Jill Kintner gets big air en route to her 13th national mountain bike title. (photo by Philip Beckman)
Angel Fire, N.M. (June 22, 2014) -- The 2014 USA Cycling Gravity Mountain Bike National Championships wrapped up Sunday at the Angel Fire Bike Park with familiar faces standing on top of the pro men's and women's podiums. Aaron Gwin (Wildomar, Calif./Specialized Racing DH) and Jill Kintner (Seattle, Wash./ Team Norco International/Red Bull) both showed off their dominant downhill skills in repeating as national champions.
Pro Women's Downhill
After the morning's amateur contests, the pro women took to the downhill course that started at 10,500 feet above sea level, and descended 1,700 feet over 2.8 miles. Abigail Hippely (Santa Cruz, Calif.) was the first to crack the five-minute mark at 4:55.70. The second-to-last rider down the mountain, Amanda Batty (Park City, Utah), joined the sub-five-minute club when she crossed the line in 4:57.40. The only female rider left was 12-time national champion Kintner who left no doubt as she blazed down the trail with a winning time of 4:30.10 to gain her 13th Stars-and-Stripes jersey. Hippely took the silver medal and Batty the bronze.
"It's crazy to see the evolution of the track from day one until now with how loose and dry and blown out it got with so many people riding it," said Kintner. "That run was pretty smooth for me, no real big mistakes. I just tried to keep my momentum going and look ahead and keep my hands loose so I didn't get too tight. You can always go faster but I'm happy with that to get the title."
Aaron Gwin topped the pro men's field to repeat as downhill champ. (photo by Philip Beckman)
Pro Men's Downhill
The 71-rider pro men's field took its turn on the course following the pro women and it was the second rider down the hill, Graeme Pitts (Nevada City, Calif./Graeme Pitts Racing) who posted the early time to beat of 4:10.14. The next 53 riders were unable to oust Pitts from the hot seat until Neko Mullaly (Pisgah Forest, N.C./Trek World Racing) took over the top spot by being the first rider to break the four-minute mark as he stopped the clock at 3:59.35. Mulally remained in the hot seat with just two riders left to complete the course. Mitch Ropelato (Ogden, Utah/Factory Specialized) joined Mulally in the sub-four-minute club but finished a fraction of a second behind in 3:59.39. That left defending champ Gwin, the last rider to start, and he did not disappoint the fans on the slopes of the Angel Fire Bike Park. Gwin crossed the line in 3:52.17 to don the Stars-and-Stripes jersey once again.
"This track was hard this weekend," Gwin said. "As far as physically and a challenge to be smooth, the hardest track we've raced all year. I like it. It's fast, it's dry and it's good times racing in the U.S. I made a couple mistakes but they weren't too costly. All in all, I'm stoked."
Men's 17-18 Downhill
The men's 17-18 downhill kicked off the afternoon session on the final day of competition. Demetri Triantafillou (Salt Lake City, Utah) took over the hot seat with six riders to go as he posted a time of 4:19.90. Podium favorite Luca Shaw (Hendersonville, N.C./SRAM Factory), the third-to-last rider to start, fell out of contention after suffering a rear flat tire. The next rider down, Charlie Harrison (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.), took over the lead with a time of 4:14.83, but his time was quickly bettered by Shane Leslie (Birmingham, Mich.) who claimed the victory with a time of 4:10.95.
Joseph Picchiottino claimed the men's 45-49 gold medal. (photo by Philip Beckman)
Amateur Downhill Competitions
The juniors and masters races began the day under another gorgeous summer day in northern New Mexico. Chris Bentley (Fall City, Wash./Fischer Plumbing Cycling Team) took the win in the men's 50-54 race, Brian Lambert (Austin, Texas/Team Cycle Progression) topped the men's 55-59 field, Scott Lideen (Phoenix, Ariz.) took home the title in the men's 60+ group, and Paige Ramsey (Auburn, Calif.) won the women's 40+ race.
In the boy's 13-14 downhill, Alex Holtzen (Boulder, Colo.) stopped the clock at 4:47.69 to take the win. Morgan Fortin (Albuquerque, N.M./High Desert Bicycles Team), riding with a separated collarbone, showed her toughness in riding to victory in the girl's 13-14 race, while Dante Silva (Chula Vista, Calif.) and McKenna Merten (Jamul, Calif.) will be taking the boy's and girl's 11-12 titles back to California with them. Ryan McGarrity was the youngest winner of the day as he had the fastest time in the boy's 9-10 class.
Group photo of amateur downhill champions. (photo by Philip Beckman)
Jack Dean (Boulder, Colo./ Specialized Rhino/The Fix) claimed the top amateur time of the day as he won the men's 19-24 division with a time of 4:22.30. Jesse Hunt (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) and Martin Navarro (Aurora, Colo.) will also bring gold medals back to Colorado after winning the men's 25-29 and 30-34 races, respectively. Andras Simon (Foothill Ranch, Calif.) earned his first-place prize in the boy's 15-16 division, Chris Webb (Lakewood, Colo.) edged the men's 35-39 field, Scott Spangler (Albuquerque, N.M.) earned the men's 40-44 title, and Joseph Picchiottino (Idyllwild, Calif.) added a jersey to his closet in the men's 45-49 race.
Other female champions were Alison Osgood (Arcata, Calif.) in the 19-29 division, Michelle Pederson (Los Alamos, N.M./Bike n Sport Racing) in the 17-18 class, Samantha Kingshill (Sacramento, Calif.) in the 15-16 age group, and Kim Godfrey (Santa Fe, N.M.) in the 30-39 racing.