Kovarik, Van Dine Invade Colorado - SolVista G3 Recap- Mtbr.com
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    Kovarik, Van Dine Invade Colorado - SolVista G3 Recap

    SolVista, CO
    August 17-20, 2007


    ROCKY MOUNTAIN G3 GRAVITY SERIES, RACE #2, SolVista
    Kovaric, VanDine Win Battle, Local Pros Olsen and Leonard Win War


    Over the past three months here in the too-brief summer of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains three riders have been hard at work with shovels, picks and the odd piece of heavy machinery or two. With the support of SolVista Basin and Granby Ranch, DH Pros Steve Wentz, Mike Moga and TJ Sharp have quietly built what has become one of the hottest topics of conversation among the Rocky Mountain gravity crowd – the fast, flowy and mind-bendingly fun terrain of SolVista Basin. This past weekend a horde of downhillers from all over the world descended on Granby, Colorado for the second race in the Rocky Mountain G3 Gravity Series to experience for themselves what the rest of Colorado was talking about.

    With $10,000 on the line and a series win under his belt from race #1 in Keystone it wasn’t a surprise that World Cup fixture Justin Leov showed up. What was surprising was when Intense pro Chris Kovarik rolled in. Then Cannondale’s big gun, Chris Van Dine. The pro field at SolVista’s G3 was quickly shaping up into a mini-World Cup as established vets and up-and-comers took their shot at winning one of the big checks. 3 races were on the schedule for the weekend and combined time for all three would determine who’d be making the big bank deposit on Monday morning.

    STAGE 1, Santa Cruz Bicycles “Cougar” DH
    Yeti-Fox factory pro Leov exited early after suffering an equipment failure through the final stutter-bump section during practice that left him with a busted wing. For the record, Leov declined meds instead opting for Advil only. Show-off. In any case, it looked like the showdown between Kovarik, Van Dine and Leov just wasn’t meant to be. Despite one key player’s absence, Kovarik began putting on a display of DH dominance in run #1 finishing 4 seconds up on Van Dine in what proved to be just over a 2-minute course.

    It’s possible that Leov’s catastrophic fall was on Kovarik’s mind as he finished off his run with full-blown leap around the final stutter section. It was a move that left him leaning into the course tape halfway through the bumps, then powering through the rough at full speed to enter the tight berm that immediately followed. Although Kovarik’s move probably didn’t gain him any time, it certainly earned him the respect of his fellow pros who agreed that it was the ballsiest move of the day. Second ballsiest had to belong to course designer Wentz who opted to jump the whole section and land at the entrance to the berm. The move was described by a spectator as “he landed at full speed. And at a 45-degree angle.”

    On the strength of that move Wentz took third on the stage and in the overall. Van Dine sat in second, local pro Todd Olsen landed in 4th and TJ Sharp rounded out the podium in 5th. Crested Butte Academy coach Kain Leonard (who’s having what can only be described as a breakout year) found himself in 6th and only 5.4 seconds back of Kovaric’s pace.

    On the women’s side, SRAM/Specialized rider Claire Buchar announced her presence with authority putting 5.44 seconds into Morewood pro Lisa Myklak. Buchar hung a 2:17 on the rest of the women’s field, a time that would have landed her firmly in the middle of the pack in the Men’s Pro Category. Brodie pro Jackie Harmony posted the third fastest time on the day with a 2:23.91 with gravity newcomer Abigail Hippely (Maverick) taking the 4th position. Sarah Elworthy landed in 5th as just over 11 seconds separated spots 1 through 5.

    STAGE 2, Maverick Bikes “Cheez-IT” Super-D
    It’s really not accurate to call it a Super-D, it was more of a DH-lite type course with absolutely no uphill sections at all. I guess we call it a ‘Super-D’ because we use that start format in order to be able to have enough time during the day to get two races off. All 6 amateur categories started in waves and the pros were given 30-second intervals. There was a brief running section for everyone up top (riding your bike was allowed) and although that did help stretch the field out, it was elbow-to-elbow racing action all the way down.

    Kovarik again harnessed the dark side of The Force and put just under 7.5 seconds into the rest of the field with a winning time of 4:27.87. That put him firmly into first place in the overall with an almost untouchable 12-second lead. Second place went to a resurgent Kain Leonard who posted a 4:35.31, a time just about 3 seconds up on 3rd-place finisher Todd Olsen. The crowd was stoked with the rides of the 4th and 5th place finishers, Brodie rider Dante Harmony and Yeti/Fox Regional Pro Chris Boice.

    It’s fair to say that the SD course was long. And turny. Flat turns, off-camber turns, bermed turns – you name it, this Super-D had it. Riders came across looking completely blown, much more so than in stage 1. For the amateurs it was pack mentality. The strong ate the weak and this showed in the results. For the pros (Men, Women, Semi and Vet) it was definitely a more civilized experience and yet one more chance to sit in the Better-Ride Hot Seat, provided by longtime pro Gene Hamilton.

    STAGE 3, The Yeti Cycles ‘Drifter’ DH
    Tension was a little high on Sunday morning as the remnants of a thunderstorm that had raged throughout the night threatened to hang around, keep the course greasy and throw a serious monkey wrench into the plans to host a hypothermia-free event. At the start of practice at 10AM the clouds began to burn off and as the first riders came through the finish it became apparent that mud tires weren’t going to be needed. The top half of the course was mostly rock and sand. That fact combined with the quality of the build and a bit of rider pressure quickly turned it into ‘hero-dirt’. About halfway down the course that rock and sand turned to soil and there’s where the fun really began. Kain Leonard described it best when he said “Imagine the best powder day you’ve ever had. That’s what this dirt was like.” After a pause he followed up with “this is the best dirt I’ve ridden in 10 years”. Or was that Telluride he was talking about. Can’t remember. Too many good courses.

    Racing was tight throughout the day as some categories were separated by less than a couple hundredths of a second. Riders were doubly stoked that CJ Timing was back on board to finish out the season for the remaining G3’s and Mountain States Cup races. Cath and John had results up within seconds of each category’s finish and had their usual setup including time clock and real-time results announced for everyone at the finish line. ‘Mr. Mouth’ Mike Kreger kept things lively with an audacious and entertaining running commentary throughout. (If there’s another gravity promoter out there reading this, get in touch with me if you need an announcer and I’ll pass Mike’s info along – I’ve never heard better announcing at an event. He’s that good. But don’t say anything to him ‘cuz right now I’m paying him in t-shirts and 10-year-old Oury grips.)

    Racing started at noon and by about 1:50 we were sending our Vet Pro/Old Bull/Jedi Master Pro/Am field down the course. Big Crank rider Matt Thompson put up a fast time early and took his place on the hot seat, but shook his head from side-to-side when the announcers wondered over the mic if it would hold. Nobody was more surprised than Matt (who had left Whistler to attend the SolVista G3 and had arrived with 2 lungfuls of the Canadian Crud) when the final rider in the Old Bull category and the overall leader Dan Weinman (Paradise Power.Net) rolled through with a 2:26.39, .65 seconds slower than Thompson’s time.

    Weinman did enough to win however, and his combined time of 9:42.55 placed him just over 4 seconds up on Mojo Wheels’ Troy Cooperman who nailed down second. Rounding out the Jedi Master podium were Thompson, Better-Ride’s Gene Hamilton and Mojo’s Josh Baden. After three stages less than 15 seconds separated 1st through 5th.

    Next up were the Semi-Pros where Orbitt Racing’s Mr. Mouth Mike Kreger held a 1.35-second advantage over riding bud, Mojo rider Szymon Kowalski. Within view of the finish Kreger lost control of his bike over a small rock drop and for almost 75 yards tried to rein it back in, the whole time looking like the proverbial monkey makin’ sweet love to the football. Rein it in he did though, but not quite in time as he blew through the tape at the upcoming corner, then blew back through it from the other side to get back on course. A quick consult of the NORBA rulebook (c’mon USA Cycling! – 279 pages for road racing and a page-and-a-half for the entire sport of mountain biking?) Kreger was handed a 3-second relegation that ultimately figured heavily in the overall.

    With Kreger’s relegation, Taylor Hatton (Paradise Power.Net) from Angel Fire, NM (and winner of the opening DH round of the 2007 Mountain States Cup) took the overall. Strong and consistent riding won the day in Semi-Pro with Kowalski (Mojo Wheels), Huntington Beach, CA’s James McNeill (The Path) and Feral Terrier Racing’s Joe Hanrahan rounding out the overall podium. 14.99 seconds was the official time gap between 1st and 5th after three stages.

    In the Pro Women’s field Myklak and Hippely had crawled back into contention with strong Super-D results. Buchar currently sat in second place in the overall, but a serious crash by Myklak (ever been stunned? Myklak went down hard. Most men would have laid there until the stretcher arrived. Lisa shook it off and rode the remaining portion of the course with a seriously contorted cockpit and an only slightly less serious blow to the head and upper body.) and an unsurprising return to form erased all doubt who the fastest rider was on this weekend. Buchar grabbed first on the stage and first in the overall taking first place in the overall by 17 seconds. Rounding out the podium were Harmony in second, Hippely in third, Elworthy in 4th and Carolyn Yeaton in 5th.

    And then there was one. One category that is. Pro Men. All eyes turned uphill as the Pro Men were fired downhill in 60-second intervals in reverse order of their standings in the overall. The hotseat must have changed hands at least 10 times in the last 15 riders and in the end, .51 seconds separated 1st and 5th. Van Dine, the third-to-last rider ended up putting together the most complete run of the day (so far), posting a top time of 2:19.04 and sat in the hotseat. The crowd waited to see what nastiness Kovarik was going to throw down and was in shock as 2:19, then 2:20 rolled by and still no sign of Kovarik. At last he rolled around the corner and even from the announcers’ table you could make out the sketchy front-end – Kovarik had blown up his front wheel. Chris finished with a 2:36.49. His overall podium spot severely damaged, he still wowed spectators on-course as he boosted each and every feature. Including a triple. With a flat tire. Stud.

    In the end, Van Dine’s margin of victory wasn’t enough to pull him into first in the overall. Mr. Consistent, Todd Olsen (Recycled Ski and Sport) from Silverthorne, CO ended up on the top step of the podium and with the big-ass check in his hand. What did Olsen have to say? “For the first time ever, I’m going to make a mortgage payment early.” Sweet. Kain Leonard landed in 2nd, just .07 off the lead. In third sat Kovarik, just 1.8 seconds off the pace even after his stage 3 wheel meltdown. 4th place went to Van Dine, just 3.5 seconds off the lead and 5th place went to a resurgent Dave Camp from Big Crank Racing.

    In closing…I try not to use this word at all. In a community like Breckenridge it seems like it’s the third or fourth word out of every slacker, grommet or park rat’s mouth, but…

    SolVista was SICK. There. I said it. Sick, sick, sick, sick and SICK. Free lift, flowy trails, hero dirt (especially on Sunday), amazing courses and format, free beer, free food, sweet tech expo and some of the best riders in the world to watch. Add to that long list the fact that the resort folks were incredibly gracious hosts. There are pics to be had if you care to see ‘em. Head to VastAction.com.

    It seems as if we’ve put the ‘year of crazy timing’ behind us now that CJ is back in the mix. I think that there have been some thoughtful improvements in the MSC Series this year, not the least of which is adding the G3 to Bigfoot’s list, but I know that we vastly underestimated CJ’s contribution to growing the series and I for one look forward to MSC Series Finals in Keystone and the upcoming G3 at Angel Fire with a lot less anxiety.

    The G3 was great. It was even better because the pros showed up, bro'd down and made the event better with their thoughtful feedback and general approachability. Here’s a couple of good examples; during the riders' meeting on Friday night the rulebook was discussed as it related to sportsmanship and a pretty thoughtful dialogue ensued where Van Dine and Kovarik took the lead and pointed to some areas of the course that from a rider's perspective were open to interpretation and therefore in sort of a grey area where the rules were concerned. They respectfully asked that A: the course mark in those areas be buttoned up a bit tighter, and B: for an official clarification of the rules in those areas.

    The point? They can ride lines that most guys can't and they went out of their way to eliminate any possibility of anything that may have been construed after the fact as unsportsmanlike. From our perspective, it's instances like these that illustrate that there's more to being a pro than podium finishes. There are guys in our industry who'll be completely finished in cycling as soon as their competitive careers are over. Why? Because they're dicks. Then there are guys like Kovarik, Van Dine, Kain, Todd, House, Leov, Boice and EC who've just blown us away this year by how committed they are to improving racing for everyone, not just themselves.

    On another note, we've been waging a campaign this year that directly contradicts the NORBA rulebook. There's a humdinger in there that states something like, "when on a descent, the downhill rider owns the track". I know that opinions will vary on this, but our take is, if you're caught, you're caught. Let the guy behind you by. The NORBA rule in this instance is outdated - there can be no argument about that, and in this case it's particularly XC and Endurance-centric. In some cases the rule has been quoted as justification for not yielding that track to an obviously faster rider.

    That's weak.

    We saw a great example of this in action when the pro men were coming down. Greg Vogt was on course and not having the best run of his life. Within 1/3 mile of the finish you could see Kain Leonard bearing down on him and closing the gap fast. What did Vogt do? He pulled over. Stopped completely to let Kain by. He knew that Leonard was in the hunt for the overall and he did what he felt sportsmanship dictated to be proper: he yielded the course to a faster rider. Vogt deserves recognition for that. Not for his athletic achievement, but for his selflessness and highly evolved sense of right and wrong.

    That’s about all I can remember.

    Big thanks-yous go out to:
    Santa Cruz – for supporting Rocky Mountain Racing
    Dale’s Pale Ale – For the beer. For the Chicken. For being committed.
    Spike Shooter – For keeping us going. For underwriting all of racing.
    Static/DopeBMX – for the sweet, sweet number plates
    Shimano – For believing. For listening. For getting on board.
    Fox Racing Shox – for Mike Van Linden
    SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch – for allowing us in. For being great partners and hosts

    And in no particular order, Hayes, DT Swiss, Manitou, Maverick, Sun Ringle, Titec, Accelerade, Smith, Control Tech, e.thirteen, The Fix, Wheat Ridge Cyclery, Mountain Bike, Liquid Inc Design, Rocky Mountain Roastery, Vast Action Photography, Pearlizumi and Kenda. Something as cool as the SolVista G3 just doesn’t happen without all of your support.


    Hope to see you in Angel Fire. We’ve got $10,000 more dollars to give away.
    MikeMac
    Bigfoot Productions
    Breckenridge and Golden, CO
    [email protected]
    970-333-1159


    The Rocky Mountain G3 Gravity Series and The Mountain States Cup regional Championship Mountain Bike Series are the property of Bigfoot Productions. Which is owned by Yeti Cycles. Which is in Golden, Colorado. We believe that great racing helps grow the sport of cycling. We believe that it grooms future champions that will one day stand atop podiums in remote parts of the world wearing stars-and-stripes jerseys. We think racing should be competitive, but not at the cost of being un-fun. We also believe that there’s room at the table for all bike manufacturers, not just us. For more info on us please head to www.yeticycles.com, www.racemsc.com or www.g3gravityseries.com. Or just call or email. As Kreger would say, “whatever, dude”.
    Last edited by MikeMac; 08-23-2007 at 09:45 AM.

  2. #2
    e-misanthrope
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    Whoo hooo - I'm a celebrity.

    "Rounding out the Jedi Master podium were Thompson, Better-Ride’s Gene Hamilton and Mojo’s Josh Baden. After three stages less than 15 seconds separated 1st through 5th."

    Thanks for the write up, the race was insanely fun - I can't wait to get back to Sol Vista, or to go to the Angelfire G3 for that matter.

    When should I expect groupies to start throwing their panties at me?
    Don't waive your rights with your flags.

  3. #3
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    Nate doesn't wear underpants.

    Would a smelly chamois work?

    Thanks for comin' out Josh. See you at Keystone.

  4. #4
    e-misanthrope
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    Quote Originally Posted by MavSports
    Would a smelly chamois work?

    Thanks for comin' out Josh. See you at Keystone.
    Nevermind the groupies, I'll learn to be content with free Spike and beer can chicken. See you there...
    Don't waive your rights with your flags.

  5. #5
    DWF
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    Quote Originally Posted by lagarto grande
    Whoo hooo - I'm a celebrity.

    "Rounding out the Jedi Master podium were Thompson, Better-Ride’s Gene Hamilton and Mojo’s Josh Baden. After three stages less than 15 seconds separated 1st through 5th."

    Thanks for the write up, the race was insanely fun - I can't wait to get back to Sol Vista, or to go to the Angelfire G3 for that matter.

    When should I expect groupies to start throwing their panties at me?
    Congrats!

    You stop by the compound, I'll throw some panties at you! Of course they'll be Betty's old puppy panties, but hey, it's about as good as you're going to get!
    A man must have enemies and places he is not welcome. In the end we are not only defined by our friends but those against us.

  6. #6
    Living the High Life
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    Josh man, I'm heading to the Angel Fire G3. I heard about your finish, congrats on hauling ass man! I hear you're digging with Todd tomorrow dude, you shoud come Friday to Keystone with us
    Last edited by Ithnu; 08-23-2007 at 06:35 AM.
    You have just been mentally Rick Roll'd. Yup you're thinking about it right now aren't you? Don't fight it.

  7. #7
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    what a great write up
    the trick is ENJOYING YOUR LIFE EACH DAY, don't waste them away wishing for better days

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    Best race weekend ever!!! Keep it up Bigfoot
    SingletrackMind

  9. #9
    dontcha?
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    awesome, i hate to be "that" guy but got any pics?
    "The future belongs to those that believe in the beauty of their dreams."

  10. #10
    e-misanthrope
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ithnu
    Josh man, I'm heading to the Angel Fire G3. I heard about your finish, congrats on hauling ass man! I hear you're digging with Todd tomorrow dude, you shoud come Friday to Keystone with us
    Thanks! I might try to make it up for Friday afternoon, my schedule's been pretty hectic lately so I'll have to wait and see if it works out. I will definitely be there on Sunday. Are you getting a new ride?

    Vast is still loading them, but here are a couple:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by lagarto grande; 08-23-2007 at 08:17 AM.
    Don't waive your rights with your flags.

  11. #11
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    Harry Preston shot a ton. It sounded like he was going to send them to Decline with Chris Van Dine's event write-up. If anyone knows how to get in touch with hime please let me know - he left before I could grab his contact info.

    I spoke with Woj from Vast yesterday. They shot on Saturday and will be uploading their images soon. There's also some sweet video on the homepage of Littermag. Cheggit: http://littermag.com/

    MM

  12. #12
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    ah i wanted to go to solvista so badly! i had to work! ah lame! But anyways great write up. it looked like an an extremely fun race!

  13. #13
    e-misanthrope
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    Quote Originally Posted by theDoubleD
    ah i wanted to go to solvista so badly! i had to work! ah lame! But anyways great write up. it looked like an an extremely fun race!
    Brandon (aka bikinbeast) posted about a race at SV in September - 15& 16th in the Front Range forum. Sol Vista is definitely worth checking out, the terrain is first rate
    Don't waive your rights with your flags.

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