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Racers hit breakneck speeds at Slamfest

Since the course's construction in 2012, no Yukon mountain biker has ever surpassed the four-minute mark in an official race. That is, until this past weekend.

Since the course’s construction in 2012, no Yukon mountain biker has ever surpassed the four-minute mark in an official race. That is, until this past weekend.

Mount Lorne’s Ben Kinvig broke the four-minute barrier with his winning run at Sima Slamfest at Whitehorse’s Mount Sima ski resort on Sunday.

Kinvig, 21, completed the roughly two-kilometre run with about 335 metres of vertical drop, in three minutes and 55 seconds.

“I lost my pedal a few times, but other than that was able to be pretty consistent, ride through smooth,” said Kinvig. “Strategy: don’t touch your breaks, unless you need to. I’ve rode it quite a bit, so I’m familiar with most of the lines and the quick stuff. I’ve had a lot of practice on it over the years. There’s a lot of technical stuff on it that’s higher risk, but gets you a faster time.”

This past weekend was the sixth edition of the somewhat annual event since 2008. The mountain bike festival wasn’t held in 2011 because of the construction of a chairlift.

In 2012 the AFD Gravity Cup Downhill Mountain Bike Race - which spurred the construction of the course - was held instead of Slamfest.

Three elite riders - from Calgary, North Vancouver and Vernon, B.C. - managed to post runs under four minutes at the Gravity Cup and no rider before Kinvig has officially done it since.

Kinvig’s time was just two seconds off the winning time set by Calgary’s Cody Ratte at the 2012 Gravity Cup.

Kinvig, who won at Slamfest in 2013 and placed second last year, hopes to get back into serious downhill racing next year. He took time off after he suffered a concussion at the Canadian Open downhill race at Crankworx in Whistler, B.C., in 2013.

“I’ve taken a break since I got my bad concussion in Whistler ...

On a 60 footer I didn’t make the jump all the way and got bucked off my bike,” said Kinvig. “So I haven’t got back into the racing thing, but I want to next year for sure.

“My brain is all rested now.”

The open men’s division saw a tie for second. 2010 and 2014 winner Julien Revel and two-time Yukon mountain bike champ Jonah Clark both posted a time of 4:14 to place behind Kinvig.

Kinvig wasn’t the only racer to make his mark on the course.

Whitehorse’s Emilie Herdes was the top female on the day with a time of 5:21 - the fastest time ever by a female rider on the course in an official race, including the Gravity Cup. Last year’s female champ, Mackenzie Davy, took second at 5:43.

“It was good, I was pretty happy with it,” said Herdes. “Last year I crashed in my run and I didn’t this year, so that was good, it helped.

“Everything just went well. I couldn’t have asked for a better run.”

Herdes placed third last year with a time 29 seconds slower. This time she did the challenging steep rock face near the top of the mountain, instead of taking a detour around it.

“There was a section I didn’t ride last year. I did it this year and that seemed to have helped with the time,” said Herdes. “Today was the first time I was able to ride that, so I felt good about that.

“It was good weather and the trail was just the right amount of tacky.”

For the first time youth division riders also rode the adult course, but that didn’t change who was at top of the standings by the end.

Brody Rychman, who won two youth divisions in 2013 and the males 15-18 division last year, took first with a time of 4:13. Finn Matrishon placed second at 4:29 and Ethan Davy came third at 5:04.

Cole Beaman won the under 12 division, reaching the finish in 5:09. Sammy Mather claimed second at 6:16.

“We’re trying to make it bigger and better every year, get the community out, get people riding, get more kids out,” said organizer Josh de la Salle, who placed fourth behind Revel and Clark in open male.

“Nothing has really changed with the trails. It’s definitely getting a little more rutted out, which is a little bit more exciting for the riders.”

“We normally have done the youth on an easier trail but this year we wanted to get everybody on the same trail,” he added. “For organizational purposes, it’s easier. And kids don’t want to ride (the easier) trail, they want to ride that one with the big boys.”

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