Spotlight on Downhill and XC at MTB Nationals on Saturday


Snowshoe, W.Va. (July 23, 2017) – With two rounds of storms wrapped around fog and wind, weather was a factor on Saturday, making courses muddy and slippery for day five of the 2017 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships. All events were completed, with 30 Stars-and-Stripes jerseys being earned by amateur competitors in cross-country (XC), short track cross-country (STCX) and downhill finals. In addition, Snowshoe Mountain Resort completed seeding runs for Sunday’s downhill races.
At an elevation of 4,848 feet above sea level, Snowshoe Mountain covers 11,000 acres and is considered to be a very unique mountain experience for its “upside-down” setup. All of its lodging, restaurants, and shops are located on the top of the mountain. This mountaintop village is where start and finish lines are located for CX and STCX events. The downhill course is located in the Western Territory section of the resort.
The final two events for STXC racing were contested by the men on the one-mile, figure-eight course. Each race was 20 minutes plus three laps in length, passing through the main village of Snowshoe Mountain Resort multiple times.
In the Men’s Master 30+ Category 1 contest, Ben Renkama (Greenville, S.C.) was back on the top step of the podium to claim another Stars-and-Stripes jersey. He last won a mountain bike national title in 2015, in the cross-country event for Senior Men 19-29. Bryson Perry (Draper, Utah) finished second and Matt Timmerman (Fulton, N.Y.), was third.
Seth Kemp (Campobello, Calif.) scored the win in the Men’s Senior 19-29 event, capturing his first national mountain bike crown since 2010 in super downhill. He was followed by Merwin Davis (Boone, N.C.) in second and Jeremy Norris (Estes Park, Colo.) in third.
Six categories of Juniors ruled the day on a 3.3-mile cross-country course. The 17-18 age group for women and men battled on the course, with the technical Rock Garden section added for the men.
Savilia Blunk (Inverness, Calif.) out-dueled Ezra Smith (Breckenridge, Colo.) over four laps for the gold medal in the Female Junior 17-18 Category 1/2 contest. Katja Freeburn (Durango, Colo.) was third. Blunk started aggressively and pulled away in the first lap. She rode cleanly as the winds picked up on the wet course. By the bell lap, she had over one minute on a group of chasers.
“It's pretty special. I definitely came here with big expectations for myself, but also try to keep the pressure down and have a smooth race, especially on this kind of course,” said Blunk, who also won the STCX title. “Super fun course, kind of slippery and wet, probably the muddiest race of the season for me. After the first climb, I got in second and then after that on the tempo sections, I was feeling good and went for it. I took the lead and didn't look back, and I sort of surprised myself.”
In the Female Junior 15-16 Category 1/2 event, Katie Clouse (LIttleton, Colo.) captured the championship. Tai Lee Smith (Breckenridge, Colo.) won the Female Junior 13-14 division and Kaya Musgrave (Littleton, Colo.) edged Greta Kilburn (Burlington, Vt.) for the Female Junior 11-12 division title.
On the men’s side, Kevin Vermaerke (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) crossed the line 10 seconds ahead of Gaelen Kilburn (Burlington, Vt.) for the Male Junior 17-18 Category 1/2 championship. Vermaerke pulled away on the second lap, pushing his lead to over one minute during the five-lap contest. A flat forced him to chase, catch and pass Kilburn on the final lap. Connor Patten (Park City, Utah) surged in final lap to take third. This division featured the biggest field of the week, with 82 riders.
In the Male Junior 15-16 Category 1/2 event, Quinn Simmons (Durango, Colo.) rode away for the victory. Wren Powers (Englewood, Colo.) captured the Male Junior 13-14 division and Raulito Gutierrez (Temecula, Calif.) won the Male Junior 11-12 division.
Zach Gareis (Mars, Penn.) set the fastest time in all the amateur and junior downhill runs (four minutes, five seconds) to win the Men Junior 15-16 Category 1 downhill event, his first Stars and Stripes jersey. Joseph Foresta (South Jordan, Utah) was second and Declan Ervin (Bellevue, Wash.) was third.
“Awesome,” Gareis exclaimed about his first national title. “I like the course, it's fun and I felt pretty good on it. It's hard and it was raining, and those two things work pretty good when I race. It was really muddy, really rocky and slippery. I just held on.”
The Men Junior 13-14 contest was won by Ben Richter (Greenville, S.C.) and the Men Junior 11-12 event was won by Ryan Pinkerton (Aliso Viejo, Calif.).
Sean ODonnell (Rochester, Minn.) captured the win in the Men Senior 19-24 Category 1 division, and Cale Adams (Gunnison, Colo.) secured the title in the Men Senior 25-29 Category 1 division.
Eight champions were crowned for men in Master’s division: Jesse Borrer (Morgantown, W.Va.) in the 30-34 category, Patrick Alcisto (Charlotte, N.C.) in the 35-39 category, Pryde Dotterer (Raleigh, N.C.) in the 40-44 category, Joe Lawwill (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) in the 45-49 category, G. John Leslie (Birmingham, Mich.) in the 50-54 category, Dennis Foster (Murrieta, Calif.) in the 55-59 category, Bobby Bondurant (Big Bear City, Calif.) in the 60-64 category, and Mark Poore (Slatyfork, W.Va.) in the 70-74 category.
McKenna Merten (Jamul, Calif.) outdistanced Ava Maddocks (Parker, Colo.) for the title in the Female Junior 15-16 downhill division. In three other contests for women in DH, Allie Adelson (Charlotte, N.C.) won the Female Senior 19-29 Category 1 division, Lynn Childers (Barboursville, Virg.) won the Female Master 50-54 group, and Ellen Guthrie (Salt Lake City, Utah) won the Female Master 55-59 group.
Racing concludes Sunday at Snowshoe Mountain Resort with three downhill events (Pro Men, Pro Women, M Junior 17-18 Cat 1) and four cross-country contests (Female U23 19-22, Male U23 19-22, Female Pro, Male Pro). Racing begins at 9 a.m. ET, and awards ceremony will follow at 4:45 p.m.
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This Article Updated July 25, 2017 @ 03:25 PM For more information contact: