Sunday at the Otter is now complete. Pretty long 4 days of bike riding, with some early wake up calls in the 6am range. As far as events go, they cram almost every type of event into one weekend; road, crit, super D, xc, Short track, Dual Slalom, Downhill, Dual stunt, and even a pump track race. The idea is to get exhibitors, media, and all the riders in cycling to attend as the season opener.
SLALOM Not much changes though, this was the 20th year. I've attended I think this makes 8 times? Every year the slalom track gets torn down and built back up nearly the same. It's always good, so it works. I remember the first time I raced pro dual slalom here was '02, I was just a squid who couldn't turn very well, and had to meet Anne Caro in the second round. Needless to say, it took a few years to get past that 2nd round, but not this year:) This year felt awesome, blue skies, warm weather, sweet new team and bikes, and a solid riding.
Talent was deep in the men's and women's fields, most all World Cup contenders in attendance. Sam and Gee are both out with little injuries, but everyone else was here pretty much. Record number of ladies at 22, and over 100 men. Qualified 32 men, 16 women, which makes 10 full 35-40 sec sprint efforts for men's finalists, and 8 back to back efforts for us, 4 rounds- 2 runs on each course . Little brutal.
So qualifying sets the brackets, top seed against the lowest seed, etc. Lopes set the fastest time, ahead of mic hannah, and jared graves, but the top 10 was all pretty tight. It's really cool to see all the DH riders racing this event, adds a bit of prestige. I set the fastest times for the ladies, ahead of Rachel Atherton, Frenchie, buhl, and Leigh Donavan. This event is a big deal to me, because it's always such a battle, and I had never won it. Especially exciting to have Rachel all healthy, frenchy shreds slalom and is always tough, Buhly and I have had some battles, and Tracy Mosley is really talented but on a hardtail couldn't really contend.
Practice and quali all happens from 9am-12pm, then a 4 hr break, and finals start at 4pm no warm up. Double header. Was all good, the sun baked a couple of the ruts, but the wind was crazy crosswind at the top, drying it out a little more. Track was eroding as the rounds went on, but not nearly as bad as last year. First turn was kinda nuts, came in full sprint out of the gate , over a roller into a super deep rutted out blind right hander, add that cross wind, there was a very small line to aim for.
I couldn't see a whole lot, but some of the side by side match were pretty good. Syndicate guys all pretty much raced themselves. Bryn had a bit of a chain issue and was all rushed at the top, nearly missing his round- just lost focus. Mic Hannah, seemed really calm and confident, which usually means trouble, Lopes crashed out in the first round. Final was super intense. Aaron Gwin, who I'm not sure has raced much slalom, beat out some stiff competition, to match Mic. First run was really close, think by hundredths? So second run was up in the air. Gwin had a noticeable lead down the last straight, but Mic went to a whole other level on the last sprint and just edged him out, turbo boost or something. We didn't know who won. Turned out the differential was.05 to Mic. Mic 1, Gwin2, Rando 3, graves 4.
In the ladies, I made it through some good match ups, Sondra Williamson, Anneke, then Buhly, and eventually Rachel. First final, I pulled a full 1.2 sec lead, but the next round was a bit less sweet. Kinda cruised the top, nearly lost the front end, and Rach smelled blood. She put a good run in, but it wasn't enough, I took the big W, and am super stoked to get this one. Guess all those dh skills are pying off. Jill 1, Rachel 2, Frenchie 3, Buhly 4.
DH The Dh race here is super painful. It's more fitness based than anything, there are like 8 or 9 turns , 3 uphill sections, and a lot fo flat parts that are massive sprints, plus it's not that smooth. It;s fun, but takes you into a world of hurt. Plus there is no qualifier to work out the kinks. I didn't conserve, but didn't really have the energy to attack like I wanted to. Oh well, next time. Buhly does really well here, and pulled a victory by the slightest of margins.
|1||Melissa Buhl (KHS)||0:02:20.6|
|2||Rachel Atherton (Commencal)||0:00:00.4|
|3||Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing)||0:00:00.5|
|4||Sabrina Jonnier (Maxxis)||0:00:03.5|
|7||Fionn Griffiths (Norco)||0:00:07.6|
|9||Kathy Pruitt (Jamis)||0:00:11.0|
|10||Claire Buchar (Chain Reaction)||0:00:11.6|
|1||Jared Graves (Yeti/Fox)||0:02:04.7|
|2||Aaron Gwin (Yeti/Fox)||0:00:02.0|
|3||Brian Lopes (Oakley)||0:00:02.3|
|4||Mick Hannah (GT)||0:00:02.7|
|5||Cameron Cole (Maxxis)||0:00:02.9|
|6||Dan Atherton (Commencal)||0:00:04.0|
|7||Eric Carter (GT)||0:00:04.2|
|8||Steve Peat (Santa Cruz)||0:00:04.4|
|9||Justin Leov (Trek World Racing)|
|10||Chris Kovarik (Chain Reaction)||0:00:04.8|
Bryn sort of missed a turn in the DH and came to a stop. Not quite what he was after. Doesn't matter though. His speed it there.
Above: pinkbike photos and coverage.
Thanks to our Team manager/Teammate Lars who is out from a hand injury, but was good team support this weekend, All the crew from TR, Transition Racing, Red Bull, Oakley, Fox Shox, Crankbrothers, Maxxis, Dakine, Shimano, kore, odi, the,e.13, Jaguire, 5.10, Park Tool, e.soles, lezyne, cadenceworks, freelap,cane creek,