VALPARAISO, Chile (transcendmagazine.com) -- Antonio Leiva (CHL - Santa Cruz) took first, while countryman Mauricio Acuna (Rocky Mountain) took second. For the women, 16 year old Kona Bikes rider Luana Oliveira of Brazil took home first and Diana Margraff of Ecuador was 3rd.
Canadians were well represented at the Copa Contrapedal urban downhill race this past weekend in Valparaiso, Chile. Canadian Champion Micayla Gatto (Commencal Oakley) took home second place, less than a second out of first, despite a crash on an upper section of the course. Cassidey BC's Steve Smith took home third place.
Gatto discussed her run while packing up her bike. "My race was pretty fun, my qualifier I hit a stray dog. That was interesting. I guess that slowed me down a bit. All in all it was a really good week, I had a lot of fun and the course was amazing. It was unlike anything i have ever done before. I definitely would want to come back."
Smith spoke briefly about his run the next morning, covered in marker from the night before. "The race was awesome, got to huck some stairs, it was super fun. The Chilezians were awesome. It was a great time. My race run went pretty good." Smith was a source of entertainment for the event staff all week, making up new names for the host countries citizens and handing out redbull to the fans who chased riders back to their hotel and begged for everything from sweaty jerseys to dirty socks.
This year's event featured an almost 3 minute course, with extremely high speed upper sections, including what is possibly the longest set of stairs mankind has ever constructed. Starting high up above the town of Valparaiso in a barrio, the course wound it's way down the ghetto, through the old Valparaiso prison and finally though the second story greenhouse of a local flower shop to the finish. An estimated 6000-7000 fans were in attendance to watch the riders negotiate their town's unique features and avoid the hundreds of roaming stray dogs.
Fan favorite Brendan Fairclough (UK - Monster Iron Horse) suffered a couple of flats, which prevented him from qualifying as there were numerous large drops with no go around, which would not have been sane to try on a bare rim. Despite his bad luck, Fairclough vowed he would return. "I thought it was good. I expected it to be well ghetto, and it was ghetto, but it was good fun and the track was so much fun. I'll be back next year."
Video by Omar Salas. ( http://www.stage6.com/Down-To-Earth )