Rossland downhill mountain bike (mtb) racer Logan Merringer made the most of his first World Cup Downhill event in Mount Sainte Anne, Que. last week.
Downhill mtb riders Merringer and Keegan Fry both attended the sixth stop on the UCI World Cup Downhill circuit not knowing what to expect as they prepared to race against the world’s best on one of the most challenging World Cup courses.
“The track was really gnarly, super scary, and intimidating,” said Logan. “It had rained on one of the practice days, and it was super muddy. So there was a lot to deal with for my first World Cup.”
Supported by Revolution Cycle, the Rossland riders were hoping to qualify for the finals, but facing the top World Cup racers on an unfamiliar track proved a challenge.
Keegan had won the Junior Expert Men category on the BC Cup Downhill in 2017, and leads it again this year, so he knew going in he would have to push his abilities to the limit in order to qualify.
“You want to push it, but not push it too hard where you’re riding the line and crashing,” Keegan told the Times prior to the race.
Unfortunately, Fry crossed that line, crashing multiple times in the qualifier to finish in 22nd and miss the final round.
Merringer, however, navigated the precipitous 2.67-km wet and muddy course without incident, coming in 19th to advance to the finals.
“I knew I had to play it smart, and that the course was going to be pretty crazy,” said Merringer. “It got super rutted out, because it rained just before, so I knew the course was going to be tough … I was just trying to make it down, and I wasn’t trying to go as fast as I possibly could, I was trying to play it safe.”
Following the wet qualifier, the track dried out by the time finals came around, but the rain had made the ruts and holes on the course even larger and the high-speed track the roughest it’s been for a long time.
Logan pushed it to the limit in Sunday’s final in an effort to move up the standings, but suffered a spill on his ride down and maintained his 19th position.
“It was a super experience,” said Merringer. “The whole weekend was pretty successful for me, despite the crash I had in the final, which was a little bit disappointing. But I qualified for the finals which was the main goal.”
Thibaut Daprela from France won the Junior Men’s Downhill title, while British riders Kade Edwards and Henry Kerr took second and third respectively. The top Canadian was Elliot Jamieson in sixth place.
A highlight for both Keegan and Logan was watching the World’s top Men’s and Women’s Elite plummet down the course.
“It was a huge learning weekend, and getting to see all the professionals racing and seeing how they ride in person, and watching the finals of the Elite (Men and Women) was something special for sure.”
In Elite Men’s, Canada’s top rider Mark Wallace finished in 13th and Finn Iles of Whistler in 25th. France’s Loic Bruni, the reigning World champion, won the event. Great Britain’s Rachel Atherton captured the Women’s Elite title, with Miranda Miller of Garabaldi, BC the top Canadian in eighth.
“They were just super impressive how they were so confident and going super fast, like on the gnarliest stuff that most humans can’t ride,” added Logan. “They were just charging down there, and seeing how they are so confident and ride fearlessly.
“It was super inspiring to watch, and awesome to realize that I could ride the same stuff as them – and survive.”
Logan and Keegan rejoin the BC Cup Downhill circuit in Big White Sept. 2 and Mt. Washington on Sept. 16.