The downhill mountain biking season wrapped up over the Labour Day weekend with SlamFest 2019 at Mount Sima in Whitehorse.
Held on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, the two-day event sponsored by Chieftain Energy and Air North included a three-stage enduro race on day one as well as a downhill race on day two.
Organizer Josh de la Salle said the turnout was better than expected given the holiday weekend, with more than 40 riders in the enduro race on Aug. 31 and 22 racing in the downhill event on Sept. 1.
“We had a good number of riders on Saturday and everybody was super stoked,” said de la Salle. “Sunday was a little bit less, but it was still a really good number.”
The field included not only local bikers, but a number of riders from Outside — including one racer who travelled all the way from Boston for the event.
“We had a bunch of people from down south come up,” said de la Salle. “The vibe the whole weekend was just smiles all around. A lot of people weren’t super competitive – everybody just wanted to hang out and have a good time and support everybody.”
One of the hazards of this type of mountain biking is the high probability of running into mechanical issues like slipped gears or flat tires — particularly on trails like Lefty Loosey, this year’s downhill course.
“Everybody sort of jumped on them and said, ‘I can help you. Come over here and I’ve got tools’ and that sort of stuff. It was really, really good to see and a really, really awesome vibe.”
On the course, riders competed in one of four categories in both the enduro and downhill races.
Enduro races consist of timed downhill stages linked together by untimed transfer stages that lead racers to the start of the next stage, often back up the hill.
The overall and men’s pro winner in the new enduro race was Peter Wojnar, who completed the three stages with a time of nine minutes and 41.56 seconds. Second place went to Massey Baker with a time of 10 minutes and 17.86 seconds, and third place went to Matt Monod with a time of 10 minutes and 20.12 seconds.
The winner of the men’s open category was Samuel Coutu with a time of 10 minutes and 57.24 seconds. Joe Hills was second with a time of 11 minutes and 18.18 seconds and Rowan Huggard was third with a time of 11 minutes and 31.1 seconds.
Zanny Venner won the women’s pro category with a time of 12 minutes and eight seconds. Sally Stanier was second, finishing in 12 minutes and 37.32 seconds, and Jinny O’Donovan was third, finishing in 12 minutes and 56.08 seconds.
Finally in the youth category, John Tipton was this year’s winner with a time of seven minutes and 41.89 seconds. Isaac Lamothe was second with a time of seven minutes and 44.44 seconds, and Jacob Nickel was third with a time of eight minutes and 7.93 seconds.
In the downhill race the next day, Baker was the overall and men’s pro winner with a time of four minutes and 2.93 seconds.
Second place went to Aidan Uiterwaal who finished in four minutes and 4.18 seconds, and third place went to de la Salle with a time of four minutes and 5.76 seconds.
Benoit Fabbi won the men’s open category with a time of four minutes and 13.6 seconds. Francis Belanger finished second in four minutes and 30.23 seconds, and Aleix Toews was third in four minutes and 39.98 seconds.
The women’s pro category winner was Stanier with a time of five minutes and 46.85 seconds. Second place went to O’Donovan with a time of five minutes and 54.38 seconds. Martina Knopp finished third with a time of 15 minutes and 36.42 seconds after having mechanical issues during her run.
Cole Germain won the youth category with a time of four minutes and 46.13 seconds, followed by John Tipton with a time of five minutes and 8.87 seconds in second and Jake Tipton with a time of six minutes and 25.13 seconds in third.
With the apparent success of the new enduro race and the continued popularity of the downhill race, de la Salle said it seems like the event will continue to grow via word of mouth Outside.
“We had a lot of people from down in B.C. who were saying this is a lot of fun and we’re going to recommend this to our friends down south, so be sure to put it on next year and we’ll get more people up for it,” he said.
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