The Seven Summits Gravity Racing team (SSGR) had its first podium finish and a number of top-10s at the Down Hill B.C. Cup Provincial Championship in Whistler June 28, and followed that up with even better performances in Vernon last weekend on what was the third stop on the BC Cup mountain biking series.
Rossland’s Keegan Fry led the local mountain biking contingent in Whistler with a second place finish in the U17 Men’s Sports category, ripping down the Whistler-Blackcomb course in a time of 3:02.43.
Five riders from SSGR competed in the race, the second stop on the B.C. Cup circuit. Aaron Finke of Rossland placed in the top 10 with a ninth place finish, while Jonathon Rollins came in 19th and Gavin Patterson finished 24th in the U17 category. In the Junior Sport Men’s Max Nutini of Trail raced to seventh place.
“The boys did great,” said SSGR organizer Ian Finke in an email.“The team is starting to show growth in how they prepare for the races, which is starting to show results on race day.”
On an exceptionally technical Silver Star course on Sunday, Patterson kicked it up a gear, hurtling to a first-place finish in the 13-16 open category with a time of 3:33.82.
In U17, Fry missed a podium finish by 1.07 seconds, finishing in fifth spot just ahead of Rollins in sixth, and Jacob Tooke in 10th place. Finke came in at 13th, while J.T. Bjarnason of Fruitvale grinded out a 15th place finish.
Nutini improved upon his Whistler performance with a sixth place finish in Junior Sport Men, and Logan Merringer was 10th in U15 Sport Men, while Isaac Tebulte of Castlegar came in 17th.
The results are impressive considering the course difficulty and the SSGR team only formed in January and started on-hill riding with coach Ryan Kuhn and co-coach Natasha Lockey of Kootenay Mountain Biking and Shuttling in early April.
“I think they all benefited from Ryan’s coaching, which included not only on the hill focus but also race preparation and mental preparation,” said Finke. “It is great to see the local talent showing up so well against all the competition from all over the province.”
The local contingent competes against racers from across B.C. and Alberta. The downhill races are held on steep, rough terrain, (often ski hills) with a combination of challenging jumps, drops, rock gardens, and obstacles that vary with each course and where times are separated by mere tenths of seconds.
Their first BC Cup competition was in Kamloops at Race the Ranch in April. The Cup series consists of seven races where points are calculated from the results of each race and riders are ranked in the series standings. The final race goes in Fernie on Aug. 30, with stops at Sun Peaks in Kamloops, July 11, Panarama, July 17, and Kicking Horse in Golden, July 26.
Riders must complete four out of seven races to be eligible for an overall ranking. The top four results for each rider will be used when calculating the final series standings. Overall series winners will be presented with their award at the Cycling BC Awards Banquet on Oct. 3.