February 28, 2017 (Burnaby, BC) – The 2017 Canadian track season opened with a pair of new events aimed at development riders – the Eastern and Western Challenge competitions. After the success of the Eastern Challenge at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, Ontario, it was the turn of the Western Challenge at the B.C. Lower Mainland Burnaby Velodrome in Burnaby, BC, on February 24-25. Cycling Canada worked in collaboration with Cycling BC and Kelyn Akuna for the Western Challenge.
These events were created by Cycling Canada following the Track Competition review of the domestic competition system for track. Among the recommendations from the review were the creation of events aimed at development riders; to give them the opportunity to race an event with a caliber (and degree of organization) comparable to the Canadian Track Championships p/b Lexus. This will give riders the opportunity to measure their preparedness for the world championships selection that takes place at the Championships.
Racing in Burnaby was held for Under-15, Under-17, Junior, Elite and Masters athletes. Spectators were encouraged to attend on both evenings and, aside from the racing, highlights included: a beer garden, food truck, DJ, and vendor booths. The flavor was slightly more family oriented on the Saturday evening with a kiddie kilo and face painting for kids.
Race organizer Kelyn Akuna said, “Operating in our relatively isolated track communities, it’s easy to forget how critical it is to travel to larger events where exposure to new competition and new ideas can test our mettle. Watching the inaugural Western Challenge this last weekend, I’m reminded of this fact and encouraged by the exchange of camaraderie and competitiveness that I witnessed from riders across Western Canada and the Pacific North-West. While I’m certainly pleased about the weekend, I’m also excited at the potential of this event and look forward to seeing it mature over the years.”
Jessika Grand Bois, the Track Coordinator at Cycling Canada, stated: “We are grateful to be working with organizers such as Kelyn Akuna. He, with the support of Cycling BC and a great group of volunteers, has been dedicated to making this first edition of the Western Challenge a success and an event we can build upon in the future. After having seen the U17 and Junior riders in both the Eastern and Western Challenge now, we are definitely looking forward to the upcoming U17/Jr/Para Canadian championships.”