British Columbia’s mountain bike team descended upon Winnipeg for the 2017 Canada Summer Games on July 27th to take on the rest of the Canada’s best and tackle the mighty Bison Butte mountain bike course. The games kicked off rather quickly with training, pep rallies and opening ceremonies all taking place within the first 24 hours. Representing BC for 2017 were Emily Unterberger, Julia Long (TaG Cycling Race Team), Lucy Schick, Rhys Verner (Kona Factory Team XC), Sean Fincham (Forward Racing – Norco), and Holden Jones (Team Squamish).
The first event was the XCO event on Sunday, July 30, which saw the men and women both completing 5 laps – the men’s race was reduced by one lap because of the epic 42-degree temperatures. Unfortunately, this was not BC’s day to stand atop the podium. However, it was a solid race and a great training race for those headed to World Championships in Australia–one wouldn’t think Winnipeg would be an Australian training ground, but boy was it!
A day of much-needed recovery was in order: hydration, nutrition, and rest were key after the grueling XCO race. The next race was the relay on Tuesday, August 1st, which saw each rider taking a lap of the course, tagging off their teammate for a team total of three laps. Temperatures were a bit more manageable, but still hot at 25º C. The BC women’s team would race across the line to bronze and the BC men’s team would take the top step of the podium and gold medal.
A few of the team’s riders departed prior to the final race in preparation for the World Cup in Mont Sainte Anne, leaving BC with two female and two male riders to make their mark in the sprint on Thursday, August 3rd. A few unlucky sprints had the women caught up in crashes putting them out of medal contention, but walking away with a great race experience. On the men’s side, we saw Holden Jones and Rhys Verner, both of Squamish, headed into the A Final. The end result saw Rhys Verner taking the gold and Holden Jones narrowly missing out on the bronze and settling for fourth – he’ll be back in 2021!
Big congrats to all the racers, coaches, staff, sponsors and funders that made this such a successful week for BC’s athletes, and experience they’ll never forget.
Photo credits to Kevin Bogetti-Smith.