By: Colin Meagher
Try this on for size: blazing down the Garbanzo run into Original Sin and then down into the village utilizing a variety of black and double black trails—3800 vertical feet of descending—elbow to elbow with 20 or so of your closest friends or enemies. Welcome to the Canadian Open Enduro at Crankworx.
The format is simple: a mass start, but no La Mans style of silliness. A short downhill, then an uphill to separate the field, and finally the hole shot into the woods. From there it’s elbow to elbow, trying not to make any mistakes and get caught, or trying to stay just enough on the gas to maintain contact and pass on one of the more open sections of the track. Or if you’re Nicolas Vouilloz, doubling lines in the woods and passing people in mid-air.
The French–once again–reigned supreme. Their Enduro racing roots run deep, what with the aptly named Enduro series and the Mega and Maxi avalanche series as well, they are used to this longer style of racing format. Remy Absalon came out on top in the pro men’s race, initially leading with US Enduro racer Ross Schnell hot on his heels, then getting passed by Vouilloz in the upper section of Original Sin before both were able to get back around the legendary DH racer on an uphill section. With two minutes of racing left, it was Absalon, Schnell, and then Vouilloz, but a late pass in a switchback by Vouilloz saw Schnell relegated to third.
In the women’s race, it was Anne Caroline Chausson crushing the field, and Emmeline Ragot in second (despite making a major wrong turn on the poorly marked course and having to hike back up to the proper line), and Katherine Short rounded off the podium in third.