As the sixth Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Biking World Cup wound to a close over the B.C. day long weekend in Snowshoe, West Virginia, two B.C. teens stood victorious atop the podium.
Gracey Hemstreet of the Sunshine Coast and Squamish’s Jackson Goldstone are no strangers to the podium. Since the 2022 season began, both have been mainstays in the junior division as they’ve placed in the top three at every downhill World Cup race they’ve competed in this year.
Another gold for Gracey
Sechelt teen Gracey Hemstreet has won her fourth gold in the World Cup downhill mountain biking series. (She’s also taken home a silver and bronze medal this season.)
Her latest win was hard earned, after taking on a track Canadian Cycling Magazine called “treacherous”.
“This race was mentally, and physically challenging. And I am sure glad that it is done,” Hemstreet wrote on Instagram. “Toughest track but managed to stay on the bike for the most part!”
On July 28, Hemstreet wrote that she “slammed pretty hard straight to the shoulder” but by the next day qualified in fourth place. Her coach, Adam Walker, the athlete performance specialist with the Norco Factory Team (and coach of the B.C. provincial team and Cycling Canada), said the wet and muddy track injured many of the riders during training, including Hemstreet. Her shoulder injury required medical attention and help from the team physiotherapist, leaving the team unsure whether she would be able to race.
“It was really touch and go,” Walker told Coast Reporter. And it wasn’t Hemstreet’s only injury this season. She’s had “a few really gritty performances this year,” Walker said, including a hand injury in Switzerland and a trip to the hospital the morning of the Canadian national championships because a build up of air pressure from flying was affecting Hemstreet’s balance.
“Through all of it, she’s just shown incredible resilience and the marks of a true champion,” Walker said. “She seems to have an ability to when it matters, just to put it all aside and just go out there and get the job done. It's remarkable.”
On race day, she took the win with more than a three-second lead and a final time of 5:24.114, placing her in the overall lead for her category.
Her latest success comes one week after Hemstreet clocked in as the fastest woman competing at the 2022 Canadian Downhill Championships at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden. It was her first Canadian junior women’s national championship title.
“I think one of the things that's really exciting is looking at her times and how they stack up against the elite women, because she will be competing with them next year,” Walker said. “I think that probably in her mind, it's already shifted not so much about winning her own race. It's looking to the future and comparing herself to those pro women … For Gracey to show so much promise at such a young age is really remarkable.”
Jackson Goldstone made it through the muddy track with a final time of 3:50.127. He was followed by Pemberton’s Tegan Cruz — and repeat national champ — five seconds later.
With his victory, Goldstone adds his third consecutive gold to his awards. He started the season strong with a winning race at the first World Cup. He also came in first place at Crankworx this year, after three silver medals at the World Cup level.
In 2021, Goldstone earned a junior world title..
Full speed ahead
Next, Hemstreet and Goldstone will be racing back in Canada in Mont-Saint-Anne, Québec, during the first weekend of August. They’ll be back in B.C. the next weekend for Crankworx in Whistler. Then on August 24, the UCI World Championship kicks off in France. The final World Cup of the 2022 series will be held in Val di Sole, Italy, over Labour Day weekend.