Juniors and Masters take center stage at MTB Nationals on Thursday


Snowshoe, W.Va. (July 21, 2017) – Seven national titles were awarded in dual slalom and short track cross-country events on Thursday at the 2017 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships. Another 10 gold medals were earned by masters in the cross-country races. Sunny skies and warm temperatures welcomed competitors and spectators for the duration of the day as events were held on multiple courses at Snowshoe Mountain Resort.
Dual Slalom
Emily Harris (Rocklin, Calif.) earned her first Stars-and-Stripes jersey in the dual slalom category for Females 11+. McKenna Merten (Jamul, Calif.) was second and Jordan Bell (Irwin, Penn.) finished third.
“I was lucky enough to qualify first, really close to McKenna. She's probably one of my best competitors and I love racing her. We both won our first rounds, so we were in the finals together. It was awesome, definitely a feeling that I want to have again. I'm just so excited to have that opportunity, especially to have it in such a close race with such a close friend,” said Harris, who started racing BMX when she was five years old.
Kaden Prakow (El Cajon, Calif.) claimed his first national title in the Men’s Junior 11-14 category. Julien Markewitz (Salt Lake City, Utah) earned the silver and Caidin Nelson (Sugarloaf, Calif.) grabbed bronze.
The Men Senior 19-29 Category 1 race was won by Sean O’Donnell (Rochester, Minn.). Taylor Angleberger (Smithsburg, Md.) crossed the line for the victory in the Men Senior 30-39 Category 1 race. Kevin Liebig (Havre De Grace, Md.) scored the win in the Men Senior 40+ Category 1 event.
Short Track Cross-Country (STXC)
Eighteen-year-old Savilia Blunk (Inverness, Calif.) made her move in the final lap of the six-lap STXC 17+ race to win her first national title. She caught and passed solo rider Ezra Smith (Breckenridge, Colo.), who held on for second. Amy Chandos (Flagstaff, Ariz.) was third.
“I was hanging back, conserving as much as I could. I faded halfway through, but I made up some time on the rock garden. I pushed it on the last climb and caught her (Smith) in one of those turns,” Blunk said at the awards ceremony Thursday evening. “I've been working hard throughout the season, it's cool to see the work pay out for sure, I'm really happy.”
Another 18-year-old claimed the his first national title in the STXC Men Junior 15-18 race, Caleb Swartz (Madison, Wisc.). The 50-rider field shattered after the first lap of the seven-lap race, leaving a group of four riders at the front. Swartz made the split with defending champion Quinn Simmons (Durango, CO), who finished second. The front group swelled to seven riders with two laps to go, but a crash left Swatz and Simmons to duel it out in the final lap. Paul Fabian (Prescott, Ariz.) finished third.
“It was unbelievable. I was so close this year. At Cyclocross Nationals, I was fourth by about one second behind a good friend of mine, that was the closest I've ever been for a podium. Now for this to be my first podium and to win, it's just unbelievable,” said Swartz, who has been racing national championships since he was 10 years old.
There were 10 champions crowned in cross-country events for Masters riders. Four divisions were held for Female Masters, age categories of 50-54, 55-59, 60-64 and 65-69. Six division were held for Male Masters, age categories 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79 and 80+. Final results are posted online, www.usacycling.org/results/index.php?year=2017&id=10.
After four of eight stages of the Enduro competition on Wednesday in the Pro/Open Male category, Seamus Powell (Round Top, N.Y.) held a slim lead over two-time defending champion Mitch Ropelato (Ogden, Utah). In the Pro/Open Female category, Joanna Petterson (Jericho, Vt.) maintains a lead ahead of Rachel Strait (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and Terri Watts (Athens, Ga.). There were 14 categories of Enduro races completed Thursday, with final results to be tabulated and winners to be crowned at the awards ceremony on Friday.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort will see 15 champions crowned on Friday for amateurs and Masters in cross-country; four categories for juniors and pros in short track cross-counrtry; and three categories in dual slalom (Junior Men 15-18, pros). Seeding runs will be held in 20 downhill categories for Juniors and Masters.
Photo Gallery
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This Article Updated July 23, 2017 @ 04:51 PM For more information contact: