Sun Peaks athletes conquer Fernie

Gabriel Neron and Kyleigh Stewart celebrating this weekend’s success. Photo submitted.

Looking to top the Jr. Sport Men (17-18) category at the BC Premier Downhill Series & Canada Cup at Fernie Alpine Resort this past weekend, Gabriel Neron focused on running a simple line to gain a 14 second lead that earned him first place. According to Neron, the course was steep and loose and credits his extra days of training leading up to the event to helping him adjust to the terrain.

“In Sun Peaks it’s steep and lots of roots and little rocks here and there but in Fernie, it was like riding powder on a bike. So it was like surfing a bike down a super steep section,” said Neron.

Neron found he needed to make adjustments to his bike to adapt to the corners switching his pedals out before the competition.

“On Saturday I changed my pedals to go back to flat pedals because I usually ride clipped in and I think that was a big advantage just switching to flat I was able to put a foot down if needed because there’s a few flat corners,” said Neron.

Having been on the podium in each race this season Neron is now working toward increasing the time between himself and his competitors, aiming for a 20 second lead at the next competition July 29 at Panorama Mountain Resort.  

In the Elite Women’s category, Kyleigh Stewart finished the race in third place with a time of 3:47:79 stating that rather than sticking to a more technical line she opted for a simpler line.

“Right at the start gate you’re kind of thrown into it. There was really no warm up so you had to be on your game as soon as you dropped in,” she said. “Which definitely made things a bit scary.”

Having ridden the course in the days leading up to the competition helped her know her lines and where she was throughout her run. Like Neron, she found she had to switch to riding flat pedals to increase control over the course.

“Flats was definitely a common thing for most racers and normally it’s clipless so it says something about the course,” she explained.

She added  that she found the course comparable to Sun Peaks Resort’s Smitty’s Steeps but with a couple extra corners.

“Fernie was just so wide open it was almost overwhelming if you didn’t really know where to go there (were) so many options,” said Stewart.

 Stewart will miss the upcoming competition at  Panorama and will spend the coming weeks preparing for Crankworx Whistler from August 10 to 19.

Both athletes are sponsored this season with Neron sponsored by Sun Peaks Resort, Rocky Mountain, Down the Road Wellness, Meranti, and EVI. Stewart is sponsored by Commencal Canada, Royal Racing, 7 Protection, Endur, Deity Components, Mostly Mental Shuttles and District Bicycle Co.