The transition from winter to summer in British Columbia’s temperamental coastal weather gave the Whistler Spring Classic its own punchline this weekend as 12 centimetres of fresh powder arrived for Saturday training: “Spring? Classic.”
Despite the unexpected, and in some cases because of it, the racers took the course by storm, opening the North American Enduro Tour with some of the more memorable race-day runs of more than a few careers.
“We were training yesterday and every time we went up to Hey Bud or Golden Boner the snow was getting lower and lower and lower. And then we got in the gondola to go and do Stage 3 in the bike park and it was just way too much snow,” said Josh Carlson (AUS), who managed the win.
Running a slightly thicker tire for the conditions, Carlson bested Whistler local Jesse Melamed (CAN) and Yoann Barelli (FRA), who also lives in the area, with a time of 21:55 over four stages of rocks, gnarly root-rolls and peanut butter mud, and the challenges of the day proved the ticket.
“I really enjoyed that kind of gnarly, slippery Hey Bud trail that kept everyone on their toes. It was just as scary as it was fun,” he said.
The snow forced race officials to close Stage 3 and run Stage 4 twice, which worked out beautifully for Melamed who hit the trail, Golden Boner, full-throttle both times before a strong crowd of spectators, and skiers, at the base of Blackcomb Mountain.
“It was a lot harder than I was expecting,” he said. “In the beginning, I thought it was going to be a nice, short day, but after yesterday...everyone was pretty tired. So there was a lot of waiting around. It was good fun.”
Blazing trail as the women’s leader throughout the race, Miranda Miller (CAN) finished defiant, saying the race was no easy win, even with the skipped stage.
“It was definitely better than grinding it in the snow but it was pretty tough,” she said. “Pretty slippery.”
Staying on her toes ,with only minor tire adjustments to the bike, she said she managed to wrangle the odd bit of awkward in the race, never actually laying the bike down. Miller finished over a full minute ahead of her nearest competitor, local rider Christina Chappetta (CAN), 26:44 over 27:51.
The North American Enduro Tour has grown to eight races for the 2016 season and will return to Whistler for a two-day Enduro World Series qualifier in September. Next on the docket, will be a totally new location for the series: the Angel Fire Bike Park in New Mexico.
Part of the SCOTT Enduro Cup presented by Vittoria, Angel Fire draws from 60 miles of new and improved park terrain, starting at an elevation of 10,667 feet. The two-day race is the first Enduro World Series qualifier of the NAET season. The tour has five qualifiers, each intended to foster new talents and drive the sport further.
Final results for the Whistler Spring Classic are as follows:
- Josh Carlson (AUS)
- Jesse Melamed (CAN)
- Yoann Barelli (FRA)
- Miranda Miller (CAN)
- Christina Chappetta (USA)
- Georgia Astle (CAN)
Full race results for all racers is posted on the NAET website.
The 2016 North American Enduro Tour race schedule now includes:
- May 29 – Whistler, British Columbia, the Whistler Spring Classic
- June 11, 12 – Angel Fire, New Mexico, a SCOTT Enduro Cup (2 day race) *
- June 25, 26 – Sun Valley, Idaho, a SCOTT Enduro Cup (2 day race) *
- August 6, 2016 The Grphyon presented by Giro Sport Design
- August 27, 2016 Chuckanut, an EVIL Cascadia Dirt Cup presented by SHIMANO
- September 10-11 – Whistler, British Columbia, the Whistler Fall Classic (2 day race)*
- September 17, 18 – Mammoth, California, part of the Kamikaze Bike Games and California Enduro Series (2 day race)*
- November 12, 13– Mascota, Mexico,run by the Big Mountain Enduro Series – NAET Finals (2 day race)*