Hannah, Picton, Fearon & Hockey National Champions

Feb 27, 2011 at 10:48
Feb 27, 2011
by Peter Karas  
 
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2011 Australian National Downhill Champions have been crowned at Eagle Park, Adelaide, Australia in dry dusty conditions on a day with mixed emotions.



A short practice session allowed Elite and Junior riders to check track conditions after the morning's Group B racing. With only a few line choices on many areas of the track it was obvious the sandy soil had eroded away over the week quite dramatically. At the National Championships more practice time is available on the track meaning it is likely to see more wear then a standard National Round. Looking at the seeding times versus the finals' times, even with riders pushing harder, their times didn't drop as much as what's expected at a National event.

Racing got underway with the Junior Female class, it was a guaranteed victory for Em Hockey as the only competitor. Many of the other Junior Female racers have either moved up into the Elite class or were put off by the technical nature of the Eagle track. Regardless, Em, an Australian National Team representative, posted a 2.59.34 improving her seeding time by over 2 seconds.

Em Hockey has come up through the junior classes and was a deserving Junior Female winner. Photo: Angus Meek
Em Hockey has come up through the junior classes and was a deserving Junior Female winner. Photo: Angus Meek

43 Junior Male riders battled it out for the National Title, racing was nerve racking for both the riders and spectators alike. I can't recall a National Championship with so much attention being paid to the junior class, the crowd was a buzz with excitement. On one hand you had Troy Brosnan, current Junior World Champion and World Cup winner, having a perfect National Series with three victories from three. Troy is a enthusiastic junior who has raced all over the world and is always approachable. The other hand is Connor Fearon, a quiet kid who is happiest when he is on his bike, who has being having a underwhelming National Series by his standards. Not as well known overseas by the mountain bike world. Both of these riders hail from Adelaide and it was hard to know who to support and both had a big following at the race.

Rider after rider came down with the hot seat constantly changing as rider followed by rider went qicker and quicker. Local rider Henry Blake was on a blinder of a time as he crashed on the last jump, literally metres from the finish line. Eventually finishing 17th, with a 2.18.68, Henry dealt realatively well with missing out on what was likely to be a top 5 time. "My run started off pretty well but then I stuffed up a major line, I tried to make up time and was doing pretty well until I got around the last corner, my helmet had slipped down and I couldn't see to well so I jumped off the side and my front washed out." Henry Blake.

Henry looked good all week but crashed in his final, that's racing. Photo: Peter Karas.
Henry looked good all week but crashed in his final, that's racing. Photo: Peter Karas.

It was Brandon Yrttiaho holding the hot seat as Troy started his run, Troy looked as smooth as ever, pedalling hard to the finsh line Troy lunged forward to stop the timing beam. The timing board read 2.05.28, over 3 seconds quicker than his seeding run but short of Connor Fearon's seeding time. Last rider in the gate, Connor, set off on a mission. As he pedalled the last straight the crowd errupted, a 2.02.57 was 2.71 seconds clear of Troy's time and almost 2 seconds faster then his seeding time. "My run was wild, I couldn't have asked for much better, I pedalled as much as I could, I blew out a few corners but railed a few others which made up for it." Connor Fearon.

Junior Men

1. Connor Fearon, SA, 2:02.57
2. Troy Brosnan, SA, 2:05.28 + 2.71
3. Brandon Yrttiaho, QLD, 2:12.03 + 2.76
4. Ben Power, QLD, 2:11.07 + 8.50
5. Sam Fraser, QLD, 2:12.03 + 9.46


Connor, finally got the win he so desperately wanted. Photo: Peter Karas
Connor, finally got the win he so desperately wanted. Photo: Peter Karas

Second for Mr Brosnan. Photo: Angus Meek.
Second for Mr Brosnan. Photo: Angus Meek.

Brandon has lifted his game to really challenge Troy and Connor. Photo: Angus Meek.
Brandon has lifted his game to really challenge Troy and Connor. Photo: Angus Meek.

After an exciting race the crowd was looking forward to the Elite classes, the Female riders were next on track. All eyes were on Claire Buchar, ineligible for the title of Australian National Champion, due to her Canadian heritage. Last rider down in the Elite class she washed out on the switchbacks at the bottom of the track and finished second with a 2.33.38 2.11 seconds behind Leonie Picton's winning time. Leonie continues her perfect season adding the National Championships' to her three National Series wins.

Elite Women

1. Leonie Picton, VIC, 2:31.27
2. Claire Buchar, CAN, 2:33.38 +2.11
3. Julia Boer, ACT, 2:37.24 + 5.97
4. Holly Baarspul, WA, 2:38.77 + 7.50
5. Genevieve McKew, NSW, 2:39.13 + 7.86


Fourth for Holly in her first year in the Elite class. Photo: Peter Karas
Fourth for Holly in her first year in the Elite class. Photo: Peter Karas

As the Elite Men class started a light rain started to fall, with 72 racers, if the rain continued to fall by the time the top 10 hit the track it would have drastically changed the track. The rain stopped and track conditions remained unaltered. After at the Championship's at Eagle last year Josh Button grabbed the hot seat and looked to be in with a real chance after Bryn Atkinson couldn't better Josh's time. Bryn has recently changed to tubuless tyres and said he had been "struggling all week with tyres rolling off the rim.". Mic Hannah was on track and came down with a blistering time to take the win. "It's an honour to race overseas in the World Cups as the National Champion...my run was good, pretty pinned, the track was disintegrating today and there was a lot of loose rocks and holes." Sic Mic was stoked on the win but also for Josh Button's second place, Josh was happy with his return to racing after knee surgery. Josh commented how comfortable he was on his new bike "the 951 was is so good on the tight stuff and easy to move around.". For some other riders results were mixed, Chris Kovarik washed out at the bottom of the track much like Claire Buchar did earlier and finished 10th. Aden Wyber had a good result to finish sixth, "I was happy with my run." Shaun O'Connor is still coming to terms with his new bike and was "off the back" with his ninth place.

Elite Men

1. Michael Hannah, QLD, 2:02.36
2. Joshua Button, NSW, 2:04.27 + 1.91
3. Bryn Atkinson, ACT, 2:04.33 + 1.97
4. Rhys Willemse, QLD, 2:04.41 + 2.05
5. Ben Cory, ACT, 2:05.66 + 3.30


Full results: www.onlineresults.com.au

Mic was seriously stoked with the win. Photo: Angus Meek.
Mic was seriously stoked with the win. Photo: Angus Meek.

JB 'You have done it again!', another podium, a good result for his first major race since knee surgery. Photo: Angus Meek.
JB 'You have done it again!', another podium, a good result for his first major race since knee surgery. Photo: Angus Meek.

Bryn said he could feel his tyres rolling around on his rim after recently switching to tubeless. Photo: Angus Meek.
Bryn said he could feel his tyres rolling around on his rim after recently switching to tubeless. Photo: Angus Meek.

A definite underdog, Rhys Williemse has been struggling with wrist injuries lately. Photo: Peter Karas.
A definite underdog, Rhys Williemse has been struggling with wrist injuries lately. Photo: Peter Karas.

Aden continues to improve, sixth is not too shabby at all. Photo: Peter Karas.
Aden continues to improve, sixth is not too shabby at all. Photo: Peter Karas.

Jared Graves finished 13th. Photo: Angus Meek.
Jared Graves finished 13th. Photo: Angus Meek.
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42 Comments

  • + 19
 did anyone else read Hockey National Champions and wonder what the hell before opening the blog?
  • + 6
 anyone notice that the time for the 3rd place junior men is out of place lol, must have been written down wrong because it doesnt add up with the difference
  • + 4
 ye i was like how is 2:12, the same as 2:05? hmm
  • + 1
 yeah its a typo Brandon Yrttiaho run 205.33
  • + 1
 I wish my last name was Hockey!
[Reply]
  • + 4
 No offense to Claire Buchar... but why was she racing this? I know her husband is Aussie, but she's not, technically (or is she an Australian citizen now?). Every other competitor was a bona fide Aussie wanting to be a National DH Champ. I'm kinda glad she didn't win; it would have completely cheapened the title for the Aussie in 2nd who would have gotten the name but not won the race. Her competing in this just doesn't sit well with me, given she'd be ineligible for the title.
  • + 2
 Gee just raced the New Zealand national champs. It's pretty common...
  • + 3
 Yeah, it's not unusual to get the odd northern hemisphere racer turn up in their winter to have a run. Claire raced the Champs last year as well, set the fastest time in the women, but didn't get on the podium, due to her having retained her Canadian citizenship while living here. Foreign riders are always welcomed at our races. The women's field in particular all get on very well, and Claire seems to be very included with the other girls.
  • + 4
 Sam Hill took the start at Quebec provincial Cup 2 yrs ago ....also he took the check at the finish line and nobody complained about this...
  • + 1
 That's fair. It just seemed weird to me, I didn't know it was common practice. Thinking on it, if she's allowed to compete, obviously nobody really minds her being there and being (slightly) foreign, and that's pretty nice. As long as the natives get the podiums and the titles in their own regional races, I guess that's all that matters.
  • + 2
 If that was a UCI certified race a bunch of riders will try to get some precious UCI points before the season starts.. Very common practice.
  • + 0
 I think the first time Duncan Riffle became USA national champ he came down in like 8th or 12th place or something. Foreigners racing nationals is normal. Its just that most non-Aussies don't take the time and expense to come down here.
  • + 2
 I took my 2 best riders last year to race the aussie nationals... it is a good place to go to compare their skills. Most of them aussie elites are racing the world cup. For us who are trying to get there, we need to do well in aussie nationals 1st, then aim for world cup races. We missed out this year... trying to find some good races that I can take my boys to. May be IXS cup if we have the budget. Last year Claire won the women elite FYI
  • + 1
 not true about Riffle. the first year he won in 2004 was because the original winner tested positive for THC. Riffle finished 2nd in that race. in 2006 he got 6th but was top American
  • + 1
 foreigners can't even race US national champs can they?
  • + 1
 yes they can.
  • + 1
 yeah, I just figured they couldn't because Neethling was there last year at Sol Vista, but he couldn't race.
  • + 1
 As others have mentioned, it's common practice to have the Nationals be open to "foreigners" in disciplines like DH where competitors race the clock. Things get a little more interesting in events where competitors interact with each other. For example, what happens in a road race where a foreign rider works as a domestique to help one of the local riders? What happens in a discipline like 4x where someone could seed with the best national time but is eliminated by two foreign riders in their heat and misses the podium?
[Reply]
  • + 3
 It shits me how just because troy comes second you all think he crashed or something.. maybe he did but dont think troy is that much further ahead of connor! Connor is just as quick and he hasnt done a full WC season!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Rhys didn't have wrist problems. He broke his femur last year 4 months before going overseas for the world cups. Was overseas for one week when he slid out on the track and his team mate run over his arm, breaking both bones. He had surgery in Italy but it took 8 weeks to heal. Second race in Italy, he hit a tree and broke the arm again. End of world cup season and came home. Broke the same bone again at the Hobart National round 2 months ago. This was his first race back in months. To get 4th after all the crap he's been through is great. He's not an underdog, he finished 13th in Maribor world cup. So this kid has alot of potential, but unfortunately no ride for this years world cups.
  • + 1
 He's an underdog because he hasn't had a very consistent season, nor has he placed all too well throughout 2010.
  • + 1
 You can't be consistent or place well if your injured all season. Anyway, lets hope from now on he has no more bad luck.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 nice pictures! Whats it mean by 'Bryn said he could fill his tyres rolling around on his rim after recently switching to tubeless' ?
  • + 2
 Typo, probly meant "feel".
  • + 1
 What's up with Jared's picture's caption? Very indifferent relative to all the other riders... Haha
  • + 1
 oh yeh i didnt even notice that typo haha.
does it mean he doesnt like tubeless or what?
  • + 1
 It means that because he is running a tubeless set-up, the tire has more room to move around on the rim if it's not pumped up to a high enough pressure. So as he went into a corner, because of the pressure being applied to the rim it caused it to "roll" to the side of the rim. Well, that's what I got from that caption anyway...
  • + 1
 ah thanks...
thats what i had in mind but then figured that he'd of had his bike setup perfectly, reducing the chance of this... cos surely this happening cant benefit his race?
Ive never gone tubeless, but heard its a massive improvement, and by you saying that i gather you need alot more pressure in compared to a non-tubeless setup? Because i've experienced the tyre rolling out myself, but i was running a VERY low pressure tubed setup.
Sorry if this makes no sense haha Wink
[Reply]
  • + 2
 What a bunch of sick bikes in those photos, every one is bomb.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Troy Brosnan 3 seconds back on his home track?! Must have had a bad run...?
  • + 1
 From reading other articles it looks like Troy didn't have a great weekend all round...
  • + 1
 He crashed few times during practice
  • + 2
 It's also Connor's home track, and they've been at it, trying to beat each other on the Eagle Park run for years.
  • + 1
 Troy had a great run, barely any mistakes... he was just beaten by a better rider on the day plain and simple!

Take nothing away from Connor he is a pinner and both of them will be smashing Worldcups / worlds over the coming years.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 i love downhilling
[Reply]
  • + 1
 where is sam hill? wihy didnĀ“t he start?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 connor fearon can have my kids
  • + 1
 He`s a kid himself hahaha
  • + 2
 He can have my kids too! I'm sick of the little buggers.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 no word at all of Sammy Hill??
[Reply]
  • + 0
 iamamodel is an ass. u had kids ur suposed to love them
[Reply]

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