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The 2017 BC Cup circuit is heating up, literally, stopping this past weekend at the Okanagan's Premier Bike Park for some hot and dry conditions in Vernon's SilverStar Mountain Resort. Racers poured into the colourful community Thursday night and early Friday morning to sample the trails and the race courses before battling the clock, and the added elevation of the Bike Park provided some refuge from the interior's otherwise smokey air. While SilverStar is no stranger to hosting fully pinned DH races, this summer marked an important return of cross-country racing and delivered a broad range of cyclists riding everything from fully raked-out DH rigs to weight-pinching XC weapons.
Hailing from throughout Western Canada, from Vancouver Island through to east of the Rockies, the collection of tents, campers and improvised RVs clustered in the parking lot betrayed the cyclist's preferred lodging style. The chairs started turning bright and early Saturday morning for the fifth DH stop on the 2017 BC Cup for those final practice laps before the real deal started at high noon.
BC Cup DH Race #5
SilverStar's DH race course starts right from the top of the Comet six-pack chairlift, dropping into the fast and loose Chainsaw Mullet that was introduced in 2016, with a few new tweaks to spice things up.
Right out of the gates the course features a rocky and exposed start before ducking into the woods where off-camber roots and technical rock gardens didn't seem to slow anyone down.
Roll it or send it, but commit to one. A smooth transition awarded the courageous making the leap, and an abrupt case was in store for those brake-checking at the last moment.
After Friday night's Whip-Off event, spectators knew where to set-up their chairs for the best seats in the house, featuring easy access to major air time just above the village and finish line.
Charging through the finish line with the final and, without a question the fastest lap of the day. Whistler local, Chris Kovarik pins it through the final roots of Dag's Downhill with the top of the Elite Men's podium in his sights.
With the dust settled and bragging rights awarded, the chairs were halted for the day and SilverStar's patios quickly filled, with pitchers dispersed and calories of all descriptions ordered en masse. DH bikes lined the local establishments while families sampled the nearby XC trails in preparation for the morning's race, and after a long hot day on the mountain, most retired early back to camp or the comfort of a village hotel.
BC Cup XCO Race #6
Cross-country riders tend to be early risers and with the first heat of the day starting at 9:30am, there was plenty of morning traffic on the roughly 4.5 kilometer SilverStar BC Cup XCO race loop.
The youngest riders set out first with the U13 Men, U13 Women and U15 Women doing two laps of the course, and the U15 Men tackling on one more for good measure. The U17 categories started shortly after with the first heat of the Women setting out for three laps of the course and the Men for four.
By 11:00am, the morning's heats were complete and kids swapped seats in the shade with their parents, taking their turn on the saddle for the afternoon's categories, where three to six laps of the 4.5km course waited in the full Okanagan summer sun. Luckily the resort's towering conifers, fed by decades of moisture from the vast lakes below, provided a safe haven from the sun for most of the course and kept the trail surface in great shape, even borderline loamy in spots.
With awards said and done and prizing from MEC and Maxxis distributed, those who were due back at home loaded bikes for the drive down the road, and those staying through the long weekend retired back to hotel rooms and patio beverages. For full BC Cup XCO race results visit Cycling BC here, and for more information on pedaling the growing cross country network at SilverStar visit the Bike Park here.