Yukon athletes have won only two medals at the Canada Summer Games in its history, both in cycling.
So far, cycling is again the territory’s strong suit at the Games, with three riders finishing in the top-20 in Monday’s mountain bike race and Tuesday’s individual time trial combined.
Leading the way for the Yukon is Whitehorse’s Heather Enders, who in both races cracked the top-20, finishing 16th in the time trial and 19th in the mountain bike race.
“It was definitely hard,” said Enders while cooling down after Tuesday’s race. “I hunkered down and went as fast as hard and fast as I could.
“You always feel afterwards that you could have pushed a little bit harder here and there, but it was pretty good.”
Other top-20 results come from Jesse Reams, who has had the best finish thus far, finishing 11th in the time trial and Troy Henry coming in 19th in the same event. Reams, 29, who is currently racing with Garneau Evolution cycling team in Vancouver, finished third in BC’s time trial championships in the under-23 division last week.
“I moved down (to Vancouver) about a year ago to start training more seriously through the winter and ride the track as well,” said Reams. “You can’t train seriously during the winter in the Yukon – it’s hard.”
The time trial event, held in the Evangeline area of the island, consisted of a 22-kilometre course for the men and a 14-kilometre course for the women. The rather flat course benefitted Reams, said the former Watson Lake resident.
“As a bigger guy, gravity is an enemy,” said Reams. “The flatter the better.”
Monday’s mountain bike/cross-country race, held near Crapaud, PEI, was possibly one of the biggest missed opportunities for the Yukon so far at this week’s Games. Henry, who has won every VeloNorth Cycling Club event he has entered in Whitehorse this year (with the exception of the Tour de Whitehorse), did not finish the race after numerous equipment problems.
“Coming off the start I was like in the top-10 – fifth or sixth,” said Henry. “There’s this dip with what riders called ‘baby-heads’—little rocks about the size of a baby’s ear -¬ and I caught one on the side of my tire and it pulled my tire around and kind of half off my wheel, so most of the air came out when that happened. It popped back onto the bead, but my tire was flat by then.”
After getting to the pit to re-inflate his tire, Henry then had to deal with a loose cleat on his shoe when one of the two bolts that secure it to the sole fell out. If that was not enough, Henry then flatted again and withdrew from the event, being too far from the pit to make a trip back worthwhile.
Adding insult to injury,¬ Henry suffered a broken wrist about two months ago while mountain bike training, and even had to travel to Vancouver to have surgery to repair the damage.
“I was really disappointed with my broken arm -¬ there’s just training there that I can’t get back,” said Henry. “I’m still having wrist issues; I can sprain it really easily because it’s really stiff.”
Because of what’s referred to as the “80-per-cent rule,” which eliminates about 80 per cent of the field during the race as last-place riders are lapped by the leaders or by simply trailing by too far a margin, no Yukon rider finished the seven laps of the 4.5-kilometre course. Nonetheless, four Yukoners broke into the top 30, with Whitehorse’s David Gonda and Ryan Burlingame finishing 22nd and 29th in the men’s category while Kelsey Kabanak and Kaitlyn Mary MacDonald took 24th and 28th.
“Each time you race in the Canada Summer Games and finish in the middle of the pack, that’s a huge accomplishment because these guys are faster and fitter than probably 60 per cent of the whole country,” said Yukon cycling coach Grant Owen. “We’re talking about millions of people, so what they did today is really impressive.”
After a day of rest and practise on Wednesday, Yukon’s cyclists will be back at it Thursday for a road race, followed by criterium events on Friday.
Full results for all events can be found at www.jeuxducanada2009.ca.
Yukon cyclists’ results
Individual time trial
Heather Enders 16th
Kaitlyn Mary MacDonald 38th
Kelsey Kabanak 39th
Jesse Reams 11th
Troy Henry 19th
Ryan Burlingame 39th
David Gonda 53rd
Mountain bike race
Heather Enders 19th
Kelsey Kabanak 24th
Kaitlyn Mary MacDonald 28th
David Gonda 22nd
Ryan Burlingame 29th
Troy Henry DNF
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org