Pro Cross-country, Dual Slalom highlight day 3 of MTB Nationals


Cypress Gorry won the U23 men's XC race
Cypress Gorry won the U23 men's XC race
Mammoth Mountain, Calif. (July 14, 2016) – The 2016 Volkswagen USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships continued on Friday at Mammoth Mountain with the highlights of the day being the pro cross country and dual slalom competitions.


Erin Huck (Boulder, Colo.) rode to her very first cross country national title on Friday during the pro women’s cross country race. She formed a lead group with 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo.) and 2016 #RoadtoRio athlete Chloe Woodruff (Prescott, Ariz.) but was able to use the climbs to distance herself.

“They were both riding really strong,” Huck said afterwards. “It did feel like I was a little bit more comfortable on the climbs. With three laps to go, I just decided to test it out a little bit as we went through the feed zone. I was able to get a little gap and just focused on drilling it every climb and trying to stay smooth and relaxed on the downhills.”

An incredibly stacked field lined up for the pro men’s race as the afternoon heated up. The field strung out pretty quickly as Howard Grotts (Durango, Colo.), Keegan Swenson (Park City, Utah/Cannondale 360 Fly p/b Sugoi), and Russell Finsterwald (Colorado Springs, Colo.) set the pace at the front and distanced themselves from the others. 2016 Olympian, Grotts,  grew his gap to over a minute in the final laps before crossing the line to defend his national title from a year ago.

“It was super tough. Keegan and I went out unbelievably hard and I think we both kind of suffered from it. It was just a matter who could hold on and time trial the best after that. Luckily held it together and it was just a solid ride.

After Grotts came in, Swenson and Finsterwald went head-to-head in a finish line sprint for the silver medal with Swenson coming out on top. Finsterwald rounded out the top three with a bronze medal.


The dual slalom finals closed out a great day of racing on Friday and drew a large crowd. After the early rounds, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in BMX, Jill Kintner (Bellingham, Wash./ Red Bull-Norco Bicycles), beat out Adrian Sanders in the pro women’s final while Mitch Ropelato (Ogden, Utah/SRAM-TLD-Santa Cruz) took the pro men’s win after going head to head with silver medalist Kyle Strait.

There were also several amateur and non-championship dual slalom finals on Friday. Complete results will be available here.

Jill Kintner won the women's dual slalom
Jill Kintner won the women's dual slalom
After a strong start that saw him break off the front almost immediately, Chris Blevins (Durango, Colo./Whole Athlete/Specialized) rode his way to the national title. He finished about a minute ahead of hard-charging silver medalist Connor Patten (Park City, Utah/Summit Competitive Cyclist), and nearly two minutes ahead of bronze medalist Anders Johnson (Huntsville, Utah/Whole Athlete/Specialized).
“It’s a hard course, for a different reason,” Blevins said afterwards. “It’s really smooth on the climb and it’s not that technical but it’s always pitching up and elevation obviously pays a factor. I wanted to sit in a little bit and see how the race played out and try to help my teammates a little. Then Connor Patten hit it up the first climb and we kind of broke off. From there I got a little gap.”
Leaving the start area just minutes after the 17-18 group, the men 15-16 took off for four laps of the course. Kevin Vermaerke (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Team Velosport-Ca) was the winner in 1:15:52.9. He got away from second-place rider Skylar Patten (Park City, Utah./Summit Competitive Cyclist) who crossed the line just 30 seconds off of Vermaerke’s pace. Quinn Simmons (Durango, Colo.) rounded out the top three 30 seconds later.
Cypress Gorry (Pigsah Forest, NC/Whole Athlete/Specialized) dominated the U23 men’s cross-country field over five laps. After getting away from the main group with Jerry Dufour (Birmingham, Ala./Bear Development Team) and Sandy Floren (Berkeley, Calif./Cycle Sport Specialized), Gorry managed to distance himself even further and by the end crossed the line to defend his national title more than two minutes ahead of the competition. The silver and bronze medals went to Dufour and Floren, respectively.
Mitch Ropelato and Jill Kintner on the podium
Mitch Ropelato and Jill Kintner on the podium
The junior women 15-16 and 17-18, and the U23 women all started their cross country competitions in the 4:00 wave this afternoon. Powerhouse Kate Courtney (Kentfield, Calif./Specialized) dominated the U23 race to take the national title ahead of silver and bronze medalists Hannah Finchamp (Kennawick, Wash./Luna Pro Team) and Shayna Powless (Roseville, Calif./Giant Co-Factory Off-Road Team/Liv Co-Factory Off-Road Team).
In the 17-18 group, Gwendalyn Gibson (Ramona, Calif.) put forth an incredible effort to upset favorite Haley Batten (Park City, Utah/Luna Pro Team) for the national title. In the first lap, the two were riding together but by the time they got the bell for the final lap, Gibson had 30 seconds on Batten and she maintained her gap all the way to the finish. Crossing the line for the bronze medal was Katja Freeburn (Durango, Colo./Durango Devo).  
The 15-16 race saw Katie Clouse (Park City, Utah/Giant Co-Factory Off-Road Team/Liv Co-Factory Off-Road Team) cross the finish line victorious ahead of second- and third-place finishers Ezra Smith (Breckenridge, Colo.) and Mila Leger Redel (Park City, Utah/Summit-Competitive Cyclist)

Mountain Bike Nationals continues on Saturday with the short track races and downhill finals. There will be a LIVE STREAM of the pro men’s and women’s short track races. The coverage will air on USA Cycling’s YouTube page. More info on the live stream is available here.

Follow the event on twitter using #MTBNats.

Visit these links for more: COMPLETE RESULTS - PHOTO GALLERY - EVENT WEBPAGE      
Reminder: If you own a VW, there is special VWIP parking on a first come first serve basis at the base of the Canyon Lodge.

This Article Updated July 17, 2016 @ 03:17 PM For more information contact: