Alex McAndrew rails into a steep section on King Diamond as the fog begins to fade during Sunday's practice (Pro Men).
Each stop in a series brings its own terrain, character, and quirks that make it a unique proving ground for racers to compete at. Port Angeles’ tightly packed trails offer an early season open, variable weather conditions, an interesting mix of dirt and sandstone, and plenty of rough riding mixed in for good measure.
Jill Kintner handily dominated the field all weekend long (Pro Women).
John Canfield, purveyor of quality hip packs, enjoys the calm winds on the ride across the water.
One overlooked distinction of the Port Angles Pro GRT stop is the ferry ride taken by many racers, spectators, and vendors as they embark on their weekend. There's an instant sense of camaraderie found from joining other bike-laden vehicles in the terminal line because you know you're surrounded by a group of people who share a passion for mountain biking and racing.
Since the weekend was round two of the NW Cup and stop one for the Pro GRT, there was a notable influx in racers compared to the rest of the season — 540 riders entered in total. They were greeted by dry trail conditions Friday and Saturday that began to turn marble-like under the onslaught of so many tires. As usual, a fleet of U-hauls were running shuttles to the top.
Stratton Jurus gets acquainted with some pedal bite and a blown out turn during practice Saturday (Cat 2 Men 0-14).
Each category had its individual course. Cat 3 raced from the top through the recently reworked White Knuckle to Double Bypass before ending up on Cake Walk. Cat 2 explored Wayne’s World, Short Shorts, Heckler’s Row, and lastly Lower Pro. Cat 1, Juniors, and Pros tacked King Diamond, Braeburn, Upper Pro, to Chunder Dome to end up on the signature Water Fall – where hecklers are deep and carnage is always lurking nearby.
Liam Smillie (Cat 2 Men 19-29).
Drew Mozell was part of a very fast Cat 2 Men 0-14 group that charged hard over the weekend. Mozell finished fifth on Sunday.
Saturday’s practice was segmented into categories, and by the time Juniors and Pros took the field, the weather was beginning to sour, and finally to rain. All that dust began to clump to tires under the added moisture making for heavy steering and reduced traction. The NW Cup traditionally hosts seeding runs for Pros and Juniors on the evening before the races. But, with the Pro GRT, the invasion of Pro Men riders would instead compete for qualifying times. Only the top 60 qualifiers would be able to compete on Sunday.
Will Stewart (Cat 1 Men 19-29).
Jason Provins exiting the log chute on King Diamond. Provins placed third in his category (Cat 1 Men 30-39).
The pressure of losing your spot made the results board a popular site for the duration, as racers crowded around to see who would make the cut. In the end, Forrest Riesco, Bruce Klein, Kiran MacKinnon, Charlie Harrison, and Luke Strobel put in the top five times for Pro Men. Jill Kintner lead the Pro Women by nearly 20 seconds. She was followed by Jaime Rees, Samantha Kingshill, Britney White, and Kjersti Christensen. Top ranks for Junior Men were formed by Nik Nestoroff, Simon Tellier, Andras Simon, Steven Walton, and Devin Kjaer.
Party in the woods! Zach Fraser and Shelby Reilly out spectating and doing some light heckling.
A little fresh trail work left this deep double on King Diamond riding smooth. Stephanie Denroche (Cat 1 Women Open).
The crowds quickly dispersed under the cold mist and rain, but not before wishing Director, Scott Tucker an early birthday and partaking in the cake. The next morning they were greeted by heavy fog that closed in even tighter at the start gate. Dirt conditions ranged from mildly tacky in newer trail sections to slick in the older hard-packed areas. The dense fog definitely influenced riders' confidence during early practice runs. Fortunately, the fog abated as the day continued and racers were soon delivering fast times again. The order of the day proceeded; Cat 1, Cat 2, Cat 3, followed by a fervid practice for Juniors and Pros before they completed their race.
Although challenging, a manual or jump off this log into the berm provided the smoothest line for racers and kept bottom brackets happy.
Kialani Hines (Cat 1 Women Open) and Spencer Baldwin (Cat 1 Men 19-29).
Sunday's race conditions ended up being far superior to those during seeding/qualifying. Steven Walton moved up to take first in Juniors, leading Simon Tellier by just over three seconds. Sean Bell, Jeremy Schwartz, and Devin Kjaer came next, their times only hundredths of seconds apart. Pro Women saw fewer changes with Jill Kintner once again dominating. Jaime Rees placed second while Britney White moved up to third, Jaime Hill took fourth, and Samantha Kingshill finished fifth.
Kaytlin Melvin (Cat 1 Women Open) rides past the scene of Bob Stenson's brutal crash from last year - check out MTB Mania's Crash Reel.
Will Stewart (Cat 1 Men 19-29).
Pro Men saw quite a bit of change with Mikey Sylvestri moving to fifth, Forrest Riesco slipping to fourth, and Luca Cometti and Mitch Ropelato taking third and second. The major upset of the weekend was Tanner Stephens' Cinderella Story. Stephens almost chose to give up racing, but decided to give it one final go on his old spray painted bike — a decision that claimed him his first Pro GRT podium ever. The last several minutes in the hot seat kept Stephens and the surrounding crowd on edge. Especially since the top eight times all fell within less than a second.
Peter Moravek (Cat 1 Men 19-29).
Warren Kniss whipping things all classy like (Pro Men).
Mixed in with the weekend’s excitement was the sobering realization that the Pro GRT took place just days after the mountain bike community lost a hero. Steve Smith was the small town boy who rose to the top and into so many hearts along the way. Smith raced and won at the NW Cup in both 2012 and 2013, and his plans to race this weekend made his passing even more shocking and sorrowful.
“We at Ndub are gutted about the loss of Stevie. Not only are we going to miss him coming to our local races, we always rooted for him at the world cups as if he was from our hometown. Always super nice, super stoked, and an inspiration to watch ride in person” — Scott Tucker, Director.
The goodbye from the NW Cup began as a thundering on-course chant during the races and completed during the awards ceremonies with upraised fingers pointing to Stevie.
Ride in Peace Stevie, from your NW Cup Family.
Simon Tellier had the second fastest seeding time Saturday evening (Cat 1 Men 0-18 ) and Tanner Stephens qualified 12th for Pro Men.
The PNW's favorite downhiller on 29" wheels was right at home with the changing conditions. Luke Strobel qualified fifth (Pro Men).
Charlie Harrison qualified just under a second faster than Strobel, taking fourth (Pro Men).
Forrest Riesco squeezing in one final practice run. Riesco had the fastest qualifying time (Pro Men).
Matt Orlando (Pro Men).
Proper heckling requires the finest cowbell technology available.
Cam Quadrelli blasts through the chunder on Upper Pro during his seeding run (Cat 1 Men 0-18 ).
Sean Bell put in a solid seeding run putting him seventh in the lineup (Cat 1 Men 0-18 ).
No stranger to the top, Jill Kintner seeded almost 20 seconds ahead of the pack (Pro women).
Kjersti Christensen and Angelina Palermo (Pro Women).
Jaime Rees earning loud cheers from the crowd. Rees seeded second on Saturday (Pro Women).
California rider, Kiran MacKinnon coped well with rain, qualifying third (Pro Men).
Bruce Klein and Demetri Triantafillou (Pro Men).
Despite the spill, Parker Robinson held together a fast run and still qualified 37th (Pro Men).
A mud slathered Kris Christensen receives some final directions at the end of his run. Christensen crash prevented him from qualifying for Sunday's race (Pro Men).
Left: Waiting to see who will make the cut. Right: Director, Scott Tucker fell victim to an early birthday celebration.
Sunday morning practice began with a heavy blanket of fog.
Liam Smillie putting his practice runs to good use. Smillie finished third (Cat 2 Men 19-29).
Peyton Pitts (Cat 3 Men 11-14).
Gliding through the fog. Brian Zimmerman (Cat 1 Men 30-39).
With only one practice lap per rider, it was important to make things count.
Daniel Frentzel at the top of his race run on King Diamond (Cat 1 Men 19-29).
Off to a great start. Adam Woodhouse followed up his second place finish during the first NW Cup with a win over the weekend. (Cat 1 Men 19-29).
Connor Carson holding his own and taking his second third-place finish of the season (Cat 1 Men 19-29).
Aaron Buck (Cat 1 Men 30-39).
Ed Reilly (Cat 1 Men 40+).
Kialani Hines rode to a repeat victory this season and Kaytlin Melvin took third (Cat 1 Women Open).
Dalton Evanger (Cat 2 Men 19-29).
Marc Soelberg headed for the exit on Wayne's World (Cat 2 Men 19-29). Soelberg finished fourth.
Mike Wallace (Cat 2 Men 50+).
Janea Perry en route for a win (Cat 2 Women Open).
Sarah Olsen racing down Wayne's World (Cat 2 Women Open).
Ben Thirlwell put together a fast lap earning him his best finish to date. Thrilwell finished second (Cat 2 Men 15-18 ).
Adrian Lee (Cat 2 Men 15-18 ).
Michael LaSalata (Cat 3 Men 40-49).
Best kits on the mountain. Camron Ratkoviak (Cat 3 Men 0-10).
Sweet Lines Racing is doing good things bringing up the young guard of racers.
Luca Cometti finding lines amidst a maelstrom of Pro and Junior riders who were all trying to get in their allotted practice runs before time ran out (Pro Men). Cometti finished third.
Forrest Riesco was riding smooth and fast during practice (Pro Men).
Top: Alex Auger tries out as the Canadian Unicorn. Bottom: Simon Tellier, and Steven Walton finished the day second and first (Cat 1 Men 0-18 ).
Sean Bell was able to move up from his seventh place seeding time to finish third (Cat 1 Men 0-18 ).
A distracting course warden greeted Junior and Pro racers at the top of the course - a gift from team Oprah's Laser Cannon.
Dylan Brown (Cat 1 Men 0-18 ).
Swept nearly clean. Joseph Rager (Cat 1 Men 0-18 ).
This long flat corner was the cause of more than one spill during the weekend. Jacob Jordan (Cat 1 Men 0-18 ).
Left: A crash from Kim Godfrey came pretty close to also turning into a collision. Right: Lauren Heitzman (Pro Women).
Kerstin Holster (Pro Women).
Britney White moved up from her fourth-place seeding time to finish third.
Jill Kintner held the lead, taking first (Pro Women).
Alex Willie (Pro Men).
Mitch Ropelato sending the waterfall on the way to second (Pro Men).
Colin Grant and Alex McAndrew (Pro Men).
Ride the bike you have. Tanner Stephens almost didn't race this season, but he ended up entering on his old spray painted bike. The results were a Cinderella Story that saw him rise to the top of the podium (Pro Men).
Spencer Graf (Pro Men).
Charlie Harrison lost a little ground, sliding from fourth during qualifying to eighth (Pro Men).
Steven Walton, Simon Tellier, Sean Bell, Jeremy Schwartz, and Devin Kjaer (Cat 1 Men 0-18 ).
Jill Kintner, Jaime Rees, Britney White, Jaime Hill, and Samantha Kingshill (Pro Women).
Tanner Stephens, Mitch Ropelato, Luca Cometti, Forrest Riesco, and Mikey Sylvstri (Pro Men).
Pro and Junior podiums each received an in-memoriam medal honoring Steve Smith.
This one is for you Steve. Bottom: Andre and Kyle Strom hold Steve Smith's 2013 winning check that he gave to them as inspiration during their first Pro GRT.
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