A short track to fat-tire glory | AspenTimes.com

A short track to fat-tire glory

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times
AP | The Aspen Times

SNOWMASS Once they’d crossed the line Sunday afternoon, Katerina Nash and Georgia Gould exchanged a hug and sincere congratulations.Funny, if only because the two Luna teammates had been unwilling to concede so much as an inch to each other while circling around the short-track course at the base of Snowmass Mountain. Locked in a dual for a National Mountain Bike Series title, the pair traded sponts for the duration of eight frantic laps, with Gould out in front for most of the race. Heading into the final lap, Gould’s scalding pace finally looked to be too much for Nash, who dropped more 20 feet behind her friend as the two made their way up the mountain for the final time.There was no way Nash, a native of the Czech Republic who now calls Truckee, Calif., home, was going to let Gould win another title at her expense for the second consecutive day – team camarederie be damned. With what little energy she had left, she mounted a final push – standing up on her pedals for the entire climb – to reel in Gould for one last pass.Three minutes later, Nash was the first to appear on the horizon, charging down the course’s final pitch with a spent Gould chasing.

“I just said, ‘OK, this is the last lap. Give it everything,” said Nash, the runner-up to Gould in Saturday’s cross-country finale. “It worked out perfect. I planned to overtake her close to the downhill section, and once you’re first on the downhill, you come around the corners first and it’s hard for anyone to pass you.””I was riding along, like, ‘Oh, thank God this is the last time up this climb,’ and then Katerina just comes out of nowhere, standing up,” Gould said. “I went with her, but I just didn’t get on her quick enough.”Gould accepted the defeat graciously, acknowledging that if there was one rider she was content to lose a series title to, it was Nash.Nash won the previous series race at Sugar Mountain, N.C., for her third victory of the season and the points lead heading into the Snowmass National Finals. Gould ended her short-track season with two wins – making it a perfect six-for-streak for the Luna women.Nash was also Gould’s fiercest competition in the series’ cross-country races but failed to beat her teammate once, as Gould made it a perfect six-for-six to earn the national title handily. Boulder’s Heather Irmiger of the Gary Fisher-Subaru team finished a distant third Sunday, matching her third-place finish Saturday in cross-country.”It feels great today because Georgia has been so strong this year,” Nash said. “We’re great teammates, but we’re competitive. I think having such strong teammates, like I have, has only made me a better rider.”

“I can’t say I’m upset to see her win,” Gould added. “She’s super-strong, and she’s really good at the short tracks, and I’m really happy to she her win. If I can’t win it, I’m glad that she’s done it.”The dual between Nash and Gould was just one of many on the final day of racing at this year’s National Finals.A recap of all the downhill action from Sunday follows: Justin Leov of Christchurch, New Zealand, finished in 3 minutes, 50.5 seconds to edge Jared Graves of Toowoomba, Australia (3:35.75), in the pro finale – a result that had no bearing on the final overall standings. Aussie Jared Rando finished an atypical sixth, but still managed to retain the series crown. Rando’s result Sunday didn’t even count in the overall series standings since a rider’s lowest result out of sixth is thrown out. Melissa Buhl of Chandler, Ariz., earned her fifth victory in six women’s pro races to cruise to the overall victory. Buhl completed the challenging course at Snowmass in 4:17.71 seconds, nearly three full seconds ahead of runner-up Marla Streb (4:20.11). Boulder’s Lisa Myklak took third (4:24.67) to finish second in the series. In the semipro men’s race, Ryan Stayskal of Los Gatos, Calif., won in 4:07.39, ahead of Jesse Trask of Scotts Valley, Calif., (4:08.740). Third-place finisher Ryan DeLong of McKinleyville, Calif., (4:08.41) won the overall series crown, with Nathan Wierwille of Durango finishing second.

Sunday’s race winners in the various expert men age categories were: Brad Oien (18 and younger), Kevin Aiello (16 and younger), Preston Moore (19-24), Rob Way (25-29), Thomas Ward (30-34), Jesse Chuse (35-39), Robert Garcia (40-44), Craig Van Cleve (45-49), Scott Lideen (50-54), Fred Joehnck (55-59) and Jacques Houot (65 plus). Expert women age winners were: Christina Pinney (18 and under), Christine Hirst (19-29), Kim Gilchrist (30-39) and Vicki Koch (40-49).Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com