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Thrills and spills at Canada/BC Cup race

Fernie racers have risen to the challenge at a provincial downhill mountain biking event held at Fernie Alpine Resort on the weekend.
Vancouver’s Aziz Zouaoui, racing for Dunbar Cycles, takes a spill at ‘carnage corner’ during the Canada/BC Cup on Sunday. Turn to page A12, A15 for more photos and the full story. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Fernie racers have risen to the challenge at a provincial downhill mountain biking event held at Fernie Alpine Resort on the weekend.

Six local men and women sent dust flying over spectators as they tore down the mountain during the BC Cup downhill race, with four taking a place on the podium.

They competed on the same course as some of the best downhill racers in the country after the event was combined with the Canada Cup Series, which was hosted by FAR for the first time in 13 years.

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The competition drew about 160 racers from across North America as well as racing royalty such as Brett Tippie, who is hailed as one of the “godfathers of freeride”.

After completing practice and seeding runs on Saturday, racers took to the course for the final time on Sunday afternoon, watched by dozens of cheering spectators.

Fernie racers dominated the Open Women (17-29) division with Jennifer McHugh placing first (3:49.46) and Dre Nimmo coming in second (4:22.11).

In the Open Men (30 plus) division, Fernie’s Ross Roseingrave finished with the fastest time of 3:03.97, closely followed by another local, Lee Adams (3:10.04).

Adams has been competing in the Scott Thursday Night Race Series at FAR and decided to enter the BC Cup for fun.

“It’s kinda cool to do something a little more serious to see how you stack up against all the pros and serious guys,” he said.

“I just really wanted to have a smooth, clean run and probably could have gone a bit faster, but no crashes, so that’s good.

“It seems like every run you’d go down there would be another berm with another bomb hole in it, so you kind of had to keep changing your lines up over the last couple of days practicing.”

Adams, 31, has been mountain biking for 18 years and was thrilled to be competing alongside some of the big names in racing such as Chris Kovarik.

The Australian national champion and multiple World Cup winner is now based in Whistler and placed fifth in the UCI Elite Men division in the Canada Cup Series, finishing with a time of 2:45.52.

Anmore’s Kirk McDowall won the men’s race (2:38.45) while Claire Buchar from Whistler was the faster elite female racer (3:20.27).

FAR event manager Jeni Pearson said a new “long jump” competition for B.C. and Canada Cup racers on Saturday night was well received by both participants and spectators.

“It was a great weekend of biking,” she said.

“Our kids race had a great turnout with over 60 little rippers. We got rave reviews of the race track, kudos to our trail crew for their hard work.

“Thanks to Cycling BC, Canadian Cycling Association, SE Racing, Dunbar Cycles and all of the volunteers who came out to make it such a great weekend. We’re already looking forward to 2019.”

Above: Kirk McDowall on his winning run. Below left: Fernie man Lee Adams rips down the course. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press