That’s a wrap! another mountain race season is in the books. Let’s take a look back on this past season and look what the team accomplished.
Nik Nestoroff headed up to this year’s rendition of the Sea Otter Classic to leave his mark on the Dual Slalom race. Nik gave it his all and was able to put himself on the podium at the end of the day with his third place finish.
What a mega weekend of racing for the team this past weekend. We had all factory riders and most of our grassroots athletes all competing in different regions all on the same weekend.
Starting off with factory rider Luke Whitlock and newest member to the grassroots program Dylan Cobern were both in Cedar City, UT at a mountain bike festival throwing down some big tricks and representing our freeride side of things at the highest level. Here’s what Luke Whitlock had to say “A music festival would be the last place you’d expect a mountain bike jam to come about, but that was not the case in Cedar City, UT at the Landslide Music Fest this past weekend.
With expected crowds of upwards of 5000 people Dylan Cobern and I headed up north to Cedar City to put on a show for the people attending the event. While dealing with the crazy weather that Southern Utah has to offer this time of year, we were still able to throw down some solid tricks and whips for the crowd in between rainstorms. This event was unique and special to us because we were able to reach a completely different industry and group of people and introduce them to freeride mountain biking, which is really awesome and rewarding to see, especially since the spectators were very engaged!”
Also, our other grassroots athlete Naish Ulmer was representing the team in the Utah/Idaho regional event coming away with double wins. Here’s what Naish had to say: “I raced the 2nd & 3rd stop of the Utah Gravity series in Pomerelle, ID. There was a double header race happening over the weekend and I was able to take both wins. I was super pumped to stay consistent and get the win for the team!”
While the freeride lads were holding in down for the team it was Steven Walton who was representing the team at the Strait Acres Dual slalom event happening in Big Bear California. This event had some of the best American athletes competing for one of the best Spector races of the year! Qualifying was on Friday evening with Saturday evening being set for the finals. Steven would be going head-to-head to make it to the top spot. At the end of the evening, he would place a respectable top 20th finish.
Sunday would be hosting the Pro men’s downhill race with some tough competition, basically all the top athletes competing in the Slalom race would be switching over to DH for Sunday. Steven would be racing the notorious famous DH track of Miracle Mile. This track has had some of the best DH riders from all the way back from the 80’s. Steven would give it 100% and cross the line in 2nd place!
All the way up in the Montana mountains you would find Nik Nestoroff and Kailey Skelton holding it down at the 3rd round of the Northwest Cup series! Nik and Kailey would be on the 4th consecutive race in a row keeping the focus sharp and race craft even sharper. This event brings some of the fastest racers from all around the West and Central areas. The athletes were really impressed with the track lay out and conditions they would be dealing with over the 3-day event. They would both be qualifying Saturday and racing finals Sunday. Qualifying would bring only the best results with both athletes taking the top spots. It would increase their pressure to lay it back down on Sunday’s finals and maintain the lead. Nik & Kailey would do just that and not let anything stray them from the wins! They would both have dominating race runs with 7-9 seconds leads on the completion.
The team did very well overall this past weekend with getting 3 podium positions and setting themselves up to continue their success on the National round 2 in Vernon, NJ at the famous Mountain Creek bike park. All the racers will be flying out Tuesday and preparing for Sunday’s finals. Kailey is currently sitting in 2nd place overall in the women’s Downhill National series. Steven in 4th and Nik in 5th for the men’s Nationals overall. The team will be reporting soon from New Jersey woods!
U.S National Championships are back in action after missing the 2020 Championships all athletes were beyond excited and very eager too claim all the titles that would be happening over the weekend. Showcasing all disciplines from Downhill, Dual Slalom, Cross-country, and all professional & amateur categories. Located in Winter Park Colorado at a elevation base of 9000 feet that would be the venue for the 2021 USA National Championships!
Kailey Skelton, Nik Nestoroff and Steven Walton would be competing in the Downhill category to try their best and claim victory and hold the national title throughout the 2021 season. The national title would consist of being the best racer on the mountain against the best American athletes. It is a very pristine title and each rider only has one shot at it each year. With that title it holds a lot of pressure to be victorious at other races like world championships and other national events that require each national champion to wear an American Stars & Stripes sleeve representing their title.
The KHS Pro MTB team arrived Tuesday evening to prepare themselves all the way for Sunday’s finals with that said Wednesday would be a day for track walk and also a day for acclimating for the high altitude in the Rocky Mountains. Not only is the base of the team pits located at 9000 feet, but the top of the downhill start was located over 12,000 feet in the pinnacle of the Colorado, Rocky Mountains.
Wednesday would consist of a great track walk with all the American downhill racers both male and female collaborating together to do one track walk together. It was very cool to see every competitor on the hill from all over the country join together and help each other out on the track walk. There were great vibes happening on the mountain for their first looks and glances at the track they would be competing on for the national title.
After the team’s successful track walk it would go into their first day of practice on Thursday afternoon. It consisted of a three hour practice with many riders and a long gondola lift ride to the top of the Rocky Mountain track. Practice went very well for all athletes. They were all acclimating to the high altitude and dry terrain. Steven Walton and Nik Nestoroff were coming off of the World Cup in Europe which was very muddy and quite different terrain compared to this national championship race. Also Friday consisted of another great day of practice with only a three hour session which would allow each team to focus on their athletes and adjust what needed to be adjusted to the harsh demanding terrain on their bikes and equipment.
All three athletes would be making drastic changes with their suspension tire and overall bike set up to accommodate their needs and make them feel as comfortable as possible for Saturday’s qualifying and seeding event that consists of a full-timed run from USA cycling‘s official timekeepers. Once Saturday rolled around the pressure was on for qualification and seeding. The athletes all went to work after countless days of practicing tuning, learning and focusing on their final goals of winning. It would be Kailey Skelton in the professional Downhill Women’s category who would qualify first! Nik Nestoroff would qualify 7th and Steven Walton would qualify 12th.
After qualifications all athletes would be reviewing their setups and discussing team tactics to get them on top of the podium for Sunday’s finals. Also they would be reviewing video footage and trying their best to get prepared for the final race run coming Sunday. Final adjustments would be done after qualification from the team mechanics and the riders input. Sunday morning would come quickly with high pressure on each athlete which obviously they had great expectations to do their best in their final race run. Each athlete would only get one or two practice runs to warm themselves up and make sure they were flowing for their final run.
First to drop would be Steven Walton who was struggling from a little bit of altitude sickness and some arm pump, but would ultimately be able to push through the finish line with a top 15 result. Next to drop in would be Nik Nestoroff who would have a blistering run and only be a few seconds off podium position with a six place finish, an overall great run and very respected among the best.
The highlight of the weekend would be Kailey Skelton who would drop into a race run focused, determined and eager to cross the line with limited mistakes. Kailey had an amazing run from top to bottom. She did her best and would really exert herself physically and mentally to push as hard as she could. When she crossed the finish line it was huge cheers from the fans family and the announcer. Once she gained her bearings and could focus on herself from her tunnel vision race run she would hear over the announcement that she had just won her first title by 12 seconds over second place claiming the 2021 U.S national championship title.
Kailey and all the athletes, team members and team managers were beyond stoked. The entire team put effortless amounts of time and dedication into getting this title. Everyone was beyond stoked that KHS Bicycles had claimed their 2021 title with over a decade of their last title being claimed in 2011 by Logan Binggeli. After the victorious race run and podium the team would be celebrating Sunday night’s dinner and congratulating Kailey and her first national title.
Once again KHS pro MTB wants to thank all their fans, family and sponsors for countless dedication and help throughout the season. All the athletes will have a one week break until heading up to Big Sky, Montana for the big mountain Enduro series. Everyone is very excited to get up in the Montana mountains and test their skills back into stage racing with one of the biggest Enduro races of the year. We’ll see you next time between the tape!
What was originally going to be a weekend getaway visiting my good friend (and absolute shredder), Dylan, turned into a few weeks’ stay, heavy sessions, and overall good vibes. Dylan and I had one vision when we decided to put some content out for the public to see. That vision was to capture the raw Utah sessions that go down out in the desert using only my “Dad Cam” and not to make this video a “project” but only to capture what happens when two buddies feed off each other’s riding and progression, head to the zones, and throw down whatever comes to mind that day. Although this time of year is not ideal for filming, digging, and riding here in Virgin, we were able to make the most of the 4:30am wake ups to beat the 110+ degree heat and film some solid lines we were stoked on.
Virgin has a special energy that cannot be described, but only to be experienced, and that’s exactly what we wanted to capture. We wanted to take freeriding back to its roots and create a more raw, big mountain, Utah feel, and that fueled the motivation to hit some of our favorite legendary zones that we had always dreamed of riding. Zones we’ve seen our idols ride in movies and videos.
Dylan and I love riding the big mountain lines that Southern Utah provides, but wanted to incorporate everything that Virgin has to offer, which included some of the legendary jumps that we’ve all seen the top dudes in the sport ride in previous videos and Rampage events.