August 24, 2008. In a double first, the Mt. Sima Slamfest DH opened a new chapter for gravity riding in the Yukon. Billed as not only the first ever DH race held in the territory, but also the first sanctioned bike race to run at the lift-accessed Mt Sima ski hill, the Slamfest was a huge success with riders and organizers alike.From humble beginnings as a grass-roots effort earlier this spring, the inaugural Mt Sima Slamfest proved beyond a doubt that gravity-fueled racing is alive and well in Canada's north. 67 riders from across the Yukon, BC and Alberta battled it out in a race against the rain and the clock.
The freshly cut 1.7 km course saw about 40 riders getting in as many runs as possible during Saturday's pre-runs, familiarizing themselves with the steeps, rock gardens and booters that the track had to offer. With only a little over 4 weeks to design, cut and build the line, organizers and volunteers had their hands busy from the start.
"We've been out here working nights and weekends" said Justin Mullan, race director. "There's been some really dedicated volunteers putting in a ton of hours."
While Whitehorse normally sees pretty dry conditions at this time of year, Mother Nature had other plans in store for Sunday. A night of steady rain, and low morning clouds on race day leveled the playing field for riders. The track took on a whole new dimension, as slick sweeping corners and freshly packed berms played havoc with the race line. Despite the difficult weather, the turn-out of racers and spectators was impressive. A nearly full parking lot at the Mt Sima lodge gave proof of the dedication to DH that these Yukon riders have.
Clearing the course on a pre-run.
First on track were the 9-15 youth class. In total, 10 groms competed on a 0.6km section of the main course. There was some real determination on the short course - and obviously a lot of up-and-coming talent here in the Yukon. These kids can rip!Boys Youth Category
1st: Colin Kabanak 0:58
2nd: Adam Waddington 1:05
3rd: Nic MacDougal 1:12Girls Youth Category
1st: Fayne O'Donovan 1:55
2nd: Kezia Wright 2:49All youth results
Groms stylin' it out.
The main event was broken up into 4 categories: A short-travel and hardtail class (5" & under), and a long-travel class (over 5") for both men and women.
Up first, the short travel women and men. You have to hand it to the girls, they were the first to guinea-pig the slick and nasty course at race speeds. The track was starting to get pretty chewed up from the mandatory pre-runs earlier in the day, and the pot-hole at the top of Chilkoot claimed more than a few victims. Considering how tough this course is on a short travel bike, the top times came in smokin' fast.Female 5" & Under Category
1st: Sydney Vanloon 5:01.53
2nd: Catherine O'Donovan 5:53.54
3rd: Jen Meurer 6:25.63Male 5" & Under Category
1st: Spencer Skerget 3:07.29
2nd: James Splinter 3:07.67
3rd: Jesse Reams 3:22.86
Cat given 'er on the way to 2nd place, 5" & under.
Dropping into the greasy steeps.
Next in the chute, the long-travel rigs. With cloud descending on the upper half of the mountain and rain threatening to let loose, everyone was anxious to get their run started. The bar had only been set by the short travel bikes so far - nobody was quite sure what the course times would look like for the big-wheelers. Once the 3-minute mark had been cracked, it was only a matter of how much further down that time could be shaved. It wasn't until the last couple of racers crossed the line that the top times were decided.Female Over 5" Category
1st: Alison Perrin 4:12.33
2nd: Erika Sharp 4:31.58
3rd: Carmen Wong 4:32.37Male Over 5" Category
1st: Greg Taylor 2:44.75
2nd: James Splinter 2:46.08
3rd: Tyler Coghill 2:46.15All adult results
Erika Sharp, 2nd womens 5" & over.
Tyler airing it out for 3rd in mens 5" & Over.
James pins his way into 2nd place overall.
Greg Taylor, ripping the berm to 1st place overall.
Within minutes of the final racers clearing the course, the rains let loose. But riders and spectators were stoked on the outcome of the Slamfest.
"It was pretty cool that they organized it," smiled Alison Perrin, winner of the girls big-bike class. "Hopefully they can keep it going."
And while the race itself was a success on its own, the bigger goal of firing up lift-accessed biking in the Yukon hit the mark.
"We've wanted to do this stuff for a long time," said Peter Wright, on-hand from Mt Sima. "This is the way of the future for Mt Sima. It's been happening down south, so we want to have this stuff every year."
Overwhelmed by the turnout, Mullan had this to say about his hopes for the future of riding at Sima. "More than anything, we're hoping that Mt Sima will open its doors to lift or shuttle access during the summer. It's a win-win for Sima and DH riders in the Yukon."
Judging by the response of all the racers who attended the event, they are hoping for the same thing.
Slick lines on Bark Biter.
Railing down off the rock wall.
Mullan gets the boot.
Airing it out before the Bark Biter glades.
The prizes that were on hand were awesome! In the true spirit of support for a grass-roots race, the sponsors really came through. Sombrio
anted-up with killer gear for all of the podium spots, including everything from jackets, shorts and jerseys, to hats and t-shirts! Pinkbike
came through with jerseys and t-shirts. Icycle Sport
provided DH equipment. Erik's Audiotronic
here in Whitehorse, and Sportslife
both donated generous gift certificates. Gift bags were provided by Board Stiff.Cove Bikes
supplied the grand prize of the event, a new Cove Sanchez frame. Sweet! As a draw prize, everyone had an equal shot at it. When Ben Deacon's name was pulled out of the hat, I thought his head was ready to pop off! Congrats Ben, enjoy your new Sanchez!This event would not have been possible without the help of many dedicated people. Huge thanks go out to
Mt Sima, event host
Trail building crew
Greg Kent and timing crew, with an amazing timing system!
Marshals, volunteers and first aid
Shuttles - Icycle Sport and the people who used their personal trucks!
The great folks at Sombrio, Pinkbike and Cove Bikes
Erik's Audiotronic, Sportslife and Board Stiff
Contagious Mountain Bike Club
All the racers who came out and gave it everything!
The Slamfest has given DH riding and racing an awesome start in the Yukon, and we want to keep it growing. Keep your eyes peeled for more races!More photos from the race