Courtesy of USA Cycling. Photo by Philip Beckman.
Luca Cometti (San Diego, Calif./Intense Factory Racing) and Jill Kintner (Bellingham, Wash./Red Bull-Norco Bicycles) repeated as men’s and women’s professional dual slalom national champions, and Russell Finsterwald (Colorado Springs, Colo./SRAM-Troy Lee Designs Race Team) and Chloe Woodruff (Prescott, Ariz./Team Stan’s NoTubes-Niner) took over as men’s and women’s professional short track cross-country national champions on Friday at the 2015 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in Mammoth Mountain, California.
Cometti worked his way through the men’s dual slalom bracket to earn his second-straight pro dual slalom title, defeating Kyle Strait (Costa Mesa, Calif.) in the final after trailing by 0.04 seconds following the first final run. Dakotah Norton (Atlas, Mich.) took bronze in the event.
“I wasn’t expecting (to win) last year, and I wasn’t expecting it this year either,” Cometti said. “I just tried to do my best. That’s all I can ask for.”
Kintner picked up her third consecutive dual slalom Stars-and-Stripes jersey and 14th elite pro national championship with a convincing win on Friday, defeating Jacqueline Thomas (Winter Park, Colo.) on both gold medal runs to take the win. Alison Osgood (Carmel Valley, Calif.) finished with bronze.
“I’m pumped to win another slalom national title,” Kintner said. “It was definitely pretty loose out there and wild, and we’re out there until dark pretty much. I guess my focus always is just to ride as good as I can, keep my eyes forward and be as focused as I can be on the task.”
Finsterwald battled with four-time short track cross-country national champion Todd Wells (Durango, Colo./Specialized Factory Racing) for the entirety of the pro men’s short track contest, and the two held off Stephan Davoust (Durango, Colo./Giant Southwest Racing), who applied pressure in third for the duration of the 20 minute, plus three-lap event. Finsterwald managed to pull away after Wells suffered a rear flat before the bell lap, ensuring Finsterwald’s first professional title in 28:48.3. Davoust earned silver in 29:07.7 and Alex Grant (Salt Lake City, Utah/Roadbiker-Cannondale) claimed bronze in 29:21.3.
“I felt really good out here today,” said Finsterwald. “I’ve been training at home at altitude, so coming here kind of feels like home. It will mean a lot (to wear the Stars-and-Stripes jersey). It will be good wearing it for the next year.”
Woodruff proved to be the best of an early breakaway group, jumping to the lead around the midpoint of the contest, but was caught by Lea Davison (Jericho, Vt./Specialized Factory Racing) with two laps to go. Woodruff and Davison worked together on the bell lap before Woodruff was able to drop the Vermont native to win her eighth national championship and first since winning the 2009 collegiate cross-country title. Woodruff crossed in 29:25.1, besting Davison’s 29:29.0 effort, while defending short track champion Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo./LUNA Pro Team) finished third in 29:55.3.
“It’s pretty special to come back here,” Woodruff said after the race. “I won the expert women’s short track jersey here 10 years ago, so it’s great to be back. I was kind of thinking that would be really cool to win it 10 years later.”
Friday also saw national championships earned in Category 1 19-49 and singlespeed men’s and Category 1 19-34 and singlespeed women’s cross-country divisions, and amateur dual slalom divisions. Pro men’s, women’s and junior men’s 17-18 downhill seeding was also determined for today’s finals.
Cross-country and downhill competition wraps up today with pro men’s and women’s events as well as all remaining amateur cross-country and downhill divisions.
For a complete schedule, results, course maps and photo galleries, please visit the event web site. If you can’t make it out for the event, follow all of the action on Twitter using the hashtag #MTBNats.