Husband and wife downhill dream win
On a testing course that saw three ambulances come to the assistance of riders during the downhill practice sessions at round two of the Jayco Australian Mountain Bike Series, in Shepparton, Chris Kovarik was the best of the men and his Canadian wife Claire Buchar was too good for the Australian women.
Just one week after claiming his fourth Australian downhill title Kovarik was the fastest in qualifying and head and shoulders above his nearest rival in the final finishing more than four seconds clear of Shaun O’Connor. Third place went to Amiel Cavalier.
With both of them racing in the Chain Reaction colours Kovarik said it makes it extra special taking the win with his wife doing the same in the women’s race.
“One of the little strategies we do is talk about the track and what’s working and what’s not and it definitely helps,” Kovarik said of the benefits of putting his head together with his wife.
“This is the first time in a few years that I’ve done the national series and it’s good to be back here mixing it up with the young guys who are getting closer and closer.
“It was a good atmosphere out here and it’s good to see so many people still in it.”
In his assessment of the drama that unfolded on the course through the practice sessions Kovarik said “It’s a short and sweet track but it claimed a few bodies over the weekend. It’s quite technical and hard with lots of off camber corners.”
Looking to the future of Australian mountain biking yet another impressive performance was put in by South Australia’s Troy Brosnan who, at just 16-years-of-age, won the under-19 category in a time that was good enough for fifth in the elite event.
With an equally bright future the winner of the under-17 category, Canberra’s Connor Fearon, recorded a time that would have placed in sixth in the elite race.
In the women’s race Canadian Claire Buchar, who finished eighth in the 2009 season long world cup, was a cut above her rivals almost 12-seconds fastest than Sarsha Huntington.
Third place went to another Canadian, Leigh Douglas, who was just 0.48 of a second behind Huntington.
But among the women one of the highlights came from the under-19 race where Holly Baarspul set a time that was five seconds faster than the second placed elite woman. On the back of the West Australian’s third place finish at the 2009 junior world championships she has marked herself as one to watch this year.
For Buchar it was another successful outing as she enjoys the Australian summer away from the cold of a Canadian winter.
“This race is a totally different mindset because it (the course) is so sketchy and you can’t ride scared,” Buchar said. n“You’ve just got to be really aggressive and get used to being on the edge and just don’t be a perfectionist because you’re not going to have a perfect run.
“All the girls are riding strong. I’m impressed because this track is not easy and everyone kept a really good attitude.
“I love the fact that my team wants some more exposure out here and I’m getting to ride in all these different places in Australia and see the country.”
Lloyd Mancs, from Kyabram, was the only local rider in the downhill event and finished fifth in the men’s expert category.
The husband and wife downhill combination of Kovarik and Buchar will both go to the final two rounds of the Jayco Australian Mountain Bike Series with round three in Thredbo, 13-14 February, and the final round in Canberra, 13-14 March.
Elite men – downhill
- Chris Kovarik – 1:52.73
- Shaun O’Connor – 1:56.88
- Amiel Cavalier – 1:57.34
- Rhys Atkinson – 1:57.42
- Rick Boyer – 1:59.03
Elite women – downhill
- Claire Buchar – 2:19.36
- Sarsha Huntington – 2:31.05
- Leigh Douglas – 2:31.53
- Shelley Kamevaar – 2:39.24
- Sarah Booth – 2:39.46
Under-19 men – downhill
- Troy Brosnan – 1:57.79
- Aden Wyber – 2:00.14
- Brandon Yrttiaho – 2:00.34
Under-17 men – downhill
- Connor Fearon – 1:59.48
- Thomas Crimmins – 2:03.51
- David McMillan – 2:05.26
Under-19 women – downhill
- Holly Baarspul – 2:26.88
- Emily Hockey – 2:46.58
- Katelyn Humphris – 2:46.97