|2014 pro dual slalom national champions Jill Kintner and Luca Cometti. (photo by Philip Beckman)|
Kintner entered today's competition as the highest seeded female pro rider and earned a first-round bye and an automatic advancement to the finals in the three-woman field. The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in BMX squared off against Rebecca Gardner (Marlboro, N.Y./Kona) in the final where she won both heats handily to solidify her claim to the top step of the podium. Christen Boyer (Aspen, Colo./One Ghost Industries) took home the bronze medal.
"I love riding slalom and it's nice to be home in America," said Kintner who is coming off a sixth-place performance in a World Cup downhill race in Austria six days ago.
Cometti was the fourth seed in the men's pro slalom and, after defeating Mikey Haderer (Concord, Calif./IXS Unique Sports) in the quarterfinals, faced top-seeded Luca Shaw (Hendersonville, N.C./SRAM Factory) in the semi-final round. Shaw was coming off a bronze-medal downhill finish at last week's World Cup, but it was Cometti getting the better of Shaw by just .13 seconds after their two heats.
In the final, Cometti came back on the final run to beat Red Bull Rampage champion Kyle Strait (Costa Mesa, Calif.) and claim the title. Shaw defeated Kai Rogers (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) for the bronze medal.
"Kyle Strait is obviously a legend of the sport and super powerful and very talented on the bike," Cometti commented. "To beat him is a pretty amazing feeling being a first-year pro and always looking up to him growing up."
Amateur National Championships
Sophia Foresta (South Jordan, Utah) repeated as national champion in the women's open dual slalom. Her brother, Joseph Foresta (South Jordan, Utah) added another Stars-and-Stripes jersey to the household by winning the juniors men's 14 & under race. Top-seeded Tyler Krenek (Tucson, Ariz.) took the gold medal in the men's 15-18 category 1 race.
In the category 1 men's 19-29 dual slalom, Kyle Grau (Terrace Park, Ohio) defeated Scott Hoenisch (Colorado Springs, Colo./Air Force Academy Falcons Cycling) in the finals. Arthur Sykes (Las Vegas, Nev.) topped a four-man field in the men's 30-39 cat 1 race, while Alex Morgan (Amarillo, Texas) raced to victory in the category 1 men's 40+ competition.
Category 2/3 Races
In addition to the pro category 1 races, four category 2/3 dual slalom competitions were also held on Saturday. Josh Pottridge (Van Buren, Ark./Ouachita Cycling Club) took home the win in the men's 15-18 race. Jeremy Chandler (Tucson, Ariz.) topped the podium in the men's 19-29 competition. Allen Weber (Tijeras, N.M.) raced to victory in the men's 30-39 dual slalom, while the men's 40+ win went to Doug Cheney (Syracuse, Utah) for the second straight year.
Downhill Finals on Sunday
The 2014 Gravity Mountain Bike Nationals conclude Sunday at the Angel Fire Resort in New Mexico with the downhill competitions. Qualifying runs for three categories were held on Saturday. Defending national champions Kintner and Aaron Gwin (Wildomar, Calif./Specialized Racing DH) posted the fastest times for the pro fields, while Shane Leslie (Birmingham, Mich.) will be the rider to beat in the juniors men's 17-18 race. Amateur competition begins at 10 a.m., while the pros and 17-18 men will race down the mountain starting at 2 p.m.
For additional event information, daily wrap-ups, photos, results and more, visit the USA Cycling event page at www.usacycling.org/2014/mtb-gravity-nationals.
You can also follow along on Twitter via the USA Cycling account, as well as the hashtag #MTBNats. Like USA Cycling and the Angel Fire Mountain Bike Park on Facebook for additional updates.
Article Source: USA Cycling