Story and Photos By Devon Balet
(July 16-18, 2010) Granby, Colo— The UCI US National
Championships draws the best riders in our country, all of them with the hopes to bring home the stars and strips jersey. This year’s events
found the masses in Sol Vista Bike Park at Granby Ranch, Colorado. The crew at Sol Vista really out did themselves this year for the gravity races.
Yeti’s Aaron Gwin was in attendance, so it was certain that the downhill racing would be extremely fast. “I really want one of my teammates to straight beat me (Tyler Immer and Chris Boice),” said Gwin. Unfortunately Boice suffered an injury during practice, leaving it up to Immer to take the team’s top spot. Gwin crashed in his qualifying run, putting him in the back of the pack for race run. This was only more fuel for the machine. Gwin laid down a blazing fast time ending up nearly four seconds ahead of second place finisher Logan Binggeli of KHS. Yeti’s Tyler Immer came in third 3.7 seconds off the top spot.
On the women’s side, Jill Kintner with Transition Racing raced to her first downhill national championship title. She beat out Jacqueline Harmony withVixen Racing and Melissa Buhl with KHS in the final run.
"I feel like I accomplished something today. It's my first year racing downhill," said the former Olympian BMX and four cross superstar, Kintner.
With so many injuries on the weekend it came into question if riders were getting in over their head. Kain Leonard with Evolution
Bike Park filled us in on his feelings of the course. “During practice people were either cheering or on the side of the course crying. Everyone
is pinning it all out when maybe it would be best to take it down a notch and finish a clean run.”
Among the people that suffered major injuries was Kathy Pruitt. After landing flat off the wooden step down, she got bucked into the trees bellow breaking all the ribs on her left side. “Crashing and getting hurt is a bummer. This is a major set back in the health sector.” Kathy Pruitt.
Another major name to go down hard was Sean “Griz” McClendon with team ODI X-Fusion Intense. He suffered a broken collar bone, shattered both sides of pelvis and a dislocated hip. It is never a good thing when someone crashes. We send you healing vibes and quick recovery Griz!
The new four-cross course followed the similar layout of last years course, but brought many new and exciting features. The biggest feature being the Conundrum, a multi line feature that stood ten plus feet tall. Riders had many different ways to enter and exit this section, making for very exciting racing.
Brian Buell with Team Geronimo/Banshee Bikes took full advantage of the super inside line. Buell entered the Conundrum in fourth but exited in second. “I knew where my competitors were hitting the Conundrum, so I just sat back a little and let them all take their lines. I dove in hard to the inside line and laid down the pedals.”
Once the lights were powered down and the mountain clear of cheering fans, Yeti’s Ross Milan stood on the top podium position. “The race went well,” said Milan. “I got second in every round until the finals.”
Brian Buell stood tall in second with Barry Nobles and Erik Nelson rounding out the top four.
The Pro Women’s race saw only three racers due to several of the ladies suffering injuries in practice. With only three ladies racing there was only one run to decided the champion. Neven Steinmetz won the race after favorite Melissa Buhl went down.
“I took a corner wrong and made myself crash,” said Buhl. “It's loose and it was like riding on moon dust out there. I took a dabble and down I went. I'm happy for Nev."
Neven Steinmetz took home the stars and stripes jersey, with Jacqueline Harmony in second and Melissa Buhl in third.
Overall it was a great and very exciting weekend of racing. The weather was picture perfect and aside of the long list of injuries the events went off without a hitch. Big thanks to the Sol Vista Bike Park crew for putting together a great event and even better race course. It is obvious those guys put in some hard work!