August 16, 2011 (Blue Mountain Resort, Collingwood) – The second annual edition of the East Coast Open went off bigger and better than last year. For 2011 Cross-Country, Dual Slalom and a free kids XC race were added. The weather man tried to stop us with horrendous forecasts but we made it through unscathed. With over $15,000 in cash and prizes, the competitors came from as far away as South Africa to grab some of that huge prize purse. As the team trailers rolled in and the clouds turned to sun, we all knew the race was on!
Lapierre XC Race Report:
With a stacked XC Pro field it was anyone’s guess as to who would be crossing the line first. Mike Garrigan (Lapierre Canada), Andrew Watson (Norco Factory), Mikaela Kofman (3 Rox Racing) and many more lined up for one of the toughest courses Ontario has seen in many years, over 2,300 feet of climbing would certainly sort out the field quickly enough.
Utilizing such a large course, over 15km, has its challenges but la creme de la creme came out top with recently crowned national champion Mikaela Kofman (3 Rox Racing) dominating the field by seven minutes and taking the Women’s Pro XC race. Mandy Dreyer (Freewheel / CHCH) was fresh off a provincial podium and took second with Cayley Brooks (Trek Canada) bringing home third (she was saving something in the tank as she raced the DH too!).
As we called up the stacked field of Pro Men there were lots of predictions as to who would be on top after all that climbing. Watson, Stafford, Garrigan, L’Esperance (all the way from Halifax), Moreau, Hughes. It was a front couple lines suitable for XC nationals! As they headed off the crowd had an amazing opportunity to watch them do the first part of the open climb and it was Andrew Watson who headed them into the singletrack.
And wouldn’t you know it, Andrew Watson (Norco Factory) would never relinquish that lead, he powered out the climbs and won the East Coast Open Pro Men’s XC race by 3 minutes! The big surprise was that his two teammates would help him sweep the top three. Jared Stafford (Norco Factory) was second, Zachary Hughes (Norco Factory) pulled off a third with Tyson Waglor (3 Rox Racing) taking fourth and Mike Garrigan (Lapierre Canada) a respectable fifth.
Redline Kids XC Race:
What an amazing opportunity to have all the little ones who were watching mom or dad or perhaps big sister and brother get a chance to race. We had lots of kids sign up and race around our fun little course. Every child walked away with a medal and a prize, all winners here!
X-FUSION Dual Slalom report:
With the fine work of the Blue Mtn trail crew and Shane Joachim’s band of merry men, a sweet throwback DS course filled with gates, berms, rollers and yes a booter was created! With over 80 competitors we knew we were in for a fantastic evening of DS racing.
The Pro Women’s field was hotly contested with locals battling it out against a ripper from Vancouver BC, Kristen Smart (Cove/Sombrio). As the heats whittled themselves down and the final gate had just two ladies ready to go, it was indeed Kristen Smart who triumphed over local Jenn Valentine (Kamikaze Spideriders).
serious field of slalom and 4X specialists were on board including Matt Zdriluk (Primary/Trek/SRAM/POC) Canada’s top finishing racer at last years World Championship 4X race (solid 14th). We had no idea who would be sitting in the final gates, Travis Browning (GT bikes) made the trip from South Africa and was impressive through qualifiers, Matt Nielson (Rocky Mountain bikes) was throwing down Bubba Smith like scrubs on the finishing table and Brad Zdriluk (Adrenaline Racer/Two Wheels) were all top faves after the heats fell away.
Perhaps one of the greatest moments of the day was in quarter finals when brothers Matt and Brad Zdriluk met in a heat. Who would pull it out, the younger up and coming brother or the world cup racing older bro? When the dust settled it was little brother, a passing of the torch maybe?
The X-Fusion Pro Men’s final was a great race but Brad Zdriluk took the holeshot and Mike Hermanovsky took the much deserved 2nd place. The small final ended up putting Travis Browning on the 3rd step (almost worth the airfare Travis!)
POC Downhill Report:
With new additions to the treacherous “bowling alley”, a sick new jump line and plenty of new loose shale at the top, many riders were saving energy for their race runs. This course took it’s toll on the body! There was however much debate as to how much faster a beard makes you.
One of the most exciting parts of finishing fast in your category is the earned right to sit atop a hot seat. We decided to make this a bit more interesting and Blue Mtn affixed a leather chair to a 1950’s Zamboni (nick named Zamborghini) for the best hot seat I think I’ve ever seen.
As the women made their way down the hill, we knew we had an amazing field. Some of the women’s times were also making some of the fellas feel a little….. ahem inadequate 😉 But in the end it was Kristen Courtney (Adrenaline To Wheels) who took the win by 7 seconds. Fresh off an injury she showed that it hadn’t slowed her down. Kristen Smart (Cover Sombrio) made the trip from BC worth while pulling in second place and Cayley Brooks (Trek Canada) pulled out the double podium XC and DH, well done!
As the clocked clicked into the afternoon and the Men’s Pro field of the POC downhill began to make its way down, everyone started to ponder which section would set the best apart. And believe me most of Canada’s best were here, Hans Lambert (Pivot Cycles) 2009 National DH Champ, Rob Fraser (Trek Primary, SRAM, POC) the 2011 C-CUP Series Champ, Sidney Slotegraaf (Lapierre Canada) dozens of wins and podiums, Matt Nielson (Rocky Mountain Bikes) former DH National Champ.
Other riders wondered if it would be the infamous “bowling alley”, a super steep shoot filled with rocks and drops. Or perhaps some of the big off camber turns that aired out into rocks and roots might take down a rider or two.
The times were coming faster and faster, Jeff Faulds (Norco Silent) was the first to break the 3 min mark! Matt Nielson ripped an amazing 2:53 moving Matt Zdriluk out of the hotseat. Then Sidney Slotegraaf came over the finish booters lower and faster than anyone to date with a 2:52. Hans Lambert skipped his own Quebec Provincial championships to come here and race, he had a super fast time of 2:55 but not enough. Would Rob Fraser, last on course, be able to defend his title????? NO! A 2:54 would put him in fourth. Sidney Slotegraaf (Lapierre Canada) is our new East Coast Open DH Champion! $1250 and the East Coast Open shield go to Sid the squid!
Video highlights of the event by Brian Hunt from Blue Mountain Resort
The amount of staff and volunteers to run and event like this are astounding to say the least. Blue Mountain Resort and Sirbikealot Racing want to give a huge thanks to all!
Thanks to Erika, Dak, Peter, Graeme, Jason, Kevin, Cory and all the team at Blue Mountain for hosting such an incredible event. Thanks also to Pete, Lee, Greg, Nicky, Kris and Dina at Sirbikealot for your hard work and hospitality.
Full results can be found HERE.