Downhill and Short Track races thrill crowds on penultimate day of MTB Nationals


Mammoth Mountain, Calif. (July 16, 2016) – Saturday was the penultimate day of racing at the 2016 Volkswagen USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships on Mammoth Mountain. Twenty-five riders descended to national titles on the downhill courses while large crowds gathered to see Jill Kintner (Bellingham, Wash./ Red Bull-Norco Bicycles) and Aaron Gwin (Wildomar, Calif./The YT Mob) dominate the pro fields. On the endurance side, the pro short track races were live streamed so viewers nationwide had the opportunity to watch Howard Grotts (Durango, Colo./Specialized Racing) and Erin Huck (Boulder, Colo./SCOTT-3Rox Racing) add short track victories to the cross-country national titles they both won on Friday.
SHORT TRACK – Eight Stars-and-Stripes jerseys awarded in short track contests
The pro men’s short track was a tactical race that saw blistering speeds tear the field apart almost immediately. The selection that formed up front included Grotts, Keegan Swenson (Park City, Utah/Cannondale 360 Fly p/b Sugoi), Russell Finsterwald (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.), and Cypress Gorry (Pigsah Forest, NC/Whole Athlete/Specialized) and others.
“We had a small group and everyone gave it a little go but nothing stuck, so I figured it would come down to a last lap battle,” Grotts said after crossing the finish line victorious. “Keegan gave it a go with two to go and I saw that once you’re in the front for that bermed corner you come across the line first so I did the exact same thing on the last lap.”
After Grotts collected the national title, Wells and Finsterwald came across for the silver and bronze medals.
In the pro women’s event, a lead group quickly formed which included Huck, Rose Grant (Kalispell, Mont.), Chloe Woodruff (Prescott, Ariz.), Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo.), and Kate Courtney (Kentfield, Calif./Specialized).
They stayed together and took turns working the front until Gould took off with two laps to go. She stayed off the front for a lap and it looked like she’d take the national title, but then Huck made her move.
 “I feel pretty worked after yesterday honestly, so I just wanted to hide for a few laps and see how I felt and then I decided to try a few things and work on the front a little bit,” Huck explained afterwards. “Then I was like, well I might as well think about my finish strategy but then Georgia executed my ideal strategy when she attacked with two laps to go. With one lap to go I decided to bridge up to her and then up along the top was able to sneak around before the descent which I figured was the virtual finish line. So I made a move and was able to get away.”
Following Huck over the line was Gould for silver and Courtney for bronze.
Earlier on Saturday morning, the women’s cat 1 17+ race was contested. It started out fast with Amy Chandos (Flagstaff, Ariz./Canyon Elite Women’s Racing) setting the early pace. She made her gutsy move in lap one and got away from the field immediately, but chasers Kelsey Urban (Kentfield, Calif./Whole Athlete/Specialized) and Haley Batten (Park City, Utah) slowly reeled her back in. At the midway point in the race, she only had a 13 second lead and by the next lap the three were working the front of the race together. After staying off the front solo for half the race, couldn’t keep up when Batten and Urban increased the pace and it became a two-woman race for the finish. At the line, Urban outsprinted a jetlagged Batten and took the gold medal. Batten grabbed silver, and Chandos came across for bronze.
The morning continued with lots of attacking in the junior men’s 15-18 short track contest. The field strung out pretty fast and at first six men set the pace, but by the time three laps were left a selection of 15 riders was off the front. It made for an exhilarating sprint finish which was won by the hard-charging Quinn Simmons (Durango, Colo.) He beat silver and bronze medalists Anders Johnson (Huntsville, Utah/Whole Athlete/Specialized) and Kevin Vermaerke (Rancho Santa Margarita/Team Velosport) to the line.
Several other national champions were crowned after Saturday’s short track competitions, including Canyon Emmott (Spicewood, Texas/787 Racing) in the men’s 19-29 group, Bryson Perry (Draper, Utah/Canyon Bicycles) in the men’s 30+ category, Hayden Rosborough (Prescott, Ariz.) in the junior men’s 9-14 contest, and Katie Clouse (Park City, Utah/Giant) in the junior women’s 9-16 event.
DOWNHILL – 25 new national champions crowned on the downhill course
Descending the mountain in 3:51.883, Jill Kintner (Bellingham, Wash./ Red Bull-Norco Bicycles) smoked the competition to take the national title by 16 seconds over silver medalist Samantha Kingshill and bronze medalist Jacqueline Thomas.

Sean Bell had the fastest time in the next group, the junior men 17-18, finishing the course in 3:29.912 to earn a Stars-and-Stripes jersey ahead of Nikolas Nestoroff and Steven Walton.

The pro men’s race was by far the fastest of the day. With over 50 starts, the crowd grew larger and larger near the finish as everyone waited for the last rider, Aaron Gwin, to descend the mountain. With a time of 3:15.633, Gwin smoked the competition and won the national title by nine seconds over Mitch Ropelato (Ogden, Utah/SRAM-TLD-Santa Cruz). Shane Leslie was third.
In addition to the pro and the cat 1 17-18 men, 22 other national champions were crowned on the downhill course on Saturday including Dennis Foster in the men’s 55-59 group, Scott Skelton in the men’s 60+ category, and Cheri Heringer in the women 50+contest.
In the youngest group of the day, Justin Duncan descended to a national title among junior men 6-8 while Zachary Smith grabbed the gold for junior men 9-10. Caidin Nelson won the junior men’s 11-12 group and Dante Silva was victorious among junior men 13-14. In the junior women’s fields, Lauren Bingham (Plan7 Ds) beat the other 13-14 year olds, Breanna Winter won the 11-12 group, and Hanna Weinman is your new national champion among junior women 9-10.
The afternoon also featured lots of downhill racing with one of the most exciting categories being the cat 1 men’s 15-16 group in which Joseph Foresta dominated for the national title. Emily Gacad also rode her way into a Stars-and-Stripes jersey in the women’s cat 1 17-18 while Samantha Soriano won the women’s cat 1 15-16 age group. Additionally, Jeff Leishman was fastest among men 19-24, Vincent Kimber among men 25-29, and Eric Smith among men 30-34. Randolph Sooter won the men’s 35-39 contest, Chance Gibson won the men’s 40-44 competition, and Mark Kugel collected the national title in the men’s 45-49 race. Joseph Picchiottino descended into a national champion’s jersey in the men’s 50-54 category while Heidi Kanayan beat her competitors in the women’s 30-39 age group and Brandy Wirtz won for women 40-49.

Mountain Bike Nationals concludes on Sunday with the Enduro competition. You can follow the event on twitter using #MTBNats or Visit these links for more information:  COMPLETE RESULTS - PHOTO GALLERY - EVENT WEBPAGE 

This Article Updated July 28, 2016 @ 05:23 AM For more information contact: