Multiple Line Miracle: 2017 US Open – Finals

May 29, 2017
by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur  
Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals


The biggest bike party the East coast gravity scene has witnessed since the Windham World Cup departed in 2015 went down this weekend as the US Open of Mountain Biking made a triumphant return to Mountain Creek. Throngs of rowdy spectators lined the track as hundreds of riders battled on a brand new course. The Open was a huge deal in its heyday, drawing international luminaries like Sam Hill, Gee Atherton, Brendan Fairclough and Troy Brosnan to northern New Jersey. The event was shuttered after the 2011 race, leaving a big hole in the summer race calendar. The rebirth of the Open this year was a bit of a miracle.

Clay Harper, one of the young riders who developed the bike park at Mountain Creek (then known as Diablo Freeride Park) and started the whole US Open phenomenon, bought the rights to the event from his former partner Shawn Orecchio just a few short months ago. In a Herculean effort, Harper and his team created the event from nothing, lined up a stable of top-shelf sponsors and built a new track in the blink of a race-organizer's eye. "Some people thought I was crazy. I was playing chicken with the clock," said Harper. "Everyone's budgets were closed and people weren't returning my calls." But then Shimano jumped on board, quickly followed by Fox, Clif, GT, and Red Bull and the Open was, as they say, off to the races.


Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals

The US Open is unlike other big races in that it is a standalone event with no points of any kind on the line. Money, prizes, bragging rights and a big bike party are the only incentives. The track was designed for the event by Harper, George Ryan and Aaron Chase with the trail trail crew working on their days off to get it built in time. "The thought process behind the design was lines—multiple lines. We wanted to leave everything wide open and not let riders turn off their brains and just follow the tape," said Harper. "With the super long wheel bases and slack head angles on today's bikes we wanted the track to be fast. We tested the section above the Independence Jump and we were hitting 40mph."

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  After ample amounts of rain in the days leading up to the event, race weekend was blessedly dry with sun and clouds both days.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  The rain has been good for the apple orchards and farm fields that surround Mountain Creek and give the region its bucolic feel.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  After a fourth in seeding on Saturday, Dakotah Norton was up early and rocking the bed head as he readied for practice Sunday morning.

bigquotesI need to clean it up today. I felt like Dale Earnhart Jr. out there yesterday drifting and getting loose all over the place.Dakotah Norton

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  The Defiant Racing team had a huge contingent of racers at the open and their pit was a beehive of activity from dawn to dusk. Team manager Nelson Maldonado and racer Mauricio Estrada dialed in the fleet of M16's for the team that would place three pros in the top fifteen as well as the fastest amateur on the day.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  In the pits, Wayne Lee, owner of Atomik rims, was testing and touting the new CushCore inner-tire suspension system which he claims offers superior damping, cornering and reliable tire and rim impact protection.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  The Open is much more than a bike race. There were numerous other activities on and off the hill all weekend. A highlight on the Sunday schedule was the Grom Bomb kids race. Mariska Simon, nine, was eager to register for the kids race after traveling with her family from Southern California for the event. Simon's older brother, Andras, left, took second in the Whip Off Challenge on Friday night but unfortunately cracked his radius and chipped his ulna in a spectacular rock garden crash during seeding on Saturday.


Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  The Grom Bomb turned out to be a huge success with 36 youngsters tackling their own fully-staffed course on the beginner trail Domboo. The future of downhill racing needs more events like this rather than the "parking lot" races typically offered to the youngest kids.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Zack Harper was the first grom on course with his proud father giving him an enthusiastic sendoff. Young Zack took second in the 7–9 class.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Over on the big kid's course, the track was getting faster with each passing tire. A few playdough ruts remained from the opening-day softness but they were few and far between.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  The short quagmire near the top of the track that had sapped speed and caused a lot of grumbling from riders was still in evidence on race day but was not nearly the time-suck it had been for the first couple days.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  During late-morning practice Dakotah Norton had a wild moment when he planted and taco'ed his front wheel coming into a steep slab section. Norton's bike launched through the air and crashed into a young spectator standing trackside and sent the poor kid tumbling down the slab. Norton was instantly more concerned about the kid's fate than his own and fortunately the tough but bloodied youngster, now sporting a perfect muddy tire print on his cheek, replied: "I'm ok, I'm ok. I broke my arm before and didn't even cry."

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Neko Mulally, following up his second-place time in seeding, was looking for additional speed and absolutely sending every feature during practice.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Aaron Gwin, who's YT was wired with a tangle of telemetry during practice sessions, took the top qualifying time on Saturday and packed in a slew of practice laps before the bell on Sunday.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  As the course designers had planned, the track was fast and it kept getting faster. Speed Legion Pro, Sean Surprenant, who suffered one of the wildest OTB superman crashes of all time at the Mountain Creek ProGRT last year, kept it rubber side down this year as he ripped through the forest.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  KHS Factory Racing Pro, Bruce Klein who is off to a sizzling season spent a lot of practice time eyeing lines looking to shave some time after qualifying 6th on Saturday.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Commencal's Luca Cometti, winner of the Best Whip on Friday night, also knows how to ride berms. Cometti qualified 17th but took a big bite out of the clock on Sunday and finished in the 10th spot.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Collegiate racer Angelina Palermo, runner-up at the Windrock ProGRT earlier this season, had a lackluster qualifying run but hit the throttle on race day for a 4th-place finish.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Commencal's Steve Walton has been busy this spring. The Open was his 14th start of the year and he dominated his class at the winter Fontana series in California. Walton took 15th in the Open class on Sunday and was the fastest junior.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  The new rock garden adjacent to the classic Asylum test piece was the place to be on race day. A huge crowd lined the rowdy jumble and the roars could be heard from the lift on the other side of the mountain. Chainsaws, whistles, horns, trash can lids, sirens and maybe a couple beers were all part of the high-decibel mix.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Not surprisingly, local legend and master of mayhem, Edgar Coy, was at the center of the auditory assault.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Defiant Racing's Mauricio Estrada, a Mountain Creek local, charged to a ninth-place finish. Despite the fine result, Estrada was even happier that his daughter Ivanna won the amateur women's race in only her second-ever downhill start. As the say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Last season's ProGRT overall women's champion Samantha Kingshill made the cross-country trip to the Open and secured the third spot on the podium. Kingshill is a bright star and still very young. Her mother, who volunteered as a course marshall, had to join her on the trip because Kingshill is too young to drive a rental car.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Riding for Liv Cycles, North Carolina's Caroline Washam was consistently fast all weekend and took the runner-up spot in the open class. The former national-level BMX racer didn't start downhill racing until college but is quickly making a mark on the pro scene with a win at the Windrock ProGRT earlier this year.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  To no one's surprise, reigning many-time national champion, Jill Kintner, dominated the women's field taking the win by more than eleven seconds. Racing for Red Bull, Fox, Shimano and Norco, Kintner, now in her mid 30s, has not eased off the gas in the slightest. Crankworx will be Kintner's big focus this summer as well as defending her national title.

bigquotesThis is one of the best venues in the U.S. by far, these guys do it right here. The track really evolved over the weekend. I'm so happy for everyone here who put this on and made it so successful. The US Open is back! Hopefully, we get some more international talent next year.Jill Kintner

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Canadian Magnus Manson, racing for Kona, made the long trip from British Columbia for the Open. Manson was the only top rider to take the righthand line through the rock garden and he smoked it. After a mid-pack qualifying run, Manson fired on all cylinders in the finals for a 5th-place finish.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  IJ Racing's Rafael Gutierrez, younger brother of World Cup legend Marcelo Gutierrez continues to stack up quality results of late. Gutierrez is running a busy World Cup schedule this year and took home 4th place on Sunday.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Dakotah Norton, racing for Morpheus bikes, has rapidly transformed from a regional racer into a globe-trotting contender in the span of a couple short years. Winning the dual slalom and taking third in the pump track challenge at Crankworx Whistler in 2015 has a way of changing a career trajectory in a hurry. Norton was struggling to feel comfortable all weekend but put it together on race day to take the 3rd spot.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  The big man on campus at the Open was reigning World Cup overall champion and many-time national champion Aaron Gwin. The YT Mob superstar won qualifying and was edged in the final by just over a second to claim the runner-up spot.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Gwin's YT Mob teammate Neko Mulally set off a finish line eruption when his winning time went up on the board. The US Open win closed the circle for Mulally who has a long history with the venue.

bigquotesThis is one of the first places I ever raced. I grew up a few hours from here and I won the US Open as an amateur in 2007. In those days that was the biggest amateur race you could win and it's still one of my best memories to this day.Neko Mulally

When he first walked the course Mullally thought it was "whack" but as it burned in "it became really challenging and fun to race. I'm feeling awesome on my new team and this year is going really well for me. I knew that on this course I had everything I needed to be able to win and it was just up to me to put it all together.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  Keeping with tradition, the US Open offers one of the largest purses in American downhill racing with over $15,000 up for grabs in the Open Class and some high-value prizes for amateurs including Shimano Saint brake sets and Fox 40 forks. A special bonus this year was a plate raffle for a mini motocross bike. Fittingly, the big winner was East Coast racing legend Jason Memmelaar who has competed in every US Open since its inception and pulled down an impressive 16th place finish on Sunday.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  The women's Open Class podium from left: Angelina Palermo – 4th, Caroline Washam – 2nd, Jill Kintner – 1st, Samantha Kingshill – 3rd, CJ Selig – 5th

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  A bubbly bath for Clay Harper.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  The men's Open Class podium form left: Rafael Gutierrez – 4th, Aaron Gwin – 2nd, Neko Mulally – 1st, Dakotah Norton – 2nd, Magnus Manson – 5th

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
   The US Open's top dogs.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  It takes a village... and a family.

Lines on Lines 2017 US Open Finals
  The 2017 US Open of Mountain Biking revived a classic event and the racing world responded. In addition to top-notch racing, the party vibe and stoke were rocking. Is it too early to start planning for the 2018 Open? "Oh it's happening, this is important to us!" said Harper as he took a well-deserved breather after the last cork was popped.


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Full Results


80 Comments

  • + 88
 Using a Yeti frame to make noise... I am crying.
  • + 42
 Dentist-Life.
  • + 64
 Most gnarly you'll ever see a Yeti owner get.
  • + 19
 I was standing right across from him......looked very hard for cracks.....didn't see any......that's one hell of an expensive noise maker
  • + 2
 To each his own I guess
  • + 80
 The frame is mine, my dad bought it and I didn't like the color. Just kidding. The frame is completely totaled with a crack running around the whole bb. It was gonna get thrown out but a friend gave it to me.
  • - 15
flag thedriftisreal (May 29, 2017 at 11:40) (Below Threshold)
 @tjbiker38: oh so your dad is the dentist....
  • + 15
 @tjbiker38: Apparently the Yeti fanboys arent aware of how many 5-6 year old Yeti's just out of warranty that are cracked.
  • + 7
 Heckle specific @tjbiker38
  • + 4
 26 is dead
  • + 4
 @tjbiker38:

I'm assuming it was you guys then at MSA last summer beating on that thing for the Mens final at UCI?

With "Make downhill Great again" or something written on it with sharpie?

I was wondering the same thing until I saw the massive crack on it...
  • + 1
 Every knows Yeti's never break...
  • + 3
 @schofell84: despite pinkbike claims that modern trail bikes are totally strong enough to handle anything all bikes will break eventually after years of crashing. aluminum does fatigue.
  • + 11
 @Allmost: yup that was us
  • + 0
 @pieters: My domestic made aluminum freeride bike is still going strong. 10 years with 200+ lbs crashing it down the hill all summer.
  • + 2
 @schofell84:

Of how many are poorly engineered and dent from just riding them (cough 303 cough)

Despite that I still want a DJ to build up! Haha
  • + 5
 Even better is using a yeti frame to make 16th place . It had a rear quick release
  • + 2
 The yeti is my buddies it was cracked lol I was at least using a rim
  • + 1
 @pieters: Or months of riding...in my case.
  • + 24
 Neko Mulally came up big. Nice work.
  • + 4
 Pumped to see Neko back in the mix, I'm hoping it will be a fun battle between him and Gwin this year at WCs. Teammates duking it out for the top of the box always makes for great racing, bring on the battle of the nice-guys!
  • + 20
 Why doesn't Kitner race world cups? It's sad, and honestly pathetic, that there is no American representation in the women's field. I miss the days of Leigh, Missy, and Tara!
  • + 2
 lack of financial support is my guess
  • + 0
 i find it hard to fully understand why she said she wants more international talent at next years us open.


the international competition has been waiting for her to come back to world cups for years.

if she wants more competition, she needs to put on her big girl sombrio shorts and go race the best of the best, not the rest of of the rest.

i thought she was a red bull athlete?..., there should be no need to complain about lack of funds.

maybe she knows she ain't got an 'a game' like the top 5 ladies on the world cup?

it would be cool if she did an interview and spoke about this because for a lot of us looking from the outside, it seems a little strange she won't race world cups.

actually, for a lot of racers that wish they had the support she does, its seems alot strange.
  • + 1
 @stacykohut:

The f*ck do you know about the support she gets from Norco? They don't have a women dh factory team and they don't want to support her for WC. Makes no sense to me as well why they would invest all their money on Blenki who can't even qualify for race day anymore... Everybody wants to see kintner vs rachel
  • + 18
 @mollow: If it's a team support problem then she needs a new team. She is the National Champion and should be racing in the big leagues.
  • + 6
 @mollow: i'm sure a half decent proposal to red bull could secure funds for travel, mechanic, and the rest.

a red bull athlete isn't supposed to lack funds.
  • - 3
 @mollow: blenki......

his best season ever was on a turner i believe.....

its been nothing since.
major talent, no results.


the clock don't lie.
  • + 21
 @stacykohut: 1) Who cares why she doesn't want to race world cups. As cool as it seems to travel around the world for half the year and ride a mountain bike, she's 35 years old and has been a top level BMX, 4x, and DH racer her entire life. She doesn't need to prove anything to anyone. At this point maybe she just wants to stay closer to home.

2) Her comment about wanting more international competition was about the event in general, not that she personally was looking for better competition to race against. She was talking about the US Open returning to how it was back in the day when there was a stacked field of international racers every year.
  • + 4
 @sino428: who cares?

alot of her fans care and wonder why.

thats who.
  • + 6
 @stacykohut: She doesn't owe you or anyone else an explanation for her career choices. She can do whatever she wants.
  • + 1
 @sino428: hells yeah she can.

but she should not say she wants more international competition.

2 words..................

rachel atherton.

don't poke the giant , you might get what you asked for.
  • + 6
 @stacykohut: like I said in my last post, her comment about international competition was clearly made in reference to the event itself, and wanting the US Open to once again grow into a large international event like it was in the past. It was not her complaining that the she personally didn't have enough competition.
  • - 10
flag rockymountainsrule (May 29, 2017 at 22:02) (Below Threshold)
 @sino428: you sound like a retard
  • - 5
flag rockymountainsrule (May 29, 2017 at 22:04) (Below Threshold)
 @stacykohut oh my god I hope Rachael and Manon come next year and whoop her f*cking ass
  • + 0
 @stacykohut: bang on bud, nail on the head!
  • + 1
 @sino428: to your point #1, who knows what her reasonings are besides her friends and family, but i will say, once upon a time in pro US motorbike racing, Mat Mladin said something to that point where he didn't want to be travelling the world for most of the year and being away from his family and stuff, when he had been multiple-year champion and multiple-year runner up and didn't move on to the world stage like Ben Spies and Nicky Hayden had.
  • + 1
 @meathooker: all bench racing aside...............


R.I.P Nicky Hayden "The Kentucky Kid"
  • + 1
 @stacykohut: Well I don't know who is buying those nasty drinks - I'm not!
  • + 14
 Mtb mania recaps are keeping us dh alive, so good
  • + 10
 Standing at rock garden for 45minutes, waiting to see Gwin race through and did not see him, some people say they blinked and missed the chance, I blinked twice and missed Mullaly and Gwin. I am gluing my eyelids open next time!
  • + 12
 Good thing Vital posted the results in a timely manner. I.E right after the race and not a day or two later.
  • + 9
 Took my family upon Sunday for the finals. Best sporting event I've been to in years. Totally nice crowd. Top riders all took time to speak to my kids, pose for pics etc. Beer wasn't $10 a glass etc. all the sponsor support. Just epic. It really was.
  • + 5
 ahh, the good ol' US open. Must have been 05 or 06 (but I could be wrong) the first time I heard of it. Dirt mag had an article with a nice photo of the electronic timing board. Aussies took out the top 5 places........ fun times! Great to see it back and I hope it goes on to garner some international riders next year.
  • + 3
 I remember that. Found results but not the photo.

Hill, Rennie, Kovarik, Hannah, Havukainen

www.pinkbike.com/news/article2599.html
  • + 9
 Great recap Jeb! Stoked for Neko and everyone who rallied the course
  • + 9
 YT going 1,2! Look out WC season!
  • + 6
 from aaron's fb he even had a crash in his race run and still only lost by 1 sec
  • + 1
 @striveCF15: if not for the crash, Aaron's run might even faster over 1 sec
  • + 5
 phenomenal photos and comments. love the inside stories. You captured Dakotah (nicest dude and really coolwith kids) and Neko (all about family) beautifully. This is how we make stars of these athletes !!! awesome work Jeb !!!!!
  • + 8
 Magnus 5th right on congrats dude! #longlivechainsaw
  • + 8
 Nailed it with the taco photo, nice one!
  • + 4
 Dakota had some sweet Robert Smith hair thing going there and we're totally jealous. Thank you to the US Open for putting on an amazing event and thank you to all the racers and fans who came out to ride with us this weekend.
  • + 8
 Congrats to everyone involved !
  • + 4
 Looks like an awesome event, reminiscent of the annual Mt Snow NORBA event in the late 90's and Plattekill. Tons of fans and a legitimate track! Stoked to see gravity fever alive and well in the USA!
  • + 5
 From Thurdsday to Sunday Finals this event was jam packed with fun. Finals, Whip contest and Grom Bom were the kids favorites! Great Comeback!!!!!
  • + 4
 I'm gussing the guy with the Yeti frame noise maker isn't one of the people on here bitching about $600 brakes
  • + 5
 was a totaled framed given to him
  • + 5
 I was standing right behind him like... WTF? Then I saw the frame was cracked and said to myself, "Carry on good sir, carry on."
  • + 2
 With course wild like that, i'm a bit shocked some people still do not use any back / hands protection, especially when we can buy pretty light and comfortable ones these days.
  • + 6
 Oskarbues! Buuuraaap
  • + 3
 Great event, very well put together!!!! an absolute blast!!!! cant wait for next year Smile
  • + 2
 Think Memmelaar tried to trade the moto for that sweet Burton Backhill? ...
  • + 3
 Nice work Jeb! Great weekend of racing!
  • + 3
 Gwin crashed in a corner and only lost by about a second. Impressive.
  • + 3
 Great article! #USDH
  • + 1
 The dude that threw it himself all "F** You' rocks!" deep into the chaos at 2:26...who dat? Bad arse man!
  • + 3
 DALES!!!!!
  • + 2
 Any race or practice POVs?
  • + 6
 Gwin has his race run up on his facebook
  • - 2
 Where was Mitch Ropeleto? Bad planning if there wasn't an EWS event you know Rude would have raced. Keene would have made a showing. I bet Beerton would have raced. If it was last minute anyway why not pick an open weekend? Super limited WC and EWS events anyway.
  • + 4
 Oh yeah I'm sure Curtis's broken collarbone would have totally healed up on the plane
  • + 0
 @tempest3070: I know Beerton and Keene are injured. Had they planned for a different weekend they might not have been injured. My point was why not make it open to as many American pros as possible
  • + 3
 this race (except for the 1st one) was always memorial day weekend
  • + 0
 @mattytourbus: ah well that makes sense.. still if the question is to get more talent local or international some coordination among tours would facilitate that.
  • + 3
 Video was awesome!
  • + 2
 Dem' Windrock Boys

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