Downhill series all downhill from now on 

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A field of 40 mountain bikers turned out to the Whistler downhill competition on July 24, the first of what is now a three-race series.

Although the first race was cancelled due to safety concerns, the second race went smoothly and the third and fourth races are going ahead.

"It was a good race, it went smoothly and nobody got hurt," said Whistler Downhill Series organizer Paul Fournier. "The next one’s going to be bigger. We’ve got more people coming to race and we’ve got some live entertainment, so we’ll need more volunteers and first aid people out there, but it’s looking good."

The Male Pro race went to local Tyler Morland, who crossed the line in 4 minutes 18 seconds. Chris Colbeck, the coach and founder of the Single Track Off Road Mountain Bike Club (STORMBC) was second at 4:21, which is even more impressive when you consider that he lost his chain before the bottom section of the course. Jeff Beatty, the Junior Expert winner of the last Canada Cup downhill in Fernie two weeks ago and a STORMBC team rider, was third with a time of 4:28.25.

The lone woman in the competition was local Claire Buchar, at five minutes even. Although Buchar is a newcomer to downhill racing, she has posted strong results at the B.C. Cup level and won the recent Joyride Bikercross.

In the Male Amateur category, junior expert and STORMBC rider Kyle Treleaven led the field with a time of 4:54. Cory Derpak, one of the top junior cross country racers in the province, showed off his downhill abilities by finishing second at 5:06. Jeff Larouche was third at 5:08.

Joanna Johnstone won the female amateur category in 5:50, and Ian Molt – just 13 years old – was the top junior at 5:33.

Chris Dewar was the top hardtail racer, coming in at 4:45.13 – just eight tenths of a second ahead of J.J. Desormeaux.

The next event is scheduled for Aug. 7. Entrees to the competition are capped at 100, and based on the level of interest at the first event, Fournier is recommending that racers register in advance at Guest Relations.

The cost is $15 for pros and $10 for amateurs with bike park passes. A special pass is available for registered racers, however – $21 for pros and$16 for amateurs, which includes your entry fee and a day pass for the park.

Live entertainment will also be a part of the upcoming races, with newly appointed "entertainment and population" director Kevan Kobayashi bringing D.J. Lenny to the event.

Volunteers also receive bike park seasons passes for attending the remaining events, plus dinner at Black’s. The after party at Black’s Pub also has a new sponsor in Sleeman Breweries, and numerous other sponsors are kicking in prizes for the series’ wrap-up on Aug. 21.

For more information on racing in or volunteering for the downhill series, contact Fournier at 932-6300.

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