2018 U.S. Open DH Finals - Sunshine and Slop, Dancing with the Beast 2

When the word unrideable starts being tossed around, you know it's going to be an epic race day.

2018 U.S. Open DH Finals - Sunshine and Slop, Dancing with the Beast

It rained all night. The track looked more like a stream in places than a race course; “unrideable” was a word uttered more than once in practice, which set a challenging tone for the day ahead. Bikes were caked in heavy, wet mud and riders were too… some more than others, depending on the amount of time spent on the ground. By the time racing was to commence, the sun had finally arrived, late to the party as usual.

The ruts turned into a bog and then into a Mudbog Boogie for the remainder of the day.

For Finals, a large percentage of riders switched to flat pedals, for good reason.

Everyone was feeling the need for more coffee this weekend, rain and mud seem to give that feeling.
Someone spilled some soup.

Just chilling this weekend, Dak Norton still looked like he was having a good time in the classic East Coast conditions.

Lighter riders were getting thrown around in the unpredicatable conditions. Anthony Poulson managed to hang onto this one at least!

Just happy to be able to race, Dillon Lamarr was first man down the hill today and first one into relaxation mode.

Dillon Lemarr in audio

Fun to ride, hard to race; this was a common opinion this weekend. Demetri leaned into just having fun and not being too serious.

Demetri Triantafillou in audio

The winner of Most Kit Changes In A Day, Nik Nestoroff hung it out for 7th in Finals.
White was a risky choice, but Magnus Manson kept it clean, minus the roost!

A strong showing this weekend for Steve Estabrook, landing in 14th!

Most people were tripods today, Steven Ceballos demonstrating.

Polished aluminum and red is a pretty swanky combo!

Warren Kniss Discusses this New Phil Wood Componetry

Phil Wood has some special stuff going!
These hubs...
A bottom bracket can be pretty, as it turns out.

So nice, you can see yourself in them!

It was a story of heartbreak today for Jason Schroeder. He was in 3rd, at the first three splits, and then had three different falls after, the last one being in the rock garden at the bottom. Disappointing, but an impressive showing none the less!

Jason Schroeder in audio

How much ya bench?
A tough save...
Even after all of that, Warren Kniss still managed 8th...goodness.

Warren Kniss in audio

GPS recalculating; Dylan Conte didn't quite have the day he was hoping for, but with bigger fun on the horizon, he was just happy to be all good.

Dylan Conte in audio

Gavin Black getting creative with mud defense.

It was great to see Alex McAndrew stoked and back between the tape.
Jordan had the vision for this track in his head for years, as Killington is his home mountain. He helped bring the US Open track to life.

Jordan Newth in audio

9th place and some strong line choice for Rafa Gutierrez!

Smiling, always. Obviously Ryan Burney.

Ryan Burney in audio

The US Open brings out a lot of local heros. Jason Memmelaar may not race as much these days, but he's not slowing down either!

After quarreling with the mountain yesterday, Ian Collins rallied and landed in 5th in 35+! His last race before this was Durango in 2005.

Ian Collins in audio

He's a rad dude with a lot of talent, just give him some time! 11th for Gaetan Vige.

Gaetan Vige in audio

Connor Fearon doing what he does best. He was in 2nd place at the first 3 splits when a crash ripped off his front brake and he rode the last quarter of the track, the steepest part, with just a rear brake. He managed to salvage the run for 10th in the end. Savage on in the given conditions!

Not a prototype air brake.
These things happen.

Ross Soriano realizing how important hydration is.

In the Women’s race, it was anyone’s game. The track has changed so drastically, it was pretty much a different monster for everyone dropping in – they were the second-to-last category to drop. No one had a clean run, it was a story of determination, frustration, and flat-out apathy…most just wanted to get down safely. By her own admission, a mix of luck and skill favored Vaea Verbeeck, who took the win. It was a huge challenge and feat for the intrepid bunch, but it was great to see such comradery amongst the competitors who all seemed to rejoice in commiserating about their battles with The Beast!

There was a long lull between practice and race time, Sam Soriano took the opportunity to conserve energy.

In just her second year racing, Mazie Hayden has been making quite the impression. 6th place in Women right in her backyard.

She has been racing non-stop all summer, mainly Enduro, so 5th place for Rachel Pagou is a strong result! She's only just started racing World Cup-level DH this season!

Racheal Pagou in audio

The constant commentary eminating from Sam Soriano's helmet in practice is hilarious. Her race run didn't quite go to plan, but for a first-year DH endeavor, she is definitely on the right track!

Samantha Soriano in audio

Crissy was jazzed for her lil' pinner Sam and her strong showing at Killington.

3rd place for Frida Rønning this weekend, a fantastic result as she regains her form we saw in 2017.

Frida Ronning in audio

At the end of the day, it is all about having fun with your crew and riding bikes.

The morning was unkind to most riders. Ella actually opted to go take some fun runs on other tracks she knows at the hill to find the fun and get back in the groove after briefly falling into a figurative and literal rut during her opening lap of practice.

Ella Skalwold Alex McAndrew in audio

Ella is a powerhouse athlete, but even she was feeling the fatigue of the track. She trooped on and put down a gritty run to smash into 2nd place!

Rocking the fresh National Champ sleeve, Vaea Verbeeck took the win in her first race weathering the red and white!

Vaea Verbeeck in audio

Across the line, showing green, into first. A big win for Vaea!

Women's podium [L to R]: Rachel Pagou, Frida Rønning, Vaea Verbeeck, Ella Skalwold, Sam Soriano.

For the Men, the last afternoon race meant strange conditions with a healthy mix of not-really-that-dry-but-kind-of and straight up mud bogs. Many riders swapped over to flat pedals in hopes of at least keeping balance on control. With some unlikely results on the board, namely Bernard in 5thafter not practicing and Jackson Frew in 2ndwho was completely flabbergasted that he’d managed to do so well in such mind-boggling conditions. The true story of the day though was Neko Mulally taking the win, back-to-back, on two very different tracks. It was his race,  and the times show that he efforts were a notch above the rest. A big win at old stomping grounds once again, it was a really exciting finish to the event.

A pre-race nap is crucial for success, apparently. #protip

Talk about an impressive ride: no practice for Bernard Kerr, but managed a 5th place run. Wow.

Bernard Kerr in audio

Leaving scorched earth in his path (or a lot of roost at least), Isak Leivsson put down a heater for 4th.

Isak Leivsson in audio

Experiencing some might fine over-steer to a Family Circus-style line through the rocks, Wyn still managed 3rd place!

Wyn or lose...

Jackson Frew showed some great tenacity and versatility being an Aussie in 2nd place after contending with the worst of the worst.

Flying into the finish, Neko was 6 seconds up on time.

It was anything but an easy time for him, but he never quit and dug deep.

Neko Mulally in audio

For which he was rewarded, winning his second US Open, back-to-back.

Neko barely had his helment off when the requests came flooding in.
Being a man of the people, a humble champion, he was happy to provide.
Number 1, well earned.
It was a sea of smiles around the finish corral.
Stories were swapped as everyone cooled off - it was a wild event.
These dudes!

The sun was shining, but the track wasn't done being gross just yet.

<3

A proud mom getting one for the [digital] scrapbook.
Of course, she needs to be in at least one of the shots!

Racing is a family event for Neko and his clan. Jim, Neko's grandpa, relaxes before the frenzie with some soduku.

Neko's Grandfather, Jim in audio

Ominous skies didn't scare off the crowd during awards.
The only showers we had during Finals were of the Champagne variety.

Men's podium [L to R]: Bernard Kerr, Wyn Masters, Neko Mulally, Jackson Frew, Isak Leivsson.

The US Open produced a great race, two newly crowned National Champions taking the wins, the bar has once again been raised for what makes a cool, fun, and exciting event.

BONUS MUDDY BIKE CHECK!

Kiran played a key role in the development of the new Santa Cruz V10 29

Obligatory license plate.


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