(Aug 2-4, 2013) ANGEL FIRE, NM—Gravity racers descended upon Angel Fire Resort’s high altitude terrain to compete for the coveted stars and stripes national champions jerseys in downhill and dual slalom disciplines. While the championships saw smaller attendance than in the past due to several different factors, those who showed up enjoyed quality competition and full on legitimate courses.
In a stark contrast from the Gravity National Championships held at Beech Mountain, NC the last two years, Angel Fire’s World Cup worthy downhill course had everyone giving it their all just to finish. Notably, the 5:30-7 minute long downhill course that started at over 10,000 feet and dropped 2,000+ feet included wooded rooty sections with wheel destroying rock gardens, high speed sections where races hit upwards of 35 mph, steep tricky descents, and plenty of big jumps of consequence. The Dual Slalom race was held on the old World Cup 4-cross track.
Cat1 dual slalom racers sprint out of the gate.
10 year old McKenna Merten might be small in stature, but that didn't stop her from finishing in 4th in the open women's dual slalom.
Devin Kjaer manuals through the woops on his way to taking silver in the junior men's 14 and under race.
The dual slalom course was plenty dry, like moon dust in some berms, despite the every day showers.
Lear Miller rode his do-it-all Banshee Rune in the pro men's race.
With only one other competitor, Jill Kintner ran away with the win in the pro women's race.
Barry Nobles had to earn it in the men's race by taking out several fast pro's such as Mike Day, the Shaw brothers, and then win a tight race over Cody Johnson in the finals run for his first dual slalom national championship victory.
For the downhill, the stoke was running high with former national champ Logan Bingelli dedicated to reclaim the stars and stripes jersey.
Daily showers provided for near hero dirt conditions on the upper half of the mountain.
Luca Shaw set the fastest time in the super fast pro/cat1 17-18 men's race, but was foiled by wet muddy conditions in his race run.
Jacqueline Harmony had her work cut out for her after returning from the World Cups in Europe with a cold. Even still she managed to take second place.
Many of the pro women hit the big step down mid-course.
Mitch Ropelato set the second fastest time in qualifying, but slipped one position back in his race run.
The high speed sections had racers leaning on their bikes to keep the tires hooked up.
The notorious Angel Fire rock garden was sharp and rugged as ever.
Nearly every junior racer hucked into the steep chute, and they were awesome!
The lower half of the downhill had plenty of corners full of moon dust.
The big gap jump provided plenty of opportunity for syle points.
Logan Bingelli's tuck gave him the 0.06 seconds difference to take second place.
Jill Kintner took the women's national championship with some solid riding, and was left breathless for minutes after her race run.
Aaron Gwin kept his #1 plate for next years race, and put a big W under his belt for some added confidence going into the next World Cup at Mount Saint Anne.
Gwin pulled a small wheelie/bike throw across the line for the win.
With a break in the middle of the day for Cat1 awards,, then a lightning hold on the lift, and an uncommon start order, the pro/cat1 17-18 juniors finished the days racing with a dry course that gave an upper hand to the slowest qualifiers once the daily afternoon rain showers started.
As the fastest pro/cat1 17-18 racers took to the course, conditions started rapidly deteriorating on the rocky and rooty upper half of the mountain.
Jay Fesperman set the fastest qualifying time, but raced in the worst conditions of the pro/cat1 17-18 field, which saw him finish 20 seconds off the winning time of Walker Shaw who started first due to a flat tire in qualifying. However,, Walkers brother Luca raced in the same conditions as Fesperman since he qualified second fastest, but was only 10 seconds off the winning pace.
Pro Women's podium (l-r) Jacqueline Harmony 2nd, Jill Kintner 1st, and Ann Galyean 3rd.
Pro Men's podium, (l-r) Logan Bingelli 2nd, Aaron Gwin 1st, and Mitch Ropelato 3rd.