The opening day of the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships saw the future of American mountain represented at the SolVista Basin Mountain Bike Park in Colorado, as both the men's and women's U23 and junior races duked it out July 17.
Hundreds of junior riders contested the steep hills and thin air of the Colorado high country on Friday but only 10 came away wearing the coveted Stars-and-Stripes.
The U23 and junior women started off the racing action on Friday morning, with both races ending with sprints to the finish. Following just under 14 miles of racing, two experienced riders stood head-and-shoulders above the rest in the U23 women’s competition.
Multiple-time national champion Chloe Forsman (Luna) and Amy Dombrowski (Webcor Builders) finished the approximately 14-mile race nearly eight minutes ahead of their closest competition. Only around four seconds, however, separated the pair with the former collegiate national champion, Dombrowski outsprinting the defending champion, Forsman.
The junior women’s finish proved to be even closer with a pair of Coloradoans, Alicia Rose Pastore (Durango Devo) and Jill Behlen (Tokyo Joes), fighting it out all the way to the line before Pastore came out on top.
Behlen, who finished second in last year’s race and gained valuable experience riding in one of USA Cycling’s European Race Camps earlier this summer, was primed to take the title in 2009, but it was not in the cards.
“I flatted on the first lap and played catch up the rest of the way,” explained Behlen. “She’s a great climber, but I almost caught her at the finish.”
Colin Cares (Kenda-Tomac-Hayes) collected his first “vertical” Stars-and-Stripes in the U23 men’s cross country contest, outdueling first-year U23 rider Rob Squire (USA Cycling National Development Team). Steven Ettinger (Black Diamond Sports), Macky Franklin (Transparent Racing) and Peter Stetina (Tokyo Joes) rounded out the top five in the stacked field.
“I got a gap from the start, but Squire kept it small throughout the entire race,” explained Cares, a multi-time USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Champion. “I just wanted to keep it smooth, but sure enough on the final descent I went down. I was lucky enough to recover in time.”
The junior men’s race saw another of USA Cycling’s Mountain Bike European Race Camp participants shine as Russell Finsterwald (Pro Cycling-SRM) rode to a nearly two-minute victory over silver medalist Skyler Trujillo (Niner Bikes).
10-14 age divisions
Later in the afternoon, six Stars-and-Stripes jerseys representing the future of American mountain biking were awarded in the 10-14-year-old age divisions.
Spence Peterson (Above Category Racing), Kaylee Blevins (Durango Devo), Trevor Baldwin (Hill Country Bicycle), Ksenia Lepikhina, Nathan Baldwin (Hill Country Bicycle) and Lillian Frasier (Hill Country Bicycles) all brought home national titles in the 10-14 age groups.
USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships: Granby, Colorado July 17-19, 2009
U23 Women’s Cross Country
1. Amy Dombrowski (Webcor Builders) 01:34:06
2. Chloe Forsman (Luna) 01:34:11
3. Kay Sherwood (Tokyo Joe’s) 1:41:55
Junior 15-18 Women’s Cross Country
1. Alicia Rose Pastore (Durango Devo) 01:45:44
2. Jill Behlen (Tokyo Joe’s) 01:45:44
3. Kaila Hart (Durango Devo) 01:47:10
U23 Men’s Cross Country
1. Colin Cares (Kenda-Tomac-Hayes) 01:43:39
2. Rob Squire (USA Cycling National Development Team) 01:44:30
3. Steven Ettinger (Black Diamond Sports) 01:48:48
Junior 17-18 Men’s Cross Country
1. Russell Finsterwald (Pro Cycling-SRM) 01:52:03
2. Skyler Trujillo (Niner Bikes) 01:54:15
3. Eric Emsky (Rad Racing-NW) 01:55:28
Junior 13-14 Men’s Cross Country
1. Spence Peterson (Above Category Racing) 01:17:08
2. Jansen Lindner (Cycle Youth Devo) 01:19:51
3. Hayes Ward (Onion River Sports) 01:20:00
Junior 13-14 Women’s Cross Country
1. Kaylee Blevins (Durango Devo) 50:28:20
2. Myia Wood 53:40:06
3. Taylor Fogg (Front Rangers) 01:00:41
Junior 11-12 Men’s Cross Country
1. Trevor Baldwin Hill Country Bicycle) 46:48:78
2. Christopher Blevins 47:51:19
3. Ben Hogan (Boulder Juniors) 52:26:19
Junior 11-12 Women’s Cross Country
1. Ksenia Lepikhina 45:03:40
2. Hailey Swirbul 47:43:77
3. Nadina Junuzovic (Austin PARD) 49:11:75
Junior 10 and under Men’s Cross Country
1. Nathan Baldwin (Hill Country Bicycle) 41:15:66
2. Cole Avery 41:31:01
3. Ross Ellwood 41:50:07
Junior 10 and under Women’s Cross Country
1. Lillian Frasier (Hill Country Bicycles) 55:04:27
2. Courtney Comer (ACQUA AL 2) 1:15:31
3. Mary Allen (Hill Country Bicycles) 1:17:41
Stay tuned for elite men's and women's results Monday.