I arrived at the top of the Sea Otter downhill with anticipation of a long line for Pro Practice, but to my disappointment, it seemed that everyone had slept in a bit. I have to admit the weather was a little on the chilly side, with overcast gloomy clouds in the sky, which may have had something to do with it. But Sea Otter never disappoints, at least not in my eyes. So I waited a bit and sure enough, like clockwork, with a practice time of 8:00am the riders started showing up. One by one, just a few minutes prior to the opening of the course, I saw the gladiators of my favorite discipline arrive.Many of the ladies had smiles on their faces and seemed cheerful. Caroline Buchanan greets us with a grin on her way up to the morning practice.Kiran Mackinnon, Factory Santa Cruz rider, pushing up with his game face on. Kiran finished 4th on the day.Another cheerful racer was Tandie Bailey, pedalling up after making the trip out from Bentonville. Sean Leader, co-founder of the Wind Rock Bike Park, came out to the Sea Otter festivities.I'm pretty sure, Dan Sheng Shan Chiang from New Taipei City, was prepped for every scenario heading up to practice this morning, or maybe he thought it was an enduro race?Graves taking a stroll through the meadow at the top of the DH course, during practice
.Marshall Eames, riding for Santa Cruz Bicycles, flattening out the step-down triple during practice. He looked quick, but how would he fair against some of the biggest names in the world?The Pivot team posing for a shot at the top of the venue. Emilie Siegenthaler would finish 6th in the Pro Women, while, Kerr would take 11th and Chapman would take 12th.
With practice wrapped up for the morning and the race starting shortly after that, riders jumped on the start list as soon as it was posted to see where they seeded. The Women would go first. Samantha Kingshill, a Sacramento CA native, finished 5th. It's no surprise that she did well, as she swept the GRT last season. Look for her to do big things this season.Anneke Beerten, pinned through the middle of the course, which featured many sections where pedalling was necessary to make the podium. Beerten would take 2nd.Jill Kintner on her way to another victory this weekend. She took first place by over four seconds.
With 30 second intervals and a break between the classes, the men would go off seventeen minutes after the hour.Graves keeps it low and fast on the doubles toward the top.Others, like Kirt Voreis, threw whips to entertain the crowd.
Mike Day, known for his career in the BMX world, now seems to be aiming for a second coming as a DH racer. He followed up his win here last year with another podium finish this year, taking second place.
Aaron Gwin, absolutely pinned on his Jeffsy 29er, but he would have a chain come off in the next corner. Even with that, he finished just about five seconds off of first place, with an eighth place finish. It's obvious the knee is at one-hundred percent going into the first round of the World Cup next weekend.A quick bike check from the boys on the Specialized team. The race played out and these guys ended up at the top and the bottom of the podium (Graves 1st - Keene 5th)
Pro Women's Podium - 1st Place: Jill Kintner 2:17.077, 2nd Place: Anneke Beerten 2:21.219, 3rd Place: Caroline Buchanan 2:22.778, 4th Place: Raewyn Morrison 2:27.327, 5th Place: Samantha Kingshill 2:27.957
Pro Men's Podium - 1st Place: Jared Graves 2:02.387, 2nd Place: Mike Day 2:04.469, 3rd Place: Josh Carlson 2:05.496, 4th Place: Kiran Mackinnon 2:06.040, 5th Place: Curtis Keene 2:06.371
Full results here.