Posted by Editoress on 05/26/09
Australian Sam Hill of Monster Energy Specialized and Miranda Miller of Canada took home the victories at this year's US Open of MTB. The usually sunny skies over Diablo Freeride Park gave way to torrential thunderstorms Sunday during finals in Vernon, New Jersey.
The skies opened up just before pro finals was to begin, so all pros ended up on course under much the same conditions. The infamous rock gardens on the course became extremely slick when tracked with mud, and had more than one rider changing their lines up mid-run in order to avert disaster. Many riders, including Hill, went to cut down mud spikes when the storm rolled in; what is probably a definite first for the US Open.
Miller took home her first major pro victory by edging out Kathy Pruitt of Team Jamis and Fionn Griffiths of Norco with a time of 3:05.47. Miller was all smiles as she was tackled by fellow Canadians Micayla Gatto and Katrina Strand after her win became official.
"My run was pretty good, slippery. I was surprised. I only had one little bobble, but altogether good. You had to go a little conservative in the rocks, but once you had a feel for things you knew. It was a lot slipperier than I thought. Even the dirt was slippery!"
Hill has been denied victory here in recent years due to mechanicals and major crashes. This year, the race gods would smile on him, allowing him to take home the $5000 purse will little to no drama on his run.
"My run was pretty good. It was slick up there; like a whole different track to what we were practicing. I had a couple of great lines I felt worked good up there and I had one I had to change when I nearly went over the handle bars. I got down in one piece and it was kind of hit and miss on a track like this in these conditions."
Gee Atherton of the Animal Commencal team took second place, while Hill's teammate Brendan Fairclough would take third place, after winning the GS event Saturday evening right in front of Hill.
"It would have been nice to be back up into second. I rode way too conservatively. I got down in one piece, that's all I can really say. There was no moments really or anything to talk about. But I got down, so that's what counts. I am really happy with yesterday's race, so third is pretty good today."
Last year's winner, Canadian Steve Smith (Evil Bikes), took a large tumble in one of the first grassy corners near the finish, and ended up landing on his head. He was a bit dazed, but came out in one piece.
"My run went amazing until I landed on my head really hard. I'm okay though. Yes mother, I'm ok."
Other Canadians included Micayla Gatto in 5th & Katrina Strand in 6th for the ladies. Jamie Biluk was 20th in the men's division, James Jeannet was 28th and Jordie Lunn was 33rd.
Report and photos by Fraser Britton
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