An unlucky break held Whistler’s Chris Kovarik out of Sunday’s (Sept. 15) final of the World Cup downhill race at Hafjell, Norway, but the two other local riders involved in the event turned in some solid results.
Making his second World Cup start of the season, Jack Iles had an impressive ninth-place finish in the junior men’s race, one position better than his 10th-place result from last month’s stop in Mont Ste. Anne, Que.
Up against a field of more than 40 of the world’s top young riders, the 17-year-old finished in four minutes, 1.950 seconds, making Iles the third-fastest Canadian involved in the junior race. He finished 15 seconds off the winning time set by U.K. rider Michael Jones and 10 seconds away from a podium position.
In women’s action, Claire Buchar raced to 13th place while making her first appearance on the World Cup circuit this season. Fellow B.C. riders Casey Brown and Miranda Miller placed eighth and ninth, respectively.
Buchar finished with a time of 4:49.626, clocking in about 40 seconds behind winner Rachel Atherton. She had qualified for the final in eighth position.
Kovarik unfortunately flatted in his qualifying run on Friday (Sept. 13) and did not make the top 80 riders advancing to the final. Despite the puncture, Kovarik was just 26 seconds off the top qualifying time and less than six seconds from earning a spot in the final.
“Heartbreaking to come all this way,” Buchar, Kovarik’s wife, wrote on Kovarik Racing’s Instagram account. “Was feeling good and so pumped to be here, he tried to keep battling to the finish but there’s only so much he could do.”
All three riders are back in action this weekend, as they will compete at the season’s final World Cup race in Leogang, Austria.
Metallier cashes in on Phat Weekend
Dozens of riders came out Sunday for one last Phat fix when the Whistler Mountain Bike Park hosted a Phat Weekend downhill in the Garbanzo Zone with prize money up for grabs.
Remy Metallier set the quickest time overall and won the men’s open race — plus the $400 top prize — on a lengthy course that featured Original Sin, Freight Train and No Joke.
Metallier finished in five minutes, 52.42 seconds to be the lone rider to clock in under six minutes on Sunday. Nick Geddes finished in second spot with a time of 6:02.23, while third place went to Shawn Neer. Zander Geddes and Adrian Martinez rounded out the men’s top five.
Steve Storey topped the masters division, finishing with a time of 6:18.08 and a healthy margin of victory over the rest of the field. Jeff Leigh earned runner-up honours for the category and Daniel Connell finished third.
Alex Auger was the only junior rider breaking the seven-minute mark on Sunday, and his finish time of 6:45.28 put him more than 30 seconds ahead of his competition. Colin Kirkby placed second, while Ian Milley edged Seth Sherlock for the last podium spot.
In the open women’s race, Sarah Leishman was well in front, stopping the clock in 7:07.52. Julie Cossette finished in second place and the bronze-medal position belonged to Kathryn Wutte.
The Phat fun isn’t completely finished for the season, as the bike park will also be hosting a Phat Weekend enduro on Sept. 28. The three-stage race will feature timed sections down Top Of The World to Franz’s Bridge, another starting on Tokum and ending where Fatcrobat meets Expressway, and Duffman to the Creek Jump. WORCA memberships are required to participate, and registration can be completed online at www.whistlerbike.com.
Also, don’t miss WORCA’s Funduro race scheduled for Saturday (Sept. 21). The five-stage race will take place on a number of Westside trails, but the course route will remain a mystery until riders reach the start line in Function Junction on Saturday. Registration, which closes at 8 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 20), and race info is available at www.worca.com.