Tennessee Opens 2021 National Downhill Series with a Bang
Harrison, Ronning, Rude, and Lawrence win Elite classes for Downhill and Enduro
By: Angelina Palermo March 16, 2021
The Tennessee National was a huge success this weekend at Windrock Bike Park with 740 registrants across the Downhill and Enduro races. The mountain bike crowd was eager to get back to racing with all the heavy hitters making their way to the world-class bike park in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Qualifying runs went down on Friday with rain rolling in right before seeding, making riders adapt quickly to the wet course conditions. Luca Shaw (Santa Cruz Syndicate, Hendersonville, N.C.) took the lead by only 0.96 seconds over Dakotah Norton (YT Mob; Oliver Springs, Tenn.) with Charlie Harrison (Trek Factory Racing; Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) in third for the Elite Men’s Qualifying runs. In the Elite Women’s event, Kailey Skelton (KHS Factory; Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) took the fastest time with over a 4-second lead on 2020 National DH Series winner, Frida Ronning (Commencal USA; Knoxville, Tenn.), with Caroline Washam (Liv Racing; Mooresville, N.C.) coming in third. As they say, it’s not over until it’s over, and race day proved to be just that.
On Saturday the track was wet and muddy in true Windrock style. The Elite Men were blazing fast with Harrison taking the win only 0.08 seconds over Norton. 2020 National DH Series winner, Steven Walton (KHS Factory; Murrieta, Calif.), came in third showing he is on pace with the best downhillers in the country. The race favorite after Friday’s seeding, Luca Shaw, had a crash coming into the woods toward the bottom of the track ending his race run. Thankfully he is okay from the crash.
The Elite Women put on a show with 2020 event winner, Ronning, taking the win over Skelton. Mazie Hayden (North Claredon, V.T.) would finish in the same minute as Skelton rounding out the top-3.
New for the 2021 National DH Series, USA Cycling will also be crowning an overall series winner in the Junior Classes. Christopher Grice (Specialized Factory Racing; Pisgah Forest, N.C.) laid down a heater on Friday and never looked back grabbing the win in the Junior 17-18 DH Finals. Grice finished over 4 seconds in front of Keegan Rowley (Commencal USA; Channahon, Ill.) with Dean Lindsey (Pleasanton, Calif.) in third. Ella Erickson (Commencal USA; Hayden, Idaho) would take the overall points to lead for the Junior Women.
Sunday brought on the three-stage Enduro race to the hills of Oak Ridge. In the Elite Men’s race, Richie Rude (Team Yeti/ FOX; Redding, Conn.) had a clean sweep as he won all three stages and snagged the win with a 30-second lead over teammate, Warren Kniss (Team Yeti/ FOX; Golden, Colo.). Another teammate, Shawn Neer (Team Yeti/ FOX; Golden, Colo.) ended the day in third. For the Elite Women, Kate Lawrence (Boulder, Colo.) dominated all of the stages as well taking the win 2-minutes ahead of Isabella Naughton (Liv Racing; Flagstaff, Ariz.). Amelia Capuano (Boiling Springs, Penn.) grabbed the third spot just 17-seconds back from second.