Posted 3 months ago
The top gravity athletes in Canada gathered at Panorama Mountain Resort to challenge for the 2019 National DH Championships. The DH race was part of Panorama’s inaugural Gravity Festival which included the first ever UCI sanctioned Enduro National Championship.
Perfect weather for racing.
In the enduro, Jennifer McHugh and Remi Gauvin came away with the maple leaf jersey. Having the two races happening over the same weekend at the same venue allowed competitors the opportunity to go for both titles. Both former Canadian and World Champion, Miranda Miller, and Remi Gauvin took on the challenge. Miranda, currently ranked 11th in EWS, impressively ended up on the podium in both races with silver and a bronze. Mr. Gauvin who holds down 7th in the EWS, ended up in a respectful 11th in the DH.
Miranda Miller attacking all weekend.
Over the past 7 years Panorama has been host to four National Championships title races. 2013 saw Stevie Smith take the title and since then the accumulative effect elite level racing has resulted in the creation of a purpose-built downhill racetrack. The seasonal tweaks, deletions, and additions may have resulted in a recipe that may finally be just right. This year saw the retirement of the infamous Dollar Sign section in favor of the vertical drop dubbed, Wall Street. This was the spot to watch as racers looked for that perfect mix of risk/ reward. This summer’s higher than average rain fall helped the track hold together throughout the weekend.
The infamous Wall Street.
The junior race had several current World Cup podium finishers with Seth Sherlock, Lucas Cruz, and Patrick Laffey on track to start the weekend. Unfortunately, Mr. Laffey was injured in practice and could not compete in Sunday’s final.
Forest Riesco storms the berm right near the crowd.
Excellent track conditions allowed for some tight racing with the top three Elite Men finishing within the same second. Kirk McDowell was in the hot seat as 2nd fasted qualifier Mark Wallace dropped in. Wallace was on a flyer at the split over a full second ahead of McDowell. Unfortunately, an awkward off camber turn in sight of the finish line would dash Mark’s hopes for a National Title again this year. This left fastest qualifier Finn Iles in the gate. Finn made good on his reputation of being Canada speediest descender and secured the win with an attacking run edging out Kirk and Magnus taking his first elite national title by the slimmest of margins.
Men's Elite Podium: 1st - Finn Iles, 2nd - Kirk McDowell, 3rd - Magnus Manson
In the women’s race Vaea Verbeeck showed excellent pace and defended her title by besting Whistler’s Georgia Astle by an impressive margin of over 5 seconds and a presumably fatigued Miller by 11 seconds.
Women's Elite Podium: 1st - Vaea Verbeeck, 2nd - Georgia Astle, 3rd - Miranda Miller
In the end, the Gravity Festival provided an amazing weekend of racing. Panorama worked with excellent partners and selfless volunteers to put together a weekend worthy of the strengthening gravity scene in Canada. A major thank you to everyone who touched this event from liftees to room attendants. Special thank you to Amy Green, Ted Morton, Owen Peters and the trail crew, Rachel Stickler, Norco, Fox Canada, Josh Peacock and everyone at Cycling Canada. It takes a team to make an event like this successful.
Finally, the best of luck to all competitors as we move into the back half of the season.