US Open draws downhillers from around the globe
By Cyclingnews.com | Tuesday, May 19, 2009 9.46pm
Kathy Pruitt (Jamis) crosses the bridge during the 2009 Sea Otter Classic. Dave McElwaine/www.trailwatch.net
The seventh annual US Open of Mountain Biking, kicking off on May 22, is drawing some of the world's best gravity racers to Diablo Freeride Park in Vernon, New Jersey.
Reigning champion Steve Smith will be looking to defend his title against a stacked field of international contenders.
"I'm really looking forward to coming back to Diablo and defending my title," said Smith of Team Evil Bikes/MS-Racing. "The US Open track is sick and so are all of the other trails that I've ridden there. It's always a good time."
After narrowly being edged out by Smith last year, former world champion Sam Hill is gunning to dethrone him and claim this year's win.
"I am excited about attending this year. It is a fun track to ride and the atmosphere is more relaxed than the World Cups," Hill said.
Fresh from a fourth place finish at the La Bresse, France World Cup, British downhill phenom Brendan Fairclough will also be there. Fairclough will need a strong showing to fend off World Cup rivals including team-mate Hill, Gee and Dan Atherton, Bryn Atkinson, Brian Lopes, Jared Rando and Kyle Strait.
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Kathy Pruitt (Jamis Bicycles) will return to defend her 2008 title in the women's race. She takes on a talented field including Olympic BMX bronze medalist Jill Kintner, Melissa Buhl and Katrina Strand.
To complement the highly contested downhill, organizers have added a new Giant Slalom discipline featuring a US$7,500 pro-purse and nearly $15,000 in amateur prizes. Designed by the Diablo Parklogic Team, the course features a series of banked turns careening down the lower mountain of the park.
In addition to the racing, trials legend Jeff Lenosky will be on site on Sunday performing a stunt show. For more information, visit www.usopen-mtb.com.
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