Sandra Walter (Liv Racing Collective) travelled straight to Baie-St-Paul, Quebec following the final World Cup race of the season to compete in the Canadian XC Championship races. With the XCO scheduled for Friday, there was little time to recover. But coming off her best World Cup result of the year and feeling strong on the technical course, Walter went into the race with confidence. After being caught in traffic going into the first singletrack, Walter fought back to finish on the podium in third.
“I really felt I had a good chance to battle for the win,” said Walter, “but I miscalculated the importance of positioning in the start loop. The eventual first and second place finishers gained the decisive gap and rode away while I was caught in traffic. Even though I was disappointed in myself for my tactical error, I’m still pleased with how I rode technically, physically, and mentally.”
Walter had another chance for championship victory the next day. The XCC race was a brand new event in the Canadian MTB championship lineup. The short course consisted entirely of gravel with plenty of flat, technical corners and a gradual climb to the finish. Due to the nature of the course, the majority of the key contenders stayed bunched at the front during the 20-minute race. Walter rode a smart tactical race, tucked into the lead pack until 300 meters from the finish when she launched her sprint. She opened up a gap to the remaining riders and made the move stick, crossing the finish line first to win the historic race.
“I absolutely felt an intensity and a real desire to prove myself when I lined up for the short track on Saturday afternoon,” said Walter. “I just had this fire inside and the attitude that I wasn’t going to let myself be pushed around.”
The win marked Walter's second elite Canadian championship title, adding to her 2014 XC Marathon victory.