Smithers Secondary School’s mountain bike team returned last week from the Provincial Championships in Salmon Arm, after putting in a respectable showing for a first-time team. The team is the first in well over a decade, and the first to ever go to the B.C. high school Provincials, said coach Julie Krall.
Although the team lost a few members due to illness, (non-bike-related) injury and prom commitments, nine racers made the trip south, including Breyden Davis, Tanner Dueck, Bobby Jo Love, Braden MacDonald, Dylan Marek, Gregory Mitchinson, Scott Mitchinson, Gabriel Price and Joshua Robertson-Matthew. Absent were Cole Dobrenski, Lucas Coles, John Norman and Craig Osborn.
“For a lot of them, it’s their first time on an organized school team,” said Krall.
Many of the riders don’t play other sports with the school, and quite a few had to adjust their Smithers-bred downhill style to a more cross country-oriented approach for the high school level races.
The highlight of the event for Smithers was Marek’s first place finish in the 16 km Junior heavy bike division. Robertson-Matthew finished in third and Gregory Mitchinson finished in sixth place in the same race.
Krall is now looking ahead to next year’s Provincials, to be held in North Vancouver. Organizers of the Provincial Championships are considering adding some “all-mountain” elements to the races next year as well, which can only benefit bikers that grow up riding on Smithers’ downhill and freeride oriented trail system.
She’s hoping to expand the team’s reach into the younger age groups as well, and more importantly, hoping to sign up at least a few girls.
“We need some girls, we didn’t have any this year. We had entire division that weren’t represented,” she said.
Krall said she’s seen the benefits of the team for the riders involved, and that she was proud of their performance in Salmon Arm.
“They represented Smithers well. I saw them grow tighter as a team, and the camaraderie was amazing,” she said.