Another day of being up before the sun for the FLC Men endurance racers – the good thing is the sun actually came out today! The track was still covered in yesterdays snow when the men took off for 3 laps straight up the ski run at Beech. After the initial climb the course took off of for a couple sections of classic North Carolina singletrack, which is more roots than dirt. Then came a bomber of a downhill next to the uphill portion of the course that had berms and small tables perfect for the XCers. After a short 26 minute first lap the gang from CU held 3 of the first 4 positions with Werner of Lees McRae trying to keep tabs on them. Payson McElveen was the first FLC rider to cross the line with Stephan Davoust not far behind and Garrett Lundberg and Michael Sampson steadily moving up from back of the field start positions into the top 20. Lap two saw status quo with CU rider Chris Baddick and Werner with a small gap over the other two CU riders. Marian University cyclocross strongmen Josh and Andrew holding spots 5-6, another LMC rider in 7th and McElveen in 8th. Lundberg held his own while Davoust battled a broken pedal and Sampson was still picking riders off. The finish saw another win for CU on the weekend while Payson at one point had passed one of the Marian riders only to hit the deck in the very icy conditions – he finished 8th. Sampson went full throttle on the icy root sections to pass around 10 people to finish 10th. Davoust held on for 13th and Lundberg in for 19th.
But remember, it was snowing yesterday and sunny today and when the Division one women toed the line most riders were ready for the ground to thaw and conditions to get sloppy. That is exactly what they got for 2 laps of the course. The first lap saw yesterdays STXC winner Kate Courtney from Stanford in the lead but FLC’s defending champion Lauren Catlin was shadowing no more than 5 seconds behind with Rivera from Marian and Linnea from UW just ahead of Sofia from FLC. FLC’s Female DH champ from 2012 Brittany Clawson, who chose to ride both endurance events during the weekend was the next FLC rider through and Sage Kitson and Liz Schwab did battle to move up to be mid pack. The finish was much anticipated and the crowd was expecting a battle between Catlin and Courtney for the win and they did not disappoint with both riders coming down the final pitch together and Courtney had the position to take the win over Catlin – notable was the gap they had created to the next finsher. That finisher though brought a Bronze medal for FLC’s Sofia Gomez Villafane in a sprint win over the much lauded Rivera of Marian. Clawson fought hard for 23rd with Kitson just behind in 24th and Schwab overcoming mechanical problems for 27th.
What all that means in the team omnium competition is that the FLC men finished 4th as a team behind CU, LMC and Marian in that order. The Lady Skyhawks took the team win in the Women’s XC. Combined with yesterdays STXC results that put LMC in first, FLC in second and Marian in third with two events done and three to go.
Next up on the day was what FLC was waiting for – the Downhill. What was ice for the XC men in the morning that turned to slippery mud for the ladies had turned into peanut butter by the afternoon. The Skyhawk gravity squad had impressed throughout the RMCCC season and were waiting to spread there wings at Nats. After some solid qualifying runs the Division 1 men came down in a fastest to slowest fashion and 30 second intervals. Adam Digby held his 2nd place qualifying position only to lose by a too close 0.3 seconds to a local kid who had ridden the course 500 times in his life but bettering last years champ to take 2nd in the final. Zach Graveson was another hope for FLC but he layed it down in one section and lost the time that put him in 8th place. Both Brian White and Phil Cowan of FLC had uncharacteristic runs with a couple bobbles each and finished 20th and 31st respectively.
After the Division 2 men went by there was a small gap until the first of the D1 women started. The D2 men were glad they had a gap on the course as FLC’s Becky Gardner would have caughtand passed a few of them on the 3 minute course. Becky made the treacherous conditions seem like the river trail by floating down the course to win by 30 seconds! The biggest surprise, but really not that unexpected, for FLC was freshman Sage Kitson coming home in 5th place after competing in only 5 Downhill races ever before Nats. FLC’s women’s omnium hope Sofia had yet another clean but fast run to finish 7th, Meghan Kane riding with a healing separated shoulder impressively in 9th and last years champ from FLC, Brittany Clawson, riding without a back brake that failed at the start finishing 10th. Please notice that that is all 5 FLC women in the top 10 – wow!
What all that means in team omnium is the FLC gravity men finished 3rd as a team and the women won yet again. That puts FLC 32 points ahead of LMC and 80+ points ahead of Marin in the Team Omnium competition. Tomorrow brings the final two events for the weekend – the Team Relay at 11am and the Dual Slalom in the afternoon. Stayed tuned to the team page on facebook and be a twitter follower to get up to the minute updates on tomorrow’s racing action.