Mountain Bike Cross-Country Nationals begin Thursday in Idaho


Todd Wells is looking to defend his pro men's mountain bike cross-country national title. (Photo by Team i4 Photography)
Todd Wells is looking to defend his pro men's mountain bike cross-country national title. (Photo by Team i4 Photography)
On Thursday, over 1,000 of the country’s preeminent mountain bike cross-country riders ranging in ages from 10 to over 70 years of age will begin competing for Stars-and-Stripes at the 2012 USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross-Country National Championships at Sun Valley in Ketchum, Idaho. The event, which serves as the centerpiece of the Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival, concludes Sunday, July 8.

There are several new aspects differentiating this event from previous mountain bike cross-country national championships. For the first time, para-cyclists — two-wheeled and handcyclists — will compete in the short track cross-country race on Thursday. Additionally, a $1,000 cash purse has been added to each of the professional men’s women’s cross-country races.

Many of America’s top mountain bike cross-country racers will descend on Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain in Ketchum, Idaho. Among those contesting the pro races are the four riders named to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Mountain Bike Team: Lea Davison (Jericho, Vt./Specialized Racing), Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo./Luna Pro Team), Sam Schultz (Missoula, Mont./Subaru-Trek) and Todd Wells (Durango, Colo./Specialized Racing).

Also vying for the pro Stars-and-Stripes jerseys are several members of the Olympic long team including Michael Broderick (Chilmark, Mass./Kenda-Seven-NoTubes), Spencer Paxson (Seattle, Wash./Kona Bicycles), Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-Trek) and Stephen Ettinger (Cashmere, Wash./BMC Mountainbike Racing Team) in the men’s race. In the women’s race, the two Olympic team members will be challenged by Amy Dombroski (Boulder, Colo./Crankbrothers Race Club), Judy Freeman (Boulder, Colo./Crankbrothers Race Club), Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo./Subaru-Trek), Pua Mata (Anaheim, Calif./Team Sho-Air Specialized) and Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, Mass./Kenda-Seven-NoTubes).

Lea Davison is out to defend her national championship in the Super D earned last year in Sun Valley. (Photo by Team i4 Photography)
Lea Davison is out to defend her national championship in the Super D earned last year in Sun Valley. (Photo by Team i4 Photography)
In the U23 men’s race, there are several riders with designs on golden glory, including Russell Finsterwald (Colorado Springs, Colo./Subaru-Trek), Howard Grotts (Durango, Colo./Specialized Racing), Zach McDonald (Bainbridge Island, Wash./Team Rapha-Focus) and Kerry Werner (Banner Elk, N.C./BMC Mountain Bike Development Team).

The women’s U23 champion, Jill Behlen (Boulder, Colo./Tokyo Joe’s-Whole Foods-Primal), is back to defend her crown against AliciaRose Pastore (Durango, Colo./BMC Mountain Bike Development Team).

Among the local riders expected to compete is the defending women’s singlespeed national champion Rebecca Rusch (Ketchum, Idaho, Idaho/Specialized).

The amateur cross-country presented by Zions Bank course has completely changed this year. No longer using the Bald Mountain climb, the route takes riders up on Cold Springs and around the mountain. The finish is the same as the course winds back to River Run with the rock drop section remaining in the course. Riders will start with a short one-mile start loop in the River Run base area before making one large loop, traversing over 18 miles. The young juniors and professional cross-country loops are the same with some switchbacks added in the climb.

The short track cross-country course presented by BNSF Railway is unchanged from 2011. The Super D course is largely the same as 2011 with some minor tweaks

Complete course descriptions, including elevation profiles are available here.

Thursday's action will feature cross-country and short track cross-country racers. The category 2 and 3 cross-country competition will kick-off the week’s races at 8 a.m. At 1:30 p.m., all category 1 women will contest the short track cross-country course before the category 1 men take the course starting at 2:15 p.m. At 3:45 on Thursday afternoon, the para-cyclists will complete the day's racing as they compete in the short track cross-country.

The racing on Friday morning features the juniors and U23 men and women competing in cross-country beginning at 9 a.m. The women open the day's racing at 9 a.m. before the juniors women start their race three minutes later. The U23 men begin their ride at 11:30 a.m. before the juniors men start their contest three minutes later. The juniors men and women 11-12 contest the juniors cross-country course at 3:15 p.m. before the juniors men and women compete on the same course at 4:30 p.m.

Men's category 1 age group cross-country races, including the men's singlespeed contest, begin at 8 a.m. The women's category 1 age group and singlespeed contests are scheduled to begin at 10:45 a.m. That afternoon at 1:45, the pro women will compete for a Stars-and-Stripes jersey before the pro men at 4 p.m.

All of the Super D races begin at 9 a.m., before the event concludes with short track cross-country races. The category 1 men 15-18 open the day's short track cross-country racing at 2 p.m., before the pro women start at 2:45 p.m. and the pro men begin at 3:30 p.m.

Members of the media who wish to cover the 2012 USA Cycling Mountain Bike Cross-Country National Championships in Sun Valley, Idaho from July 5-8, will need credentials for media access to the races. The credentials application can be found at the USA Cycling media credential portal. Once approved, credentials and photo vests can be picked up in the media room located in the River Run Lodge at the base of the mountain.

For complete details on this event, including a complete schedule, results, course maps and a photo gallery, please visit the event web site. Photos taken throughout the event will be available for purchase from the event photographers, Teami4 photography. If you can’t make it out for the event, follow all of the action on Twitter using the hashtag #MTBNats.

For more information on the Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival, please visit the web site.

This Article Updated June 25, 2013 @ 09:20 PM For more information contact: