Collegiate National Championships 2009!

29 10 2009

Collegiate National Champs brings with it a very different atmosphere than any other race I’ve been to.  This was the first year I partook and I found myself finally in a “professional” collegiate setting.  Typically west coast collegiate races are at sub-par venues where the downhill courses don’t require an actual downhill bike and where you’re lucky to find a dual slalom or 4X race.  National Champs at Northstar (booked for next years Collegiate Champs, fyi!) broke this horrible trend and gave Cal Poly’s gravity team a chance to SHINE.

Rewind back to the weekend before national champs and you would have found me sweating a fever out and draining out gallons of snot.  Not a pretty picture and I was bummed to say the least.  On my fourth year at Cal Poly and I’m finally able to take time off for national champs and now I potentially have SWINE flu.  For three straight days I pounded glass after glass of water faster than I pound glasses of Red Nectar.  I was determined to be able to ride at the race 5 days later.

…5 days later…

I’m now feeling 80%, good enough to make the seven hour drive to Truckee on Thursday morning.  Friday is the first day of events and Cal Poly started it off strong with Menso De Jong taking 5th in the D1 XC race.  (A SLO to the Bone endurance team may be in the making).  While Menso was rockin some XC trail the gravity riders from SLO to the Bone (Leland, Kyle and myself riding for Cal Poly and Garret reppin’ SDSU) where all practicing the awesome new downhill course which was pieced together specifically for National Champs.  The course went from upper Karpiel, to mid Done Bone, then to a new lower section of Stick n’ Stones which shot into the lower S-berms and finally over the finishing stadium jump.  Trail conditions were breathtaking!  The best I’ve seen them in 4 years of riding at the resort.  Tacky down to the lower layers with zero dust!  Primo!!  Downhill practice went well for all of us… so well, in fact, that we missed all of Friday’s 4X practice.

Saturday rolls around and we get an early start to sneak in two more downhill runs before cutting over to 4X practice.  The 50 second course ran down the lower portion of Livewire which was a tad skinny for four riders but in the end it made for some gnarly passes!  We were all super tired from doing downhill runs but as soon as the 4X heats started it was game on.  Garret got knocked out in the first round of 32 giving him the chance to cheer for the rest of us. Leland and Kyle were placed in the same second heat and ended up knocking some elbows.  The story goes that Leland ran Kyle off the course and then proceeded to take 3rd, knocking both of them out.  I got lucky and made it through the second heat but during the 3rd heat (which determines who moves to the final heat) I got taken down in the first corner ending up with 3rd in the heat. This moved me to the conciliation where I came across first for an overall 5th place.

2_Josef_4X_Jump

Me hitting my favorite jump on the course

4X Results:

Josef- 5th

Kyle- 11th

Leland- 13th

Garret- 19th

Curtis Yarra also had a great 4X race with a 7th placing, helping Cal Poly a ton in the overall standings.

Sunday funday time!  The big day for us was on Sunday when the downhill race went down.  We woke up at 6am to make it up the mountain by 8am for our qualifying runs.  Kyle came back in the 1st place qualifying position, Leland in 8th, Garret in 11th and myself in 18th.  During the four hour downtime before finals, Kyle spent his time pacing back and forth going over his race lines and dealing with his own mental preparations.  He was feeling some pressure in that number 1 spot just in front of CU’s top downhiller (and a Yeti world champs racer), Joey Schusler.

Garret with an evolved "Gart Whip"

Garret with an evolved "Gart Whip"

12am finally rolls around and the race is on.  Kyle heads down followed by Joey where shortly after we overhear “rider down” on an official’s radio.  At this point it’s either Kyle or Joey.  Soon the rest of us are called up for our runs and in the end we all came out with some solid times.  Turns out it was Kyle who crashed but he still pinned it coming down into 8th, just missing Leland who came in 7th.  I cruised down into 11th while Garret bumbled down into 23rd.  Joey took first with eleven seconds to spare on the second place Jon Wilson from UNR. Nice job Joey, killin it!

7_Leland_Stadium_Jump

Leland with the patented "Bambi Prance"

9_Kyle_S-berm

Kyle coming in before the stadium jump

 

DH Results:

Leland- 7th

Kyle- 8th

Josef- 11th

Garret- 23nd

13_Chris_pinning

The Management (Chris Lee) enjoying the primo conditions

Many thanks to Foothill Cyclery (AJ and Josh!) for making sure we were well prepared for an epic weekend of racing.  More SLO to the Bone times to come!

-Josef

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