ProGRT and Vittoria ESC Downhill at Killington - Video

Aug 2, 2016
by Eastern States Cup  
Introducing The Eastern States Cup North American Downhill Team

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Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
A new downhill track was christened this past weekend as Killington Resort in Vermont stepped onto the national stage to host Round Four of the ProGRT series and Round Six of the Vittoria Eastern States Cup New England downhill series. Dubbed the “Beast of the East ProGRT,” the race was held in new zone, serviced by the Ramshead high-speed chair, that is being developed by Gravity Logic and the Killington trail crew. For its first national-level race, Killington checked all the boxes: challenging track, easy lift access, free camping, live entertainment, dozens of course marshals, and even a weed-whacked and signed spectator path next to the course.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
With the exception of sustained steeps and rock gardens, the new track, named Goat Skull, offered a wide range of challenges and was a big hit with racers. The course dropped about 1,400 feet over its length with the start just feet from the top of the lift.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
Moments after charging out of the gate, Cat 1 and pro riders faced a sharp turn onto a wooden drop to get the blood pumping. Junior National Champion Sean Bell, with Santa Cruz Factory Racing, had a solid seeding run but was tripped up in the finals and finished 12th.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
Practice and seeding on Saturday were held under perfect summer skies. Santa Cruz pro Kiran MacKinnon had the second fastest qualifier but fell just off the pace for a 13th on Sunday.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
A steep power berm sent racers rocketing across a ski trail and into the woods. Yeti Cycles pro Shawn Neer, winner of the last ProGRT at Angel Fire, turned in a solid 9th-place performance.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
A high-speed jump was an abrupt introduction to the wooded upper reaches of the track. Thick fog on race day made this transition a leap of faith. Adrenaline Racing's Johnny Riggins never let off the gas, winning the Cat 1 30-39 race and the Fly Zone speed trap award for the fastest amateur on the day at 38 mph. Mazie Hayden was the fastest amateur woman.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
The track snaked down the fall line, occasionally popping out into the open, but for the most part sticking to the woods. As with most fresh-cut trails, the loamy ribbon quickly became a minefield of holes and ruts. Steve Wittek, racing for Plattekill’s Get Loose Racing squad, absorbed the natural rollers past a rotten log on practice day.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
A couple rooty, off-camber left hand corners high on the track spelled trouble for many riders, particularly after rain slickened things up for race day. Drummer Racing's Jack Williams held a tight line for a 3rd-place finish in Cat 1 30-39.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
The second of the two corners was especially dicey, as Team Jersey Home Grown's Jared Martz found out in practice. Racers that failed to hold the high road were sucked below the gravity line and had a hard slog to get back on track.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
To spice things up, trail designers threw the occasional man-made feature into the mostly-natural mix. Jared Boothroyd aired out the Wing Ding Double during his Cat One practice on Saturday.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
A steep roll-over to a sharp, deeply-pitted left hander was one of the rowdiest spots on the track. Vermont native Quinn Campbell, racing his first ProGRT for Giant Co-Factory, laid down an inspired run for a 4th-place finish in the Junior Expert category.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
Though mostly wooded, the track occasionally popped out into the open for some high-speed sections. Graeme Pitts went deep off a jump exiting the woods.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
Using a feature from the mountain's winter operations, the trail designers built a hip out of the Timberline Terrain Park's mini pipe. Josh Rogers, riding for Billy Goat Bikes, made the long drive up from his North Carolina home to take second in the Junior Expert category.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
The mountain labeled this section The Rock Garden on their map of the course, but it'll need some geologic augmentation before it poses any real problems for racers, especially seasoned World Cup riders like Norway's Isak Leivsson.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
The occasional machined roller made for some easy airtime. Promising junior expert David Kahn, racing for Danny's Cycles, notched a 6th-place finish.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
Much of the course, particularly the lower-angled bottom half, required some moto and pumping skills to maintain speed. MadKats Racing teammates Tim White and Alex McAndrew know how to work the terrain but unfortunately both tumbled in their race runs.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
With Gravity Logic in the house, you knew there would be some sweet berms to feast on. Blue Sky Performance pro Max Morgan, who recently returned from a superb showing at the Lenzerheide World Cup, can rail with the best.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
If I had to quibble with the track designers, it would be that many of the man-made features were virtually ignored by racers due to their placement on the track. This tree stump jump, hit here by Speed Legion pro Chris Mari, and several other showcase jumps were barely used as the go-arounds proved faster.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
Probably the most exciting spot on the track was this rugged spot low on the mountain. Leaving the road, racers were forced through a pronounced dip. With enough speed, and an energetic pull, some of the pros, like Shane Leslie, were able to make a super-sized bunny hop over the dip.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
A series of boulders forced riders to commit to their line after negotiating the dip. ESC North American Downhill Team member Josh Ribeiro will be joining his eight teammates at the MSA World Cup this coming weekend.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
Nikolas Nestoroff, the top-ranked junior in the country and one of the best in the world, took care of this sharp rock roller and took home the Junior Expert win by a five-second margin.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
Another masterpiece berm sent racers, including Chuck's Bikes pro Isaac Allaire, ripping out of the woods for a final time.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
The finish line jump, with Danny's Cycles pro Phil Kmetz showing style for miles, was the final punctuation on the track.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
Time for this week's Vittoria ESC bike check. Californian Graeme Pitts was turning heads all weekend with his matching stars-and-stripes-themed kit and bike combo. Pitts is a well-travelled racer with results scattered around the globe. After a lackluster seeding run at Killington on Saturday, Pitts put it all together on race day, occupying the hot seat for quite a stretch, before ending up in 7th place.
Frame: Guerilla Gravity GG/DH, handmade in Colorado, 27.5
Fork: Manitou Dorado
Shock: Manitou Revox
Wheels: Sun Ringle Helix TR29 laced to Sun Ringle SRC hubs
Tires: Maxxis Shorty, tubeless
Brakes: Hayes Prime
Derailleur/shifter: Shimano Zee
Cassette: 10 speed, 11-25
Chain: KMC SL
Chainring: MRP 35T
Cranks: Shimano Saint 170mm
Guide: MRP G3
Pedals: Crank Brothers Mallett E
Bars: Answer Carbon SL 780mm
Stem: Answer DH 45mm
Headset: Works Components 7mm angleset
Grips: Answer Stein
Post: Answer SL Carbon
Saddle: WTB Silverado with CFX gripper cover

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
After spectacular summer weather on Saturday, race day couldn't have been more different, with drizzle and a dense cloud layer encasing the upper half of the track.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
Visibility was a real challenge as racers battled foggy air and foggy goggles. Race times on Sunday were significantly slower than qualifying times on Saturday due to the damp ground and the limited visibility.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
A ray of sunshine in an otherwise gray day was seeing pro rider Matt Henderson trackside, filming for MTB Mania. Henderson was seriously injured at the Mountain Creek ProGRT but is on the mend and hasn't lost his sense of humor.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
Despite the gloom, a good-sized crowd came out to watch the action, and of course, heckle the riders.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
Coming just days before the Mont-Sainte Anne World Cup in Quebec, the race had some hard-charging visitors from overseas in attendance. Frida Helena Ronning, from Norway, took the women’s pro field by more than five seconds. Ronning attends college at Western Carolina University and is a former XC racer who caught the downhill bug during the 2014 collegiate racing season and has never looked back. Ronning enjoyed the Killington course: "I really liked the track. I liked that there were so many line choices and that it changed a lot during the weekend." Ronning finished in the top half of the field at the Fort William World Cup in June and is looking to better that at MSA this weekend.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
In the runner-up spot was Samantha Kingshill. The high school student from California finished second in the National Championships a couple weeks ago and was recently selected to represent the U.S. at the World Championships. She is one to watch in the coming years.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
Lauren Daney, the Northeast’s top downhiller this season, was looking fast on Saturday and qualified second but was slowed by a burped tire in her race run and landed on the third step of the podium.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
The women’s pro podium: Sarah Konefal-4th, Samantha Kingshill-2nd, Frida Helena Ronning-1st, Lauren Daney-3rd, Simona Croccolo-5th

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
The men’s pro race was won by another Norwegian, Isak Leivsson, racing for the Propain team. Leivsson, the five-time reigning Norwegian National Champion, won the qualifying round by under a second then backed up his success by more than two seconds on race day. "I thought the track was good! Lots of line choices and hard turns. It was pretty hard work to race, you had to pump a lot to carry speed over the flatter bottom half. It was hard to find the right line everywhere with the constantly changing conditions. Vision was really hard on race day with lots of fog, but that was the same for everyone. Swapped tires a bit, ended up on cut spikes for race day, and changed a couple lines to avoid some holes." Leivsson will be spending the next few weeks on the East coast racing MSA and the ProGRTs at Windham and Snowshoe.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
After being sidelined by an injury suffered at the Mountain Creek ProGRT in May, the Killington event saw the much-anticipated return of Neko Mullally. The Gstaad Scott pro showed no signs of rust as he laid down a screaming fast race run to take the runner-up spot.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
On the third step was Max Morgan from Blue Sky Performance. Morgan has been busy this summer racing national and World Cup events and his Killington result was his first ProGRT podium since 2014.

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
The men’s pro podium: Shane Leslie-4th, Neko Mulally-2nd, Isak Leivsson-1st, Max Morgan-3rd, Dakotah Norton-5th

Eastern States Cup Pro GRT
The eyes of the world may be on Mont-Sainte Anne this coming weekend, but the best regional racing in the country keeps on rolling as the Vittoria ESC BOX Components series hits Thunder Mountain in the Berkshires for a one-day enduro and downhill combo event on Sunday. As a special bonus, the inaugural ESC Dual Slalom will take place on Saturday night with $500 on the line. Be there or be square.

Words and pics by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
Video by: Jason Cline
Amateur podium pics by Martha Maldonado

Results
www.easternstatescup.com
www.facebook.com/easternstatescup

The 2016 Vittoria Eastern States Cup Series Preview

Atlantic Downhill

Aug 14 Windham ProGRT – Windham, NY
Aug 28 Blue Mountain East Coast Showdown #6- USAC State Championship, Palmerton, PA
Oct 9 Plattekill– Roxbury, NY – New England and Atlantic DH Finals

New England Downhill

Aug 7 Thunder Mountain East Coast Showdown #4- USAC State Championship, Claremont, MA
Aug 21 Sugarbush East Coast Showdown #5 – Warren, VT
Oct 9 Plattekill– Roxbury, NY – New England and Atlantic DH Finals

Enduro

Aug 7 Thunder Mountain East Coast Showdown #4– – State Championship, Charlemont,MA
Aug 20 Sugarbush East Coast Showdown #5 – Warren, VT
Aug 28 Blue Mountain East Coast Showdown #6- State Championship, Palmerton, PA
Sept 11 Killington Enduro Finals – Killington, VT

BOX East Coast Showdown Series

Aug 7 Thunder Mountain East Coast Showdown #4– Claremont, MA
Aug 21 Sugarbush East Coast Showdown #5 – Warren, VT
Aug 28 Blue Mountain East Coast Showdown #6– Palmerton, PA


MENTIONS: @Eastern-States-Cup



Posted In:
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15 Comments

  • 13 0
 "For its first national-level race, Killington checked all the boxes: challenging track, easy lift access, free camping, live entertainment, dozens of course marshals, and even a weed-whacked and signed spectator path next to the course."

This all day. Thank you Killington!!!
  • 6 0
 Gotta agree with this. Killington really stepped up their game for this race. With the good, there is the bad too. There was a miscommunication with the awards for Amateurs and a lot of people, myself included, missed the podium picture. They also only had 2 hoses to wash bikes, a couple more on Sunday would've done the trick. Overall, it was a great event and a sweet race course! Definitely will be back next year.
  • 4 0
 Killington for their part did an awesome job! You can tell they put a lot of effort into it. Absolutely enjoyed the course although as they usually do for ProGRT weekends USAC had stupid mandatory go arounds for Cat2 riders. Whoever was in charge of the schedule... maybe try to be a bit more consistent in the future. The schedule on the event website was different than the schedule they were handing out at the event and then they randomly changed the times for amateur awards so I also missed my podium.

Killington and ESC = two thumbs up. USAC = meh.
  • 3 0
 Will someone from USAC please step up and explain to the DH mountainbike community why USAC events seem to be a bit of a cluster F of scheduling, miscommunication, mis informed officials, short practice times, course closures when no one was on course yet the amituers stacking order allowed for numerous passes on course and no signage at the bottom of the lift communicating with riders as to changes and the list can go on ! I have had my license for 25 years now and USAC seems to be inept as ever ! And yes I missed the awards as well due to USAC giving me the wrong information ! So who at USAC will respond to this and work to do a better job at their events ?
  • 3 0
 We hear you and are addressing this and other matters with them. They really are getting better towards the DH community, they only need to understand us a bit better. Obviously this wasn't a normal ESC race as there were a lot of things we had no control of. For that I apologize. G
  • 1 0
 @Eastern-States-Cup: It was obvious that ESC didn't have control because ESC weekends are always a lot smoother and enjoyable. Keep up the great work... the riders truly appreciate it!
  • 3 0
 Rode Killington years ago. It was lots of fun but not a tonne of work had been done yet. It would be good to head back that way to see how it has progressed. Customer service was second to none when we were there. Now just need our dollar to start moving up.
  • 2 0
 "With the exception of sustained steeps and rock gardens, the new track, named Goat Skull, offered a wide range of challenges and was a big hit with racers" is anyone else confused about why there aren't sustained steeps and rock gardens on a downhill race trail???
  • 2 0
 If you've ever skied at Killington, the Ramshead area is pretty mellow intermediate terrain. I was dubious they could stage a legit DH race there, but the feedback I got from riders was that the track was solid. Nothing too rowdy, but plenty challenging.
  • 1 0
 I am 100% fond of and a huge supporter of the ESC series. Absolutely no criticism whatsoever was meant in my comment towards the ESC or Killington . I am also very happy with the addition of Laszlo Vajtay and Sara Weigel as USAC officials ! It seems that the people they bring in from out of our community are just not on it . Your series is the best thing I have been part of in my 25 years of racing...thank you !
  • 1 0
 Thanks for the kind words, we try hard. Unfortunately neither Laszlo or Sarah were selected by USAC to be officials at this event. If they were it would have been tons smoother. Hats off to Sarah for volunteering her time at the finish area.
  • 2 0
 Uhhhhh....is anyone noticing that prototype Yeti DH rig? That's not carbon and definitely not just a 6C with a 40 on the front. My curiosity has just been peaked.
  • 1 0
 If only. Unfortunately it's not a prototype and nor will it ever go into production. Sorry to rain on the parade. I wish it wasn't the case.
  • 1 0
 @PhilKmetz: one off bike then? I talked to one of the Yeti guys a few months back and he said they had a few protos floating around with their pros but they would never see production.
  • 2 0
 I miss the north east

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