By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Turns out all is not lost for the gravity racers that had planned on attending the downhill events at the Grouse Mountain World Cup in British Columbia. Following some last minute scrambling, Whistler-Blackcomb Resort has announced that it will be hosting two days of pro racing during the week leading up to the Grouse Mountain event, effectively replacing the World Cup downhill events that were cancelled because of too much snow. Grouse will still be hosting junior and elite cross-country races.
Racing in Whistler will start Wednesday, July 3, with the Joyride Biker X, a four-rider gated event. Among those already committed to attend is reigning world dual champion Brian Lopes. Lopes and the rest of the World Cup racers are scheduled to be in Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec the weekend before, so expect a top flight pro field to show up in Whistler.
Two days later, on July 5, the Whistler Mountain Bike Air Downhill is scheduled. The race will take place on the A-Line, one of Whistler’s most popular trails, with 1200 feet of vertical and more than 60 man made features.
The growing list of committed attendees for the downhill includes Volvo-Cannondale’s Cédric Gracia and Anne-Caroline Chausson, Haro’s Mick Hannah and Kirt Voreis, and Kona’s Tracey Moseley.
Whistler is a 1.5-hour drive from downtown Vancouver, the third largest city in Canada.
One of the big draws for the event in Whistler was the better-than-average prize list that will be on offer. First place in the men’s downhill is $2500, while the top women will take home $1000. The total purse for both days is more than $16,000.
There is a certain irony to Whistler stepping up to bailout Grouse Mountain. Two Decembers ago the world-famous ski resort was in line to host a World Cup event of its own before organizers scuttled the plan because of money squabbles. Not long after that, Gestev and Grouse Mountain came on the scene and kept the event in British Columbia, putting on what was one of the best World Cups of the 2001 season.
Now, to a slightly lesser extent, the favor is being returned.