XC and Enduro champions crowned Friday at MTB Nationals


Snowshoe, W.Va. (July 22, 2017) – Races were shuffled throughout the day on Friday amid torrents of rain and thunder, but did nothing to slow the stream of competitions for the 2017 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships. A total of 22 Stars-and-Stripes jerseys were handed out to winners in cross-country, short track cross-country and dual slalom events. In addition, 12 Enduro champions were recognized at the awards ceremony from the eight-stage event held earlier in the week at Snowshoe Mountain Resort.
In the Pro/Open Male category, Seamus Powell (Round Top, N.Y.) held off two-time defending champion Mitch Ropelato (Ogden, Utah) for the Enduro title. Eight stages were held over two days, with Jimmy Smith (Milliken, Colo.) rounding out the podium in third.
“My strategy for day one was to really play to my strengths, which is a cross-country background and try to get as much time as I could. It seemed to work out pretty good. Going into day two, (stages) 5 and 6 played to my strengths. I just had good vibes all weekend, and felt like I could just race to my full potential and my mind was in the right place and really focused on this event for the year,” Powell said about securing a slim nine-point lead over Ropelato after the first day of racing and never relenting that lead. “Knowing that West Virginia is semi-home territory, I'm 10 hours away in New England, it's familiar territory and also close enough to home that I really worked hard and focused physically and mentally on being the best that I can on this event, and it worked out for me. I couldn't be prouder or happier.”
In the Pro/Open Female category, Terri Watts (Athens, Ga.) made her move in the second day of racing to move from third to first place and secure the title.
“I think we were really lucky, we had fantastic race days both days, a little warm, a little humid. I'm from Georgia, so it fit right in with my riding comfort zone,” said Watts about weather conditions for all eight Enduro stages. “I think the course was laid wonderfully. Any time you get on the top step, it's really exciting. And to do it in Snowshoe, which is a fantastic mountain, is special.”
Joanna Petterson (Jericho, Vt.) finished second, ahead of Lindsey Carpenter (Harrisonburg, Virg.), who was third.
Short Track Cross-Country (STXC)
A second day of STXC events featured the professional women and men. In the Pro Women’s contest, Erin Huck (Boulder, Colo./Cannondale-3Rox) won her second consecutive title. She moved to the solo lead with six laps to go in the eight-lap event when early leader Kate Courtney (Kentfield, Calif./Specialized Factory Team) flatted. Lea Davison (Jericho, Vt./Clif Pro Team) and Rose Grant (Columbia Falls, Mont./Stan's-Pivot Pro Team) led the chase behind Huck, coming in second and third, respectively. Courtney, who leads the Pro XCT individual standings, ultimately finished fifth.
“I just went as hard as I could the whole time,” said Huck about her win. “Before the race, I was trying to practice it for the first time and I took a digger in the rock garden (section of the course), so I was a little bit timid through that, and I think that's where, ultimately, Kate (Courtney) got away. I'm happy to win, but you don't really want to win due to another's misfortune, and Kate definitely was the strongest one today. So mixed feelings.”
With the help of a teammate to grab an early lead, defending champion Howard Grotts (Durango, Colo./Specialized Racing) soloed to the line to secure his second national title in the Men Pro STXC. He was off the front with teammate Christopher Blevins (Durango, Colo.) for the first three laps, when Blevins succumbed to a flat tire. He was able to maintain the lead for the nine-lap contest, with Keegan Swenson (Park City, Utah/Cannondale-3Rox) finishing second and Luke Vrouwenvelder (Chapel Hill, N.C./Bear Development Team) finishing third.
“You have a little bit of pressure when you have the No. 1 plate coming into this kind of race, but I am super stoked to make it happen,” added Grotts about securing back-to-back titles. “I tried to keep the rock garden pretty smooth, but it's tough you're getting more and more tired, and fortunately I kept it clean. Unfortunately, my teammate Christopher flatted out there. I think we were going to have a really good battle, we were pulling away from the field working together. Hopefully he'll get redemption in the (cross-country) U23 race.”
In the STXC Female Junior 11-16 category, Katie Clouse (Littleton, Colo.) soloed to the line for the championship. Madeline Robbins (Durango, Colo.) won silver and Mila Leger Redel (Park City, Utah) secured bronze. In the STXC Male Junior 11-14 category, Wren Powers (Englewood, Colo.) captured the gold medal. He was followed by Will Sharp (Katy, Texas) in second and Jonah Vasquez (Piermont, N.Y.) in third.
Dual Slalom
Jill Kintner (Bellingham, Wash.) won her fifth consecutive title, and sixth overall, in the dual slalom for Pro Women. In second place was Caroline Washam (Mooresville, N.C.), and Arielle Martin-Verhaaren (Williamsburg, Virg.) in third.
Mitch Ropelato (Ogden, Utah) captured his second title at the championships this week, winning the dual slalom for Pro Men. Joseph Foriesta (South Jordan, Utah) was second and Luca Cometti (San Diego, Calif.) finished third.
Nathan St.Clair (Statesville, N.C.) earned a Stars-and-Stripes jersey in the Junior Men 15-18 division. Garrett Mechen (Watsonville, Calif.) finished second and Dante Silva (Chula Vista, Calif.) was third.
There were 15 champions crowned in cross-country events held on Friday. Seven divisions were held for Female riders in the early morning. Additional events were held in afternoon waves, between weather delays. Final results are posted online.
Racing will continue for a fourth day at Snowshoe Mountain Resort with eight categories for Juniors in cross-country; 20 categories for Masters and Juniors in downhill finals; two categories in short track cross-country (Men Masters 30+, Men Senior 19-29 Cat 1); the non-championship Team Relay; and downhill seeding runs for Female Pros, Male Pros and Men Junior 17-18.
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This Article Updated July 24, 2017 @ 02:50 PM For more information contact: