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Junior U17 athletes set record at Dunbar Summer Series

For the first time ever, three U17 mountain bikers surpassed a professional at the Summer Series

Fernie Alpine Resort hosted the Dunbar Summer Series Canada Cup from July 5 to 7, a competition that saw U17 juniors overtake professional athletes for the first time in the history of the event.

Canadian and American mountain bikers, and a few international competitors, raced their way down a steep course, with the final descent down a wooden track beside Timber chair.

Event organizer Stephen Exley said UCI U17 Junior Women performed incredibly, with the top three bikers in that category outracing the fastest UCI Pro Elite Women athlete.

Tayte Proulx-Royds claimed first in the UCI U17 Junior category, ahead of Caileigh Koppang in second and Cameron Bragg in third. All three women outpaced Vaea Verbeeck, who was the fastest woman in the UCI Pro Elite Woman category, with Proulx-Royds surpassing her by 5.29 seconds.

Bailey Goldstone and Ainhoa Ijurko ranked behind Verbeeck in the final pro standings.

"This is the first time it's ever happened. Usually, when you're a Pro Elite Woman, you're the fastest woman on the mountain," Exley said.

"We've seen it in Junior Expert women, but never from U17 women. These are 15 to 16 year old women beating seasoned veterans," he added.

Exley explained that bikers in UCI categories attend competitions with the goal of getting enough points to make it to the World Cup level.

Verbeeck, from Vancouver Island, has competed at 10 World Cups throughout her biking career, but she said it was her first time competing in Fernie. 

Rainfall earlier in the week made the gravel slick, which proved challenging initially, but the riders were able to reach their regular speed once the course dried out.

"It was steep and challenging and a little bit slippery, but it was really fun," remarked Verbeeck.

"In my seeding, I tried to charge really fast and had a lot of fun, but I did blow out and have a crash, so I decided to tone it down a little bit," she said.

The event was one stop of many along the Dunbar Summer Series route. Riders will head to Panorama and Kicking Horse Mountain Resorts next, and then take a short break before visiting Sun Peaks Resort for Canadian Nationals.

About the Author: Gillian Francis

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