Considered one of the hardest races of the season, this year’s event was no different. With six stages over two days, it was made even more of a struggle thanks to heavy rains that began just as the top five men were about to drop in on Saturday evening for the first stage of the race. Starting on Whistler’s Iconic Top of the World trail, stage 1 begins at a little more than 7,000 feet of altitude and drops through the Whistler bike park all the way to the valley bottom at 3,000 feet over a distance of almost seven miles. After a rough start in the rain, Sam Hill ended up 45 seconds back in 5th place to start day two.
The second day started cloudy and overcast, but eventually the sun poked through just as the top racers were making their way onto stage 3. Thick mud and slippery roots made more than a couple of the stages a challenge just to stay upright as they took riders on a tour of some of the best trails in town over 45km with 4,580 feet of climbing and just shy of 10,000 feet of descending thanks to a couple of additional chairlift rides. The Australian clawed back time with a stage win and 2 stage seconds, enough to secure him his silver medal.
Hill was happy with his result, but was hoping for a first place finish. “I am happy to be second, said Hill. Coming into Whistler I’ve been second now for two years in a row so not ideal. With the situation with the overall I wanted to come here and win. I feel like I'm riding good, but I never really felt like I had that fire on any of the stages. It was a bit of a so so sort of weekend for me, but I made up points on the guys I needed to for the championship so overall it was a good weekend. I just need to find that spark and get that edge back. I’m on a new bike this weekend, so having a weekend off to ride Whistler this week will be good to get some more time on the bike and get comfortable before we head to Tahoe.”
With two events left on the calendar, as defending champion, Hill is now within striking distance of the overall currently sitting 3rd in the points chase.
The Enduro World Series moves to its second North American stop for the year, which will debut in a new venue in the iconic Lake Tahoe mountains in Northstar, California on August 24 – 25.