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New royals crowned at mountain bike championships

Yukon's mountain bike community has a whole new royal family. All four division winners rode to their first Yukon titles at the King of the Rocky Canyon.

Yukon’s mountain bike community has a whole new royal family.

All four division winners rode to their first Yukon titles at the King of the Rocky Canyon - Yukon’s mountain bike championships - at Mount McIntyre on Sunday.

Three of the winners - the king, queen and princess - were also racing in the championship for their first time.

The event featured single-track riding fit for a king.

“I loved the single-track. There’s was tons of climbing, it was pretty hard for sure,” said Craig Machtans. “It felt like they moved the trees closer together on the second lap - it was harder.”

Machtans grabbed the king’s throne as the top rider on the 45-kilometre course with a time of 2:48:33. However, the 45-year-old was not the first to cross the line.

Three-time champ David Gonda and two-time champ Jonah Clark, while leading the race, missed a section of the course and were disqualified.

“The other board member here and I sort of talked about it and if it wasn’t flagged and everyone was missing it, then I think we would have awarded it to them anyway,” said race organizer Jenn Roberts. “But it really did take out a bit of a chunk (of the course) and Craig, who was only a few minutes behind them, didn’t do that.”

The two former champs missed a turn on Upper Rocky during the first lap of the race, shaving a little over a kilometre off. Gonda was defending his crown from last year.

“We went right instead of left,” said Gonda. “I was leading and Jonah was following me, so it’s mostly my fault - I’d say 100 per cent my fault. We both had a trail map and it was explained pretty clearly. It’s just one of those things, you get caught up in the race.”

Machtans, who moved to Whitehorse from Yellowknife last September, came in about 10 minutes behind Gonda.

“Totally surprised,” said Machtans. “Jonah and Dave are faster riders, so I knew they’d be coming in in front of me, so I expected to come in third.”

Jonathan Kerr took second on the long course with a time of 2:55:03. Though he was edged out of royal standings, he did win the opening “hot lap prime” that was used at the start of the race to spread out the field before going onto the single-track.

Thane Phillips, who was just coming off a fourth place finish the day before in the Mountain Canyon Crusher enduro race, took third on Sunday at 2:57:11.

“Today hurt a lot; it was really painful,” said Phillips. “Yesterday’s enduro was harder than anyone thought ... it was 55 K of riding and today I felt like I rode 55 K yesterday.”

Yukon’s new biking queen rode in with less than a minute to spare.

Kristenn Magnusson outpaced 2012 champ Meagan Wilson by 58 seconds to win the crown. Magnussonn, who moved to Whitehorse from Vancouver Island in the spring of last year, completed the 45-kilometre course in 3:11:04.

So how was the course?

“I’m a little biased because I chose the course,” said Magnusson, who is a board member of the hosting Contagious Mountain Bike Club. “So I thought it was pretty good.

“Huge shout out to CMBC for putting these on all the time. We have a great group of people on the board, a great group of volunteers and it’s just awesome to have people come out and support the events. It’s really good to see.”

The 37-year-old was also the top female on the B course in the Canyon Mountain Crusher on Saturday.

“I wasn’t stiff, but walking up the stairs this morning was challenging,” said Magnusson.

Sammy Salter placed third for women on Sunday’s long course, posting a time of 3:16:11.

Sunday marked the first time the King of the Rocky Canyon - formerly King of the Canyon - was held at Mount McIntyre. The championship was previously held at Grey Mountain but CMBC decided to move the event since it already held the 24 Hours of Light Mountain Bike Festival there this summer.

The new location left this year’s princess, Mariam Lukszova, little choice but to enter the championship for her first time.

“I’m pretty surprised, to be honest,” said Lukszova of winning. “I love biking and that’s what I’ve been doing the last six years, and I bike for fun. But it was really nice to go out there and get challenged a little bit. I know that course well because I live right here in Takhini North, so it’s like playing on a playground at home.

“I love these courses, so I said, ‘This year it’s here so I have to do it.’”

Lukszova was the top female on the 25-kilometre course with a time of 1:50:52, beating second place’s Kirsten Hogan (2:01:15) and third’s Sara Burke-Forsyth (2:06:35).

Lukszova, who only started racing this year, placed second for women in an enduro race at the CarCranked Festival the previous weekend in Carcross.

Fabien Florentin - the only winner who had raced in the event once before - is Yukon’s mountain biking prince this year.

The 39-year-old rode the short course in 1:36:24, outpacing Chris Rider in second at 1:41:40 and Steve Coventry in third at 1:44:53.

“It was great. It was very well organized,” said Florentin. “It was very good to see how many people showed up. It would have been better with more people, but it was pretty good for a Sunday in Whitehorse, given that the weather wasn’t that great.”

The King of the Rocky Canyon, which saw 32 riders hit the trails, marked the end of the inaugural Yukon Dirt Rush, a three-event series over two weekends. It included the two-day CarCranked Festival and the Canyon Mountain Crusher on Saturday.

Phillips, who placed third in the king category, took a bonus award Sunday as the only rider to race all three events - all on the same bike.

“I expected a few more people to do it, but it’s hard to come up with time on the weekends,” said Phillips. “I have a very understanding wife.”

Contact Tom Patrick at