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Round two of the 2010 Gravity East Series on June 12-13 in Champion, Pennsylvania saw a record number of entries.
The fast, flowing course at Seven Springs Resort was in mint condition throughout Saturday practice, and a light rain overnight only added to the tackiness of the surface for Sunday’s race. But while the rain improved traction on most of the track, conditions in the infamous rock garden went the other way as slick rocks caused multiple falls.
Pro stalwart Alejandro Ortiz (Morpheus/ Vertical Earth) didn’t enjoy the atmosphere quite as much as the spectators, though. Ortiz took a nasty crash in the rock garden, resulting in a DNF and a trip to the hospital. Ortiz was released later in the evening.
While Ortiz was dealing with the agony of defeat, Gerrit Beytagh (Morewood bikes USA) was experiencing the thrill of victory. Beytagh firmly established himself as the rider to beat on this year’s Gravity East tour, taking his second win and remaining undefeated. The experienced Beytagh won by 1.3 seconds over Ethan Quehl (East Coast Gravity Pros) and another second in front of third place Gavin Vaughan (Giant/ HBG/ Troy Lee Designs/ Smith / Five Ten).
2009 Gravity East Women’s Champion Dawn Bourque (Rocky Mountain/Chainline) showed that she hasn’t lost any of her winning form from last year. Bourque took her second win of the year in the Pro Women’s class by over four seconds, followed by Rae Gandolf (Sierra Nevada Brewing) with Karen Eagan (Highland Mountain Bike Park) in third.
Gravity East continues to be the incubator of incredible talent, as teenager Ritchie Rude Jr. (Specialized Allride Academy) finished 4th in the Pro Men’s class. But this year’s teenaged “next big thing” appears to be 15 year-old phenom Lauren Daney (Grom Racing). Daney won the Women’s Category 1, the highest-ranked amateur class for women, by an astounding 25 seconds. Daney’s time would have been quick enough for a solid second place finish in the Pro Women’s class, a more relevant statistic at Seven Springs this year as all categories of riders competed on the same track. Daney not only rode faster than all but one other female competitor, her time put her well within the top half of all times recorded for the day and was faster than quite a few of the Category 1 Men.
It was yet another performance reminiscent of last year’s “next big thing” and 2009 Gravity East Pro Champion Neko Mulally, who despite having not yet graduated from high school, heads back to the World Cup circuit this week after breaking his arm the 2010 Gravity East Season Opener in Massanutten.
Speed must run in the Mulally genes as Neko’s younger brother Logan continued to show that he’s an outstanding racer in his own right by winning the highly competitive Junior Male Category 1 class, followed by New Hampshire rider Alex Couture (Giant Bikes). Finishing in third was a new rider to the Category 1 Junior class, Damon Morin (Highland Mountain bike park), who showed that he, too, is a true contender for the Gravity East season championship.