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The world of mountain biking was busier than ever this past weekend, with Slope Style Events and World Cup Racing. With everything happening around the world, The Chile Challenge, which is the first gravity round of the Mountain States Cup, was going down in Angel Fire, New Mexico.

Riders from Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Utah, and parts of California started to pour in to Angel Fire Thursday afternoon. I didn’t make my way up to Angel Fire Resort till early Friday morning. My alarm went off bright and early, I packed up the car, picked up my friend, grabbed some breakfast burritos, and we were off.

The drive to Angel Fire was short, and when we rolled up to the mountain, it was a good scene to see. There were so many riders stoked for the first gravity race of the season, and it was awesome to see friends that we had not seen since last season.

Friday on the mountain was a pretty relaxed day for me, with PRO/CAT 1 Downhill practice in the morning, and PRO/ CAT 1 Dual Slalom practice in the afternoon. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so relaxed for the pro riders. The pro Downhill course was rougher than ever, and it was tough to find good smooth lines. All the riders knew that not only was this course going to test them mentally, but it was going to test them physically, too.

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After pro downhill practice, many headed up the hill for PRO/CAT 1 Dual Slalom practice. When the riders made it to the top of the course, it was a flashback to old school dual slalom, with the slalom poles that are used on skiing racecourses. At first, the riders would ride around the poles, then after getting used to the poles, the riders would run into the poles.

As practice started to dwindle down, the PRO/ CAT 1 riders were looking fast. We knew tomorrow’s show was going to be good. The slalom course was dry, loose, and had plenty of flat turns.

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Saturday: Dual Slalom Finals

Saturday morning started with PRO/ CAT 1 dual slalom practice from 9:30am- 11am. The riders started to warm up, with qualifying to begin at 11am. I could see that everyone was comfortable, getting loose, and hitting the slalom poles. Right when practice ended, qualifying began. Riders one by one dropped in on their qualifying run. Qualifying went really quick, and Chris Boice of Yeti/ Fox was the number one qualifier for Pro Men, and Darian Harvey was the number one qualifier for Pro Women.

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After qualifying ended, there was a long break before finals were to begin. Some went up for downhill practice, while many just hung out in the pits to stayed rested. Around 2:30pm, Pro/ CAT 1 riders started to hike back up to the dual slalom track. Finals were to begin at 3pm, and riders had a short time to warm up.

Two riders loaded the gate. The computer said, “ Ok riders, random start. Riders ready? Watch the gate” and down the gate went, as the first two riders raced down. Slowly, riders raced down, and the draw got smaller and smaller. Before we knew it, the number one and two qualifiers, Chris Boice of Yeti/ Fox and Eric Nelson of Commencal/Dainese/Smith/Fox/Spank, were loaded in the gate for the big final. The gate dropped, and down they raced. Boice was in the red gate, and Nelson was in the blue. Neck and neck, they come down to the final straight, and Boice beat Nelson by less than half a second. Back up the hill they went for round number two of the big final.

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The gate dropped again, and off Boice and Nelson went. Neck and neck, they come down the final straight again, with Nelson in the red gate and Boice in the blue gate. Nelson crossed the finish line in front of Boice for the win by .47. Eric Nelson and Darian Harvey are the Pro Men and Woman Chile Challenge Dual Slalom Champions.

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Men’s results
1. Eric Nelson Commencal/ Dainese/ Smith/ Spank
2. Chris Boice Yeti/ Fox
3. Ross Milan Yeti/ Fox
4. Michael Buell Team Geronimo/ Banshee bikes

Woman’s results
1. Darian Harvey Vixen Racing
2. Catherine Cantway

Sunday Downhill Finals

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It was an early alarm clock for me Sunday morning, with my friends having an early downhill practice. Pro/ Cat 1 downhill seeding was to begin at 10:15am. I rolled up to the starting gate to start my hike down the course. Some riders were just hanging out and talking, while others were taking a last look at the top section of the course before dropping in.

At 10:15am sharp, riders were being sent down the course for seeding. Chris Boice was the first one sent down, and riders followed behind him. Seeding only took an hour. With the rough course, it was uncertain who was going to come out on top over the weekend. The top Pro men’s qualifier was Kain Leonard and the top Pro woman was Darian Harvey.


There was another long break between qualifying and finals. Most of us just hung out at the condo and relaxed. The weather was starting to get bad, with dark clouds starting to come in, and heavy wind. Everyone was hoping for some moisture, but it never came. At 2pm, the first pro woman was on course.

Everyone waited anxiously for the first rider and finally, there she was. Two other female riders tightly followed, and the Pro men were soon to be on course. Slowly, the thirty-six pro men started to make their way down. Everyone was coming down with times around 5:20, until Drew Pautler came down with a 5:05.77. Drew sat in the hot seat for a while, until local hometown rider Dan Weinman came down with a 4:58.94.

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Dan sat in the hot seat for a little bit, until Eric Nelson took the hot seat. The last 10 riders were on course, and no one knew who was going to take it. Nelson was shortly bumped from his hot seat, and Joey Schusler of Yeti/ Fox sat in the hot seat as the final three riders were on course. Everyone was anxiously waiting, wondering if the rider flatted, went down, or if he was going to come down with a solid time. The number three qualifiers, Jason Memmelaar of DRD X-Fusion/Intense was in the last stretch, and came down with an outstanding time of 4:53.40, and took the hot seat. The number two qualifier, Brian Buell of Team Geronimo/ Banshee Bikes, came down with a time of 4:58.83, which was good for 5th. Now we all waited for the number one qualifier, Kain Leonard of Crested Butte Mountain. Kain came out of the trees and worked his way down the last stretch. Kain crossed the finish line with a time of 4:54.57, which was good for second place.

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Jason Memmelaar of DRD X-Fusion/Intense, and Darian Harbey of Vixen Racing were the 2011 Pro Men and Woman Downhill Chile Challenge winners. I spoke with Jason after the race, and he was so excited to be able to race at Angel Fire. Jason said, “ I’ve always wanted to ride where the World Cup once was. Angel Fire was the opposite from the U.S. Open. It was rough, dusty, moon like, and the lunar module would work best. You could chose so many lines, until the track chose for you. It was the perfect track for the Intense M9.”

Top 10 Men’s results
1. Jason Memmelaar DRD X-Fusion/ Intense 4:53.40
2. Kain Leonard Crested Butte Mountain 4:54.57
3. Joey Schusler Yeti/ Fox 4: 54.96
4. Erik Nelson Commencial/Dainese/Smith/Fox/ Spank 4:56.93
5. Brian Buell Team Geronimo/ Banshee Bikes 4:58.83
6. Daniel Weinman Angel Fire Bike Park 4:58.94
7. Trevor Trinkino Yeti RPM 5:01.01
8. Chris Heath KHS Factory Racing 5.02.01
9. Naish Ulmer Spy Optics/ Rollic 5.05.77
10. Drew Pautler Primary Trek 5.05.92

Top Woman’s result
1. Darian Harvey Vixen Racing 6:34.47
2. Amy Scherm 7:25.44
3. Alisha Gibson 7:53.03

After the awards, I said my good byes, and headed back to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I hope everyone had a good time, and hope to see you in Angel Fire next year.

Lange Lives On.

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