Race Report & Video: Eastern States Cup Showdown - Sugarbush, VT

Jul 24, 2019
by Eastern States Cup  



The Maxxis BOX Components Showdown series hit the midway point in its season this past weekend as over 300 racers took to the rugged flanks of Sugarbush Resort in Vermont to battle for enduro and downhill titles. The racing format allows riders to participate in both disciplines if they're up for the challenge. Last year's event showcased an impressive performance from local pro Isaac Allaire who took the top spot in both races. This year saw a repeat of that unlikely feat in the pro men's races. Allaire was back to try and defend his crowns but it was teammate Steve Estabrook that pulled off the double win this year. For the pro women, recent enduro convert Marine Lewis proved that her inaugural win at Plattekill was no fluke and backed it up with a second straight victory. In the women's pro downhill race Kristin Lenart notched her first pro win of the season after a couple runner up results.

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Sugarbush Resort has long been a favorite venue for racers. Long descents off the Super Bravo express chair had racers battling arm pump all weekend. High temperatures and humidity also took their toll as Vermont, like much of the East Coast sweltered all weekend.

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The terrain at Sugarbush is old-school: no carpet-like flow trails or manicured berms, just an endless supply of roots and rocks.

ENDURO

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The Sugarbush enduro is one of the few events on the Maxxis ESC Specialized enduro calendar to offer only four stages of racing, but each of them is a handful. Stage One began with a romp down Lower Snowball which, thanks to a newly-purchased mini excavator, sported some fresh features for racers to warm up on. Chris Crispin got sideways off a new table and took the win in the 30-39 category by mere hundredths of a second over Ryan Bigham, perhaps the closest overall margin ever in an ESC enduro race.

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The lower part of Stage One was perhaps the technical crux of the race and a rude awakening for racers. The double-diamond East of Eden trail is a slippery serpent that sees little sunshine or tires most of the year and had riders white knuckling their way down its greasy length. Speed Legion Racing's Chris Mari took home fifth in the 30-39 category.

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The Flat Tire Defender Super Stage was contested on Stage One and here are the winners from each class, including fastest amateurs Chelsea Crooke and Zachary Siegel.

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Stage Two took the ever-popular Grand Stand off the top of Gadd Peak. Alternating between woods sections and open ski trails the track funneled riders through a constantly shifting stream of rock chunder. Bryce Rausch kept his wheels out of the rough stuff during his inaugural pro race with the ESC series.

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A long wooden boardwalk through a birch forest was the smoothest section of trail racers, including Jon Siverling, saw all weekend.

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The transfer between Stages Two and Three was the only pedal of the weekend and the site of the Fox Transfer Seat Post Challenge. The climb was a steep, loose affair that many walked. Bruno Sanchez stayed in the saddle en route to a 7th-place finish in the 21-29 category.

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The Fox Transfer Seat Post Challenge rewarded racers for their efforts on the pedal transfer between Stages Two and Three. Asa Chalmers was the fastest pedaler of the day and took home a new Fox Transfer Dropper Post.

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Stage Three was where the race could easily be won or lost. Contested on a trail that is off the network's map, the upper half was just plain awkward with rooty traverses, punchy little climbs and painfully tight corners. Cole Schiller sped through the minefield in the U21 field.

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The bottom of the stage was much more enjoyable as it wound down a loamy ridgeline just above the base area. ESC regular Eric Goldmann came home in 14th in the pro field.

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Alex Rims Super Stage winners from each class went home with some swag for their performance on Stage Three, including fastest amateurs Andy Stearns and Thomas Prock.

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The stages became progressively longer through the day with the final stage coming in at well over five minutes for the fastest riders. After some fast turns in the open the track dove into Ruffed Up, one of the steepest trails on the mountain. Chad Chandler dove down the fall line for a 4th-place finish in the 30-39 category.

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Like all the tracks at Sugarbush there was no place to ease off the brakes on the final test piece. Rob Westover brought home a 3rd-place finish in the 40-49 field.

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In the pro women's race, Canadian Marine Lewis took her second straight win since jumping into the enduro game after years as an elite cross-country rider. Lewis took three of four stages to finish with a 49-second margin of victory. "I am really happy with this second win. It means a lot to me to have a perfect day technically and mentally on the bike for a second time. The Sugarbush trails were amazing! I loved the good old slippery roots and rocks mixed with some flow sections. My XC background definitely helped me on Stage Three, I knew I had to pedal on every little rise, so that's what I did." Lewis coaches at Trail Trybe, a mountain bike camp at Mont Tremblant in Quebec, and hopes to go for the three-peat at Killington in early August.

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Sarah Howerter has made a big splash since coming on to the ESC scene last year. She won Stage Two and took home her fourth podium in seven starts with a second-place finish at Sugarbush.

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Kayla Morin-Blanchette, another former World Cup XC racer from Canada, is having a huge year on the ESC circuit. Her third-place finish at Sugarbush was her fourth top-three result in as many starts this season.

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The women's pro podium from left: Kim Quinlan-5th, Kayla Morin-Blanchette-3rd, Marine Lewis-1st, Sarah Howerter-2nd, Corinne Prevot-4th

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Defiant Racing's Steve Estabrook took the pro men's win with two stage wins and an eight-second overall margin. Estabrook is one of the hardest working racers on the East Coast and that hard work is paying big dividends this season. Estabrook already has 16 race starts this year and Sugarbush was his first enduro win of the season. "I’m surely a bit biased but I love the Sugarbush enduro. It’s fast and technical with minimal pedaling involved. I chose to race the DH bike in the enduro because I figured it would excel in most stages and I was going to be laboring through Stage Three anyway so I let the big bike smooth out some of the rough stuff."

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Last year's enduro champion Isaac Allaire was nipping at teammate and fellow-Vermonter Estabrook's heals all day. Allaire won Stages Three and Four and scored his best ESC enduro result of the year.

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Adam Morse completed the Vermont sweep of the men's podium with a third-place finish. After a slightly shaky start on Stage One, Morse settled into his race with top-four results in each of the remaining stages to edge yet another Vermonter, Gavin Vaughan, for the third step.

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The men's pro podium from left: Saben Rossi-5th, Adam Morse-3rd, Steve Estabrook-1st, Isaac Allaire-2nd, Gavin Vaughan-4th

DOWNHILL

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The heat and humidity hung on the mountain all weekend, and though thunderstorms were popping up nearby on Saturday night, the mountain stayed dry for the downhillers, a true blessing as the Sugarbush track takes no prisoners.

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The Maxxis ESC Intense downhill track at Sugarbush is considered by many to be the finest on the circuit for its length, variety and unrelenting challenge. The top of the track is fast and loose on open ski slopes with plenty of rocky corners. Jonah Freedman flew past blooming wildflowers to win his second-straight ESC downhill in the U15 class.

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Upper Snowball has great views but no soft landings as the grasses and wildflowers are growing on a thin layer of top soil over solid bedrock. Matthew Thompson sped past some summer color in the Amateur 30-44 class.

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Fly Racing Speed Trap winners from each class including fastest amateur Heather Gray.

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Speeds slow as racers enter the shadowy woods on Over The Ledge. A newly-built launching pad over a rock jumble saw few takers but Canadian Antoine Jacques was one of the first to hit it and rode to a second place finish in the Junior Expert category.

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The classic off-camber slab on the DH track has been the site of countless crashes over the years. It mostly played nice this year due to dry conditions. Danielle Brabon cratered dramatically during her first-ever downhill race but still managed a second-place finish for the amateur women.

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A double stair set low on the track has become a favorite spectating spot as racers huck for glory. Felipe Sousa sent the drop to a 4th-place finish in the 30-39 Expert field.

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The top three finishers that competed in both enduro and downhill in the BOX Components Showdown were Steve Day-2nd, Chris Crispin-1st, Steve Estabrook-3rd.

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Kristin Lenart took home the win in the women's pro field by a tight 2-second margin. Lenart knows a thing or two about downhill tracks as she is a mini excavator operator and trail builder at Blue Mountain Bike Park. "I love the track at Sugarbush! It's so fast, fun and physically demanding. I really enjoy the wide-open slope section for the speed and the woods for it's more steep and technical sections. Last year I injured my hand and rode through it but this year I was looking for redemption. Looking forward to taking this positive momentum into Killington and the remainder of the ESC season!" This was Lenart's first win after two consecutive runner-up results this year.

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Canadian Maxine Bergeron scored the second step of the podium at Sugarbush. Bergeron has been remarkably consistent of late, falling out of the top three only once in her last ten starts.

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Michaela Albanese took home the final podium spot in her first pro race.

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The women's pro podium: Michaela Albanese-3r, Kristin Lenart-1st, Maxine Bergeron-2nd

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In the men's pro race Defiant Racing's Steve Estabrook capped off a huge weekend with a nearly three-second win to go with his enduro victory from earlier in the day. "My downhill run went as good as it could have! I took a refreshing dip and had some caffeine in between races and found the strength to hang on for my third DH win of the season. Looking forward to Killington!"

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Veteran rider Mauricio Estrada, racing for Danny's Cycles, took home the runner-up spot, his third consecutive top-three result. Estrada has long been a major force in East Coast racing and continues to be a threat for the win at every race.

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Though he couldn't quite match his double-victory at Sugarbush from last season, Isaac Allaire still had a remarkable weekend with a third-place downhill result to go with his second in the enduro.

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The men's pro podium: Jordan Daigle-5th, Isaac Allaire-3rd, Steve Estabrook-1st, Mauricio Estrada-2nd, Dylan Conte-4th.

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After a long weekend of racing in the oppressive heat many racers took advantage of the many swimming holes in the nearby Mad River, another reason Sugarbush is such a popular venue.

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After a brief break in the Maxxis ESC schedule, the racing resumes on August 4th with another enduro/downhill twin bill just down the road at Killington Resort. If you haven't raced or ridden The Beast of the East lately, you're in for a treat. Don't miss it!

Words and pics by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
Video by Jason Scheiding

Easternstatescup.com
Enduro results: https://www.rootsandrain.com/race7384/2019-jul-21-maxxis-esc-specialized-enduro-7-sugarbush-vt/results/#hprom
Downhill results: https://www.rootsandrain.com/race7392/2019-jul-21-maxxis-esc-intense-dh-4-sugarbush-vt/results/
2019 MAXXIS ESC SCHEDULE

MAXXIS ESC SPECIALIZED ENDURO SERIES
May 5 Diamond Hill, RI
May 19 Glen Park, PA – EWS Qualifier
June 2 Thunder Mountain, MA
June 23 Blue Mountain, PA
July 7 Burke Mountain, VT PA – EWS Qualifier
July 14 Plattekill, NY
July 21 Sugarbush, VT
Aug 4 Killington, VT
Aug 18 Plattekill, NY
Sept 8 Glen Park, PA
Sept 29 Mountain Creek, NJ
Oct 6 Thunder, MA Finals PA – EWS Qualifier

MAXXIS ESC INTENSE DOWNHILL SERIES
June 2 Thunder Mountain, MA
June 23 Blue Mountain, PA
July 14 Plattekill, NY
July 21 Sugarbush, VT
Aug 4 Killington, VT
Aug 18 Plattekill, NY
Sept 29 Mountain Creek, NJ
Oct 20 Plattekill, NY Finals

MAXXIS ESC BOX SHOWDOWNS - DH and Enduro on the same day
June 2 Thunder Mountain, MA
June 23 Blue Mountain, PA
July 14 Plattekill, NY
July 21 Sugarbush, VT
Aug 4 Killington, VT
Aug 18 Plattekill, NY
Sept 29 Mountain Creek, NJ

MAXXIS ESC EWS QUALIFIERS
May 19 Glen Park, PA
July 7 Burke Mountain, VT
Oct 6 Thunder Mountain, MA Enduro Finals

CLIF ENDURO LITE presented by Maxxis ESC
Aug 25 Burke Mountain - Beginner Enduro Racers - Families - Kids - Fun!



Regions in Article
Sugarbush Resort


14 Comments

  • + 13
 Thanks for the pics and write up Jeb. And thanks for a great event ESC/Sugarbush. It was fun to strap on a number plate for the first time in many years and get smoked by the really fast guys haha.
  • + 2
 Great seeing you Dave and don't let it be so long before we see you again !
  • + 8
 Thanks for a great event guys. For me the weekend was a great challenge (overcame a lot of personal struggle in practice) and I was happy to finish my 1st race. I wasn't particularly fast, but I at least had no mechanicals and no major injuries. Dipping into Ruffed Up and nailing the 30% grade rock chute with no hesitation put me right into the zone for the rest of stage 4. What a rush.

Also met a lot of rad people and learned a ton from them. Lots of things to improve and look forward to.
  • + 6
 Another top notch weekend of Eastern States Cup racing! Great to see Jeb out there shooting photos too!!
  • + 8
 Thanks everyone!
  • + 4
 Cant wait for Killington! ESC always bringing World class events to the northeast.
  • + 3
 "no carpet-like flow trails or manicured berms, just an endless supply of roots and rocks."

Next picture, carpet-like flow trail and manicured berm.
  • + 2
 Good catch, they actually have a manicured berm!
  • + 3
 Thanks to ESC, love the sugarbush race and always nice to have Jeb out there shooting pics! Awesome weekend
  • + 3
 Sick - but what's with the cryptic WANTED! Facebook posts for that dude David W or whatever. Is he missing?
  • + 3
 Great coverage and an awesome weekend at one of the best venues in the series.
  • + 3
 Sugarbush never dissapoints! (So glad the trails dried out quickly after the Saturday Thunderstorm...)
  • + 3
 Always a great time at Sugarbush! Awesome photos/write up Jeb ! See you all Killington.
  • + 3
 as always, great times. thanks ESC

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