BLUNK AND SWENSON CROWNED XC NATIONAL CHAMPIONS

Morrison and Rude claim gold in professional enduro events

News release from USA Cycling

Savilia Blunk. Photo by John Vargus

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Day six of the 2022 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships saw enduro, short-track, and cross-country national champions crowned. With the top racers in the country battling to the finish, today’s races captivated spectators both online and in person.

Cross-Country

The U23 Women were the first endurance riders to hit the course in the morning. Madigan Munro (Boulder, Colo.; Trek Factory Racing) went off from the gun and never looked back. She took home the national title with a 51-second gap on Sofia Waite (Littleton, Colo.; WE Development), who took silver.

The U23 Men took to the red cross-country course shortly after the women finished. After a hard-fought battle for the top spot, Bjorn Riley (Boulder, Colo.; Trek Vaude) took home the stars and stripes jersey. Finishing in second, racing for Bear National Team was Brayden Johnson (Denver, Colo.).

Elite cross-country racing kicked off late in the afternoon with the Elite Women. Eighteen racers toed the line eyeing the national title. With three laps on tap, racers settled into the pace after the first climb on the 5.2-mile course. Kate Courtney (Kentfield, Calif.; Scott-Sram MTB Race Team), Savilia Blunk (Inverness, Calif.; Orange Seal Off-Road Team), and Gwendalyn Gibson (Ramona, Calif.; Norco Factory Team) worked together to form a gap early on. Heading into the second lap, Blunk dug deep to put distance between herself and Courtney. Riding confidently heading into the last lap, Blunk completely separated herself from Gibson, who was 20-seconds ahead of Courtney midway through the final lap. Ending the day on top, Blunk managed to dig deep and win a national title. Courtney battled her way back to second, and Gibson rounded out the podium.

When asked about her incredible performance, Blunk said, “I can’t really believe it yet. I wanted to, of course, go for it, but it was my first year elite, and I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, we had a super competitive field. You never really know what to expect racing at 9,000 feet, it’s just different, but I felt good in an uncomfortable way, I guess. I just trusted my fitness and went for it.”

The elite men had 36 riders line up at the start of the cross-country race. Taking charge at the front early on was defending national champion Keegan Swenson (Park City, Utah; Santa Cruz Bicycles), followed by Christopher Blevins (Durango, Colo.; Specialized Factory Racing), Howard Grotts (Durango, Colo.; Specialized), and Elite Men Cyclocross national champion Eric Brunner (Boulder, Colo.; Blue Competition Cycles). Swenson eventually kicked things up a notch and rolled away from BlevinsGrotts, and Brunner. Sealing the deal and earning the national title, Swenson outpaced second-place finisher Blevins by over a minute. When asked about the confidence it took to make the move on lap number two, he said, “I knew with two to go, I had about 50-seconds on them. I was trying to keep an eye on the switchback up top to see what the gap was. Then on the last lap, I had a minute and a half to two minutes, so I tried to keep it safe and maintain just in case it got a little slick, but luckily it didn’t.”

Enduro

Gravity racers kicked off the day with the enduro event. With five stages to complete, riders had to strategically battle each stage if they wanted to throw down the fastest time. The day’s quickest time came from Richie Rude (Golden, Colo.), who won the Pro Men’s race. On the women’s side, Amy Morrison (Carson City, Nev.) finished in a time of 21:33.4 and earned the national title.

In the amateur categories, Jake Green (Conifer, Colo.) rode to a first place medal in the Senior Men 19-29 race, and Eric Yoon (Arvada, Colo.) took the top step in the Master Men 30-39 category.  Amy Talbot (Gainesville, Fla.) took the win in the Master Women 30-39 race after finishing in a time of 21:16.8. Other gold medalists include Petr Hanak (Winter Park, Colo.) in the Master Men 40-49 race, Ashlee Weimar (Mead, Wash.) in the Master Women 40-49 race, Thorn Bickel (Salt Lake City) in the Master Men 50-59 race, and Lynn Childers (Staunton, Va.) in Master Women 50-59 race. The final masters’ titles were earned by Cary Smith (Salida, Colo.) and Ellen Guthrie (Salt Lake City), winning the Master Men and Women 60+ respectively.

On the junior’s side, endurance rider Jack Spranger (Sammamish, Wash.) claimed the victory in the Junior Men 17-18 race. Erin Bixler (Auburn, Calif.) earned gold in the Junior Women 17-18 race after finishing in a time of 23:46.4. And finally, Gunner Johnson (Fort Collins, Colo.) and Chloe Bear (North Bend, Wash.) earned the stars and stripes jersey in the Junior Men and Women 15-16 categories, respectively.

Short Track

The sole national title awarded in short track was in the Junior Women 15-16, but the Junior Men 15-16 and 17-18 joined the girls on course for their qualifiers. Earning gold in the Junior Women 15-16 race was Andie Aagard (Highland, Utah; Bear National Team), who doubled up on gold after her win in yesterday’s cross-country event. Aagard beat second by well over a minute. In the men’s events, riders raced three laps in the qualifying heat in order to move on to the STXC championship race, which will take place tomorrow.

Downhill

Saturday was the start of downhill seeding for the Pros and Cat 1 racers. Dusty conditions prevailed for the Pro rider’s timed runs, but that didn’t stop them from flying down the track. The reigning national champions, Dakotah Norton (Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Intense Factory Racing) and Kailey Skelton (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.; KHS Factory), took the top seeds in the Pro Men’s and Pro Women’s races. Norton was 4.7-seconds up on teammate Aaron Gwin (Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Intense Factory Racing), who finished in second. Austin Dooley (Yucaipa, Calif.; Commencal USA) seeded third, following up on his bronze medal from last year’s championship. In the Pro Women’s seeding, Skelton had 5.4-seconds on enduro winner Amy Morrison (Carson City, Nev.; Polygon Bikes), who took second, and Mazie Hayden (North Clarendon, Vt.; Defiant Racing), who slid into third.

The top seeds for the Cat 1’s include:

Senior Men 19-24: Garrison Clopton (Liberty Hill, Texas; Team Trail Party) – 3:51.18

Senior Men 25-59: Jared Calhoun (Centerton, Ark.; Rogue Trails Racing) – 4:06.25

Junior Men 15-16: Asa Vermette (Durango, Colo.; GT Bicycles) – 3:35.10

Master Men 30-34: Bradford Lowery (Lakewood, Colo.; Fivetran) – 4:07.99

Master Men 35-39: Gary Rummage (Salt Lake City, Utah; EXT-USA) – 4:20.63

Master Men 40-44: Michael Clark (Springdale, Utah; Mojo Wheels) – 4:22.48

Master Men 45-49: Petr Hanak (Winter Park, Colo.; 8150 Wheels) – 4:00.05

Master Men 50-54: Daniel Weinman (Taos, N.M.; Team Gravity Down) – 4:20.18

Women 19-29: Talbott Palmer (Highland, Utah; Outlaw Bike Team) – 40:50.56

Women 30-39: Brie Aseltine (Bear Bear Lake, Calif.; SpokeX) – 6:15.21

Women 40-49: Tori Broughton (Loveland, Colo.) – 5:57.19

Women 15-16: Teagan Heap (Boulder City, Nev.; Pivot / FiveTen) – 4:24.86

 

Mountain Bike Nationals conclude tomorrow with short track racing and downhill finals. A complete list of results from this week can be found here.

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