Dirt Rag Magazine

Kintner wins third national championship in as many days


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Courtesy of USA Cycling. Photo by Philip Beckman.

Downhill

On Saturday Jill Kintner (Bellingham, Wash./Red Bull-Norco Bicycles) followed up Friday’s dual slalom win with a convincing 15.64-second downhill margin of victory, crossing in 4:03.95 to earn her 15th career professional national championship. She defeated dual slalom silver medalist Jacqueline Thomas (Winter Park, Colo.), who earned downhill silver in 4:19.59, while Rebecca Gardner (Marlboro, N.Y.) took bronze in 4:55.05.

“It definitely feels good to get another win. I’m happy to keep my sleeve a bit longer,” Kintner said. “I’m happy with how the day went and to represent America.”

The pro men’s downhill competition came down to Aaron Gwin (Wildomar, Calif./Specialized Racing), the six-time downhill champion and No. 1 seed in the event. On the final run of the day, Gwin assembled a 3:20.52 effort that upended Michael Sylvestri’s (Truckee, Calif.) then-top time of 3:23.45 to take the win. Sylvestri earned silver and Luca Shaw (Hendersonville, N.C./SRAM-Troy Lee Designs) won bronze with his 3:24.47 run.

“National Champs have always been a special event for me,” Gwin said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to win it a few times, and it’s always a race I look forward to, one that I definitely want to do well at. I’m really stoked to keep the Stars-and-Stripes sleeve for another year and take it back to the World Cup.”

Cross Country

Chloe Woodruff’s (Prescott, Ariz./Team Stan’s NoTubes-Niner) second gold medal of the weekend was not as lopsided, as the Arizona native outlasted Erin Huck (Boulder, Colo./SCOTT-3Rox Racing) in a final sprint, crossing in 1:39:39, one second ahead of Huck’s1:39:40 finish. Woodruff and Huck battled throughout the majority of the five-lap race, two constants at the front that at times also included Rose Grant (Kalispell, Mont.) and Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo./LUNA Pro Team). Defending champion Lea Davison (Jericho, Vt./Specialized Factory Racing) suffered a rear flat early, causing her to settle for sixth place and opening the door for other riders like Grant, who finished third in 1:40:16, to reach the podium.

“I had a lot of nerves coming into this weekend,” Woodruff said. “I wasn’t really thinking about (winning), but I had some people telling me, ‘Hey, you’re going to do it. You’re going to come away with two jerseys.’ I thought that’s a pipedream. I knew I could do it; it was just a matter of hanging with Erin.”

In the final event of the day, the 22 year-old Howard Grotts (Durango, Colo./Specialized Factory Racing) dethroned three-time pro cross-country champion and teammate Todd Wells (Durango, Colo./Specialized Factory Racing) following a daylong battle with the defending champion. Grotts and Wells played cat and mouse through the first four laps, with Wells creating space on the ascents and Grotts catching up on the climbs, until Grotts took over on the penultimate lap.

With Keegan Swenson (Park City, Utah/Sho-Air-Cannondale), Stephen Ettinger (Bozeman, Mont./Sho-Air Cyclery) and Alex Grant (Salt Lake City, Utah/Ridebiker-Cannondale) gaining, Grotts attacked and never looked back, crossing in 1:42:13, 1:03 ahead of the field. Swenson earned silver in 1:43:16, while Grant claimed bronze in 1:43:51. Like his fellow 2014 XC champion Davison, Wells finished sixth in 1:46:34.

“On the second-to-last lap I gave it a go because I saw Keegan was coming up to us so I had the opportunity to get as much time on the climb (as possible),” said Grotts. “That was enough of a buffer on the last two descents that I had to do to roll in for the win.”

Enduro

On Sunday Kintner completed her three-event sweep of women’s pro gravity and enduro events on the final day of the 2015 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships on Sunday, taking the first ever women’s pro/open enduro title at Mammoth Mountain.

Mitch Ropelato (Ogden, Utah/Specialized Factory Racing) climbed the podium as the inaugural men’s pro/open national champion.

Men’s and women’s pro/open and 15-60+ divisions raced the four-stage event, which included various sections used in the pro and amateur downhill courses, as well as trails not yet utilized at the five-day event. A rider’s final time was the accumulated tally of the four runs minus transfer time.

Kintner left little doubt on the day, taking the top time in each of the women’s pro enduro legs to accumulate a 34:54.79 result, 2:17.39 ahead of the field. Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo./LUNA Pro Team) took silver in 37:12.18, followed by Lauren Gregg (Santa Cruz, Calif.) in 37:58.40 for bronze.

The championship is Kintner’s third in three days and 16th elite pro national championship of her career.

“That was really hard,” Kintner said of winning her third Stars-and-Stripes jersey in as many days. “Stage 2 was a massive flat pedal for 11 minutes or something. I trail ride at home and I got to ride the downhill, so I had that pretty dialed. My plan was to get a gap on that and I was definitely winging the rest of it because I hadn’t seen the other trails. There’s something sort of special about being in the present and winging it, sort of riding a trail as you see it.”

Ropelato opened the day with a division-best 3:52.77 time on the first run, which he followed with three consecutive second-place finishes on the ensuing runs, giving him a 29:03.18 final time. The result, which was good for gold, topped Brian Lopes’ (Laguna Beach, Calif./Intense-Maxxis- PearlIzumi) 29:11.68 silver medal finish and Kyle Warner’s (Chico, Calif./Marin Sr. Suntour Amain.com) bronze medal-winning 29:17.53 time.

“It was a nice, easy day,” said Ropelato. “Climbing wasn’t too bad, but you were sprinting pretty good on all the runs. All the courses were pretty fun. I was a little nervous on Stage 1 because it was pretty rowdy, but other than that it was a great day.”

Complete results

To see full results of all the national championship events, visit the event website.

 

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Cometti and Kintner repeat dual slalom titles, Finsterwald and Woodruff take short track


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.”

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Jill Kintner

 

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.

 

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