Despite waves of rain and thunder, the 2017 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships hosted a full-day of cross-country and short-track racing on Friday. Fifteen XC and four short-track winners earned Stars-and-Stripes jerseys on the day. Overnight rain stretched into the morning and doused the course for the early age-group categories, making for slick conditions on the West Virginia rocks and roots.
In the afternoon, the course dried out a bit for the short-track XC races. Erin Huck (Boulder, Colo./Cannondale-3Rox) won her second consecutive title. She took the lead with six laps to go in the eight-lap event when early leader Kate Courtney (Kentfield, Calif./Specialized Factory Team) flatted. Lea Davison (Jericho, Vt./Clif Pro Team) and Rose Grant (Columbia Falls, Mont./Stan's-Pivot Pro Team) led the chase behind Huck, coming in second and third, respectively. Courtney, who leads the Pro XCT individual standings, ultimately finished fifth.
In the Men’s Pro Short Track XC race defending champion Howard Grotts (Durango, Colo./Specialized Racing) soloed to the line to secure his second national title. Grotts was off the front with teammate Christopher Blevins (Durango, Colo.) for the first three laps, when Blevins succumbed to a flat tire. Grotts was able to maintain the lead for the nine-lap contest, with Keegan Swenson (Park City, Utah/Cannondale-3Rox) finishing second and Luke Vrouwenvelder (Chapel Hill, N.C./Bear Development Team) finishing third.
Photos by Bruce Buckley