US Mountain Bike National Championships took place in Winter Park, Colorado last week, welcoming athletes from both endurance and gravity disciplines. Isabella Naughton, Crystal Anthony, Kaysee Armstrong and Caroline Washam represented Liv Racing and scored top-ten finishes in enduro and cross country and top-five results in dual slalom and downhill events.
Naughton and Anthony kicked things off Thursday, July 25 on the 22.9-mile, 8-stage National Championship enduro course. The route included 4,400ft of climbing and took racers on a tour of Trestle Bike Park and the surrounding area, offering flowing berms, jumps, and rocky terrain. Naughton started the day strong with a 2nd place on stage two, slotting in front of the country's top pro women, and following up with two 5th place stages to finish 7th overall. Anthony rode consistently all day to finish 11th. Both raced aboard the Hail Advanced.
Dual slalom, a short, gated mountain bike discipline consisting of jumps and berms, took place on Friday. After qualifying in 4th position, Washam finished 5th aboard her Liv Pique SX.
Moving into Saturday’s pro XC championship race, Anthony traded in her Hail enduro bike for the light and nimble Pique Advanced and joined Armstrong on the brutal 5.2-mile XC course for a 3:30 pm start. Anthony shot off like a rocket at the start gun and was second wheel after the uphill opening straightaway. But at the start of the second lap the clouds that had been building all day opened up, unleashing chilly rain and hail onto the pro women as they navigated the track’s rock garden and flowing singletrack.
“The single track had a river flowing down it,” said Anthony. “I enjoyed the New England-esc slip-n-slide.”
Anthony and Armstrong went all-out for nearly 2 hours, completing five laps, 21 miles, and 2792ft of climbing to finish 7th and 8th, respectively.
The next day, both riders were back between the tape, this time for short track. The weather was on their side Sunday for the 30-minute short track race which consisted of a gradual paved climb and a flowing, bermed descent. Armstrong and Anthony both held onto a blistering pace on the dizzying 0.7-mile course to finish 11th and 12th, respectively.
"I can't thank everyone in the crowd enough for the cheers," said Armstrong. "It kept my smile wide and made every lap exciting!"
The final day of National Championships also included the pro downhill race, where athletes plummeted from the top of Trestle Bike Park to the village on a mixture of double-black diamond trails and fresh-cut slope sections. Last year's silver medalist, Washam crossed the finish with a time of 6:02.68 to place 4th out of 18 pro women, just a fraction of a second off 3rd.
“It’s rough to miss out on the podium this year, but I’m really happy with my race today,” said Washam. “The trails here in Winter Park are fun to ride but challenging to race; even a small mistake can catch you out because the dirt is so dry and slick. I’m excited I had a clean run and ready for the next race!”