Mountain
National Championships

Mountain Bike National Championships Award 93 Titles at Snowshoe Mountain Resort

By: Jackie Tyson  July 23, 2018

Snowshoe, W.Va. – The final day of the Mountain Bike National Championships culminated with four downhill finals and 10 short track cross-country events. This was the second consecutive year the championships were hosted in the Alleghany Mountains of West Virginia at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. During the week, July 17-22, 93 national championship Stars-and-Stripes jerseys were awarded across five disciplines, including 23 titles for junior categories. An additional 43 events were held in non-championship mountain bike events.

DOWNHILL

The seeding runs for the Women’s and Men’s Pro Downhill events were held on Saturday, setting up the final showdown on the Western Territory section of Snowshoe Resort on Sunday. Samantha Soriano (Littleton, Colo./COMMENCAL Junior Cartel), ranked second overall in the Pro Gravity Tour (GRT), upset No. 1-ranked rider Caroline Washam (Mooresville, N.C./SRAM/ TLD/ Liv/ Schwalbe/ Spoked) twice this past weekend. First, the 18-year-old Soriano completed the qualifying run seven seconds faster than the 30-year-old N.C native to earn the top position for the finals. Then on Sunday, she was nine seconds faster than Washam to take the women’s national title. 

“I am so lost for words right now. I came into this not expecting anything and hoping for a podium and to win is just so amazing. I am beyond stoked,” said Soriano. “The course felt pretty good not as slick as it was last year and way better than it was yesterday. It was pretty mint.”

Washam, who was second in the dual slalom, would earn her second silver medal of the championships. Jill Kintner (Bellingham, Wash./Washington State Bicycle), who defeated Washam for the DS title, took home the bronze.

Less than four seconds separated the Top 3 men in Pro DH seeding runs, and the gaps were even tighter for the finals. Top seed Neko Mulally (Pisgah Forest, N.C./YT Mob), who grew up racing gravity events on the East Coast, attacked the familiar terrain in 3 minutes, 11.121 seconds, claiming the national title. One half of a second back was 21-year-old Charlie Harrison (Trabuco Canyon, Calif./Southern California) for second place, who improved one position from his bronze run in 2017. Luca Shaw (Hendersonville, N.C./Carolinas Cycling Assoc.) would finish 2.8 seconds behind Mulally for third. 

“To win the national championships means a lot and I'm really proud of it,” said 25-year-old Mulally, who last won a downhill national title in 2011 as a junior. He is currently ranked 13th on the Pro GRT, two spots behind Shaw. “I kind of just grew up riding this stuff. I had a lot of support from all my friends and family that were here. I really wanted to win, but it was hard racing against Luca and Charlie.”

Zach Gareis (Mars, Penn.), the 2017 Men’s Junior 15-16 champion, grabbed this year’s Junior 17-18 Category 1 title. Nathan St. Clair (Statesville, N.C.) followed for second, and Matthew Driscoll (Bow, N.H.) rounded out the podium in third.

In the Women’s Junior 16-17 Category 1 division, the top two riders from a year before duplicated efforts, with Isabella Naughton (Flagstaff, Ariz.) defeating Alli Gaertner (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho) by a close 23-second margin. This year, Emily Harris (Rocklin, Calif.) claimed third place.

SHORT TRACK CROSS-COUNTRY

Ten STXC events featured all-out efforts of 10-plus (two junior categories) and 20-plus minutes. Juniors took the course in foggy conditions, followed by master’s and pro categories. The Men’s Junior 11-14 division was won by Cayden Parker (Hot Springs, Ark.). He finished six seconds faster than Jack Spranger (Sammamish, Wash.). Beckett Tooley (Frisco, Texas) was close behind for third. 

The Women’s Junior 11-16 division title was captured by Gabrielle Richardson (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.). Tai Smith (Breckenridge, Colo.) closed six seconds back for second. In a tight race for third, Madigan Munro (Boulder, Colo.) nipped Bridget Tooley (Frisco, Texas) at the line for third.

In the STXC Women’s Junior 17+ Category 1 race, Katie Clouse (Park City, Utah) jumped to the lead in the 35-rider field on the first uphill out of the start chute and held on to a 28-second margin of victory for the national title. The two early chasers never lost ground to the charging field, giving Mina Ricci (Woodacre, Calif.) second and Stella Sisneros (Vacaville, Calif.) third. 

“Today was definitely redemption for me,” said Clouse, who had a flat tire in the in the Women’s Junior 17-18 cross-country race Saturday and recovered to earn the silver. She won the title in last year’s STXC Women’s Junior 11-16 category. “I’m super pumped about this. This one actually means the most, because I aged up into UCI and every year the category gets harder. Winning this as a first year, I'm super pumped about it.”

The men’s 15-18 age division was split into 15-16 and 17-18 races because of large fields. An all-Colorado podium dominated the 34-rider Junior 15-16 race, with the crown going to Riley Amos (Durango, Colo.). Bjorn Riley (Boulder, Colo.) was second and Ryan Campbell (Lakewood, Colo.) was third. 

Seventeen-year-old Quinn Simmons (Durango, Colo.) added a third championship in three years to his resume, making his move on the final lap in the backstretch to secure the Men’s Junior 17-18 title. Finishing second in the 49-rider field was Jake Yackle (Spokane, Wash.). Kade Brasher (Holladay, Utah) claimed third. Only two seconds separated the three riders.

The Men’s Senior 19-29 Category 1 race crowned Jordan Swingle (Davie, Fla.) for his second title in the championships. On Friday he won the Cross-Country Men’s Senior 25-29 event. Brian Gordon (Santa Cruz, Calif.) was second and Ryan Johnson (Brookville, Penn.) was third in the STXC race.

Derek Parsons (Kirkland, Wash.) outdistanced Bobby Lea (Alburtis, Penn.) for a close win in the Men’s Master 30-39 Category 1 division. John Petrylak (Palmyra, Virg.) was third. In the Men’s Master 40+ Category 1 race, Ty Kady (Placentia, Calif.) earned his second Stars-and-Stripes jersey for 2018, winning the Cross-Country Men’s Master 40-44 event earlier. Closing one second behind Kady was Gregg Gallentta (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.) for silver, and Jacob Fetty (Spencer, W.Va.) dashed to the line for bronze.    

In the STXC Pro Women’s contest, Erin Huck (Boulder, Colo./Construction Zone Racing) won her third consecutive title. Riding 20 minutes plus three laps in the 27-rider field, she made her move on the final lap and rode across the finish ahead of Kate Courtney (Kentfield, Calif./Specialized Racing). Second place was a bit of redemption for Courtney, who finished fifth last year after experiencing a flat tire. Only 10 seconds behind a charging Courtney was Ellen Noble (Kennebunkport, Maine/Trek Factory Racing), who secured third.

“It feels awesome. I just recently broke my hand and I came into this without really knowing what to expect with fitness, bike handling and just taking it minute by minute really. It felt really good,” said Huck, who is the current women’s individual leader of the Pro Cross Country (Pro XCT) calendar, and Courtney is third overall. “I was definitely getting gapped on the turns, but then I got the flow. And just that last climb I absolutely buried myself. I was hoping to get second behind Kate, and I was able to put in an attack and get around Ellen. And I just kept going, seeing stars. It felt really really good to go hard.”

Teammates Christopher Blevins (Durango, Colo./Specialized Racing) and Howard Grotts (Durango, Colo./Specialized Racing) went one-two in the STXC Men’s Pro race. The 55-rider field battled for 20 minutes, plus three laps, and the first rain drops fell on the closing circuits to change course conditions. 

“It didn't rain that long, but all the rain earlier in the week, and then dry, packed (conditions). So it was super slick once you got a little layer of moisture on top,” said Blevins, who finished third in the cross-country event on Saturday. “I just really wanted this one. I had some bad luck yesterday, and sloppy riding in the rocks. Today, on the last lap, I was just motivated and had my eyes on it and was able to come away with (the win).”

Lukas Vrouwenvelder (Chapel Hill, N.C./Lukevcoaching.com) finished one/10th second behind Grotts for the bronze. It was Blevins’ first time back on the top step of the podium for a STXC title since 2013 when he won as a junior.

“Howard [Grotts] is always good going up and I just tried to stick with him, I let him set the pace. I wanted it to come down to a sprint up that last hill. I led in the last single track and I was able to hold it from there,” explained Blevins, who is the current men’s individual leader of the Pro XCT calendar.

RESULTS, SCHEDULE AND SOCIAL MEDIA