The Seven Summits Gravity Racing Team (SSGRT) carried its momentum into a pair of B.C. Cup Downhill races this month with strong performances at the Canadian Downhill Championship on Sun Peaks Ski Hill in Kamloops on July 12, and at Panarama for the B.C./Canada Cup July 18-19.
Rossland’s Keegan Fry kept a firm grip on a potential B.C. Cup overall podium finish, after placing third at Sun Peaks in a time of 4:17.37 in the U-17 downhill. Fry’s finish goes along with a second place ride at Whistler, fourth in Kamloops, and fifth at Silver Star to put him in contention for a top-three finish in overall points going into the final race in Fernie next month.
Rossland’s Aaron Finke was just five seconds back of Fry to take fifth place, his best result of the series, while Jonathon Rollins crossed the line in 10th spot, Jacob Tooke came in 11th and J.T. Bjarnason 16th in U-17.
In the Junior Sports Men’s category Trail’s Max Nutini raced to a respectable seventh place finish.
The race also featured UCI World Cup Champion Steve Smith who reportedly still finished second after suffering a fall on the steep and technical course.
“I’m very happy with the team performance to this point in the year,” said manager Ian Finke. “Sun Peaks and Panarama featured a very high caliber of racing and having our local athletes exposed to that kind of talent provides some good insights into what it takes to compete at a high level.”
The Panarama downhill was even more gnarly than the Sun Peaks, with a strong cast of world-class racers including Australian and world number-four ranked Troy Bronson.
“This course was by far the toughest of the year so far,” said Finke. “One comment I heard was that it was as close to a World Cup course as you will see on this circuit.”
The course took its toll on at least one SSGRT rider, as Gavin Patterson suffered a training run crash that put him out of the race on Sunday, however, the other riders picked up the slack. Nutini raced to a season-best fourth place finish and Logan Marringer cracked the top-five in U-15 Sport, with Isaac Tebulte coming seventh. In U-17, Aaron Finke had another top-10, finishing in ninth spot.
“Our Kootenay riders have been representing our area extremely well all year and it has been very satisfying for the coaches and myself to see them continue to grow and improve race after race.”
The team will wrap up the BC Cup circuit in the final race of the season in Fernie on Aug. 30, but in the meantime SSGRT riders will hit the familiar home trails of the Seven Summits for the Rubberhead Enduro Race this weekend.