Former champs take back crowns at King of the Canyon

David Gonda and Tamara Goeppel are back on the throne. The two Whitehorse riders are king and queen again following the King of the Canyon - Yukon's mountain bike championship - on Sunday in the Schwatka Lake area.

David Gonda and Tamara Goeppel are back on the throne.

The two Whitehorse riders are king and queen again following the King of the Canyon – Yukon’s mountain bike championship – on Sunday in the Schwatka Lake area.

“It feels good,” said Gonda. “It’s good just to come out and it’s nice to see a good turnout even though the weather was not ideal. It actually made the trails nice to ride – they get even faster when it rains. The trails here don’t really get muddy, they get more grippy and you can get around the corners really fast.”

Sunday was Gonda’s third time winning the championship. The 25-year-old also won in 2009 and 2010, but was forced out of the race with a broken derailleur hanger in 2011. Jonah Clark, who was king the last two years, was absent from Sunday’s championship.

Gonda completed the 49-kilometre king and queen course – up Downtown Boogaloo to Long Lake, up Grey Mountain and down the Yukon River Trail – in two hours and 30 minutes on the dot.

Watson Lake’s Spencer Skerget placed second at 2:37:11 and James Minifie, who was runner-up last year, was third at 2:43:00.

Skerget rode at the Canada Summer Games in Quebec earlier this month, placing 16th in the cross-country race.

The king division was larger than all three of the other divisions combined with 18 riders, up from 13 last year.

“It’s awesome to see more people doing the long course,” said Gonda. “It is a really good course.”

Goeppel wore the queen’s crown a fourth time following the race, last winning it in 2011.

“It started out pretty quick,” said Goeppel. “The conditions have changed a little bit since the hot weather and it took a little getting used to. It’s just a blessing to be outside. It’s the end of August, there’s no snow on the ground, so we’re happy.”

Goeppel was regal once again by completing the course in 2:49:10. Erika Joubert rode to second with a time of 3:26:52 and last year’s queen, Meagan Wilson, took third at 3:29:09.

Last month Goeppel became the first Yukon rider to win a stage at the B.C. Bike Race, an annual seven-day mountain bike stage race that attracts riders from throughout the world.

Prince Finn Matrishon was first on the 27.5-kilometre short course with a time of 2:11:41. The 14-year-old finished sixth (last place) in 2012 during his first year mountain biking.

“Last year I did it and got lost,” said Matrishon. “I was doing pretty well. Definitely, this year felt a lot better. It feels great to know I won the race.”

Matrishon won the prince race ahead of Jeremie Matrishon (2:27:00) in second and Lee Carruthers (2:58:48) in third.

“I just fell in love with it,” said Matrishon. “I just started racing one day, got really good at it, and now I’m working at Boreale Mountain Biking as the summer intern.

“I’m going to do (the race) again next year, but I’m going to go for the longer one.”

Jenn Roberts and Julie DesBrisay crossed the finish line arm in arm in the women’s short race, but there can only be one princess.

Upon review, it was determined Roberts’ front wheel crossed the finish line just ahead of DesBrisay’s.

“We ride together regularly and weren’t really racing, so it just seemed to make sense we’d cross the line at the same time,” said Roberts.

Roberts’ win was a bit of payback. She lost to DesBrisay in the princess category by one second in 2011 to finish second.

Roberts logged a time of 2:38:30 while Helen Kennedy placed third at 2:52:50.

The King of the Canyon race was hosted by the Contagious Mountain Bike Club with help from the Hash House Harriers and Klondike Snowmobile Association.

“The volunteers are amazing,” added Goeppel. “When I was still drinking coffee in the kitchen, they were out marking the trails. It’s a great atmosphere. We definitely rock here in the Yukon when it comes to mountain biking.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

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