Dodging Trees at High Speeds - Port Angeles Pro GRT Seeding

The rain came in but the speeds stayed up as Pro GRT competitors let it hang out during Saturday seeding runs.

We woke up to another damp day in Port Angeles, Washington, but with the sun was poking through, there was a fleeting moment of hope that the weather forecast would be wrong. By the time Elite riders were arriving to the race course at Dry Hill and the Cat 1-3 riders were finishing up, it quickly became apparent the day was not going to be dry; mud covered everything. As high fives were doled out among the arriving parties, the sun made half-hearted attempts to join in the fun. Its burst through the clouds were welcome but brief, and by 3pm as the moving vans shuttled riders (and the two Vital squids) up the road, the clouds had settled in heavy and dark. And it began to rain.

Jill Kintner is fast everywhere on track and knows this hill super well. Little surprise she was #1 in seeding.

#1 seed in Elite Men, Luke Strobel was not mucking about in the mud today. #29er

This is what it's all about right here!
Tear-offs, roll-offs, gloves, hoping...whatever it takes to keep the goggles clean in this sloppy weather.
Kiran MacKinnon's new mud paint job.

The fire pit was crowded today.

It wasn’t a particularly unpleasant day in the wet, the riders were prepared, and I knew better than to bet on it being a nice day – this is a mountain bike race, it rains more often than not. The riders were coping well with the varying conditions, from wet, splatter mud to thick, Nutella gooey ruts, being light on the bike was necessary to navigate the slot-car-track-like lines and unpredictable corners. There was still a fair few spectators lining the tape despite the inclement weather keeping the spirits up with some solid cheering and heckling.

Riding like a man possessed, Magnus Manson is on a mission here at [not so] Dry Hill. 11th in Elite Men, 5.65 seconds out of first, he looks capable of finding that time in Finals.

10th in Elite Women is a great starting point for Ella Skalwold at her first ProGRT!
Local ripper, Britney White, was poised and focused, keeping it fast and low for 7th in Elite Women.
2016 ProGRT overall winner Shane Leslie seeded in 12th.  That may seem a little off-pace, but considering he was literally in school on Friday, we know he's crammed the night before finals.
The big man from Montana is back between the tape this weekend. 17th in Junior Men seeding.

Don't sleep on Mitch Ropelato. He might be keeping it super low key this weekend, but his riding is anything but...5th in Elite Men seeding.

Rounding out the Top 10, Charlie Harrison has looked unsettlingly smooth on track.
Shredding into 6th, Kaytlin Melvin looked comfortable in the slick conditions.
Nic Rodgers gets some screen time once again because the camo just has to be seen (or not be seen!) to be believed.
Junior riders will always huck it for the crowd.

Fast and stylish are always a solid combo as Wiley Kaupus knows. 21st in Elite Men.

As seeding time came around, the sideline speculation was more about crashing than finish times. Thankfully, the off-track excursions which did take place were nothing serious and the racing went off without issue. The weather cooperated as much as it could have, and everyone got a fair run. The result was a lot of stoked riders who enjoyed the challenging-but-fun conditions. Luke Strobel and Jill Kintner took the top spots by 3 seconds and 4 seconds a piece. These two are dialed on this track and will be a challenging pair to beat. Finals is going to be notably wild!

Smokey and his skull ring. Hell yeah.

Ryen Melton came prepared to cheer, heckle, and spectate.

Ryen Melton on the weather

Layton Meyers finding his way through the canopy en route to 10th in Junior Men.
Practically from down the street, the Tacoma native Jake Grob was notably in control in the slick mud. 34th.
Declan Ervin pulling up for 9th in Junior Men.
Ben Wallace wasn't scared.

Daniel Shaw laughs at your aero gear. 26th in Elite Men.

Remnants of a good time.

Do you believe?

The marshals all have hi-vis vests and ridiculously loud whistles.  Safety first!
Feed stations are coming to DH, you saw it here first.

Jason Schroeder is getting a little riding-redemption this weekend. 7th in Elite Men.

Shredder, Schroeder schralping

Local ripper, Britney White, was poised and focused, keeping it fast and low for 7th in Elite Women.
First-year Elite Woman, Emily Gacad, will be one to watch in the years ahead.  12th in Elite Women.
Kialani Hines was fast and loose, getting wild all the way down the hill for 4th in Elite Women.

3rd in seeding, Kiran MacKinnon has more on tap for tomorrow to push himself up higher on the box.

Kiran MacKinnon ready for race day

Sending it large on the Waterfall gap, Alex McAndrew kept it wide open in his run for 18th.

Alex and Ella, stoked

Winner of the 2016 round here in Port Angeles, Tanner Stephens is looking dialed on track. 14th in Elite Men.

Luca Cruz crossed the border to come south for this event.  1st in Junior Men shows he's not here as a tourist.
Kendall McLean was hanging off the back and letting loose for 5th in Junior Men.
Riding under the radar and keeping to himself, Kirk McDowall reminded everyone he was on track by seeding 2nd in Elite Men.

Kirk McDowell, 2nd place, under the radar

Riding aggressively and with serious speed, it was no surprise that Vaea Verbeeck seeded in 2nd in Elite Women.

Warren Kniss ready for a new day

Bas van Steenbergen made the trek all the way from Kelowna, BC, to come race.  30th.
A forgettable run for Warren Kniss, but smiling nonetheless.  50th
Lean in and hang on, Steve Walton warping into 6th in Junior Men.
Now that is some power.  Luca Cometti getting some serious drive.  35th in Elites.
Luca Cometti's bike post-race...still a looker.

Blake Bunting has some serious speed. 3rd in Junior men, only 1.02 seconds out from the top step in seeding.

Ethan Shandro, son of bike legend Andrew Shandro, has clearly inherited the riding gene. 4th in Junior Men, only 2.52 seconds back on his teammate in 1st.

Keeping it casual as usual, Austin Warren floated into 9th in Elite Men.

8th in Elite Men, Max Morgan is looking strong back between the tape.

Max Morgan, glad to be back

Stay tuned for the Pro GRT race day coverage right here on Vital MTB!


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