Skinner scorches Hot Day at Otway course

They're friendly rivals on their road bikes and as it turns out, Tom Skinner and Kris Yip are also rivals on their mountain bikes.

Skinner and Yip, Prince George Cycling Club cyclists who compete against each other during the summer road racing season, found themselves finishing first and second respectively in the expert men division at the inaugural Hot Day at Otway cross-country mountain bike race Sunday at the Nordic Centre.

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Skinner wound his way around two 11-kilometre gnarly loops to clock a winning time of one hour 24 minutes three seconds in the stadium area, while Yip was right behind him at 1:25:33 in the 18-man field.

"I went out hard and wasn't sure Kris would stay with me," said Skinner, a 34-year-old teacher. "Kris and I separated from everyone and I felt good on the last climb. I kept the pressure on. We had some good battles and I tried to push it hard on the hills. It was a super-fun course."

The advanced/expert course was laced with steep downhills, gut-crunching climbs, and high-speed corners and straight stretches along narrow trails over bone-jarring roots and rocks which left little margin for error. Advanced riders did one loop of the 11km course once while experts manoeuvred around it twice.

A total of 75 riders competed in seven different categories in an event that lived up to its name.

Riding conditions were perfect under warm, sunny skies as spectators watched from the stadium area as music blared in the background.

The novice and intermediate athletes navigated their way around a 7.5km course, one that had no technical riding and followed mostly flat terrain and gentle slopes with one big climb.

It was no surprise that Yip, 40, finished second on his mountain bike since he also competes in cross-country races around the province in between road races in Prince George.

"It was a treat to race at home," he said. "Big props to the organizers for a fantastic course and a great turnout. A few of us had a gap at the start and went out with a hard tempo. We couldn't see anyone behind us and Tom and I did the first lap together. On the last main climb, Tom had an extra gear and said see ya later. He just took off. I was just riding on my own and I still had about 45 minutes left. I felt good."

Brad Cramer finished third in the expert men division, clocking 1:35.32.

Andrew Steele, whose non-profit group Throwdown Adventure Festival organized the race, was ecstatic with how the day turned out.

"I wouldn't hesitate to call this a massive win. (Everyone) is taking pride in this, it's amazing," he said. "So far the feedback has been positive. The people are loving the courses.

"It's a big win with the cycling community and the riders who participated. I hope they will talk about this. We want them to bring out their families and friends. There's a lot of people here, a lot of multi-sport people (mountain biking, cross-country skiing)."

Mark Taylor won the advanced men division, clocking 50:46. Ben Yeager followed in second at 51:37, while Wade Foreman was third at 51:42 out of 22 competitors.

Mary McLay topped the advanced women division, posting a time of 1:00:16, followed by Cheryl Moors in second place at 1:01:28. Sandy van Kleek was third at 1:05:25.

Chris Dougherty captured the intermediate men's title, posting a time of 1:06:26. Matthew Vandenberg placed second, clocking 1:07:56, while Bud Bruintjes was third at 1:09:36.

Adrienne Stedford claimed the intermediate women's crown, clocking 1:08:57, followed by Maizie Bernard in second place with a time of 1:15:36. Terra Young was third with a time of 1:25:33.

Colton Borowski was the top rider in the novice men's division, clocking 39:23, followed by Loic St. Denis in second at 41:23. Paul Smith was third with a time of 42:41.

Emmy Blouin took home the novice women's title, posting a time of 38:59. Rachelle Munchinski placed second, clocking 47:23 and Camille Voumard was third with a time of 50:10.

For complete results, see page 11.

The next event for the Throwdown Adventure Festival is the Chalky Palms bouldering competition at The Overhang on Nov. 28-29.

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