Fotoweaver Wvr 2609
National Championships

Stars-and-Stripes Jerseys Awarded in XC and DH Events on Day Five of Mountain Bike Nationals

By: Jackie Tyson  July 22, 2018

Snowshoe, W.Va. – The penultimate day of the 2018 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships featured a diverse spectrum of race categories and weather conditions at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. The final six cross-country events were completed for the championship calendar, including Junior 17-18, U23 and Pro races for women and men. The largest field featured 95 riders in the Men’s Junior 17-18 contest, and repeat victories were earned in both the women’s and men’s pro races.

The gravity events for downhill were held on the Western Territory section of Snowshoe Resort and featured 16 amateur levels. The fog and drizzle that clung to the mountaintop much of the morning and eventually gave way to sunshine at the end of the day for the downhill seeding runs of Junior 17-18 and Pro women and men. The pro men’s seeding race was decided by three seconds, between two riders who grew up riding in the Mountain State. The entertaining non-championship Team Relay capped a full day of racing on Saturday.


Racing began in a blanket fog and light rain for the cross-country events as competitors tackled the 3.9-mile Pro XC course, including two signature sections of the rock garden. The course was ridden three times by the Junior 17-18 Women, four times by the Junior 17-18 Men, U23 Women, and Pro Women, five laps for U23 Men, and six laps for the Pro Men.

After one lap in the large Men’s Junior 17-18 contest, Quinn Simmons (Durango, Colo.) pulled away and never looked back to claim the win. The battle for the silver was decided by less than 30 seconds, Jake Yackle (Spokane, Wash.) making the decisive push, followed by Paul Fabian (Prescott, Ariz.) in third.

“This is my third different national championship venue, and this is definitely my favorite course,” Simmons said about riding at Snowshoe Resort. “It's a super high power course, it's based on technical riding and being super powerful and smooth. It’s tons of fun. I rode as steady as I could, trying not to make any mistakes. This new category (17-18) is more important for sure; it's the one we all want to win, so it feels really good.”

In spite of a broken bone in her wrist, Madeline Robbins (Durango, Colo.) pushed early to the front of the 39-rider field in the Women’s Junior 17-18 and scored the championship win. Katie Clouse (Park City, Utah) held on for second, pushed to the line by third-place finisher Mina Ricci (Woodacre, Calif.).

“The first lap I was just trying to get as far ahead as I could and use that little bit of luck with everybody else crashing,” said first-time national champion Robbins. “The next lap I could tell people were catching me, so I was just trying to hold on and keep my mind in the right spot and keep going. The final lap, it was more about staying smart and not crashing.”

In the Women’s U23 competition, Savilia Blunk (Inverness, Calif.) overtook Haley Batten (Park City, Utah) in the second-half of the race and crushed it at the front to win back-to-back national titles. Blunk won the Junior 17-18 division last year. Batten recovered from a mechanical to capture the silver. Gwendalyn Gibson (Ramona, Calif.) chased the duo for third.

The Men’s U23 race saw several different riders grappling at the front for the lead. After three laps, Sandy Floren (Berkeley, Calif.) began driving the pace at the front, which turned into a 17-second gap for the victory over Carson Beckett (Benton, Ky.). Jerry Dufour (Birmingham, Ala.) chased all day and worked his way into third overall.

Kate Courtney (Kentfield, Calif./Specialized Racing) pulled away to a dominating repeat victory in the Women’s Pro XC race, gaining 40 seconds on a chase group after the first lap. Erin Huck (Boulder, Colo./Bicycle Racing Association of Colo.) lost some time on each circuit, but never lost her position, finishing second. Ellen Noble (Kennebunkport, Maine/Trek Factory Racing) worked her way from sixth to finish third.

“It's always a tricky race at Nationals, everyone brings their A-game, and the racing is really tough from the gun,” said Courtney. “We went out pretty hard and really battled through that single-track. For me, today was all about riding within myself and setting my own pace. I'm really psyched I executed my plan, and I had a really, really great ride out there. The course got tacky enough and it was just a bit technical and slippery in the rooty sections. Overall, the course was great and we didn't have any rain so it was a perfect race today.”

An early two-man battle developed in the Men’s Pro XC field of 38 riders. Howard Grotts (Durango, Colo./Specialized Racing) and Christopher Blevins (Durango, Colo./Specialized Racing) dueled for the lead, with Lukas Vrouwenvelder (Chapel Hill, N.C./Bear Development Team) keeping the pair within sight for most of the day. Grotts grabbed a gap on the fourth lap and held on for his fourth consecutive XC national championship. Vrouwenvelder finished 39 seconds back for second. Blevins would overcome a flat tire on lap three to push his way into the third spot.

“It's a pretty difficult course, but it suits me pretty well. The climbs are pretty good for me, the technical sections are a little tough being a little guy but it was still fun and we had great weather,” Grotts added. “Going to the World Cups wearing the Stars & Stripes is extra motivation to show up and push harder. It's incredible representing the U.S. I look forward to wearing it at the World Championships this year.”


The gravity events for downhill were held on the Western Territory section of Snowshoe Resort. The youngest champions were 11-year-old riders in the 11-12 categories, Fred Lariviere (Lehi, Utah) for men and Manning Merten (Jamul, Calif.) for women. The oldest DH winner was 71-year-old Mark Poore (Slatyfork, W. Va.), who claimed the title in the men’s 70-74 age category. For the women, 55-year-old Lynn Childers (Barboursville, Virg.) repeated as a master champion, this year in the Category 1 55-59 age category.

The Women’s Junior 15-16 Category 1 title went to Ella Erickson (Hayden, Idaho). McKenna Merten (Jamul, Calif.) was second and Dixie Owens (Yucaipa, Calif.) was third. The champion in the Women’s 17-18 division went to Isabella Naughton (Flagstaff, Ariz.). Alli Gaertner (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho) finished second and Jordan Bell (Irwin, Penn.) closed for third.

In two other women’s contests, Kristy Fiola (Burgettstown, Penn.) won the title in the Senior 19-24 Category 1 division and Stephanie Sowles (Colchester, Vt.) secured the win in the Women’s Master 40-49 division.

The Men’s Junior 13-14 age group title went to Andrew Driscoll (Bow, N.H.). Evan Medcalf (Albuquerque, N.M.) and Seth Pritchard (Hooker, Okla.) were second and third, respectively.

The fastest winning time of the day went to Men’s Junior 15-16 Category 1 champion Chris Grice (Asheville, N.C.), who won in 3:52.199. The 15 year old won the title after finishing third in qualifying. Matthew Sterling (San Jose, Calif.) earned the silver and Tyler Ervin (Alpine, Calif.) rode to bronze.

In the Men’s Senior 19-24 Category 1 race, 19-year-old Drake Barron (La Crescenta, Calif.), who was second in qualifying, outdistanced top-qualifier Jake Wade (Manassas, Virg.) for the win.

Following are the Top 3 results for additional Men’s Downhill Category 1 races:

M Senior 25-29

  1. Ralph Orr (Glendale, Ariz.) 4:18:746
  2. Ross McDonald (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  3. Cory Haralson (Tulsa, Okla.)

M Master 30-34

  1. Michael Van Horn (Indianapolis, Ind.) 4:34.254
  2. Jesse Borror (Morgantown, W.Va.) 4:35.359
  3. Jake Fiola (Burgettstown, Penn.) 5:11.824

M Master 35-39

  1. Tom Nieri (Churchill, Penn.) 4:34.032
  2. David Morgan (Canton, Miss.) 4:48.211
  3. Andrew Farrell (Park City, Utah) 6:08.774

M Master 40-44

  1. Paulo Martins (Newark, N.J.) 4:23.461
  2. Jason Beckley (Clifton Heights, Penn.) 4:25.402
  3. Mike Hummel (West Newton, Penn.) 4:34.024

M Master 45-49

  1. Kevin Liebig (Martinsville, Virg.) 4:14.902
  2. Andrew Richter (Greenville, S.C.) 4:55.984
  3. Chuck Pitts (McDonough, Ga.) 5:29.511

M Master 50-54

  1. Phillip Downell (Fort Washington, Md.) 6:26.754
  2. Barry Page (Ocean Springs, Miss.) 6:32.957
  3. Doug Tate (Kokomo, Ind.) 6:39.047

M Master 55-59

  1. Dennis Foster (Murrieta, Calif.) 5:19.961
  2. Clealan Watts (Fairview, N.C.) 5:24.746
  3. Daniel Brewer (Bellevue, Penn.) 5:45.36

M Master 60-64

  1. Bobby Bondurant (Big Bear City, Calif.) 6:23.453
  2. Joe Fabris (Watsonville, Calif.) 7:21.39
  3. Bruce McCann (Cinicinnati, Ohio) 9:21.20

M Master 65-69

  1. Bob Bevard (Heath, Ohio) 7:14.8
  2. Joel Creed (Indianapolis, Ind.) 9:31.4


The fast and furious non-championship team relay title went to Bear Development Team, finishing 35 seconds ahead of Crosswind Sports Management. Rocktown Bicycles rounded out the Top Three.


The final day of the championships on Sunday will feature downhill finals, for Junior 17-18 and Pro women and men categories, and short track cross-country events. The seedings for the men’s pro DH was decided by three seconds on Saturday, with two riders who grew up riding in the Mountain State earning the top two spots - Neko Mullaly (Pisgah Forest, N.C.) and Luca Shawn (Hendersonville, N.C.). Ten STXC events will feature all-out efforts of 20-plus minutes. The men’s 15-18 age division will be split into 15-16 and 17-18 races, following the women’s 17-plus race. The women’s pro race will take place at 1:35 p.m. (20 minutes plus two laps) and the men’s pro race will take place at 2:15 p.m. (20 minutes plus three laps). Awards will follow close to 3 p.m.