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Canmore’s Howe breaks from speed skating to medal at provincial cycling

He might be known for slicing through ice on a pair of skates, but put two wheels under Canmore’s Connor Howe and watch him go.

CANMORE – He might be best known for slicing through ice on a pair of skates, but put two wheels under Canmore’s Connor Howe and watch him go.

Howe, a long track speed skating Olympian, spent four years away from competitive road cycling to focus on his top sport where he placed fifth in the 1,500 metres race in Beijing.

But being in the offseason and looking for a little fun, the hometown boy signed up for the Rundle Mountain Road Festival in Canmore last weekend (June 4-5), where against the province’s top male riders, he rode away with three medals and a little cash prize.

"It's my first CAT 1/2 races and I'm happy with how it went," Howe said of the top category for male riders.

“Speed skating training and cycling complement each other really well. My strongest part is probably shorter, a few minute efforts and that’s good for the hill climb and this road racing.”


A post shared by Connor Howe (@connorhowe00)

The soon-to-be 22-year-old took silver in uphill, bronze in the 112.5 km road race, and won silver in omnium for overall points.

The criterium (crit) was Saturday’s first race, which was a looping 1.3 km downtown course. Not for the claustrophobic, racers often pack together, taking swift corners shoulder-to-shoulder in the high-speed race. Getting some red road rash from wiping out is not uncommon for unlucky riders.

“In the pack, it can be pretty tight and scary sometimes, but it's an exciting race,” said Howe. “It’s risky going for a breakaway so staying in the pack is usually a good bet.”

Red Deer’s Jamin Soehn charged ahead of the pack, opening up a 15-second gap to finish first at a time of 34:12 in the 20-lap course.

Howe raced into fifth place.

Later on Saturday, the riders went from downtown to Silvertip hill, where riders took on the 1.94 km uphill lung-blaster.

Although, for the recent Olympian, his quick burst skill-set is best suited for such a race.

“I like my power metre,” Howe said, who climbed the hill in 5:29.3 to take silver – only two seconds behind winner Gavin Thomas. “I know what I can do for five to six minutes, so I just went out at the pace and tried to hold on."

Sunday marked the final competition and for the CAT 1 /2 men it was a 112.5 km, where a sprint finish for top spot went down in the last 100 metres.

The riders packed together throughout the lengthy course, which started at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy and along Three Sisters Parkway to the Canmore Nordic Centre and back for a 16.5 km loop.

 “The pack stayed together most of the time, so I just tried to save it for the finish,” Howe said.

Howe’s hamstrings began tightening up over the course of the three hours of riding, so he had to shake it out a bit before the big sprint finish. But the nice part was the pack slowed ever so slightly in anticipation of the race’s climax.

Riding the low incline to the finish line, the frontrunners for gold were Evan Burtnik, Brayden Windsor and Howe, who took off from the pack with about 100 metres left.

Burtnik managed to squeeze ahead and won at a time of 3:01:27. Just seconds behind were Brayden Windsor in second, and Howe in third.

For pulling in 42 points overall in the three races, Howe won second in the omnium and received a $250 prize.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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