Gearing up for a busy season

Watson Lake's Spencer Skerget recently got his first taste of international mountain bike racing during a trip to Chile. And all things considered, the 22-year-old did pretty well.

Watson Lake’s Spencer Skerget recently got his first taste of international mountain bike racing during a trip to Chile.

And all things considered, the 22-year-old did pretty well.

Skerget finished 13th out of 15 riders in a cross-country race on March 8. He finished 20th out of 35 riders in another race on March 15.

The events were sanctioned by Union Cycliste Internationale, allowing riders to earn points to qualify for bigger races. Skerget needed a top-10 finish in the first race and a top-15 result in the second in order to qualify for points.

Not only was it his first time racing abroad but it was also his first two races of the year.

“Down there, racers are in the peak of their season,” he said from Victoria, where he studies and also trains with members of the Canadian national team.

“When you’re racing in a new place you’re trying to get everything together, like training, nutrition and rest. I feel really good about the results, they were a tough couple of races but it’s nice to get them out of the way.”

Both events were cross-country Olympic races, which consist of several laps around a four-kilometre circuit.

With mild training conditions in Victoria, Chile was a different beast altogether, he said.

Skerget and another Canadian rider, Steven Noble, had to compete in 35-degree weather while they were down there.

“It was a shock to get used to those temperatures,” Skerget said.

Because they’re both students at the University of Victoria, they couldn’t afford to be gone for too long.

But Skerget plans on racing more often once his semester ends in six weeks, he said.

That includes a series of local races, but he has his sights set on bigger ones, too.

He plans on taking part in another UCI-sanctioned race in Utah in May. In July, he’ll travel to Quebec for the Canadian Cross Country Mountain Bike Championships.

Last year, he teamed up with three B.C. riders to win a silver medal in the relay event at the nationals.

It was the first national-level medal won by a Yukon mountain biker since Whitehorse’s Daniel Sessford captured bronze in 2007.

Now he wants to raise the bar even higher.

“I feel like I’m reaching a point in my racing career where things are getting serious,” he said.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of time. I’ve reached and passed some goals that I’ve set in the past.

“It would be really cool to one day qualify for a World Cup (event).”

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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