July 16/03 12:54 pm - Whistler Gravity Festival: Air DH Story
Posted by Editoress on 07/16/03
Whistler Gravity Festival Whistler BC
Courtesy Mitchell Peters
The world's best riders gathered together in Whistler for the last two days to race some of the most popular trails in the World. As part of the Whistler Gravity Festival, the week opened up with two international downhill events, starting with Monday's 4X and Tuesday's Air DH.
The weather cleared up in Whistler to allow some sun to shine down and warm up the spectators. Monday's rain didn't affect the trail too much, reportedly it was a little mucky, but sticky enough for some good traction.
France's Cedric Gracia walked away with another win in Tuesday's race, after winning Monday's 4X. Gracia's time was less than a second faster than second-placed rider Bas De Bever from the Netherlands. South Africa's Greg Minnaar was third, just one second down on the two riders. The highlight of the day was that local rider, Thomas Vanderham, was fourth.
The nineteen-year-old is featured is several freeride movies and raced with the Canadian National Team just last year. "I'm so stoked. All the fastest guys in the world are here today. I'm just into the freeride kind of stuff, movies. It's great to race against them, have the home court advantage." Vanderham has a busy season ahead of him this year. "We're going to Norway in two weeks, with Oakley, big Oakley trip, to film for a movie, I'm pretty excited about that. Then we're going to Vegas for Red Bull Rampage again, things like that. I'll be here (in Whistler) for Nationals."
The women's race was not as predictable. Local rider and National Team member Claire Buchar was fourth, placing her on the podium. Great Britain's Tracy Moseley rode hard and her time was fast enough to claim first place, three and a half seconds ahead of Holland's Anneke Beerten. France's Sabrina Jonnier was third. Vancouver's Michelle Dumaresq was fifth.
Moseley commented on the course before her win later that day. "It's a lot of fun, it's a really good, fun track. It's all very safe, lots of berms, just really, really good fun to ride, well made as well. Difficult to race, I think. It's going to take a lot of pedaling, and the jumps you have to squash and roll and take-off, very interesting racecourse, but certainly a lot of fun. It feels long. The last two weeks I've been racing two-minute courses, so yeah, it feels long just now, but we've raced on five, six, seven minute courses before."
Just two weeks ago the Whistler Bike Park had a counter on the A-Line course, the trail used for yesterday's Whistler Air DH. There were over 5000 people recorded using that trail in one day, on a Sunday. The course has over 55 jumps and ever corner is bermed.
"The guys like it, it's unique, they don't race on anything like it anywhere else. Today, we had Thomas Vanderham, who's a freerider in the movies, come in with all the big boys and come in fourth place. It's really exciting." Paddy Kaye, of Joyride Productions, the company that organized the two events, was really happy about the outcome of the first two days of the Whistler Gravity Festival. "The kick-off events of the festival were the Joyride events. As far as I'm concerned, I'm pretty much done. So I feel really good right now. Huge success. We had the world's best athletes here, from both racing and freeriding, everybody was in the gates together, having a good time."
Second placed rider, Bas de Bever agreed. "It's great that stuff like this gets organized now."
Kaye acknowledged that the atmosphere on the mountain was laid back compared to most international races; "The vibe was really cool. Low stress, everybody was having fun. The track conditions were really awesome even though it rained really hard before the Bikercross event yesterday, kept the crowds away, but it was perfect for the track. Packed, grippy, no dust, everyone was really happy about that, made for some awesome racing. It was great to see a Bikercross race with lots of passing, a lot of that has to do with the design of the course and the time we put in. Joyride Productions designed and built the course; we were contracted by Whistler Mountain. The cool thing about it is that it is a public track. You can buy a lift ticket and ride the same track that we race Joyride on, it's a feature of the park."
Whistler Gravity Festival continues right through until the end of this weekend and concludes with the Canadian Nationals starting on Friday.