After a snow-delayed stop at Mt. Hood Skibowl at the start of the month, the NW Cup landed at Tamarack Resort, ID for its second race in June. This would be the first time the series visited the sleepy mountain village in Central Idaho where smooth singletrack, some rugged granite, and non-stop views were the name of the game. The beautiful resort has been battling its way out of financial troubles incurred during its construction and reopened its summer trails to riders last year. If the ribbons of singletrack and the chill mountain vibe are any indicator, the potential is huge!
The NW Cup last added a new venue in 2015, so a new stomping ground was a welcome addition to the season's lineup. Two intermingling courses greeted racers from a mid-mountain start. Cat 3 would spend most of their time on the narrow singletrack and bermed turns of Super G and Show-Low. Cat 2, Cat 1, and Pro riders followed a rougher course that kicked off with Rock Star's large granite slab and kept going into the tech on ESR before sharing Show-Low. Eager to lineup a rowdy finish line, a high-speed path was mowed through the resort's half-pipe last week. The result was a grassy and off-camber track that was very greasy during a rainstorm on Friday. By Saturday and Sunday it was drying out, but still required deft handling and good line choice as racers railed across the slope.
Rock Star's granite slab was a constant item for debate on Saturday as riders gathered to scope lines, try things out, and compare results. The quickest lines cut down the inside for a duffy exit into the loose run-out below. Faced with only a few key sections of gnar and lots of berms and turns, many riders traded in their big rigs for trail bikes. After seeding results on Saturday, times were hovering above the four-minute mark. Bryce Kans was a few second ahead of Gideon Bender and Declan Ervin for Juniors. First time NW Cup racer Kate Meyer took the lead for Pro Women ahead of Jaime Rees, and Kerstin Holster. Evan Geankoplis was at home on his trail bike and seeded six seconds up ahead of Kent Billingsley, and Carson Eiswald.
Sunday morning started early, but the fair weather only seemed to get nicer with lake views and blooming flowers. Racers charged into the day with fast times and in the case of Cat 2, a surprising amount of style over the table tops on Show-Low. Declan Ervin rose to the top to take his first Juniors win.
On step number two was Gideon Bender taking his first Juniors Podium ahead of Bryce Kans, Tyler Bommarito, and Chris Wharton. Kate Meyer's hopes of a podium finish were dashed when she twisted the bars tumbling from the course's second rock roll. Taking the top was 2016 Pro Women Overall Winner Jaime Rees who we haven't seen much this season while she's busy being a new mom. Kerstin Holster placed second and moved into the lead for overalls. Bridgette Leber came in third for her first Pro podium.
Two racers broke the four-minute mark, but it was Carson Eiswald on his downhill bike that took the day with a time 3:58.37 just a hair ahead of Evan Geankoplis. Kent Billingsley finished third ahead of Kasper Dean and Trevor Lewis.
Racing can be a funny thing, sometimes the best option is to stick with tried and true, like your trusted big bike. Sometimes you go for a new line or try out a new venue and the results are great! You can get in on the singletrack fun and awesome views at Tamarack Resort next weekend when the park formally opens for the season. For the NW Cup, it's back to Idaho for round five in a few weekends at Silver Mountain Bike Park.Results