Just when racers thought it couldn't get any more wet and wild at the 2018 US Open, nature would again have the last laugh. A massive storm front rolled through overnight and with it, extended periods of extremely heavy rain saw the track in Killington reach its saturation point. Unable to absorb any more water, the fresh-cut DH track would become a river with flowing and standing water making up much of the racing line for Saturday morning's practice. For a little while, this actually made the track easier to ride, but once the ruts began to deepen, even the cascading water was having a hard time finding a good flow.
After the weather gods had stuck the knife in, they gave it a turn just for good measure in the form of sunshine. Blazing hot sun graced the slopes of Killington just prior to amateur and pro race runs, turning the open sections of track to sticky peanut butter in an instant. By the late afternoon, as the fastest riders were about to drop in, conditions were their worst.
The race would become a battle to stay on the bike through the many steep sections through the final section of woods - an extremely physical affair, as riders had to muscle through ruts and holes, and sprint with mud-packed wheels to carry speed. The few puddles that remained did little to clean out tires and messed with rider's vision more than anything else. To put in lightly, race runs were a brutal affair.
In the end, two recently crowned national champions would climb to the top step of the podium, with Canada's Vaea Verbeeck taking the win for the women, and US national champ Neko Mulally for the men. For Neko, it would be extra special, as he won the US Open last year and would become the only rider (other than Sam Hill) to have won the prestigious event two times. Both winners would take home hefty checks for their efforts - a cool $6,000. Not a bad payout for a day of mud wrestling in Vermont.
After the awards ceremony, there was supposed to be a whip-off competition on some impressive purpose-built jumps adjacent to the finish area. But, as soon as the massive crowd began to party, and the first few riders began got sideways, the weather gods again stole the show. A late afternoon thunderstorm rolled through. Rain saturated the jumps and lightning strikes surrounded the venue, too close for anyone's comfort or safety. Needless to say, the party was shut down in a hurry.