Yukoner rides to silver at mountain bike nationals

Watson Lake’s Spencer Skerget teamed up with three Team B.C. riders to win silver in the relay event at the Canadian Cross Country Mountain Bike Championships at Hardwood Hills outside of Barrie, Ont., last weekend.

A bit of B.C.-Yukon teamwork has given the territory its first national medal for mountain biking in seven years.

Watson Lake’s Spencer Skerget teamed up with three Team B.C. riders to win silver in the relay event at the Canadian Cross Country Mountain Bike Championships at Hardwood Hills outside of Barrie, Ont., last weekend.

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

“I was really surprised,” said Skerget. “It was kind of a last-minute thing to get a team together. It was fun.

“I think they had two full B.C. teams already, then they had a few extra riders. Then there was a spot for me.

“I was the only Yukoner there, so we were able to team up and make a team.”

The 21-year-old also competed in a pair of individual races. Skerget placed 17th in the eliminator race – an open men’s race – out of 31 bikers.

He also claimed 21st in the cross-country race for under-23 males with a time of 1:36:55 on the 29.42-kilometre course.

Last year at his first nationals Skerget placed 28th in the cross-country race and 29th in the eliminator, a type of race introduced at last year’s championships. The event consists of four bikers racing through a short – but very technical – course less than a kilometre long with only the top-two qualifying for the next round while the rest get eliminated. It has a similar format to snowboardcross or skicross.

“The eliminator is a lot of fun,” said Skerget. “It’s really fast paced racing, so I enjoyed that a lot. I did quite a bit better than I did last year.

“The cross-country was one of my best races to date. I was pretty happy with my result there.

“The course they have there is a lot of fun. They have it really dialed in the last couple of years because they are using the same venue for the Pan-American Games next year.”

Skerget was Yukon’s top male mountain biker at the Canada Summer Games last August in Sherbrooke, Que. He placed 15th in the sprint and 16th in the cross-country race. He also helped Yukon’s team place sixth in the relay race.

Skerget placed 46th out of more than 70 riders at a Canada Cup last year in Sudbury, Ont., before the Games.

He began his competitive career racing for the Yukon in cycling – road and mountain – at the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games where he placed 10th in the mountain bike race.

Skerget attends University of Victoria and this spring placed seventh overall the Island Cup Series on Vancouver Island.

He even works with bikes at Cadence Cycle in Whitehorse during his summers.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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