|Deer Valley is a fabulous place to visit and ride mountain bikes. More on that later. This NMBS weekend did not produce any surprises as far as winners and the Luna Chix squad continued their dominance. The real story this past weekend was all the breakout races that many riders had. It made virtually every race more exciting.
It all started with the Women's Cross Country. While Georgia Gould has hammering off the front, Kathy Sherwin (Titus) rode to her first NMBS podium by placing 5th. Kathy has worked hard to acheive this for years (previously with Ford Cycling). This year Alison Dunlap is coaching Kathy. She looks rested, stronger, and is climbing better. Watching her cross the finish line you would have thought she had won the race! (photo below). There was even a Kathy Sherwin Fan Club at the race (video below).
Equally impressive was Erik Tonkin's performance in the Men's Cross Country Race. Barry Wicks was running 5th with Tonkin moving up in the pack to 6th. A long-time Kona rider, Erik is known for his guts and determination. He works full-time and often takes red-eyes to compete at races. There was no way that long-time teammate and rival Wick was going to let Tonkin beat him. Had any other rider been in 5th place, Erik might have gotten onto his first podium.
|Deer Valley NMBS #4
|Wendy Simms also had her best cross country race ever, finishing 7th. Then she finished 6th in Short Track after holding 3rd for several laps. Wendy is focusing on the Canadian Olympic Team. Participation in the World Cups seems to have elevated her game a bit while giving her staying power that she lacked last season. One of these days I am sure we will see Wendy on an NMBS podium.
Perhaps that happiest person this past weekend was Sam Jurekovic (U-23 National Team). Sam had a solid Cross Country Race, finishing 12th. In the short track Sam found himself in an elite group chasing race leader Geoff Kabush. The photo below was taken with one lap to go. Sam is drafting behind Wells, JHK, and Decker. With a half lap to go, Decker blocked JHK and Sam was able to go around everyone to claim a 2nd place finish. This was his best day on a bike by far. He was so excitied after the race, he could hardly contain himself (video). Sam was later drenched in Champagne on the podium, courtesy of Geoff Kabush.
Zepahnie Blasi (Kenda) also had what may have been her best weekend ever. Zephanie finished one spot off the podium in Cross Country, then followed it up with 8th place in Short Track. Zephanie has CA and NV state championships on her resume. She lives in Reno, NV at close to 5,000 ft. elevation so Deer Valley seemed to suit her well..
Geoff Kabush was undefeated going in to NMBS #4 Cross Country on Saturday. Other World Cuppers had also made the mad dash back to the USA from Switzerland the wekeend before. Adam Craig, 10th in Switzerland, was ill but gave the XC a go but had to drop out. Trebon and Wicks had skipped the World Cup races but would be racing at altitude for the first time this season. Bishop, also a flatlander, had made the trip abroad and was riding fairly well.
At the start of the XC, Kabush led the early part of the climb only to be passed by Kona's Kris Sneddon. That did not last for long as Kris apparently crashed. By the end of lap one, JHK came through with Jeremiah close behind. I must say that these guys were really flying. It was quite impressive that they had dropped Kabush who came through about 40 seconds later with Ross Schnell. Wells was about 5 minutes behind due to a flat tire that reguired a stop in the tech zone. As the race progressed, Kabush got closer. JHK later commented that Bishop was not killing the downhills as he usually does. Somewhere in the third lap, JHK attacked and opened a sizeable lead. Behind him Kabush caught and passed JB which would set the finishing order........JHK, Kabush, Bishop, Decker, Wicks, Tonkin.
The Short Track race blew apart when Ross Schnell crashed on the transition from pavement to dirt. This allowed Kabush to get away. There seemed to be lack of a volunteers in the chase group to close the growing gap. The race for 2nd was exciting indeed with Sam Jurekovic besting Wells, Decker, and Horan-Kobelski
I can't say enough about the riding at Deer Valley/Park City. The singletrack is endless, reasonalbly well marked, and the views are spectacular. The mountain biking map of the area includes most of the best trails. My favorites are Solamere, Prospector, Mid-Moutain (which you can ride all day), and all the Round Valley Trails. It can be a bit hard to find water at times so be sure to take plenty with you. While there is some possibility of getting lost, landmarks (particularly the three ski areas) are easy to spot. I feel a bit sorry for all the racers who only rode the race course. This area deserves a week of exploration.
We also took a tour of Salt Lake City which turned out to be quite interesting. I highly recommend it. The receital at the Morman Tabernacle was the highlight of our Salt Lake visit. I have included a few photos from this excursion.
Drop me a note if you have comments or want a higher resolution photo.
|Luna Chix Georgia Gould, Katerina Nash, and Shonny Vanlandinham prepare to do battle on the Short Track Course. (Click to enlarge.)|
|Taking the ride to the Super D Course. (Click to enlarge)|
Women's Cross Country
Men's Cross Country
Women's Short Track
Men's Short Track
Misc. Event Photos
Interviews with Gould, JHK, Forsman, Blasi, Sherwin, and Jurekovic. Also a short clip of Althea riding up round valley.
Undefeated Georgia Gould put on another show at the Deer Valley Cross Country. She basically took a lead right off the start and rode a solo time trial that nobody could match. Shonny rode the whole race in 2nd place and looked just as fast as when she won the event last year. Georgia is just on a different level at this point. Katerina Nash rode a solid race and finished third followed by Irmiger, Sherwin, and Simms. I am quite sure that Willow Koerber must have been a bit disappointed with her 13th place finish, given that she was the top American women in Switzerland the week before.
Short Track started like a repeat of the Cross Country race with Georgia opening a significant gap. Teammate and defending series champion Katerina Nash could not match Georgia's initial speed but over the next few laps clawed herself closer.. Behind her Wendy Simms was all alone in 3rd but Irmiger and Koerber were coming fast. The final few laps of the race saw Gould and Nash trading leads, and Koerber and Irmiger doing the same behind them once they dropped Simms. I have said for a long time that nobody can throw down a lap faster than Katerina when it counts. In this case, not even mightly Georgia could stay with her teammate on the bell lap. There was a sprint but with Katerina rounding the last 180 turn first, the race was already decided.
|Even a drafting group of four could not come close to catching Kabush.
From left to right: Sam Jurekovic, JHK, Carl Decker, Todd Wells.
|Kathy Sherwin finished fifth in the Women's Cross Country and got on her first National podium. (Click to enlarge.)|