Back in Washington, racers headed to Stevens Pass for round six of the NW Cup. Even with a relatively short vert, the mountain doesn't mess around and delivers one of the hardest courses of the year for all categories. Conditions are typically dry and dusty during this month, but stray smoke from fires in British Columbia added to a hazy shroud all weekend long.
A fast lift and short punchy trails meant lots of riding as long as racers kept upright and uninjured. Cat 3 racers fought for speed on the tight turns and bridges of Lichen It before following up with a chunky rush to the bottom on Luvin' It. Cat 2 racers had the formidable Slingshot Wookie all to themselves - flats were common on this extra rocky course. Cat 1 and Pros tackled Berserker, Stevens Pass' resident double-black track. A few berms were in place for the trails second anniversary, but overall a tangle of roots made for much more difficult conditions compared to last year.
Long absent, Luke Strobel was back and seeded a time of 2:22.04 ahead of Nate Furbee, Kasper Dean, Matt Orlando, and Jason Eiswald for Pro Men. Declan Ervin followed suit and dropped a bombshell with a time exactly one second behind Strobel's. Behind him were Layton Meyers, Dylan Brown, Ethan Lieb, and Gideon Bender. No stranger to rough and loose courses, Jaime Rees seeded first for Pro Women with Britney White, Kialani Hines, Kerstin Holster, and Linnea Rooke next.
A good race weekend doesn't end on the trails and Stevens Pass wasn't an exception. The very posh Lake Strobel soon filled up with racers looking for a welcome cool-down before retiring to the parking lot scene for the evening. West Coast Racing kept the family friendly fun going with a rubber band/watermelon contest (turns out you need a lot of rubber bands). The rest of the evening was filled with socializing and an aspiring rave scene.
Any hope of clear skies on Sunday went unanswered as the smoke continued to linger. Racer's were pretty undaunted as a whole and took to early practice runs to work out their pace and final line choices. This only went so far on Berserker, where constantly deeper bomb holes kept evolving.
Declan Ervin went all-in on a bid to take his second win of the season for Juniors. He lost it all in a dusty crash at the bottom of the course, but still maintained sixth. Taking his place at the top was Layton Meyers ahead of Dylan Brown, Ethan Lieb, Chris Wharton, and Bryce Kans. Jaime Rees took her third win of the season for Pro Women. Kialani Hines placed second ahead of Britney White who kept her run controlled. Kerstin Holster and Linnea Rooke took the remaining two steps on the podium.
Weston Potter took the top spot for Pro Men with a surprising "off the couch win" during his first race of the season and minimal time on course. Just behind him was Kasper Dean, Jason Eiswald, Luke Strobel, and Nate Furbee. For full results click here
. Racers will get a second shot at the tech and gnar of Stevens Pass when the series returns for finals on September 8–10.