By Eddie Clark
(May 31 - June 3, 2012) VAIL, Colo.—The unofficial start of the summer was celebrated this past weekend at the Summer Teva Mountain Games where athletes and outdoor junkies joined together for the four day festival. For cyclists, the festival offered up a slopestyle competition, an cross country mountain bike race, and urban dual freeride comp, and an uphill road time trial that took riders up Vail Pass.
The first bike event held was the Teva Slopestyle event which ran on Friday. A field of fifty two showed up to contest the qualifiers for entrance into the main event. Freeriders had seven different features to showcase their tricks on with a big finale booter to finish on. Unfortunately, Cam McCaul was recovering from a shoulder injury and wasn't ready to ride yet. Last year's winner, Mike Montgomery, was a late arrival and didn't make the finals when he failed to complete either of his two runs just like Aaron Chase.
Regardless, the riders who did make the finals, made the finals a real show. UK rider Sam Pilgrim scored the highest first run with a complete run in which he tricked every feature. Notably, Pilgrim styled a nice flare off the wall ride and a huge tuck-no hander backflip on the final jump. Paul Bassagoitia had two clean runs to secure second place, a great improvement over his ride to the hospital in last year's comp. BMX'er Joshua Hult took third place after admitting he had not been on a mtn bike all year, pretty amazing.
Saturday's cycling events got underway with Pro and Expert cross country racing. Unlike the snow covered and shortened course from last year, this year's course was primed and lush with spring foliage. It also featured a new trail called the Big Mamba, which was basically a fun ride that featured numerous table tops and big bermed corners, and was possibly the most fun section of the whole race.
"Howard Grotts pushed it on the first climb, it was longer than it used to be, but the new singletrack section was super flowy and awesome on my dually. I knew if I got onto the singletrack first on the last lap I could win it, and it worked out", said Men's Pro winner Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Trek/Subaru). Mitch Hoke (Cliffbar) and Howard Grotts (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory) battled closely behind JHK after the first two laps, and Hoke took the upper hand for second place on the final lap.
The Women's Pro race saw Georgia Gould (Team Luna) hammer the climb on the first lap, and rail the downhill. Gould continued to build upon her lead throughout the race to take the win. Giant's Kelli Emmett also had a solid race to claim second. Behind Emmett, Chloe Woodruff (Crankbrothers) and Heather Irmiger (Trek/Subaru) battled for the first lap with Irmiger who eventually layed claim on third place while Woodruff slipped back to fifth after being passed by an on form Erin Huck (Tokyo Joes).
"That course was so fun, the new downhill was so fun just ripping into the berms the whole way down", said Gould about the new course.
Later in the afternoon, freeriders took the pavement with qualifiers at the Teva Freeride Dual, which was run in the opposite direction from previous years. Instead of a downhill start, the new direction had riders bunny hopping small gaps on flat ground, powering over super steep jumps, and then finishing on an uphill. It was more like a dual urban trial event compared to an urban dual slalom run which is generally downhill.
After a brief rain squal rolled through, event worker got the course dry for competition, and the finals got underway within a couple hours of the original schedule. Course Designer Jeff Lenosky (Giant) edged out Cody Gessel in the small finals to claim third place, and Paul Bassagoitia took a close win for first place over Aaron Chase in the big finals.
On Sunday, more perfect weather provided perfect conditions for the uphill time trial that started in Vail Village, and finished just short of where the USA Pro Challenge time trial finished last year.
Coming out of semi-retirement from bike racing, former national champion Mara Abbott showed everyone her fitness was still tops and her love of going uphill on a bike as fast as possible was still in tact. Abbott set the fastest time for the Pro Women's time trial by riding it in 32:44.47. Kelli Emmett took a close second just 7 seconds back, and Tammy Jacques rounded out third place.
The Pro Men's time trial had a deep list of heavy hitting professionals competing for the top podium spot. Garmin's Tom Danielson set the benchmark with a time of 26:31.21 while Juwi Solar's Julian Kyer took second just 18 seconds back. Third place went to Leroy Popowski.
"I opted for my heavier time trial bike today, which is what I'll be riding in the Tour", said Danielson. Regarding future Pro Tour races, Danielson also said, "I'm real excited for the Tour of Switzerland and Tour De France coming up, and I just came off a big training block this past week and feel good. I'm really motivated for the Boulder stage of the USA Pro Challenge, and have ridden the Flagstaff climb three times in the last two days."