Close finishes, near death experience at Canyon Mountain Crusher

Whitehorse’s David Pharand overcame adversity to win his division of the inaugural Canyon Mountain Crusher. He prevailed despite tough trails, fierce competition, oh, and falling off a cliff.

Whitehorse’s David Pharand overcame adversity to win his division of the inaugural Canyon Mountain Crusher on Saturday.

He prevailed despite tough trails, fierce competition, oh, and falling off a cliff.

On the final stage of the enduro race, along the clay cliffs in Whitehorse, Pharand was bucked from his bike and went head-first over the edge.

Amazingly, he was not hurt. The fine clay made it feel like landing in baby powder, he said.

“I was coming along the ridge and it was beautiful and sunny, trail conditions were perfect – we couldn’t have asked for a better course,” said Pharand.

“The next thing I knew I was going head-first over the cliff, down towards downtown in a very fast, direct route.”

Pharand’s first thoughts in free-fall was to halt his descent before he picked up too much speed and tumbled all the way down to 7th Avenue through the Whitehorse Community Garden.

“The first thought was: stop as quickly as possible,” said Pharand. “The folks in the communal gardens in that area work really hard, and I was really concerned about destroying raspberry bushes or any vegetables.”

Pharand was one of 23 riders to take part in the enduro race, a type of race gaining popularity in North America in which sections of downhill are raced with non-timed transition sections in between.

Despite having to do a little rock climbing on the seventh stage, Pharand was the fastest male rider on B Course with a time of 56 minutes and eight seconds.

Paul Burbidge rode to second place at 57:46, ahead of Dan Bedard at 1:18:01.

“Today was just phenomenal,” said Pharand, who is a coach for Boreal Mountain Biking. “The little bit of rain yesterday made for some of the best trail conditions you could ask for. It started off brisk

in the morning, which made great racing conditions. Once you get moving everything was fantastic.

“I had the best ride of my summer today … It was the most fun I’ve had on two wheels all year, for sure.”

The enduro race featured three stages on Grey Mountain followed by four stages on the west side of the valley, including Mount McIntyre.

Strung end-to-end, the race sections were about 30 kilometres long. Racers rode roughly 55 kilometres through the day, with the transitions from stage to stage. They also tackled about 1,600 metres of climbing.

After all that, only 19 seconds separated the top three male riders on the tough A Course that began with Money Shot, a double black diamond run on Grey Mountain.

Michael Abbott slipped into first at 1:05:46, just 14 seconds ahead of second place’s Massey Baker, who competed in mountain biking at the Canada Summer Games in Quebec a year ago. Ben

Gilbert was edged into third at 1:06:05.

“There was some good competition. I didn’t think I had it, but I was pretty consistent all day and it worked out,” said Abbott. “I just showed up to have fun and have a good ride with everyone, and it just worked out.”

Martina Knopp, the only female rider on the A Course, finished with a time of 1:28:54.

“This is honestly my first real race, but I’ve been mountain biking since I was a kid – the past 15 years, at least,” added Abbott. “This event seemed like a fun event so I decided to go for it.”

It was a close one on the female B Course as well.

Kristen Magnusson placed first at 1:06:32, ahead of Kendra Murray (1:08:27) in second and Christine Kirk (1:17:16) in third.

Magnusson went on to win the women’s Yukon mountain biking title the next day in the King of the Rocky Canyon championship.

“It’s been a great weekend with the enduro yesterday and this today,” said Magnusson on Sunday. “It was a pretty awesome weekend of mountain biking in Whitehorse, I’d say. I’m pretty sure we’ve covered a very significant portion of Whitehorse single-track in the last two days.”

The Canyon Mountain Crusher, which takes its name from gold rush-era name for Grey Mountain, was the second of three events that make up the inaugural Yukon Dirt Rush.

The Dirt Rush opened with the two-day CarCranked Festival in Carcross the previous weekend, which also featured enduro races. It wrapped up with the King of the Rocky Canyon – the Yukon mountain bike championship – on Sunday.

“It went well considering it was a pretty crazy plan to try to put on a race that spans both sides of the Whitehorse valley, and all courses where it’s point to point, not loops like a typical cross-country type race,” said Canyon Mountain Crusher organizer Jonah Clark. “Everything, pretty much, went as planned…

“It was a good test of the idea – proof of concept – and we’ll see how we can make it happen again next year and potentially grow it a little bit. There’s talk of making a series of the two (weekends) in future years, attracting people from out of town and things like that.”

See coverage of the King of the Rocky Canyon championships in Wednesday’s Yukon News.

Contact Tom Patrick at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted


Wyatt’s World for May 5, 2021.… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. They formally announced that as of Nov. 20, anyone entering the territory (including Yukoners returning home) would be required to self-isolate with the exception of critical service workers, those exercising treaty rights and those living in B.C. border towns
Vaccinated people won’t have to self-isolate in the Yukon after May 25

Restaurants and bars will also be able to return to full capacity at the end of the month.

An RV pulls into Wolf Creek Campground to enjoy the first weekend of camping season on April 30, 2021. John Tonin/Yukon News
Opening weekend of Yukon campgrounds a ‘definite success’

The territorial campgrounds opened on April 30. Wolf Creek was the busiest park seeing 95 per cent of sites filled.

Visitors from Ushiku, Japan visit the Carcross Desert as part of the exchange program Ushiku and Whitehorse have. The previously annual exchange has been cancelled for 2021 due to COVID-19. (Submitted)
Whitehorse-Ushiku sister city exchange cancelled

Officials said the exchange is cancelled due to COVID-19

The site of the Old Crow solar project photographed on Feb. 20. The Vuntut Gwitchin solar project was planned for completion last summer, but delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Old Crow is switching to solar

The first phase of the community’s solar array is already generating power.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
One new case of COVID-19 in the Yukon

Case number 82 is the territory’s only active case

Flood and fire risk and potential were discussed April 29. Yukoners were told to be prepared in the event of either a flood or a fire. Submitted Photo/B.C. Wildfire Service
Yukoners told to be prepared for floods and wildland fire season

Floods and fire personelle spoke to the current risks of both weather events in the coming months.

From left to right, Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola departed for Kluane National Park on April 12. The duo is the first all-woman expedition to summit Mt. Lucania. (Michael Schmidt/Icefield Discovery)
First all-woman team summits Mt. Lucania

“You have gifted us with a magical journey that we will forever treasure.”

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

Whitehorse goings-on for the week of April 26

The Yukon Department of Education in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. The department has announced new dates for the 2021/2022 school year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Yukon school dates set for 2021/22

The schedule shows classes starting on Aug. 23, 2021 for all Whitehorse schools and in some communities.

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: rent caps and vaccines

To Sandy Silver and Kate White Once again Kate White and her… Continue reading

Most Read