Posted by Editoress on 07/14/13
Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing), the king of Downhill in Canada, and ranked third in the UCI World rankings and second on the UCI World Cup rankings, just added another title to his credentials: Canadian Champion. Micayla Gatto, the 2010 champion, took the Elite women's title.
Under bright blue skies at the Panorama Mountain Resort in British Columbia, Canada's top downhillers raced for Canadian titles today in all age categories at the National Championships, from Cadet to Masters. And Smith, who has won two UCI World Championships medals for Canada (silver and bronze) and won his first UCI World Cup last season, took part at these Championships, thanks to the UCI approval for the Canadian National Champion to wear a National Champion sleeve instead of the full National Champion jersey.
Smith, who posted the top qualifying time in Saturday's seeding run, posted a time of 2:24.22 for the Final despite facing a challenging and deteriorated course. Kyle Sangers (J&J Cycle) crossed the line in second place, while Sidney Slotegraaf (Tuf Rak Racing) came third.
"I am happy to have won this race. There was a lot of pressure on me today, as everybody expected me to win; it was kind of tough. I haven't been to this race in six years, and now that the rule has changed to a sleeve, we were all stoked to come out and still be able to support our sponsors," said Smith.
"I am pretty much going there to win everything. I really want to win. Last year, a second or third was an accomplishment. This year, it's the win that I am going there to do. I am moving on from where I was in Italy and progress from there," continued Smith. "I want to thank all my sponsors, and Cycling Canada for working to get the new sleeve rule approved. It's been a good race here at Panorama, and a good time. It was such a good course and a good race."
In the women's Elite race, it was a three-way race between the top qualifiers Micayla Gatto, Miranda Miller and Lauren Rosser, the 2010 World Junior Champion. In practice after the seeding runs, the defending Canadian Champion Casey Brown broke her collarbone, and did not start today's race. Brown had been favoured, after her performances on the World Cup circuit this spring.
On race day, Micayla Gatto came out the fastest of the group, posting a time of 2:48.43 to winning her third career title.
"It was a good day, a good competition. The track was really challenging. The crew made some good improvements from previous years," said Gatto. "All the top Canadian girls were here today. It was a very tight race, all the girls killed it."
"They made some good changes to the course. They took out an uphill section which was nice. They also added a bit more technical sections, which I am used to riding on the North Shore. I like the fast, technical courses. Having support helps me achieve my best, with my boyfriend and family here really helped."
Lauren Rosser climbed on the second step of the Elite women podium in her first race of the season, while Miranda Miller took third.
In the men's Junior race, all eyes were turned on youngster Mark Wallace (Devinci Global Racing), who has been riding strong this year on the UCI World Cup tour. Wallace did not disappoint, taking the title with a run of 2:34.06. Hugo Langevin (Équipe du Québec-Cycles Performance-Niquet) improved from fourth in the qualifier to finish second, while McKay Vezina took third.
"Glad to get the Canadian title. It's always nice to show off the country we live in and its colours. The day went pretty well, the run was going good. I clipped a tree and took a bit of a wobble," said Wallace, the 2012 Canada Cup Series Champion. "To me, this was just another race trying to do as well as I could. Definitely, when things are going good, you want to keep it like that. There are a lot of people to thank. My family, Devinci Global Racing and Steve, who have all helped me so much."
In the Cadet categories, Magnus Manson (Dunbar Cycle) won the title with a very fast time of 2:41.82, with Nic Rodgers and (Dunbar Cycle) coming in second and Carter Paschinski (AFD Factory Racing) in third.
D'Arcy O'Connor (Master 30-39), Ryan Kuhn (Masters 40-49) and Derek Diedrickson (Masters 50+) also won the Canadian titles in their respective categories.
This Canadian Downhill Championships has been held three times in the last four years at Panorama Mountain, and the resort in British Columbia is slated to organize the event in 2014 as well.
Cycling Canada report
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