A Beast Lurking in the Mist - 2018 U.S. Open Seeding Action 1

Seeding gets greasy in Killington, Vermont as riders tackle one of the longest East Coast DH courses in recent years.

A Beast Lurking in the Mist - 2018 U.S. Open Seeding Action

Rain, rain, go away! A slow, steady drizzle all day made for a damp Friday on the hill for everyone. Goggle fog, packed tires, and general fatigue brought out a lot of mixed emotions from riders who were having fun but equally struggling with different aspects of the track and/or conditions. The US Open has always been a special event with a special track, and this is no exception. There hasn't been a track so big on the East Coast since the Whiteface 5k, so it's good to see a new challenge arise - gotta keep racers honest! Heading into Finals, the weather is looking dubious, but everyone is prepared to give it a go.  Shake them dice, then roll 'em!

A tough start to any day when it's raining on the way to the office.

The rain started to spit the moment 8 o'clock hit.
Spikes were the call for many riders today, though anyone on a 29er was left wishing for them.

Walking the talk.

A light-hearted ride up to the top with Luca, Dak, and Rachel was needed this morning with the weather giving little and less right from the getgo.

The hill was shrouded all day. Led Zeppelin-approved.

Conditions at the top as practice started were not optimal.

Kiran prehopping and catching the back side of this blind roll, which became even more crucuial as the goop on the flat section after took away rolling speed.

The Drummer Racing dudes were swapping stories of close calls only halfway down the track on their first run. It was a treacherous start to the day.

Steathy and smooth, Rachel Pagou has been riding with great consistency this weekend. She landed in 2nd in Seeding!

The variable track left a lot of riders wondering about PSI and tire choice early in the morning.

The light changes with the weird rolling mist and low clouds made the transitions a little like dropping into The Abyss. Dylan Conte about to launch into the dark.

Mauricio Estrada has become quite the local legend for his unrelenting speed. He kept it clean to in 20th today.
After his stack yesterday, Bernard was barely able to hold on in practice. He took a single run and rolled the gate in an effort to preserve himself for the big show.
Mud tires were the go-to for today.
We asked him if he could dig in a puddle gap at the bottom; he said no.

Ella Skalwold has technique and form for the books. Smart riding today, sliding into 7th in Seeding.

Ella Skalwold in audio

Practice steez to keep the mind at ease, Jordan Newth keeping it fun.

Living in BC means a lot of wet riding, but even Vaea was challenged by today's conditions. A strong 3rd in Seeding showed that she wasn't put off by the slime though.
Astride a special horse, Wyn threw on some tech to help find the sweet spot for this seemingly untamable track.

If there is one person who should be complaining this week, it's Jackson Frew - but he's all smiles and cracking on with things just fine, seeding in 3rd.

Jackson Frew in audio

It's a fine line between bravery and stupidity. This guy was getting after it though, proving that you work with the tools you have sometimes.

Welcome to the section of your nightmares.
New England doesn't do deep topsoil, so once it gets turned out, the little buddies hiding underneath come out to play and cause issues with traction.

Connor and his flat pedals seem unphased by the loose conditions, Seeding in2nd, just 2 seconds back.

Issac Allaire is the top guy on the East Coast this summer, and he's looking mighty quick here on home turf.
7th in Seeding for the big man Isak Leivsson.

Demetri putting the hurt on a crucial catch rut in one of the faster woods sections.

Demetri Triantafillou in audio

The one-race-wonder, Sean Leader has made the trek north from The Rock aka Windrock Bike Park just to attend the USO.

Sean Leader in audio

Diving to the inside heading into a section called Chop Chop isn't on everyone's list, but Ryan Burney isn't everyone.

Sometimes, the track isn't on your side.

Remember the name: Steve Estabrook! 6th place for the local. Yeah dad!

Some places are starting look more like a moto track than a DH race.

He can jump and he can go fast! Seth Hanson low and charging into 16th.

Yeah, ok Magnus Manson... wow.

Seeding in 8th with a solid crash is quite the feat that Kiran MacKinnon pulled off! Looking ahead towards the race tomorrow.

Kiran MacKinnon in audio

Frida is finding her way back to form after a tough start to the season, but she is looking like her 2017 self here at the USO which bodes well, as does her 4th place in Seeding!

Frida Ronning in audio

Panda Power is like Horse Power, but cuter.

Rafa Gutierrez leading out Steven Cabellos, showing just how drastic the pitch is in the lower woods.

Warren Kniss just wanted to ride smart and steady, which actually seemed to be faster than people trying to let things run a bit.
Ross Soriano anticipated tasting dirt today, but kept it upright and on track the whole way down!

Warren Kniss in audio

Ross Soriano in audio

Gaetan had a crash after the first sector in Seeding, which suffled him back to 4th at the finish. He's looking fast and comfortable though, only Finals will tell.

If you get assistance for being co-factory with Commencal, you have Crissy to thank. She shreds, has rad stories, and is up-beat as can be!

Creative riding can yield effective results. Alex McAndrew really earning the inside line!

Alex McAndrew in audio

On of the East Coast O.G.'s, Oliver Levick is back at it here at Killington, sneaky lines and all!

Oliver Levick in audio

Racing means adapting, and Shane Leslie is doing best with a 10th in Seeding after being on the moon last week and taking the win.

Shane Leslie in audio

She rides like she skis, so Mazie Hayden knew when to play it smart in Seeding, keeping it clean for 5th.

Mazie Hayden in audio

There are three types of people...
Former teammates on the Eastern States Cup Juniors squad, Avi and Mazie catch up after her run...and give Vital their best Blue Steele.

If anyone is looking for the track next week, it's probably at the bike wash.

Letting it get a little wild into a tight right, Max Morgan wasn't pulling punches in the less-than-ideal conditions. 5th in Seeding, and he wants the weather to get worse!

Max Morgan, interviewed by Neko Mulally's mom

Tough day on the hill for Dillon Lemarr who found the ground in a big way. Coming away ok, he chose to just roll the gate in Seeding to save himself for Finals.

Dillon Lemarr in audio

The ruts hold lies, as they are filled with sniper roots and rocks...smash at your own risk.
Littering and...Littering and...?

It's tumultuous and fickle, racing. Jason Schroeder is riding strong, but the conditions are still proving tough.

If you wear sandals to spectate a wet DH race, you're gonna have a bad time, m'kay.

There were a lot of riders milling about after their runs wondering how they got down once it started raining.

Mini but Mighty, Sam Soriano may downplay her riding, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

Samantha Soriano in audio

Sam was the top finisher in Seeding in Open Women by over 25 seconds...!

Neko is a cool customer, keeping it low key each day and spending his time in pits with his partner Callie and his family when not riding.

Neko Mulally in audio

To still be this focused after 3 minutes of racing, with another 1.5 minutes to go is quite impressive. But, that's probably why Neko Seeded in the top spot.

It's true that squids live in the ocean, but Squids aren't generally fond of inclement weather. Ian Collins braved the mess...and gets to do it all over again on race day.

Ian Collins in audio

Finals is going to be an interesting time with a boat-load of rain in the forecast through the night.

Hey Olly, what's the weather going to do?

Oli and Eric hanging out and soaking in some entertainment spectating at the finish line.

A SPECIAL US OPEN BONUS!


This is Jesse Whitsell. He is a living legend on the East Coast, hailing from the heyday of DH when the Sunday was gospel and anything but 26's were weird. He's still faster than you and is currently entrenched in the world of rally racing in place of DH. This weekend is his first time back on a bike properly in about two years. His house is full of MTB history with prototype frames, parts, and race plates. Guys like Jesse are the lifeblood of the sport, and it was great to see him and catch up on life.
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