Riding alone the last three laps, Catharine Pendrel (Luna) looked like she had the Sea Otter short track sewn up, but Emily Batty (Trek) had other plans.
Chasing just behind with Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Gary Fisher), Batty jumped with half a lap to go on a paved climb, and held her lead to the finish.
“I just felt like I had so much energy,” Batty said. “It will be a good opener for (the cross-country race) tomorrow.”
Norway’s Lene Byberg (Specialized) leapt past Irmiger and Pendrel to finish second, with Pendrel rounding out the podium.
“It was definitely close,” Pendrel said of her time off the front. “But I knew you’re never safe when there’s a group behind you, because on the last lap some people have been sitting in and they’re ready to make a move. But I put out a good effort.”
Byberg had just traveled from the World Cup in South Africa the prior weekend. Next weekend she’s racing in Germany.
“This is actually my second short track ever,” Byberg said. “I was here in 2007 for the first time.”
About midway through the race Byberg drilled it at the front of a group. For a time she was alone off the front with Gould. Then a lead group of five formed: Byberg, Georgia Gould (Luna), Pendrel, Irmiger and Batty.
“I know I’m not a sprinter,” Byberg said. “Always in a World Cup I’m a slow, diesel engine. I just had to go make the pace so we were four or five girls instead of 12. I did a couple laps at the front. I’m not used to riding with Heather and these girls, so I didn’t know what to expect.”
Race winner Batty expected the short track to be a good opener for her legs ahead of Sunday’s cross-country event.
“That was the plan,” she said, “but it worked out a little better than planned.