If last week's North Shore Mountain Bike League (NSMBL) race was any indication, the Whistler Secondary School Storm look poised to finish the season with a number of league titles.
Whistler riders were victorious in most age group and gender divisions in last Wednesday's (May 9) race held on the trails north of Spruce Grove Park, while several others earned podium finishes in the third of five races making up the NSMBL schedule this year.
Whistler's Mahon Lamont, a Grade 10 student who races up in the senior boys' division (Grades 11 and 12), topped the podium to take the series lead in the category with two wins in three races.
Lamont said local knowledge of the trails was definitely a big help in securing the victory.
"I've probably rode that course about 200 times just having fun, so it was definitely an advantage," said Lamont. "I didn't really have to think about where I was riding or what I was doing while going through the course."
Grade 12 rider Tristan Underhill had the next highest finish for Whistler in senior boys' racing and now sits third in the league standings.
Felix Burke led an outstanding showing for Whistler in the junior boys' (Grade 10) division by picking up his third consecutive win. WSS riders took seven of the top eight spots, with Austin Reith and Matthew Wentzel hitting the podium and Jack Iles and Spencer Wight placing fourth and fifth, respectively. Iles, Wentzel and Whistler's Edi Schreyer hold down the next three spots in league standings behind Burke.
Max Peiffer won the juvenile boys' (Grade 9) race for Whistler, moving to sixth in the standings, while the bantam (Grade 8) podium was swept by Whistler riders as Matt Riddle, Alex Auger and Zach Davis placed one-two-three. Auger leads the series with a win and two runner-up finishes.
In senior girls' competition, Nicki Murdoch had the best local finish, placing second. The Grade 12 student is now eighth in the standings despite participating in just two races, while Whistler's Melanie Auger is sixth for the series after a 10th-place result last week.
Meanwhile, Jennifer McTavish earned a win at home to take the junior girls' series lead.
"It was a really fun race and it was kind of cool to be on home soil and everything," said McTavish. "It was a pretty big advantage because, knowing the trails, you can know where to push yourself and where to rest."
Whistler's Georgia Astle and Jewel George finished first and third, respectively, in the juvenile race and occupy third and fourth spot in the NSMBL standings. And while West Vancouver riders are holding down most of the top spots in the overall bantam girls' rankings, Whistler riders did not disappoint in their home race, with Iyla Nordin, Keeley Wentzel, Carly Mann and Emily Wharin finishing in second through fifth position.
Unfortunately, this year's high school mountain bike provincials were axed due to difficulties stemming from teacher job action, so the Whistler team won't get an opportunity to build upon its third-place finish at last year's B.C. championship.
"It's definitely a little disappointing because it's something you look forward to and last year I didn't get to go in it because I broke my hand right before," said McTavish. "I was definitely disappointed that I won't get to do it this year."
However, the NSMBL has scheduled another race for Whistler that will serve as the league championship meet on May 26, the originally scheduled date of provincials, so Storm riders will be looking to put their home-trail advantage to good use again. That race will use the same course as the one seen last Wednesday.
Since the announcement of the series-closer in Whistler only came recently, some local riders have opted to enter the Nimby Fifty in Pemberton on the same date instead, so some of the Storms' top competitors may be absent for the last NSMBL race.
The league had its fourth race of the series yesterday (Wednesday, May 16) in North Vancouver on the Richard Juryn Memorial Trail, but results were not available at press time.