Local athlete runs through mud and rain to win national title


Gunnar Holmgren won the U23 men’s title, while other local athletes also shone on the national mountain biking scene

Gunnar Holmgren closed his best mountain biking season by winning a national championship this weekend.

The talented athlete Oro-Medonte won the Canadian title in the men’s under-23 race in Baie St. Paul, Que., Beating the country’s top runners in wet and muddy conditions.

The title capped a sensational season as Holmgren broke into the international top 10 when he fought for an impressive ninth place at the World Cup in Switzerland, followed by ninth place at the World Cup in Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia.

He was the top runner in North America at both races.

Holmgren also represented Canada at the World Mountain Bike Championships in Val di Sole, Italy, where he placed 17th. Holmgren is a graduate of the Hardwood Next Wave cycling team and currently represents Pivot-OTE Canada.

Holmgren was just one of his talented family to shine over the weekend as several Hardwood Next Wave riders proved their mettle against some of Canada’s top mountain bikers.

Ava Holmgren placed second and Isabella Holmgren was just behind her, third at the National Women’s Under-17 Championship, both having put in strong performances on a very technical course.

They are preparing for the next cyclocross season and have been selected to represent Canada on the World Cup circuit against the best cyclocross riders in the world.

The sisters aim to be selected for Canada’s team for the world championships at the end of January 2022. The world cyclocross championships will be held in Fayetteville, Arkansas. With the recent addition of a junior female category, female representation has increased on the world stage.

Ian Ackert of Hardwood Next Wave dominated the men’s U17 race, coming home with a national title and the coveted Canadian jersey, leading his race from start to finish.

The Hardwood Next Wave team was well represented at the National Championships with riders in most categories including: Katelyn Walcroft, Ben Sweet, Kelly Lawson, Matthew Leliveld, Reid McKinnon, Keith McKinnon, Ian Ackert, Ava Holmgren, Isabella Holmgren and Lisa Holmgren.

Hardwood Next Wave head coach Rob Holmgren led the charge and said he was proud of the athletes. The longtime coach was instrumental in adjusting training during the pandemic, getting creative to help athletes reach their potential.

Jenn Jackson (Horseshoe Valley) won the elite women’s race and Quinton Disera (Horseshoe Valley) won the first-ever national short track race.

Proving it was a family affair, Lisa Holmgren, the proud mother of cyclist Holmgren and wife of trainer Rob, won the national women’s master’s race for women aged 45 to 54.


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