Dirt riders on the storm | AspenTimes.com

Dirt riders on the storm

Nate Peterson

Tuckered out from the riding, Tyler Krahulec of Silverthorne attempts to catch a few winks near the Blast the Mass finish line on Fanny Hill Saturday afternoon. Blast the Mass continues today with the downhill and super-D races. (Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times)

The rain was pouring down in sideways bursts, driven by a stinging wind. Lightning strikes flashed in the distance.With the weather, and the hard dirt on the Blast the Mass mountain cross course quickly turning into slippery mud late Saturday afternoon at Snowmass, there were whispers among competitors that finals would be postponed until today. Those whispers remained just whispers, however – possibly drowned out by screams from huddling spectators on the side of the course and the blaring music pumping out of speakers next to the announcer’s tent.The mud only cranked up the carnage factor, turning an already perilous course into a dangerous game of roulette for riders once they dropped down into the first set of rollers. “When it was raining, to be honest, I was hoping they would call it,” said Jon Watt of Broomfield, who wound up winning the men’s pro final. “They kept running it, so I just did my best to stay up.”Some weren’t so lucky. While Watts rode cleanly to victory, Ryan Sutton – who was in one of the two inside lanes in the pro final – took a nasty fall over his handlebars. After dusting himself off, Sutton got back on his bike to finish a distant fourth. Chris Boice earned second place and Petr Hanak was third.The women’s pro/expert final featured a battle between Michelle Dumaresq and Watt’s wife Bobbi. As both racers charged down the course in unison, they bumped shoulders more than once – dangerously tip-toeing around disaster – before Dumaresq pulled away for the win. “That’s what this racing is all about,” said Dumaresq, a Vancouver, B.C., native who is a former Canadian National Team rider. “After our first jump, we were literally shoulder to shoulder. I had the outside line and I took an extra power stroke. She tried to cut me off, but I gave her a little shove back and then we were side by side again.”While Watt was a little upset about being edged out, she still was the highest American to qualify in the pro/expert final for the United States Mountain Biking National Championship in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., in September.The top 10 riders in each division qualified for the event. That meant all the women who competed with Witt in the mountain cross Saturday have the option of competing at nationals, since there were only 11 in the field, including Dumaresq, who won’t go because she is Canadian.There was tougher competition for a spot at nationals in other divisions which featured a full field of riders. The junior beginner men’s bracket was one such division, featuring 23 riders.Evan Powell earned the highest qualifying spot after he won the junior beginner men’s final, blowing past Ryan Campbell, Broc Patterson and Neil Hemphill. Other division winners were Kimberley Brightman in the beginner sport women’s final, Chris Brighton in the junior sport men’s final,Troy Cooperman in the sport beginner men’s final and Jim Lennon won the junior X men’s finalIn the expert men’s finals, Mike Kreger won the 19-29 division and David Lennon won the 30-and-above division.Blast the Mass continues today with super-D race at 8 a.m., followed by downhill practice between 9-10 a.m. and then the downhill final at 10:30 a.m.Nate Peterson can be reached at npeterson@aspentimes.com