By Dan Walton,
For mountain bikers who need their adrenaline pumping, or for spectators who prefer to witness one of the most extreme sports in the valley, the 2013 Canadian Downhill Mountain Bike Championships at Panorama Mountain Village will offer the adventure that thrill-seekers crave.
Beginning on Thursday, July 11th and running through the weekend until Sunday, July 14th, Panoramas signature event will show off the talents of several of the most extreme cyclists Canada has to offer. Competitors will be seeking the top spot to obtain points through the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), which qualifies them for other events around the world.
The more important prize, however, is the coveted famous red-and-white jersey awarded to the Canadian champion in certain categories depending on age, gender and skill set.
Throughout the weekend, competitors will have the opportunity to walk and ride the course many times before registering an official time. Friday will serve as a practice day, while Saturday will be used for seeding placement. Sunday is race day.
The track will ride smoothly as maintenance crews have been busy, said Panoramas Race and Mountain Events Manager Patrick Gillespie.
There was work done on a few of the areas: picking up some roots, widening it, giving it a bit better berms here and there, but mainly just trying to get a bit of a better flow, he said. The runoff didnt help initially, but were back on track now. The warm weather has really dried out our surface and our trail guys have been working super hard on preparing all the tracks right now.
Less competitive races will be running at the same as those with high stakes, so you dont have to be one of the big guns to sign up, Patrick said.
Rumours are circulating that Steve Smith, who is ranked number two in UCI world rankings, will use the 2013 Canadian Downhill Mountain Bike Championships to make his Panorama debut. Last years champions are expected to return and defend their titles, and Lauren Rosser, who was the 2011 Canadian Downhill Junior Womens Champion, has confirmed her attendance.
Spectating is free and encouraged. Mr. Gillespie said views can be enjoyed from some interesting spots in the middle of the course where steep drops have been built.
But I always like to watch from the finish though, theyre really givin er to get that last couple seconds off their time, he said.
Those who wont be competing can take their bikes to the skills area, pump track or other runs that arent part of the championship race. An activities area will be going on, with the bouncy castle, a barbecue and live music.
Team support tents will be set up where you can meet your favourite cyclists and their mechanics.
Its a pretty festive kind of feel, Mr. Gillespie said.
The course will be composed of the Insanity run and some sections of Quadzilla.
The upper third is a very fast, open section now, and has two new wooden drop features which roll into a couple other fast flowy heirs, Panoramas bike park manager Jason Simpson told The Pioneer.
The mid-section is technical and old school, with which riders will be familiar. One of the features there is called the dollar sign, just a steep, gnarly part of the course.
He also said poorly located trees were removed to open up sight lines, create better flow and for safety.
Riders can go faster and feel safer; they wont be pinballing off trees throughout the run, he said. Weve taken out a lot of wood.
Competing cyclists have until Friday, July 12th to register, but are encouraged to do so sooner. An all-rider meeting will be held on Friday at 5:30 p.m. to go over safety and race procedures. The weekend will conclude with the junior and elite championship races at 2 p.m. on Sunday, with an awards ceremony to follow. For more information, visit www.panoramaresort.com.