Cup race in Panorama, edging out riders who represented Canada at the world championships.

For the past few years Baker has competed in cross-country races at the B.C. Cup and Canada Cup competitions with positive results. Last year she was fourth in the national champions, and finished second overall in the B.C. Cup series. The year before she was the overall provincial champion racing at the cadet level.

Her goal for 2002 is to do well at the upcoming nationals in Kamloops, and to make the national team for the World Mountain Bike Championships in Austria at the end of the summer. She plans to make it there on her cross-country bike, although her recent results in the Air Downhill and B.C. Cup have her wondering if she could make it there as a downhiller.

"I’m not really switching over to downhill, I’m still racing cross-country. Until two weeks ago I never gave it much of a thought," said the 17-year-old. "(Coach) Chris (Colbeck) said ‘hey, you should race in the downhill at Panorama.’ I trained one day for it, two days before the race, and I won.

"That was a good feeling, I wasn’t expecting that. I just wanted to make it down smoothly, no wobbles, no crashes. I stayed up and ended up beating some of the top girls."

After Panorama, it didn’t take much convincing to get Baker back on a downhill bike, borrowed from her STORMBC teammate Jeff Beatty, and race in the Air Downhill. Her only competition in the junior category crashed in that race, but Baker is confident that she rode the course well enough for the win.

"I know the course really well. It was too bad the organizers blocked off the two rock drops for juniors because I like riding those sections, but other than that I was clearing some of the table jumps and riding really smoothly."

She says she will continue to focus on the cross-country competitions, but has not ruled out racing downhill at the nationals.

She still has one more year to race as a junior before she moves up the ranks.

"The problem is that right now there aren’t a lot of girls to race against. A lot of times I’m the only girl. It’s nice to win," she said, "but it would be nice to be pushed a little more."

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