By the end of the season, it feels like every year of racing has rushed by in a blur of spinning wheels, fast laps, good company, and the occasional spill off-course. Stop seven at Stevens Pass Bike Park brings an end to a fantastic year of racing, and a close to year ten of the NW Cup. A year that featured a new venue with Tamarack Resort, a number of record turn-outs, and some mighty fine racing.
Chris Wharton throws down some impressive style while taking fourth during Sunday's race (Cat 1 Men 0–18 ).
This season has been a bit rough in the northwest with what seems like a new fire blazing every week. The series has only been touched by drifting smoke fortunately, but it's a reminder of just how lucky we are to have such a vast playground to enjoy and how fragile it can be. That's why the approach of fall feels extra good, if it means some moisture to bring back tacky trails and put an end to all the fires raging around the area. The start of the weekend came with a smoky hint, but a healthy dose of mist and light rain cleared the air and finally did a little to at least cut the dust. By Sunday, the sun was back and the skies were clear, brining the typical great climate of a fall weekend at Stevens Pass Bike Park.
Ansel Higins bringing the stoke for a morning of riding (Cat 3 Men 15–18 ).
Courses were similar to Round Six, with Cat 1/Pro on Berserker and Cat 2 racing the traditional Slingshot Wookie. Cat 3 switched things up a little by descending Rock Crusher to Piranha Bird. All three course were dry and dusty, but Berserker in particular was rough with loose corners, deep holes, and a general character that knocked riders around. That didn't at all stop racers from turning in a fast time and good results.
A steady mist rolled up before seedings got underway on Saturday. Despite, or because of this, riders were no nonsense getting to the bottom. All Out Racing rider Dylan Brown seeded first for Juniors. Followed by Layton Meyers, Declan Ervin, Ethan Lieb, and Gideon Bender. Pro Women had an unexpectedly small field with just two competitors. Kialani Hines took the lead ahead of Kerstin Holster (defending 2016 overall winner Jaime Reese was out for the weekend to attend a wedding). Current series leader Carson Eiswald went OTB during his run and cleared the way for Weston Potter to lay down the top time of 2:28.36. Less than a second behind him was Jason Eiswald, who finished ahead of Torsenn Brown, Luke Stevens, and Kasper Dean.
Canfield Brothers ran up the flags in fine fashion with a commanding spot of the parking lot pits.
The mist stuck around through the night and into the start of practice. There really wasn't enough saturation to be tacky, but conditions did get better. Although, it made for an interesting combo of dusty corners and wet bridges. Pretty soon, the sun was blazing and the temperature climbed. The NW Cup's new timing system was working smoothly and got Cat 3 racers off to a very timely start down Rock Crusher. The flow and jump trail adds some pedaling to the course, but it also handed out a number of flats and at least one crash to keep racers focused.
Austin Lancaster keeps things casual on Rock Crusher as he makes his way to P.B.R. between practice laps (Cat 1 Men 19–29).
As the day progressed, Cat 2 racers screamed down the time honored Slingshot Wookie. The rocks really have been impressively exposed over the years for a technical course that clearly identified who was a cut ahead of the rest for speed and line choice. Berserker took Cat 1 racers through the paces and handed out its share of carnage. Rising to the top of Juniors for the second time this year was Declan Ervin. Behind him came Dylan Brown, Gideon Bender, Chris Wharton, and Ethan Lieb. Layton Meyers got thrown off the hunt after colliding with a tree at the bottom of the course. Carson Eiswald delivered his third win of the season and handily took the overalls. Steps two through five were claimed by Luke Stevens, Weston Potter, Jason Eiswald, and Nikolas Clarke.
Traffic jam? No problem. Declan Ervin (Cat 1 Men 0–18 ).
All that was left to put a wrap on year ten was to raffle off some prizes and run through the podiums. Providing all the smiles and cheers was a group of people who have made the series so successful over the last decade, and will continue to do so in the future. “It’s kind of like a little family that travels together now. It’s so fun, we love it to death," says Scott Tucker about his favorite aspect of putting on races. Partner in crime Casey Northern echoed him with, "After ten years, you’d think you’d be over it, but with the huge growth of families and participants and everyone being so stoked, it really makes it worth while!"
Mathew Mangano takes a break from Slingshot Wookie to sample the goods on the other side of the mountain (Cat 2 Men 0–14).
If you haven't had a chance to join the NW Cup family, the season may be over, but there's still a chance to see what it's like with the upcoming Cascadia MTB Championships at the end of the month. "Held on the hollowed ground, that is Dry Hill," according to Northern. The on day Enduro followed by a day of downhill is designed to get riders their final racing fix for 2017.
Looking forwards to next year, Scott and Casey left for a week of venue scouting the day after finals to see what new stops the can add to the mix. We'll see you there, in 2018.
No one says you can't have fun while coaching.
Kevin Littlefield spent the morning coaching groms as part of his Perfect Descent MTB Clinics (Pro Men).
There's just something about downhill racing. Kody Clark takes a moment to take it all in (Pro Men).
With limited time between work shifts, Weston Potter had to make sure and get his lines dialed quickly (Pro Men).
Dylan Brown works through a loose section of Berserker that was pretty raw by this point in the season (Cat 1 Men 0–18 ).
If anything, "The Turn" was even more brutal for riders to get through. Especially from the Cat 2 Course. Rodney Hasty and Jason Franz (Cat 2 Men 40–49).
Less than three weeks after dislocating his shoulder (again) Kasper Dean was still riding (Pro Men).
The Berserker drop got a little smoother this year so styling it out is much more palatable.
Nikolas Clarke ended up the season by seeding eighth on Saturday and finishing fifth on Sunday (Pro Men).
Ethan Lieb held his own on a rough and loose track to seed fifth on Saturday (Cat 1 Men 0–18 ).
Torsenn Brown was one of a few riders going for the huck off this granite wedge on Berserker. It seemed to be working out as he seeded third (Pro Men).
Jesse Ransavage boosts back into the roots and dust (Pro Men).
If you want a good viewing spot for seeding runs, you're going to have to work for it.
Laser focus through the roots. Kialani Hines nails her lines in the opening of Berserker (Pro Women).
Kerstin Holster makes a fast exit through the roots and dust (Pro Women).
Traveling south of the border for the weekend, Luke Stevens was laying down fast times to seed fourth (Pro Men).
Steven Simpson gives the crowd something to look at with a squirrelly exit (Pro Men).
The misting rain was just enough to be a nuisance for visibility. Matt Orlando (Pro Men).
Torsenn Brown puts the hurt down on the track (Pro Men).
Even after jarring his injured shoulder, Kasper Dean still reeled in a fifth place seeding result (Pro Men).
Weston Potter laid down some dirt contrails with the fastest seeding time of 2:28.36 (Pro Men).
Carson Eiswald took a digger during seedings, so it was up to Jason Eiswald to represent the family. Something he did without issue with the second fastest time of the day (Pro Men).
Sunday's forecast called for sun but it took a little while for the mist to burn off and the temperature to climb.
It's finals, so you better come ready to represent.
There's a lot to smile about when your new timing system is working as planned and everything is going smoothly.
Stevens Pass doesn't mess around when it comes to wood features and the filter feature for Berserker is no exception. Kialani Hines (Pro Women).
When called upon to boost, Matt Orlando is ready to give the thrusters full power (Pro Men).
Scott Kemp had an outstanding final season in Cat 1 Men 30-39, with five races and four wins under his belt. Results that should give a lot of Cat 1 40+ riders some pause.
Carson Eiswald was unshaken by Saturday's crash and was determined to draw from a season of consistent results (Pro Men). "I had a little nice OTB moment in the duff and still ended up mid-pack, but I definitely wanted to finish up better than that."
Jason Eiswald (Pro Men) drops in ahead of Declan Ervin (Cat 1 Men 0–18 ) for a final practice lap.
Under regular circumstances, Rock Crusher is a fun cruise, but during a race, there's more pedalling than you'd expect. Paul Butorajac (Cat 3 Men 40+).
Chasing shadows and competitors.
Caitlan Whitley nears the end of the Rock Crusher portion of the course (Cat 3 Women 19–-39).
An aggressive run from Carter Lacey was just fractions off the win (Cat 3 Men 11–14).
Cody Parson blazes through the trees on the upper section of Piranha Bird (Cat 3 Men 11–14).
No one wants to end their season with a jog down the mountain towing a flat, but Autumn Parham kept her spirits high and cheered other racers as she went (Cat 3 Women 11–18 ).
The motley colors of autumn in the alpine always make a great backdrop. Tanner Clarke (Cat 2 Men 19–29).
This signature corner on Slingshot Wookie signals to riders that the tech and gnar is almost over. Dilion Smith (Cat 2 Men 19-29).
Follow the paver stone road to a land of downhill fun. Patrick Anderson (Cat 2 Men 40–-49).
Tim Healy rides the coveted 420 plate one final time for 2017 (Cat 2 Men 30–39).
Things can get a little weird on track.
Larry Jackson rode into first for his first win at the NW Cup (Cat 2 Men 40–49).
Michael Buckley unexpectedly stopped to cut back the shrubs on a rough straightaway on Slingshot Wookie (Cat 2 Men 15–18 ).
Garrett Madras made a strong debut to the NW Cup with a mighty clean line through the rocks and the fastest time of the day on Slingshot Wookie (Cat 2 Men 15–18 ).
Gavin Ullrich finished behind Madras for his second podium and best finish of the season (Cat 2 Men 15–18 ).
Stevens Pass treated Kristen Faris well as she scored her second win of the season (Cat 2 Women 19–39).
Finn Finestone beat out the competition with a few seconds to spare (Cat 2 Men 0–14 ).
Due to a crash earlier in the day, Monny Williams and a few other riders had to drop in a second time. Williams kept his pace going and still snagged second (Cat 2 Men 50+).
Austin Lancaster's second place finish on Sunday bounced him to spot number two for the season overalls (Cat 1 Men 19-29).
This corner left riders with two options. Slam through the bumps, or try to carry speed and boost over. Both options were popular (Mike Wieser Cat 1 Men 30–39).
Sam Larson added another podium to his season with a third place finish (Cat 1 Men 30–39).
Sarah Olsen rips into a dusty berm in the clearcut section of Berserker (Cat 1 Women 0–29).
Gideon Bender and Dylan Brown took steps three and two of the podium (Cat 1 Men 0–18 )
Declan Ervin managed to find the traction to match his boundless speed for win two of the season and top spot in the overalls (Cat 1 Men 0–18 ).
In year two of racing Pro, Kerstin Holster hit her pace and claimed the overalls with a succession of consistent results. "I'm stoked to be riding my bike with Kialani and Jamie and all the girls, they push me." We'll see her more next year, but she'll be trying to brach out more into the Pro GRT.
A leg injury in 2016 and a minor concussion this year meant we haven't seen much of Kialani Hines recently, but whenever we do, she's going full bore. Finals wasn't an exception as she grabbed the win (Pro Women). "I wanted to end my year on a win, so my goals was to come out here and do my best. I rode a few times before the weekend, but I ended up kind of just winging it and it worked out."
Kris Christensen gets low on a dicey corner near the end of Berserker.
Weston Potter shaved off just over a second from his seeding time, but was pushed back to third (Pro Men).
Luke Stevens drops to the outside during a run that advanced him to second (Pro Men).
Carson Eiswald delivered five podiums with three wins, including Sunday. "The year was really good. I worked on bike setup so I'm more in control and getting more comfortable," explains Eiswald about the contrast between his checkers or wreckers approach in previous years. Eiswald's breakout year will see him sporting the coveted number one plate in 2018.
Cole Townsend was nursing a broken hand, but still put in the necessary race start to make him eligible to cash in on all his hard earned series points to take the overalls (Cat 1 Men 19–29).
The newly constructed pumptrack made for a welcome diversion while racer waited for awards to get underway.
Juniors, Pro Women, and Pro Men Podiums.
Scott Tucker and Casey Northern accept thanks and cheers from the crowd, along with a little something to be enjoyed with ice.
Juniors, Pro Women, and Pro Men Overall Podiums.
Turns out the Pro Men class is quick on their bikes and their feet. Kasper Dean and Carson Eiswald dodge some enthusiastic congratulations from Weston Potter.