The 2011 season has been a big change for the two of you since forming Kovarik Racing. You've chosen not to pursue the World Cup circuit, why is that?This season has been different for both of us. We didn't really choose not to race World Cups, we just didn't have a budget to do so. So we've been doing the races we can get to (mainly Crankworx, National Champs and the local series here in Whistler) and got more involved with coaching. Kokanee Crankworx is always a good pay day for the two of you. Did you both see the podium a few times this year in Whistler?Kokanee Crankworx was good and bad for us. We had some shipping issues this year and we finally got our M9's built 2 days before Crankworx! We'd only been XCing and I was hungry to ride DH and race again and I did well. I was 2nd in the Canadian Open, took the win in the Garbanzo and finished 5th in the Air DH. Chris had some troubles, he slid out in the Canadian Open, was on an amazing time in Garbo when the screen and time went blank and never did find out what happened, some people said he was robbed but either way, he still did awesome and finished 4th on the results sheet. The Air DH, he finished 10th or so.....not his greatest performance but we were definitely worked after Garbo and not to mention thrown into the deep end after just getting our bikes built. Was a rad week though. Since you are not on the road as much, what events have you been partaking in with your time?We've partnered up with ZEP Techniques in Whistler to provide Kovarik Racing clinics and we've also contracted ourselves out to other camps and events like ZEP MTB Camps, Summer Gravity Camps, Fluidride and See Jane Jump Festival. We have also had more opportunities to work on media projects such as filming with Anthill Films for their next movie, Strength in Numbers, premiering Spring 2012 and some cool photo trips/adventures for some print coverage. It's been sad not to be racing the World Cups, but we've still managed to keep really busy within the bike world. I'm also working at the local bike shop and designing through my own business, www.clairebuchar.com. Gotta pay the bills! Oh wow you two may be even busier this year than in a typical World Cup race season! Tell us all about the transition from racer to coach? Has that came naturally for you two?Chris and I did our Level 1 and 2 PMBI instructor training courses with ZEP Techniques this spring/summer. So that combined with our own experience and knowledge, we can ensure quality coaching and instruction to all of our clients. Riding is Chris' trade so it is only natural for him to be coaching and he's really good at it. I've done quite a bit of coaching before and I really enjoy it, it's rewarding for sure. We both love getting people stoked on riding and feeling how rad it is to rail a corner, get air etc. and I think it compliments our value as athletes to all of our supporters, not to mention (unlike racing) it is financially rewarding as well. You, Claire won Canadian Nationals this year at Panorama - now you are raising money in order to get to World Champs in Switzerland. Tell us about the importance of Worlds to you and Chris.One of my goals this year was to be National Champ and I managed to reach it at Panorama last month. So stoked and glad as it was my only chance to make the worlds' team since I wasn't able to get to the World Cups. Chris and I still have goals in racing so it is important for me to go to the worlds and compete. Unfortunately, Chris won't be there as he was unable to meet the selection criteria for the Aussie National Team after crashing at his National Champs back in February and since we were just absent at the World Cups this year. Is this the first time that Chris has not represented Australia at Worlds during his career?This is the 1st time Chris hasn't been on the Aussie worlds team since 2000, minus when he shattered his ankle and was out for the entire '04 season. It's weird and frustrating for him. Hopefully next year we can show our faces at some World Cups as well as continue with the coaching and media projects. It's been a super fun year so far and we've represented our sponsors well with the things we were able to do but we'd like to represent more on the racing side of things as we still have things to achieve. I heard that the local Whistler race scene (Phat Wednesdays) has pooled together in order to help Claire and a few other Canadians reach their goal of making it to Worlds. How much do you two love the riding scene and the people in Whistler?It was decided at the beginning of 2011 that, due to 2010 international results, Stevie Smith and I were to be "top tier" athletes with the CCA. This is a first in downhill history! It just means that we have access to Pacific Sport Centers and a whole lot more resources to help us with our careers. Pretty awesome. It also means that we are fully funded at the World Championships, given that we have met the selection criteria. At first I thought it just meant accommodation, transportation and support at the World Champs, but they have also covered my flight!
So we put together a fundraiser, in conjunction with the WORCA Phat Wednesdays here in Whistler to help raise money for some local up and coming girls, Casey Brown and Miranda Miller. It was successful, we raised almost $1500 for them! The riding community here in Whistler is amazing, over 200 riders show up to the Phat Wednesdays, everyone is into it, such a good atmosphere and everyone was stoked to win some prizes and support a good cause.
Congrats on getting the Golden Ticket from the CCA - great to see them stepping up like this! Also high fives to all the riders in Whistler that are behind our top tier athletes as well. Are your plans to return to the World Cup Circuit or transition into coaches/trainers in 2012?However, like I mentioned before, Chris and I still have goals in racing and we are hoping to secure something that will allow us to race internationally more next year as well as during the off season in Australia. Ideally, if we had a decent budget, we could also get at least one other rider involved and offer them some support, but that requires some funding. Right now, we have to make sure we are going to be ok first. Plans for coaching during our "Australian Season" are in the works as well.
All in all, we are stoked with where our little Kovarik Racing program/team is going, It's well rounded. We'd like to build on it and secure some sort of a budget so we can race internationally more and just continue and grow as positive ambassadors of the sport. Thanks for taking a few minutes to catch up with us Claire. Before we go and you head to Worlds, who is supporting Kovarik Racing this season?Thank you to all of our sponsors for supporting us:
SRAM, Avid, Truvativ
For The Riders
Chris's personal sponsor:
Claire's personal sponsor: