A podium finish at Fernie and mid-pack results at two other Canada Cup events has a Smithers downhill mountain bike racer rising in the ranks on the Junior Expert (age 17-18) circuit.
Ivan Hanchard ranked fifth overall this year for the three Canada Cup races.
“It’s been pretty awesome, pretty exciting because I haven’t been racing in two years so it’s definitely pretty awesome being back doing that,” he said.
Hanchard started the Canada Cup series with a fifth-place finish July 17 at Fernie Alpine Resort clocking a 3:15.93 lap, just under six seconds behind Gravity MTB teammate Cole Stinson.
“It was pretty sweet because it’s a harder category than I’ve raced in before,” he said.
He was also “stoked,” he said, with a 10th at Panorama Mountain Resort July 20 and an 11th at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort on July 25.
“I made a couple of mistakes during my race run,” he said. “It was just simple stuff, really, but other than that, it was a pretty tough track and I had a pretty clean lap.
“It wasn’t my best day but it gave me quite a bit of points for the overall.”
Hanchard is currently living and working on Bowen Island and travels back and forth to Vancouver Island to train with his Gravity MTB team.
Gravity is a Vancouver Island-based coaching and skills development company.
He said having a sponsor makes a big difference.
“It’s pretty amazing, training-wise, sponsor-wise, it’s been really awesome community and awesome support, they’re really good at the races,” he said.
“They take care of everything for us; basically all we have to do is focus on our race run, that helps out quite a lot.”
The ultimate goal, however, is to go pro.
“We’re trying to be as professional as we can be, but the next step is to get on to a factory paid team and going on from there
Up next for Hanchard are three BC Cup events at Big White, Sunshine Coast and Stevie Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo.
He does plan to get back to Smithers a couple of times this year to visit and to ride the trails here, which he thinks are great.
“They’re definitely up there with some of the best trails I’ve ridden,” he said.
He doesn’t think Smithers is ready to start hosting the kind of events he currently competes in.
“There’s huge potential for that, but they definitely need a bit more just in length and technical difficulty, but it’s getting there definitely, every year it gets better.”