It Always Rains On Race Day - Port Angeles Pro GRT Finals Showdown

It’s not common to be able to go out for breakfast with your friends on race day, but that’s exactly what a couple of us did! Waffles, coffee, and bacon keep a Squid energized. After a pleasant pre-race meal and catch-up, it was back to business. Camera gear was accounted for and packed, helmets were bagged and kits were assembled, it was time to go racin’! The parking area under the power lines was cramped and creative at best, and the muddy driveway through was bordering on treacherous. But the sun was shining (for the moment) and racers were excited to get the day underway.

Making the last jump and corner look like a tutorial for how to jump and turn, Mitch Ropelato put on a clinic to take 1st in Elite Men. Here he shows off his Kyle Strait inspired bike pose.

Mitch Ropelato, Dumpster Fire Racing's ambassador and winner

Focused and fast, Jill Kintner was riding in classic form, making easy [looking] work of the muck and ruts. 1st in Elite Women.

Jill Kintner even surprised herself today

Ethan Sandro came out swinging this weekend, riding flat-out every lap down the track. The Canadian youth is none other than the son of MTB legend Andrew Shandro, and clearly the skills on and zeal for bikes is hereditary. Fun fact: Ethan was in the movie Seasons, as a tiny little kid riding in the park with his dad.

Canada will be crushing the World Cup podiums with Junior talent like this coming up

Remember the name Luca Cruz.  You will probably be seeing the young Canadian's name more frequently in the coming years.  2nd place in Junior Men.
Racing under the Kovarik Racing Banner, Ben Wallace is definitely up to the task of holding down the fort for the legend.
Junior Men Top 3 (L to R): Ethan Sandro (1st), Lucas Cruz (2nd), Ben Wallace (3rd).  These boys are all close friends, riding and training together back in B.C. Canada.  The future of the sport is looking fast, eh!
Like father, like son.  Andrew and Ethan Shandro reveling in the win!

Rad dad, Andrew Shandro

It's always fun to see who comes out to watch the race.

As usual, the rain started to plop down in heavy drops as shuttles began to take the Elite and Junior riders to the top for practice and everyone was holding out for it to stop. It did not. I sat getting soaked to the saturation point, and riders were coming by resembling mud flaps more than riders on bikes. It was a slog for everyone. The ever-growing puddles meant the mud was at least thinning out and traction was improving, marginally. It was at least warm, and the rain never really fell harder than a steady drop...drop-drop...drop...drop-drop…

The coozy necklace everyone needs.

"Dude, who was that girl?! She was hauling!' Spectators were quick to notice Vaea Verbeeck, and not just for her bright orange kit. 2nd in Elite Women, on the charge.

Vaea mobs to 2nd!

By Finals, the ruts were deep and the sneaky slick roots were starting to emerge.
The Splatter Effect was real.

Local shredder, Carson Eiswald, was rocking a wicked mosaic kit, and the MOMA-inspired outfit was worn well into 6th place in Elite Men.

Carson Eiswald just off the podium

Sending it into 7th place, Kirk McDowall wasn't quite able to match his 2nd place seeding.
Powering over the finish line jump as the Top 3 Junior Men look on, Luke Strobel didn't quite land where he'd prefer, but 4th place in a stacked field is still sick.  If he'd won on a 29er bike (again), after both Danny Hart (BDS) and Greg Callahan (EWS) already did, the internet might have imploded.

Finals got underway with Junior Men. The young guns whipped by covered in mud spray and doing their best to see out of trashed goggles. The Elite Women faced nearly identical conditions and dropped into a fast-eroding track after 39 Juniors tore it apart. Times were tight in both categories, and thankfully anyone with a slow run said it was due more to the conditions than crashes. As Elite Men started dropping in, we were greeted by our fair weather friend, the sun…and it continued to shine until they finished. The race had the fastest riding of the weekend, as the rain had abated, the ruts were deep and a lot of the loose mud had been scraped away.

Danni Beecroft raced the Aussie National series , and then switched hemispheres to keep riding some more. She won the local race here at Dry Hill a few weeks ago, and kept the heat turned up for 4th in Elite Women this weekend.

Unphased by the tricky conditions, Britney White was all smiles all weekend.  6th place Elite Women.
Kendal McLean eyeing up the exit to corner into 6th place in Junior Men.
When you've got style, you get noticed.  Austin Dooley, tipping it in.
Cool and collected, the Vancouver native, Blake Bunting, was right at home in the wet.  5th place in Junior Men.

"I missed my goggle straps three times!" Tongue out, as usual, Damon Sedivy has a really loose run from the sounds of it. 11th place for our friend from Montana.

Montana man motiviated in mud, Damon Sedivy

"I got a flat on a track with no rocks..." Bas van Steenbergen was a good sport and sent this mini huck with a flat. The spirit of racing for fun is still alive and well!

Is there anything better than a freerider who races? Bas Van Steenbergen rips.

Not Sasquatch, but good effort!
This weekend was hard on bodies and equipement, and not just between the tape.
A Storm Trooper literally being a trooper in the storm.

Only just returning to racing after sitting out while recovering from an injury sustained in the summer of 2016, Kialani Hines is someone to watch this summer. 4th place in Elite Women.

Easly seen in the dark and muddy woods with his notable helmet, Devin Kaejer was moving quick in the slick.  5th place in Junior Men.
Steady and consistent all weekend, Sam Kingshill kept it rubber-side-down for 5th in Elite Women.

SASQUATCH?!

Hucking for glory, Luca Cometti rode well, but will be looking for some more time at the next race. 29th in Elite Men.

Riding with tenacity and power, Forrest Riesco started pedaling before he even landed. That's a proper effort. 8th place in Elite Men.

Forrest Riesco at home in the...forest.

Riding with consistent pace and rock-solid form, Kaytlin Melvin kept the focus turned up to 11 for 7th place in Elite Women.

It doesn't always go to plan. Alex McAndrew hit the deck, but he is still stoked on the weekend.

Alex McAndrew still beaming

Ella Skalwold couldn't have been more stoked after the race. Finishing out in 8th at her first PGRT after an off-season rehab'ing a knee, it was all smiles and high fives at the end of the weekend.

Ella Skawold didn't mind she wasn't under an umbr-ella-ella-ella eh!

"These Crocs are the shot you want...I only brought these and my riding shoes!" A forgetful moment leads to intrepid spectating in gross conditions.

The sounds Kiran MacKinnon's tire made as he hammered this corner was flat-out inspiring. 5th place in Elite Men.

Kiran MacKinnon rounding out the podium

Best improvement on seeding goes to Warren Kniss:  50th to 11th in Elite Men Finals.  He has  the pace, so keep an eye on him this season.
Nate Furbee has the best cornering form of anyone I've seen in a long time.  Jared Graves would approve.  15th in Elite Men.

"On the fun program", Bubba Warren was charging in Finals. 3rd place for the affable wildman.

Austin Bubba Warren, program full-time fun

Still getting settled with the new bike, 21st for the first-year Elite rider, Henry Fitzergerald, is strong forward progress.
Goon ride the #69!  Trevor Lewis is Ronnie Mac-approved.

Henry Fitzgerald movin' on up

Amanda Wentz was hard to miss in her wicked blue kit.  She was riding wild and letting it slide, right into 12th in Elite Women.
Vital hombre, tester, shredder, and all around good dude, Steve Wentz was out here hanging loose.  67th in Elite Men.

Up to pace and pushing hard, Max Morgan didn't quite have the race run he was after. Coming back from a pre-season injury with poise was impressive enough, so don't think he won't be chomping at the bit when we see him next at the U.S. Open.

Max Morgan motivated

Remember: parking lot tricks are the building blocks of success. #wheeliesandskidsforlife

Kings of the pits with Queen of the mountain

Fully prepared!

This natural spotlight lit up Magnus Manson.

Magnus Manson just a knob's length away from top of the box

With three winners from the afternoon crowned, stories of “I WAS SO SIDEWAYS” and “…dude, I almost crashed like three times…!” were regaled, and congratulations were dolled out. Everyone was hungry and seeking warmth, resulting in the venue clearing out faster than you could say, “tear off!” The drive home saw a big ol’ rainbow arch across Port Angeles, which seemed like a fitting end to a rad weekend racing in the mud.

The PNW delivered despite not one Bigfoot sighting. See you at the U.S. Open!

Elite Women Podium (L to R): Kialani Hines; Vaea Verbeeck; Jill Kintner; Danni Beecroft; Sam Kingshill.

The future of Women's DH looks strong in the PNW

Elite Men Podium (L to R): Luke Strobel; Magnus Manson; Mitch Ropelato; Austin (Bubba) Warren; Kiran MacKinnon.

View Results from the Port Angeles Pro GRT

#USDH

1 comment
  • MW

    5/16/2017 9:37 AM

    Amazing coverage of US downhill! Thanks Vital!!!!!

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