(July 15, 2010) SNOWMASS, Colo.-Snowmass Colorado Blast the Mass has long been know for its extreme weather. If it is not blistering hot with foot deep moon dust everywhere, then it is pouring rain turning the mountain into a giant slip and slide. This year’s event brought dependable afternoon showers and with it perfect riding trails! Saturday morning brought bright blue skies and a full day of racing. The short track cross country race was up first for the day’s events. The course weaved it’s way through the base village, then sending racers up to the Elk Camp Gondola’s mid station. Blasting their way back down to the village, racers had to deal with a few tight flat gravel turns.
Keegan Swenson of Park City Utah blew open the Cat 1 15-18 race right from the start. His high pace never let off for the entirety of the race. By the end of the race he was lapping fellow racers. In the Pro Women’s race Erin Huck of Tokyo Joe’s set out a pace for the rest of the pack to cling onto. After 15 minutes and two laps Erin was on the top seat, with Kelley Cullen and Teal Stetson-Lee following respectively.
The Pro Men were the fortunate racers to enjoy a hail storm with a side of frosty down pouring rain. Tim Allen set out a perfect match to the events in the Pro Women. As the skies opened up and unleashed buckets of rain, Allen broke off the front leaving the rest to race for second and third place. Once the hail began, UCI cut the race short for fear of riders getting injured. “I don’t understand why they stopped the race,” says Bryce Gordon of Honey Stinger Trek. “I was having fun with the weather!” Gravity riders were treated to a large dose of races.
Saturday’s Sway downhill race was more of test of your high speed and turning abilities. The course was not overly rough or rocky which didn’t require your big eight inch bike. Many racers were on their trail bikes or four course rigs. Mike Kreger filled us in on his thoughts of the new Sway course. “I thought about not racing this downhill. Sit this one out in the pits. Then I remembered why we are all out here, to have fun! So I decided to have some fun with this race!” Kreger surprised every spectator, racer and photographer alike with his choice in race kit for the day. Raging down the mountain with nothing more than shoes, gloves, full face and his whites! “I had a great time, and that is what this is all about.” Said Kreger.
After the last racer sprinted to the finish line, Joey Schusler earned the top Pro Men’s seat, with Chris Boice and Kain Leonard taking second and third respectively. On the Pro Women’s side it was Melissa Buhl in the hot seat with Jacqueline Harmony and Neven Steinmetz to follow. With the completion of the downhill, the third and final race of the day was ready to set off.
Super D racing is always promising for excitement. Send a healthy number of racers off all at once to fight their way to be first onto the single track. Passing opportunities are minimal, and don’t forget to bring some climbing power to the start line. Snowmass’s course brought racers onto the final section of the Snowmass Express downhill course, a high speed rocky section that has two short bridges for you to navigate as you blast your way to the finish line.
The Men’s 30+ race had over 20 racers raging their way to the finish. The last straight away looked like a train line of blurred racers. The race that brought the most excitement however was the Open Men. Nathan Hill with Wolf Rock Racing had a massive lead over the rest of the pack as he came into view at the end of the course. The speed he brought into the finish section was mind boggling. “I have never ridden that section that fast before, not even on my downhill bike.” Said Nathan Hill. Greg Ernst and Anthony Diaz tied as they blazed in behind Hill, with Robert Garcia taking home third.
After destroying the short track race, Tim Allen came to show his riding skills in super d earning the number four spot. Sunday brought another gorgeous Colorado bluebird morning. However, in the close distance thunder heads and rain loomed with a dark promising threat. The day’s downhill racing brought racers to the top of the Snowmass Express six-pack and Sam’s Knob. The “Big Course” as it was coined by the racers is a true test of your gravity riding skills. Top speed, off camber, rocky with grass corners are there to prime the engine for your run down. Add in steep sharp s-turns and every great downhill needs mud right? Well the Snowmass Express downhill track came with a slimy loose serving of steep mud sections. And of course it would not be downhill racing in Snowmass without Hell’s Kitchen.
If your hands were able to hold out your run, then your lungs were certainly screaming for mercy. It was no real surprise to see who took home to top Pro Men’s seat as number four world ranked racer, the American Dream, Aaron Gwin was on the start list. Not only did Aaron show everyone why is a world ranked racer, he laid out a finish time 15 seconds faster than the number two place, a fellow World Cup racer and teammate Joey Schusler.
Brian Buell of Team Geronimo brought in a tight finish, just a mere .34 of a second off Schusler. The Pro Women’s race was smaller than years past, but the podium was full of Vixen Racing. Melissa Buhl ended the weekend with two top seat finishes. Jacqueline Harmony with Vixen Racing earned second with teammate Darian Harvey in third. This weekends racing was a prime for many of the racers for the upcoming UCI National Championships in Sol Vista Colorado beginning July 15th. Be sure to check back for more reports from Sol Vista.
Story and Photos By Devon Balet
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