Racers met the rapidly deteriorating track this morning with the challenge of how to navigate the bombed-out corners and ruts. We're talking deep ruts here. Bottom bracket deep in some areas. The biggest issue is once practice was done, those competing in the Open categories would have ridden a slightly different course in the morning since about a handful of amateur categories had to pass through it before they could.
It was a brown pow affair to the point that, in some sections, skis would probably be a better option. No one was safe from hidden roots and rocks covered by the dust. Punctures were common and rims can be heard pinging as they smashed through the SoCal forest. Most would agree to having some nail biter moments while others came down with visible evidence that they've hit the dirt. Either way, the perfect run eluded everyone.
At least one new winner was guaranteed today as last year's US Open champ Neko Mullaly is sidelined by an injury sustained in West Virginia just last week. The countdown was on then. Vaea Verbeeck didn't have quite the run she needed to defend her title, leaving the door open for Jill Kintner to take the win. Kintner is still a dominant figure whenever she decides to go up against the clock. In the men's field, Loic Bruni's victory today shows just how powerful he truly is. Sure, he shared the same second interval with Minnaar but he's done so after a massive season at the World Cups weekend in and out, winning both the overall and Worlds before flying into California. $10,000 well-deserved dollars went to both Kintner and Bruni and that's no spare change.