This article was originally published on the Cycling Canada website.
The partnership between Cycling Canada and Bear Mountain Resort is already paying dividends as mountain biker Haley Smith secured a bronze medal at the 2015 UCI Pan-American Championships in Cota, Columbia on Sunday.
Despite a slow start and a crash, Smith relentlessly made her way back through the field to cross the line in third place.
“It went fairly well today; I had a slow start with a few technical mistakes on the first lap but was able to rally to get myself into a medal position. The course was very challenging with lots of steep climbs and I just put my head down and grinded it out to finish in third. Thanks to Cycling Canada for the awesome support this week. And thanks to Norco bicycles for the 27.5 set up, which was perfect for this style of course.
Dan Proulx, head coach of the national mountain bike team, was excited about this race for Smith. “Haley did an incredible job, racing under pressure at altitude. The medal was definitely hard fought. There were many tough battles within the race. She has been working hard to improve her technical skills and preparation for altitude competitions. This is a huge step up from her last altitude race at the Méribel World Cup in 2014.”
To prepare for this event, the team gathered at Bear Mountain Resort, the national training centre for mountain bike, and the results are following suite. Added Smith: “We had a two-week national team training camp at Bear Mountain where we got to train on some of the toughest trails in the world. It was the perfect environment to hone our technical skill and practice steep ascending. I followed this up with two weeks at altitude with the national team, which was perfect preparation for racing at 2500m above sea level.
“Haley has been an integral part of the Cycling Canada national training centre at Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria. It’s great to see her investment rewarded. Even though this is early season form, the benefits of the daily training environment at Bear Mountain are already apparent. After this competition we’ll resume training in Victoria in preparation for the regular season – beginning at the end of May with the first two World Cups in Europe,” concluded Proulx.
The cross-country portion of the 2015 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Tour begins in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, on May 23.