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By Steve Frothingham
Canadians don’t often get a chance to race at Mt. Snow, since the venue is so often used for the U.S. national championships.
But when they get a chance they make the most of it, as they did Saturday when Canada’s men’s and women’s national champions came south of the border to score wins at the Kenda Cup East/PROXCT event.
Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), fresh off a stunning World Cup win in Quebec last week, scored his second career win at the Vermont ski resort. It was Kabush’s 15th cross-country win at a U.S. national series event, surpassing John Tomac’s record. His first U.S. national podium was at Mount Snow in 1999, and he won the race in 2005.
In the women’s race, Catharine Pendrel (Luna) went almost wire to wire, taking off with teammate Katerina Nash on the first lap. When Nash flatted, Pendrel went it alone, building a lead of over a minute before polishing off the victory with a conservative last lap to finish 30 seconds ahead.
Un-Vermont weather, uber-Vermont course
Mount Snow has hosted regional- or national-level races in July or August for at least 20 years on a similar course, known for its slippery roots and steep climbs.
This year designers shortened the course by almost a third, removing some double-track and gravel road sections (and bringing the race through the start finish area more often, to improve the spectator experience).
Vermont has received many inches of rain in recent weeks, making the woods a muddy, buggy mess. But race day dawned dry, sunny and pleasantly warm. The result was a perfect combination for fans (and photographers). The only downside was the occasional mosquito and black fly in the woods.
Pendrel finds herself alone
Mary McConneloug, who has won on the Mount Snow course many times, got the holeshot and led the field into the first climb. However, the Kenda-Seven rider soon was passed by Pendrel, Nash, Willow Koerber and Heather Irmiger (both Subaru-Gary Fisher). Nash and Pendrel gapped the others on a tough mid-course climb and built up a 10- or 15-second gap.
The pair was working together and Nash was leading when she flatted her front tire. Since she was just yards past a technical support area (and rules forbid backtracking on the course) Nash tried unsuccessfully to fill the tire, lost time and fell to about 20th place before she got a new wheel.
Meanwhile, Pendrel expanded her lead, looking comfortably in control as she expanded her gap over Koerber to over a minute by the third lap. On that lap, Pendrel fell on a corner — “Just on a silly root, I hit a pedal,” she said. “There are just so many places to fall on this course.”
On the final lap Pendrel rode more cautiously while Irmiger and Koerber worked together to chase. But Pendrel cruised in with about a 30-second gap over Koerber, with Irmiger rolling in another 30 seconds back.
Nash managed to ride back into seventh place and hopes to find some solace in Sunday’s short track race.
Tactical race for the men
The 85-man-strong men’s pack rumbled into the first climb led by the pre-race favorites: new national champ Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher), Todd Wells (Specialized), Kabush and Adam Craig (Giant).
An elite group of six spilled off the front early in the first lap. Craig, who was dangling just behind the lead group, flatted on a rock. “I wasn’t having a great day, anyway,” Craig said later.
While much of the Mount Snow course is difficult climbing and singletrack, the finish area is fast and smooth and, on Saturday, featured a noticeable head wind. So while in the woods the men rode alone, man v. course, they often regrouped coming through the base area, giving the appearance of a tactical race.
“We were playing some games through there,” Kabush said after the race.
The lead group dwindled steadily over the race’s five laps. On the first lap there were six men: Horgan-Kobelski, Sid Taberlay (Sho Air-Specialized), Wells, Kabush, Sam Schultz (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and Max Plaxton (Sho Air-Specialized).
By the next lap Plaxton was dropped.
By the next lap Schultz was dropped and Horgan-Kobelski was dangling.
Next lap, it was just Kabush, Wells and Taberlay.
Wells and Kabush attacked on the climbs repeatedly in the last two laps, trying to drop Taberlay, who would fall behind slightly by the top of the hills, but catch on the descent.
With a lap and half to go, Kabush upped the pace again on the steepest climb, a gravel road ascent that continues to climb, a bit less steeply, into the singletrack.
“I was on his wheel,” Taberlay said. “I guess Todd fell off and I was able to stay with Geoff for a while. When I couldn’t stay with Geoff I had a gap on Todd and I just held it.”
Kabush was on a tear. He blasted into the start-finish area to start the last lap in a tuck, then resumed pedaling with his hands near the stem, powering into the headwind. His lead expanded quickly to a minute ahead of Taberlay, who was 30 seconds ahead of Wells. He expanded the gap over the final lap.
Kabush said later he felt Wells was the second strongest rider in the race.
“It was a bit frustrating, Sid really doesn’t like putting his nose in the wind … I really wanted to see Todd get up there, so I was trying to work with Todd but Sid would just get back on and he was obviously saving his energy better than Todd.”
Taberlay said if it looked like he was sitting in, it was only because he struggled to catch the pair on the descents, and often latched on just in time for the next climb.
Wells had no complaints about Taberlay, a five-time Australian national champion who shares a sponsor, Specialized, with Wells. “He was super fast on the descents. But then he would sit on on the flats and the climbs,” he said.
Wells said when it came to the last two laps, Taberlay had more in the tank. “I was feeling pretty good in the middle of the race. Geoff attacked a couple of times, I attacked a couple of times … then Geoff attacked and got a little gap and I had a little bobble in the woods. I tried to close it down and I’d make up a little ground (on Taberlay) on the climbs but then he’d open it up on the descents.”
As for Craig, he, like Nash, is looking to Sunday to earn some glory at Mount Snow. He will race the Super D and the Short Track.
- Pua Sawicki (Ellsworth), dropped out on the first lap after falling and re-injuring her right leg, which she had originally hurt in practice a few days before the national championships in Colorado. “It’s a bit frustrating; I have great form but I keep having bad luck,” she said. She is hoping her luck turns around in time for the world marathon championships in Austria later this month.
- Team Jelly Belly roadie Jeremy Powers entered the race, one of his first mountain bike races in years. He started in the last row and battled with his cyclocross nemesis Ryan Trebon for a few laps before dropping out with a broken derailleur.
Mt. Snow Cross-country
Men’s | Click for: Women’s results
- 1. Kabush Geoff in 1:37:56.71
- 2. Taberlay Sid in 1:39:07.40
- 3. Wells Todd in 1:39:57.73
- 4. Horgan?Kobelsk Jeremy in 1:40:51.63
- 5. Schultz sam in 1:41:55.19
- 6. Zandstra derek in 1:42:59.68
- 7. Jurekovic sam in 1:44:17.20
- 8. Ishai rotem in 1:45:41.14
- 9. Wicks barry in 1:46:14.05
- 10. Schultz andy in 1:46:39.12
- 11. Decker carl in 1:46:54.17
- 12. Broderick michael in 1:47:39.57
- 13. Glassford peter in 1:48:26.41
- 14. Plaxton max in 1:49:15.57
- 15. Sneddon kris in 1:49:27.38
- 16. Paxson spencer in 1:49:52.99
- 17. Koerber sam in 1:50:45.86
- 18. Turner thomas in 1:51:00.88
- 19. Cares colin in 1:51:17.81
- 20. Squire rob in 1:51:17.99
- 21. Craig adam in 1:53:16.41
- 22. Elliott tad in 1:53:16.73
- 23. Jakomait jesse in 1:53:53.11
- 24. Woodall ryan in 1:54:15.28
- 25. Hadley matt in 1:54:20.19
- 26. Snyder adam in 1:55:33.36
- 27. Alesio dylan in 1:56:09.99
- 28. Ettinger stephen in 1:57:34.00
- 29. Weber dana in 1:57:45.99
- 30. Franklin macky in 1:59:07.99
- 31. Mooradian mike in 1:59:36.38
- 32. Gilmour ethan in 2:00:14.20
- 33. Cowie tristan in ?1 lp
- 34. Joos mike in ?1 lp
- 35. Moore benjamin in ?1 lp
- 36. Sampson tom in ?1 lp
- 37. Mellen brent in ?1 lp
- 38. Burns john in ?1 lp
- 39. O’keefe matthew in ?1 lp
- 40. Marion robert in ?1 lp
- 41. Alesio andrew in ?1 lp
- 42. Bailey matthew in ?1 lp
- 43. Freye andrew in ?1 lp
- 44. Tautfest noah in ?1 lp
- 45. Kell martin in ?1 lp
- 46. Harlan blake in ?1 lp
- 47. Raynes justin in ?2 lps
- 48. Carpenter greg in ?2 lps
- 49. Wyatt nathan in ?2 lps
- 50. Visinski rickey in ?2 lps
- 51. Gouldthread shane in ?2 lps
- 52. Frederick scott in ?2 lps
- 53. Waggoner greg in ?2 lps
- 54. Schmid kurt in ?2 lps
- 55. Mosley wiley in ?2 lps
- 56. Rigel andrew in ?2 lps
- 57. Kahlenberg jordan in ?3 lps
- 58. Statman kat in ?3 lps
- 59. Sandoval leo in ?3 lps
- 60. Kolb paul in ?3 lps
- 61. Montello greg in ?3 lps
- 62. White arthur in ?3 lps
- . Powers jeremy in DNF
- . Ryan alex in DNF
- . Wallace patrick in DNF
- . Livermon travis in DNF
- . Trebon ryan in DNF
- . Favata christian in DNF
- . Sager jason in DNF
- . Snyder aaron in DNF
- . Mcgrath seamus in DNS
Women | Click for: Men’s results
- 1. Pendrel Catharine in 1:35:46.44
- 2. Koerber Willow in 1:36:17.55
- 3. Irmiger Heather in 1:36:42.63
- 4. Gould Georgia in 1:37:56.61
- 5. Mcconneloug Mary in 1:39:21.99
- 6. Davison lea in 1:39:24.79
- 7. Nash katerina in 1:43:25.13
- 8. Sin amanda in 1:47:45.08
- 9. Forsman chloe in 1:48:00.99
- 10. Blasi zephanie in 1:48:54.99
- 11. Walter sandra in 1:50:55.61
- 12. Potter karen in 1:54:20.30
- 13. Holmes heather in 1:55:28.98
- 14. Mann allison in 1:55:40.47
- 15. Flynn kimberly in 1:56:09.60
- 16. Serrano alexandra in 1:57:05.30
- 17. Tanner lydea in 1:57:05.49
- 18. Sherwin kathy in 1:57:40.57
- 19. Bishop lindsey in 1:58:39.80
- 20. Bruno roy maureen in 1:59:07.55
- 21. Nestor bryne in ?1 lp
- 22. Dinkins jaime in ?1 lp
- 23. Pearson jane in ?1 lp
- 24. Throdahl molly in ?1 lp
- 25. York danae in ?2 lps
- 26. Marion philicia in ?2 lps
- 27. Aaron anina in ?2 lps
- . O’shea katherine in DNF
- . Sawicki pua in DNF