Posted by Editor on 07/22/00
There were two newcomers to the winners podium at the Canadian National Downhill Championships - Chad Onyschuk (Ford-Devinci) and Barb Haley (Dirt Works Canada). Both took advantage of an extremely muddy course to carve out victories ahead of the favourites.
While the course starts and ends in the same place as last year, everything in between has changed. "It is a lot more technical, more interesting than last year. I think they did the best they could with what they had." said defending men's champion Andrew Shandro (Ford-Devinci). However, even this changed between Thursday and Sunday, as it went from dry to wet. "The whole thing changed so dramatically." said Haley. "It's a mud pit", stated early women's leader Jennifer Ashton (Norco). "A big, goopy mud pit. The course is so slow and so hard, you are slipping and sliding all the way down."
Even winner Haley, when she took the hot seat of the leading rider said "Sylvie will win", referring to Rocky Mountain's Sylvie Allen - the fastest woman in qualifying, and the only woman who also races cross-country. The feeling was that there was so much pedalling with the mud, that Allen had an unbeatable edge in fitness. However, anything can happen in the mud, and Allen crashed early, throwing off her rythm, and opening the door for Haley (10th last year) to win. The incredulous smile that spread across Barb Haley's face as she realized that she had won warmed everyone standing in the finish area.
Chad Onyschuk presented the Ford-Devinci team with their first ever national title, riding in the sort of conditions that made him feel he was at home in Vancouver, B.C. "The mud, the roots, the wet rocks ... it was like riding at home." Onyschuk had a relatively clean ride, avoiding any major crashes, unlike his team mate Shandro, who bailed at the top of his run, and then "rode to conservatively" for the rest of the race. Onyschuk has come close before, including third at last year's nationals, but he has hit a new level with his win at Camp Fortune.
(some photos by Mike Badyk and Kevin Wiley)
In the mud
Doug Beattie, hauling his bike out of the mud.
Karl patterson in the technical stuff.
Lining up for the bike wash.
Losing it in the singletrack.
One of the dropoffs.
(l-r) May, Onyschuk, Cseff, Watson, Shandro
Tera Meade and Sylvie Allen on the chairlift before their start.
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