Emmeline Ragot took home the win for the women with 5.34 seconds to spare over local fav and World Cup racing regular Claire Buchar of Chain Reaction Cycles, while Gee Atherton beat out Lewis Buchanan of MS-Evil by 5.02 seconds.
By: Colin Meagher
The Whistler Canadian Open DH race may play second fiddle to the Crankworx Slopestyle Comp, but anyone who thinks it is somehow a lesser event just needs to take one run down the track to realize that this three-minute course is every bit as legit as any World Cup track out there.
This year’s edition saw the same track as last year, but the dry, dusty conditions made it virtually impossible to see during training. The bomb holes, the jumps, the roots, the rocks…everything was a blur in training. With a minute between racers during the actual event, the race runs were much better as far as vision went; but there was still just enough dust hanging in the air from earlier racers to make the all-out physical effort of a race run akin to breathing powdered glass for three plus minutes—race winner Gee Atherton was still coughing dust out of his lungs an hour after awards went down.
Ragot had a mostly clean run to decisively beat out fellow World Cup racer Claire Buchar for the win, also gaining a jolt of confidence heading into the World Cup Finals in Windham two weeks from now and the World Championships in Quebec the week following.
“The win here is good, for sure. But I will have a new bike for Worlds, too—something a bit custom,” confessed Ragot. “It will be all white, and a bit lighter weight than the bike I am racing here.”
Gee was the sole Atherton racing today, with brother Dan still laid up from a dirt jumping accident and sister Rachel opting to put in a training block heading to Windham and then World Champs. Still, Gee was treating it as seriously as any other race, taking multiple training runs the morning of the race to dial in the track vs. his standard two pre-race runs. The efforts paid off, as he came in a hair over five seconds faster than runner up Lewis Buchanon.
Ragot and Atherton were also crowned as the Crankworx “Queen” and “King” respectively.
That second place for Buchanan was a huge boost for the sixteen year-old’s confidence as he heads to Windham; not only did he beat out junior WC leader Troy Brosnan, but he legitimately put the wood to a number of top shelf WC racers, too. Hopefully the quiet Scottish junior can use the momentum to finish his first World Cup season on a high note.