Finals Photo Report: US Open 2019

Sep 16, 2019
by Andy Vathis  



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.


The dust continues to fly as finals get under way.
The dust continues to fly as finals get underway.

Still no signs of moisture.
Still no signs of moisture.

Ella Erickson rolled into ninth place on this slippery track.
Ella Erickson rolled into ninth place on this slippery track.

Big third place finish for Camila Nogueira in a pretty stacked women s field.
Big third-place finish for Camila Nogueira in a pretty stacked women's field.

Anneke Beerten just off the podium.
Anneke Beerten just off the podium.

Jill Kintner showing she still has fight left in her. She would take the win with seven seconds to spare.
Jill Kintner showing she still has fight left in her. She would take the win with seven seconds to spare.

Claire Buchar negotiating the rock caterpillar. Fourth for her today.
Claire Buchar negotiating the rock caterpillar. Fourth for her today.

Jennifer Mchugh came in hot to close out the women s podium. She was one of the few competitors with an enduro rig but that didn t seem to bother her.
Jennifer Mchugh came in hot to close out the women's podium. She was one of the few competitors with an enduro rig but that didn't seem to bother her.

Kailey Skelton has one of the best styles in the women s roster.
Kailey Skelton has one of the best styles in the women's roster.

A few mistakes had Claire Hamilton back from her qualifying result.
A few mistakes had Claire Hamilton back from her qualifying result.

Second place for Vaea Verbeeck. She made a couple mistakes on track that may have cost her the win or at least a closer time to that of Kintner s.
Second place for Vaea Verbeeck. She made a couple of mistakes on track that may have cost her the win or at least a closer time to that of Kintner's.

10k richer Jill Kintner celebrates her victory.
10k richer, Jill Kintner celebrates her victory.

A victory in slalom and now downhill Kintner s weekend couldn t have gone better.
A victory in slalom and now downhill, Kintner's weekend couldn't have gone better.

Claire Buchar stoked on her race.
Claire Buchar stoked on her race.

Vaea couldn t defend her 2018 title yet still had quite the weekend.
Vaea couldn't defend her 2018 title yet still had quite the weekend.

Starting at the top of the list had Bruce Klein sitting in the hot seat for some time.
Starting at the top of the list had Bruce Klein sitting in the hot seat for some time.

Deep ruts and tenth place for Matthew Sterling.
Deep ruts and tenth place for Matthew Sterling.

Beer bath for George Ryan.
Beer bath for George Ryan.

An impressive 14th for freeride guy Brett Rheeder.
An impressive 14th for freeride guy Brett Rheeder.

Kyle strait plowing through the brown powder.
Kyle Strait plowing through the brown powder.

After taking it easy trying to regain his bearings after a fall in practice Dakotah Norton shook off the dust and got himself a podium finish.
After taking it easy trying to regain his bearings after a fall in practice, Dakotah Norton shook off the dust and got himself a podium finish.

Dante Silva soaring into ninth.
Dante Silva soaring into ninth.

Nik Nestoroff slamming into the final berm. He did not miss the podium by much.
Nik Nestoroff slamming into the final berm. He did not miss the podium by much.

The race came down to Bruni and Greg Minnaar with Bruni just taking him out by half a second. Super close racing at the top.
The race came down to Bruni and Greg Minnaar with Bruni just taking him out by half a second. Super close racing at the top.

Fourth place for a sprinting Luca Shaw.
Fourth place for a sprinting Luca Shaw.

Cole Picchiottino railing the last berm. His third place finish after a P1 qualie is not a bad way to finish off the weekend. He knows he has the speed to play among the top guys.
Cole Picchiottino railing the last berm. His third-place finish after a P1 qualie is not a bad way to finish off the weekend. He knows he has the speed to play among the top guys.

The times between Loic Bruni and Greg Minnaar were almost too close to call. He s had the season of a lifetime with both the World Cup overall and Championship stripes.
The times between Loic Bruni and Greg Minnaar were almost too close to call. He's had the season of a lifetime with both the World Cup overall and Championship stripes.

And now he s 10 grand richer crossing the line just ahead of Greg.
And now he's 10 grand richer crossing the line just ahead of Greg.

Unstopable.
Unstopable.

Luca was looking for a bit more today. The track was unforgiving and lacked grip.
Luca was looking for a bit more today. The track was unforgiving and lacked grip.

Greg Minnaar couldn t believe how close it came down between him and Loic. Great racing between them both.
Greg Minnaar couldn't believe how close it came down between him and Loic. Great racing between them both.

The Super Bruni autograph session began as soon as possible.
The Super Bruni autograph session began as soon as possible.

Jill Kintner Vaea Veerbeck Camila Nogueira Claire Buchar and Jennifer Mchugh for the Women s Open podium.
Jill Kintner, Vaea Veerbeck, Camila Nogueira, Claire Buchar, and Jennifer Mchugh for the Women's Open podium.

Loic Bruni Greg Minnaar Cole Picchiottino Luca Shaw and Dakotah Norton close out the Men s Open podium.
Loic Bruni, Greg Minnaar, Cole Picchiottino, Luca Shaw, and Dakotah Norton close out the Men's Open podium.

Jill Kintner and Loic Bruni with Mr. US Open himself Clay Harper.
Jill Kintner and Loic Bruni with Mr. US Open himself, Clay Harper.

The sun has set on yet another US Open and with that the 2019 season for most.
See ya next year, SoCal.



35 Comments

  • 30 2
 Phil Kmetz, 17th, on a trail bike after racing the enduro (qualifying for the EWS) and doing the whip off. Boy has some endurance!
  • 3 0
 Full transparency; It appeared immediately after the race he had qualified for an EWS, it is not known for sure.
  • 14 0
 Awesome seeing Cole Picchiottino up there. His dad is a nutrition and PT coach for many SO-CAL MXers if I recall. Also, his dad was very fast for his age down in Fontucky about 10 years ago...
  • 14 0
 that´s some respectable pay checks finally for a top MTB competition..
  • 7 0
 That's the overall prize money for UCI DH world cup...! (10,000€ make the $ conversion but basically...)
  • 13 1
 Looks like Bruni likes the competitions rubber...
  • 5 2
 As has been discussed all season, Specialized doesn't have DH casing tires in 29". They likely have them but no way Bruni and Finn are switching mid-season when they've been riding them all winter and early season. That said, I think it is possible part of Bruni's consistent success in 2019 could be partially attributed to the Maxxis tires. We all know how important tires are. More important than wheelsize, to a rider of this caliber. So Specialized is definitely in between a rock and a hard place now. Having to possibly re-work tread patterns and compounds and deliver to Bruni and Finn by this winter so they can 'convert back' the Specialized tires. It's also possible Specialized doesn't want to put the R&D money into making DH casing tires anymore and will just let their world cup guys race on Sharpie-d out Maxxis tires. But that's doubtful!
  • 3 1
 I don't think this it is a Specialized Factory team, instead they are a title sponsor. Loic is running 100% clothing, etc and not a total Specialized program like Enduro last year with Keene/Graves. They were Spec top to bottom including clothing, tires, helmets, etc.

I could be wrong though...
  • 5 0
 @salespunk: Looks like FOX gear to be me. Cheers
  • 5 0
 @salespunk: So rad how much fox pays Loic, and you think he runs 100% haha, what a win for 100%
  • 1 0
 @yakimonti: @Frozen52 my bad. Obviously I am above marketing... (insert sarcasm)
  • 8 0
 Minnaar & Bruni almost the same height despite the step down lol
  • 5 4
 Hey, where's all the PB'ers saying how easy this trail is and it is no double black, like they did when the trail opened a couple of months ago? www.pinkbike.com/news/summit-bike-park-opens-new-dh-trail-10-ply.html
  • 6 2
 I've ridden it a few times, it's a fun run for sure. No way it's a double black though. It's definitely tricky with some tech bits and no traction but it's also not crazy by far.
  • 1 1
 @apneaaddict: Haha! Just what was needed. Makes you wonder how good the greatest riders in the world really are if they're struggling and crashing on a single black diamond trail! I think I'm going to go try it on my bmx.
  • 2 0
 @Rubberelli: it isn’t that the trail is extra difficult, but at the speeds they are going it gets gnarly fast given how little grip there is. The pros were gapping the entire rock caterpillar thing. If that was the only line it would be an insane trail, but ridden at non pro race speed, it isn’t super gnarly.
  • 1 1
 @Austink: tip toeing down most any trail may make it seem like it's not gnarly I guess, but with steep and loose, the trail is supposed to be ridden at speed. If you are saying to yourself, "this is too scary to ride fast", then it is gnarly.
  • 1 0
 @Rubberelli: I can agree with that partly but there is a limit to which that doesn’t hold up. True double black terrain at northstar is scary no matter how slow you go. I certainly wasn’t tip toeing down 10 ply and at no point did I get scared.

Is 10 ply a technical trail that deserves respect and can put you on your head if you aren’t skilled? Absolutely. Is it on the same level as some other double black tech trails? No.

If you sent the fastest racers down turtle trail, there would be crashes too. Any trail becomes scary when the speed gets high enough.
  • 1 0
 @Austink: they race Turtle during Enduro races all the time. I doubt there are many, if any, crashes in the men's and women's pro field. I seriously doubt there are many crashes in the cat 3 field either. As for Northstar, since most double blacks are off the chair that doesn't run on weekdays, I had much less time on them. I remember tip toeing down Sticks & Stones and Karpiel once or twice, just about the same as 10-Ply my first day on it. Boondocks I had more time on. While much more technical rock gardens than 10-Ply, it lacks the steepness and sheer lack of grip which, in my eyes makes speed much more difficult and unpredictable.
  • 5 3
 and now 10 ply, which was already a blown out dust fest, is nothing but a 2ft deep silt bed all the way down the hill. another trail gone to waste at summit.
  • 3 4
 I cant believe people go there on purpose
  • 4 0
 I am sure the trail team out there will be working hard to get it back into shape. Should just be happy that Socal got a race at this level. When was the last time you saw this many WC racers on track at the same time around here?
  • 1 3
 @salespunk: 2000 . It sucked then ,too. Lets not pretend it dosent. Fontana is even better
  • 1 0
 It is now “burned” in and will be even better now.
  • 3 0
 @scary1: you probably eat tacos with a fork
  • 2 0
 @Edwardsjr1: tacos? Too pedestrian.
Im upset that you even brought it up.
  • 3 0
 Nice to see solid prize money!
  • 2 0
 The track was Gnar. Changed every single day.. Lots of treasures every first run Smile .
  • 2 0
 Aluminium bike wins in the US. lol
  • 3 0
 what happened to gwinn?
  • 1 1
 Awesome to see such a legend like Missy Giove back on racing again! Hell yeah!!
  • 1 0
 Jennifer McHugh representing with the pump still on the bike too. Woohoo!
  • 1 0
 Kitner running the park version Aurum, not the HSP?
  • 1 1
 Somebody get Jen McHugh a DH bike please ????????
  • 1 0
 YT sells a DH bike thats affordable.

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