Photo Epic: Mountain Creek Spring Classic Practice

May 30, 2015 at 22:46
by Brice Shirbach  
2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT

In the northwest corner of the Garden State, tucked neatly away in the rolling hills of Vernon, New Jersey, you'll find one of the most heralded downhill and freeride destinations in the country: Mountain Creek Bike Park. The 2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic weekend marks the 2nd stop for USAC's Pro GRT series and this year drew over 100 pro riders and many more amateurs to the picturesque mountain resort. Racers were free to walk the track on Thursday before limited practice runs opened up on Friday. Saturday would provide athletes with the largest opportunity to practice their lines before Junior X and Pro men and women would take their seeding runs.

With conditions on Saturday more closely resembling those of southern California than what most would expect from the northeast, the track was unbelievably fast and loose for the athletes. Traditionally known for its rocky and technical sections, in addition to a handful of sizable features over the past several years, the Trail Crue kept things largely the same for 2015, with a handful of additions; including the sizable Red Bull drop roughly halfway down the track. Several heavy hitters were in attendance along with some of the east coast's finest.

Once the dust actually settled, it would be Aaron Gwin and Jill Kintner taking the fastest times for the pro men and women on the day. The loose and fast conditions coupled with some windy moments led to a handful of scary moments, including Kona's Rae Gandolf getting blown off of her trajectory on the massive finish line jump which would result in serious injury. Our hearts go out to her, along with her husband Heath; two of the nicest people you'll ever meet trackside, and we wish her a speedy and full recovery. Aside from a few scary moments, the day was full of dusty berms, stylish jumps, and rocks: lots of big, square edged, and nasty rocks. Enjoy!


2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
When you bring in as many riders as Creek did this weekend, you're going to run into some lines.
2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
To the lift crew's credit, the lines moved quicker than you would have expected given their size.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
The weather was very warm and very humid throughout the day. Clouds threatened but would never amount to anything more than a respite from the sun's glare. However, Sunday is shaping up to be a bit of a stormy affair, so we'll looking anxiously to see what develops.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
This little yearling was enjoying the show and minding his business. That's neat!

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
"First run" and "flat" were oft paired during Saturday's practice runs.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Lauren Daney kept things smooth and her clean line choice led to the 3rd fastest seeding run on the day among the pro women.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Cody Johnson looked loose and seemed to enjoy the So Cal conditions on Saturday.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
After starting things off with a chunky section of rocks in the woods, riders would hook a sharp left and blast down an open and steep section of track, as seen on PB with Nate Furbee.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Jason Memmelaar drew a handful of audible gasps as he bombed through the aforementioned section of track.
2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Luca and Walker Shaw looked quick all day, with Luca finishing 2nd fastest among the pro men in seeding.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Bryn Atkinson looked relaxed and at ease with the course's many offerings of air.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Every year, the jumps and rock gardens end up as the most oft discussed parts of the course, and every year this very g-out causes more yelps from the riders than any other section. Go figure.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Ory Harrison gets on the gas through the middle of Asylum.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Inside, outside or through the middle? Lines aplenty here and with the right rider, each of them can look like the fastest.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
There are always people parked here throughout the weekend. Come Sunday's finals, the crowd here will be massive.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Saturday, you can stop, look back and analyze. Sunday, not so much.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Jason Scheiding looked very fast throughout the day. A crash towards the finish would set him back during his seeding run, but with rain expected Sunday, this east coast native stands to move way up in the results list.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Riders and spectators alike were chewing on grit and dust all day long. Is this what you guys deal with in the southwest all of the time?

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Someone is missing this right now.
2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
We landed on the moon!

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Gwin was a silent assassin on Saturday, going faster than everyone and making less noise while he was at it.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Mountain Creek's own and member of the Jersey Four, George Ryan has an unmistakable style. It's always a blast to watch this dude ride his bike. He's going to kick things off on our best-of-mid-course-hip-tour!

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
This jump is a photog trap...time to move on.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Vermont's Adam Morse spent his winter slaying record amounts of powder in the Green Mountain state. He's usually one of the last pro's back on his bike every year, and every year he reminds us that when you possess exorbitant amounts of natural ability, you can go ahead and not worry about pesky training concerns.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
I'm not entirely sure of the dimensions of the new Red Bull drop, but it's pretty damn big and it's pretty damn smooth.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Mauricio Estrada flies the flag for Colombia, and for New Jersey as well. He's making a lot of people proud with not only his prowess on a bike, but his kindness and humility off of it. One of the easiest dudes to ever root for.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Rae Gandolf looked smooth and fast all day leading up to her accident. Get well soon, Rae!

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Jill had a drama-free run with a seeding run that put her 17 seconds up on the second fastest woman on the day. Dry and dusty was no problem for this northwest native.

2015 Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT
Aaron Gwin looked focused, fit and fast on Saturday. America's fastest rider and So Cal native is more than comfortable with these kinds of conditions, and even if the forecasted rains do pummel the course, he's going to remain the overwhelming favorite come Sunday's finals.

Stay tuned to Pinkbike for Updates from Sunday's Race at the Mountain Creek Spring Classic Pro GRT.

Check out the full gallery of images from Saturday's practice and seeding round here.

Full results from Saturday's seeding can be found here.



18 Comments

  • 11 0
 Nice to see some North East coverage
  • 3 0
 Is the Red Bull drop going to be a permanent feature?
  • 1 0
 Is that new drop right where the step down was as you're coming across the ski trail and back in to the woods.....maybe 3/4 down that race course?
  • 1 0
 it was more of a double than a step down but yes.
  • 2 0
 What happened to Rae who rides for Kona?
  • 1 2
 She's a Gandalf.
  • 1 0
 Bad crash on the finish line jump. Good speed but her nose dropped as she came in to land and she ended up over the bars. Very hard hit and was unconscious for nearly 2 minutes until the EMS crew got to her. Brutal to watch
  • 1 0
 I didnt go nose down the wind blew my bike sideways right as I left the lip....that part i REMEMBER! (and someone else saw from behind)....hope you don;t mind the correction Smile
  • 1 0
 No problem! I was actually standing on the finish line so from my angle, it looked like you were going nose down but I know the wind was bad that day! I'm glad you're OK though!
  • 2 0
 I think I just fell in love with Rae Gandolf's eyes.
  • 2 0
 Awesome work Brice!
  • 2 1
 Where's Neko???
  • 7 0
 Ahh apparently he's in Switzerland...
  • 5 5
 Drinking.
  • 1 0
 Great coverage!
  • 1 0
 Jill's stare is scary.

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